In recent years, there's been less talk of a "North American Agriculture Industry" and more trade problems. The pork industry's countervailing duty and anti-dumping cases filed against Canada took a long time and much money to resolve. In the end, the Commerce Department denied U.S. producers' case against their northern counterparts.
In August, Canadian corn growers brought the same charges against the U.S. corn industry on un-processed corn imports. In December, the country's trade court released a premilary ruling that imposed duties totaling $1.65 (U.S.) a bushel on those corn imports. Of course, the final ruling could be totally different.
Interestingly enough, Canadian pork producers are lobbying against their corn growers' trade cases against U.S. producers. Of course, their concern focuses on higher feedgrain prices that they will likely face.
There's no question that the two countries have built close business ties in agriculture and elsewhere. U.S. and Canadian agriculture share technologies, research, allied industry and much more. Sure, the two compete in export markets for sales, but the two countries are more similar than they are different and could benefit from a more coordinated approach.
Just this week, an official with Maple Leaf Foods, Canada's largest meatpacker, said Canadian and American agricultural support programs should be aligned in order avoid the type of trade irritations that have surfaced in recent years.
Garry Stott, Maple Leaf's senior director of business development for vertical coordination, says the corn duties are not good for the Canadian industry. “I empathize with the situation that the (Canadian) corn growers, or in fact all feedgrain growers, are in but this is not the solution."
He adds: “In the long term we have to look at this industry for what it is and it is an integrated North American industry. The issues that have brought this corn countervail on is the fact that our agricultural support programs are not aligned."
Of course, the reality of the situation it's hard enough to get one country (not to mention multiple commodity groups) to address ag programs with a sound, long-term, reasonable focus; getting two countries to work together would be nothing short of a miracle.