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Canada, U.S. study grain moving across border

Canadian and U.S. grain industries are looking at potential impacts proposed legislation in Canada could have on trade moving from the United States into Canada. Richard Phillips, president of the Canada Grains Council, says the goal is to avoid real or perceived border impediments. Shannon Schlecht, vice president of policy for U.S. Wheat Associates, says the proposed rule doesn't affect wheat, but could influence wheat rules when they are revised in the near future.
Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Published on January 14, 2014 11:07AM

A study of U.S. grain movement into Canada provides the framework for the possible impact of proposed Canadian legislation on import traffic.

The Canada-U.S. Task Group recently released a study that documents the commercial flow of grain from the United States to Canada.

According to a press release from the North American Export Grain Association and Canada Grains Council, the analysis was provided to Canadian and U.S. governments as input for development of phytosanitary measures under Canada’s proposed Grain Import Framework.

Shannon Schlecht, vice president of policy at U.S. Wheat Associates, said the proposed Canadian legislation does not include wheat, but will likely influence changes to the directive covering wheat when it is revised in the near future.

According to the study, roughly 1.05 million metric tons of corn moved from the U.S. to Canada per year. Average annual soybean exports to Canada were 245,000 metric tons and wheat exports were 69,000 metric tons.

The study examined data from 2010 to 2012, according to the press release. Roughly 54 percent of all U.S. grain exports to Canada were transported by truck, 32 percent by rail and 14 percent by barge.

According to the association and council, the high percentage of truck movements highlighted a potential problem if inspections and certificates would be required on each shipment. But it is expected that only a small number of U.S. shipments would require a phytosanitary certificate.

The study gives industry members a better perspective of the volumes and the actual number of vehicles and rail cars involved, said Richard Phillips, president of the Canada Grains Council.

The study also suggests the resources needed if an agency in Canada or the United States decided to implement spot-checks for phytosanitary concerns.

“We want to make sure whatever we do isn’t a real or perceived border impediment,” Phillips said. “Are there other ways to manage or mitigate those risks other than requiring actual, physical inspection of trucks or railcars at borders?”

Phillips encourages U.S. farmers to bring samples to Canadian elevators and compare prices if they are interested in selling their crop across the border.

“”The more that we trade, the more we realize what good neighbors we are,” he said. “At the end of the day, we all want a good crop, good grain prices and market access to sell our crops in.”

Over time, Phillips said, there may be more of a North American focus in trade agreement negotiations and market access issues.

For example, Canada has done a lot of work negotiating a reasonable low-level presence policy when exporting GMO traits in grain. The United States and Canada can work together to talk with importing countries to find a level that promotes confidence and allows trade to continue, he said.

“There are all sorts of bigger things we can really work together on to make sure we both have access to world markets,” he said.




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