Tester Advocates for Montanans in Meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Nominee

Senator Pushes for Action on Softwood Lumber Agreement, Canadian Wheat Grading, and Agriculture Exports

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester today met with Robert Lightizer, President Trump’s U.S. Trade Representative Nominee, to advocate for Montana’s top industries.

Tester called for swift action on a new Softwood Lumber Agreement, Canada’s unfair wheat grading practices, and increasing export opportunities for farmers and ranchers.

“We need a trade representative who understands the challenges facing Montana and will ensure that our farms, ranches, and lumber mills get a fair shake,” Tester said. “There is too much uncertainty clouding our state’s exporters, and I will be working closely with Mr. Lightizer if he is confirmed to make sure folks in Montana are treated fairly and able to grow their businesses.”

Tester raised the following specific issues during his meeting with Lighthizer:

Softwood Lumber Agreement
The Softwood Lumber Agreement between the U.S. and Canada expired in October, 2015.

Canadian softwood lumber imports have surged since the agreement expired, which has caused U.S. softwood lumber prices to fall even while demand has been growing.

Tester told Lighthizer that a new Softwood Lumber Agreement is pivotal to ensuring long-term certainty for Montana’s limber mills.

Canadian Wheat Grading
Canadian law is currently forcing U.S. wheat imports to be automatically downgraded to feed wheat, the lowest monetary wheat value, when entering the country.

This Canadian wheat grading policy is causing Montana farmers to lose millions annually and the U.S. does not have similar restrictions on Canadian wheat imports.

Tester urged Lighthizer to take steps to end this unfair trade practice and resolve the Canadian wheat grading discrepancy between the U.S. and Canada.

Agriculture Exports
Tester pushed for assurance that the Trump Administration will seek new export markets for Montana’s agriculture producers.

Tester emphasized to Lighthizer that the U.S. can agree to trade deals that protect workers and allow farmers and ranchers to sell their products overseas.

Montana farmers and ranchers exported nearly $800 million in goods to countries in the Pacific Rim in 2014.