Canadians Hear Trade Disparities From U.S. Growers

Published online: Nov 19, 2004
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"It was like catching a deer in their headlights," one grower said of the recent annual meeting between the United States and Canadian potato industry officials.

The meeting held in Washington, DC, last week, brought potato industry organization and trade representatives into a meeting. The U.S. potato industry was simply looking to "level the playing field. That's all we want, willing buyer and willing seller," it was reported.

The U.S. delegation came with many letters from potato growers and associations that spoke of all kinds of disparities in the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, all going Canada's way.

"Canada had asked for documentation and this year we produced it," the grower continued. Some of the documentation came from potato brokers on each side of the border, complaining the Canadians will not allow potatoes into their country during times of early production and buyers waiting on potatoes.

Problems discussed ranged from anti-dumping duties, problems in Canada's seed potatoes, and minesterial exemptions that keep United States potatoes out of Canada.

"It's mind-boggling that we can be 11 years into a free-trade agreement which took borders down and still can't move potatoes up there but they can down here," the exasperated grower stated.

"The Canadian growers locked arms. They have a strong way to put it off, asking to take things under advisement or to put it on their next agenda," he said.

The Canadians complain about U.S. marketing orders that lock them out of potato trade. U.S. representatives put it on the discussion table and told the Canadians they were simply orders that make sure potatoes meet a minimum standard. The U.S. growers said they would be willing to get rid of the orders if that was their problem.