Tester to Canadian Minister: Montana farmers deserve a fair market

Senator pushes for increased opportunity for ag producers

(U.S. Senate)- Montana Farmer and Senator Jon Tester today continued his fight to protect family farmers against unfair Canadian trade practices that deny Montana wheat growers a fair price.

In a letter to newly appointed Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay, Tester urged Canada’s new administration to make Canada’s grain regulations more equitable for American grown wheat. Tester highlighted the fact that current policies unfairly allow Canadian grain buyers to pay Montana wheat growers significantly less than Canadian wheat growers for the same product. He also requested a meeting with the Minister to directly discuss this important trade issue.

“I remain concerned about Canada’s wheat grading system and its effect on agricultural trade between our nations,” Tester wrote. “I know Montanans stand ready to work with Canada to strengthen our mutually beneficial exchange of agricultural goods, and I believe both sides stand to benefit from a direct discussion on grading and trading grain.”

Grain producers across Montana are hailing Tester’s efforts.

“Montana farmers and ranchers contribute billions each year to the national economy, and we export 20 percent of all agriculture products as foreign exports. Montana farmers depend on equitable grain pricing to put food on the table for people all over the world,” said Alan Merill, President of the Montana Farmers Union. “We applaud Senator Tester’s commitment to Montana agriculture.”

“Canadian law discriminates against US grain through their grain grading and variety registration systems,” said Rob Davis, President of the Montana Grain Growers Association and a grain producer from Larslan, Montana. ” In order for a true and open market to function, growers and consumers on each side of the border must operate in a regulatory environment that allows fair competition.”

Currently, Canadian law forces American wheat to be automatically downgraded to the lowest quality of designation known as “feed wheat” when exported to Canada without considering its variety or overall quality. The United States does not have similar restrictions on Canadian wheat imports which are graded by the same standards as locally grown wheat.

Canada is Montana’s largest trade partner, and bulk wheat is Montana’s largest exported commodity.

Tester’s letter to the Canadian Agriculture Minister is available HERE.