June 12, 2018

Dialogue with Daryl podcast

Topic: Issues

June 12, 2018: Agriculture trade is weighing heavily on the minds of many North Dakota farmers as the North American Free Trade Agreement is reexamined. NDFB recently had an opportunity to host the Canadian Minister of Infrastructure and Community to share our concerns and listen to what Canada is concerned about.

Download the NDFB hosts Minister Sohi podcast

Read the transcript:

There’s been much ado about trade and especially NAFTA. NDFB was able to host Minister Sohi from Canada. Now, he’s the Minister of Infrastructure but his duty here this week was to visit with us, and our farmers and ranchers, and other commodity groups that were around the table to discuss the importance of trade.

As we all know, trade is extremely important to agriculture. We don’t want to sell it short, but we do not want to sell America short in these agreements. Although both sides of the table, the Canadian side, and us, as American farmers, North Dakota farmers and ranchers agreed that trade is important, we shared several things around that table and had a very frank discussion about some improvements that needed to be looked at. For example, dairy and the unfairness in the dairy agreements. The phytosanitary issues. Why our wheat gets treated as feed wheat when it goes up there, but yet their wheat gets graded and has the ability to make number one milling here.

We addressed a few of those issues, and the minister was very accommodating and making sure that they took correct notes. Some of these things are in the discussions of NAFTA, but now it’s given a face to that issue. It’s not just a government to government debate. They understand now, that American and North Dakota farmers and ranchers are paying attention to what truly affects their bottom lines and their ability to sell their products. So that’s a win. That’s an enhancement for North Dakota agriculture, to be able to share those concerns, have recognition now, by an important cabinet member in the Canadian cabinet, such as Minister Sohi, that it is not just a government to government relationship. It is understood that those issues exist.

So, it was a pleasure to have Minister Sohi, the Counsel General, Paul, from the Minneapolis office, and then staff to hear our concerns, and share their concerns as well, so we have a better understanding of where the negotiations are at. And that is what we do at NDFB: provide an opportunity for discussions to happen in a very frank, straightforward and productive way.

Read Minister Amarjeet Sohi’s biography

Read the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada trade fact sheet