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Canadian farmers win yet another wheat battle
WINNIPEG — The Canadian Wheat Board has succeeded in preventing an old nemesis from benefiting any further from former U.S. tariffs on Canadian wheat.

The U.S. Court of International Trade ruled Friday that the United States violated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by using a disputed section of U.S. trade law known as the Byrd Amendment.

The amendment authorized the U.S. government to distribute collected duties to injured parties, including a North Dakota farm group.

The wheat board had joined the federal government as well as Canadian softwood lumber and magnesium exporters in launching the court action.

More than $100,000 of about $500,000 in duties the U.S. government collected in recent years on Canadian wheat exports was redirected to the North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC).

The court has not decided whether the wheat commission needs to return the money, but at least no more will now be paid out to the farm group, barring an appeal.

“This money is being used to subsidize trade harassment of Canadian wheat, which we have every right to sell into the American market,” wheat board chairman Ken Ritter said in a press release yesterday.

“That’s why we have been doing everything we can to prevent these tariff proceeds from flowing to the North Dakota Wheat Commission.”

Last October, the International Trade Commission (ITC) concluded that U.S. farmers are not harmed by Canadian wheat sales to their country.

The NDWC appealed but lost the case in December, when a NAFTA panel accepted the ITC finding, clearing the way for the U.S. government to lift tariffs on Canadian wheat.

In February, the U.S. officially removed the duties, which had been set at 14.2 per cent.

Yet, it stuck in the wheat board’s craw that the North Dakota group was benefiting from a tariff that was wrongly set. So it joined the softwood lumber and magnesium exporters in fighting the Byrd Amendment.
MGR Archive 13.4.2006
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