A cap used by the Clinton administration to curb Canadian grain imports ends today, worrying U.S. wheat growers that the states soon will be awash in Canadian durum for pasta, red wheat for bread and feed grain for cattle.
“I’m sure there will be” more coming in, said Glen Squires, director of project management and evaluation for the Spokane-based Washington Wheat Commission. “All you have to do is talk to Canadian farmers. A lot of them would just as soon bring it south.”
Canadian officials, however, say that’s unlikely since U.S. farmers have harvested a good crop and U.S. flour mills and ranchers do not have much need to buy Canadian grain.
“Events have almost overtaken the need for the (import) cap,” said Bob Roehle, spokesman for the Winnepeg, Manitoba-based Canadian Wheat Board, which controls grain exports. “The market has changed.”
Under pressure from northerntier farmers, President Clinton in 1994 ordered a one-year cap on Canadian grain. Canadian imports were limited to 1.5 million metric tons, or about 50 million bushels.
Canada as of one month ago had exceeded 90 percent of that limit.
U.S. wheat growers in recent weeks have called on the administration to extend the cap another year until there are assurances that Canada will be restrained from dumping grain across the border.
A decision could come as early as today as officials review recommendations by the U.S.-Canada Joint Commission on Grains. The commission said Monday it will disclose its findings later this month.
In a June preliminary finding, the commission said that the U.S. government should abolish $800 million in annual export subsidies for wheat and other commodities to help resolve the trade dispute.