MFU Says Montana Farmers at Disadvantage When It Comes to Exporting Wheat to Canada
Great Falls- Montana Farmers Union Board Secretary-Treasurer Erik Somerfeld visited with staff from all three of Montana’s delegates in Washington D.C. this week regarding Canada’s current wheat grading system. This comes on the heels of a letter Senator Tester sent to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman requesting the ambassador address the issue with the Canadian government.
Under the current system, when Montana wheat crosses the border it is automatically downgraded to feed, the lowest quality designation. However, the United States has made it a priority to fairly examine wheat imported from Canada. Somerfeld spoke on behalf of Montana producers during his visit with the senator. “This discrepancy leads to an unfair disadvantage for Montana farmers who work tirelessly to provide high-quality wheat. MFU is in favor of standards that don’t unfairly discount Montana grain,” said Somerfeld.
Paul Kanning, MFU Board Member and farmer in Flaxville, grows spring wheat. Currently he sells his wheat in state, but would consider doing business with Canada if it made financial sense to do so. “If the rules were more balanced, it would open up the options for us and put us on a level playing field,” said Kanning.
Montana farmers export more wheat to Canada than any other nation, and contribute billions each year to the national economy. MFU President Alan Merrill: “Montana farmers depend on equitable grain pricing to put food on the table for people all over the world. We applaud Senator Tester’s commitment to Montana agriculture.”
Somerfeld was in D.C. to represent Montana on the National Farmers Union Policy Committee. With input from delegates and membership the committee will then submit a final copy of the policy at the national convention in March in Minneapolis.