North Dakota wheat farmers want WTO dispute panel finding appealed
A group of North Dakota wheat and durum farmers wants the U.S. Trade Representative to appeal a World Trade Organization dispute panel report released this week for its failure to condemn the practices of the Canadian Wheat Board.
North Dakota Wheat Commission administrator Neal Fisher called this part of the report “an affront to WTO goals.” Fisher noted that the WTO Article XVII requires state trade enterprises such as the Canadian Wheat Board to make “purchases or sales solely in accordance with commercial considerations.”
The commission, however, praised other aspects of the WTO panel’s report.
“This ruling ultimately will be helpful to American farmers and elevators that may at times want to ship wheat west on the Canadian rail system. Canadian railways will have to haul U.S. wheat for the same price as Canadian wheat,” Fisher said.
He added: “The WTO determination will also force Canada to remove regulatory hurdles that have been imposed on imports of U.S. wheat and may open a few opportunities for our farmers to sell wheat into niche markets in Canada.”
If the Canadian government should decide to appeal the WTO panel report, Fisher said the USTR should “offer a strong defense … that Canada has acted inconsistently with its WTO obligations by treating Canadian grain more favorably than imported U.S. grain, and that Canada’s rail transportation measure known as the ‘rail revenue cap’ discriminates against imported grain.”