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Montana senators call on Canada to change its wheat grading system.

With the loss of the Canadian Wheat Board's buying and selling monopolies on wheat and barley last year, the expectation was that these grains would begin moving freely between the United States and Canada. This appears to be happing, but Montana's two Democratic U.S. senators--Max Baucus and Jon Tester--say their state's farmers are being disadvantaged in the deal.

At issue is Canada' grading system that does not consider the varieties of wheat grown in the United States as meeting the standards set for other-than-feed wheat. As a result, most U.S. farmers would be paid a severely discounted price were they to deliver to Canada.

Tester and Baucus say Canada's varietal registration system automatically grades common U.S. wheat as feed wheat without considering its overall quality.

The United States also operates a grading system for eight classes of wheat, but that system does not include the varietal registration required in Canada. As a result, Canadian wheat is able to move into the U.S. market with none of the problems facing U.S. wheat that might move in the opposite direction.

Tester and Baucus have written to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to complain that Canadian officials are using "outdated" wheat grading and seed policies.

The senators say that as a result of the current system, Canadian grain buyers pay Montana wheat growers significantly less than Canadian farmers for wheat of similar quality. This treatment prevents many Montana farmers from doing business across the border and impedes trade between the two nations, they say in letters to Vilsack and Kirk.

In conclusion, the two senators write:

"The benefits of the reforms to the Canadian Wheat Board must not leave Montana's family farmers behind. We strongly urge you to work with your counterparts in Canada to address the barriers to trade that have led to a potential one-sided flow of Canadian grain deliveries at U.S. elevators. Specifically, we ask that you push for a fair and transparent system allowing Montana grain to be graded on its merits in time for fair treatment of the 2013 harvest. In addition, we ask that you work to determine farmers' cost of compliance with Canadian certification requirements, and the extent to which disease restrictions are even warranted by history of disease presence in the source counties, and the likelihood of contamination."

Grading Systems: Canada and United States

Canada recognizes nine classes of wheat grown in the western part of the country: Canada western red spring, Canada western hard white spring, Canada western amber durum, Canada western red winter, Canada western soft white spring, Canada western extra strong, Canada prairie spring white, Canada prairie spring red, and Canada western general purpose.

Then there are grades within classes, based on 53 grading factors.

The United States recognizes eight classes of wheat: durum, hard red spring, hard red winter, soft red winter, hard white, soft white, unclassed and mixed.

Then there are grades within classes, based on six "defects" and seven types of foreign (non-wheat) material.
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Publication:The Food & Fiber Letter
Geographic Code:1U8MT
Date:Mar 11, 2013
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