Trade w/Canada

April 7, 2005

April 7, 2005

Last week, I was speaking in Winnipeg, Canada to the Manitoba Pork Council. The subject of focus was trade -- U.S. Canadian ag trade. In recent times, the U.S. and Canada have been drifting into full blown war on ag trade issues. First, we can't seem to get our market opened for their beef. Second, we had the pork dispute. Fortunately, that is behind us.

Canada and Europe have joined to impose duties on a long list of our exports to them because we still have the Byrd Amendment in force which has been ruled illegal by the WTO. I am pleased that the National Pork Producer Council and members of other farm organizations are lining up to push through legislation to get rid of the anti-dumping laws.

Our trade relationship has not been healthy. We're supposed to have a North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. farmers and ranchers export 30% of what we produce. One of our highest priorities should be to keep the trade channels open. We can't afford such bickering with our closet neighbor and best customer.

Let's take beef first. We have great prices. Demand is up 25%. Consumer confidence is high. Then, I pick up the Washington Post and see an ad placed in the paper by R-Calf stating "mad cow is fatal in animals and linked to a fatal disease in humans." That's one of our beef associations trying to frighten us. What does that do for consumer confidence? How irresponsible can you be? No one, I say no one, is going to get Mad Cow disease. If we are not going to open our market to Canadian beef, how can we expect the Japanese to open their market to our beef?

With the ITC ruling that there is no injury to the U.S. pork industry from imports of live Canadian pigs, now I'm optimistic we can move ahead and solve other trade disagreements starting with beef and then the Byrd dumping amendment. Let's pass CAFTA too.

We're all in this trade business together. We need long-term relationships with producers, processors and elected officials. Integrated trade and business in North America is a key to economic vitality for all of us.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.