11.17.17

Daines Fights for Montana Agriculture

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today led seven Senators from the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest in sending a letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, urging them to address India’s unfair trade practices affecting American dry pea producers.

The letter calls on Indian Prime Minister Modi to reverse or delay the implementation of a 50 percent tariff on all dry pea imports and requests that until such actions are taken, USDA take appropriate steps to mitigate the negative impacts of the tariff on farmers.  

“India is the top export market for U.S. dry peas,” the Members wrote. “Unless this decision is reversed or mitigated, it will have a devastating impact on the U.S. dry pea industry. To mitigate these initial impacts, we urge that you request the Government of India to reverse its decision, or at least delay imposing it for 90 days to allow shipments under existing contracts to be delivered.”

The letter was also signed by Sens. Tester (MT), Risch (ID), Heitkamp (ND), Hoeven (ND), Cantwell (WA), Crapo (ID), and Murray (WA).

The letter is available below and to download HERE.

The Honorable Sonny Perdue                         The Honorable Robert Lighthizer

Secretary                                                         Ambassador

U.S. Department of Agriculture                      Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

1400 Independence Ave., S.W.                      600 17th St., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20250                                Washington, D.C. 20508

Dear Secretary Perdue and Ambassador Lighthizer:

We write to request your assistance in addressing a serious market disruption that is affecting U.S. dry pea producers and processors in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains. On November 8, 2017, the Government of India announced that all imports of dry peas will be subject to a 50 percent tariff, effective immediately, including shipments under contract and in transit. India is the top export market for U.S. dry peas, purchasing an average of 200,000 tons, or 30 percent of U.S. exports, per year. Unless this decision is reversed or mitigated, it will have a devastating impact on the U.S. dry pea industry.

The imposition of such an increase without notice has caused cash dry pea prices to collapse in the United States. Furthermore, exporters with shipments currently en route will suffer severe financial hardship when the tariff is applied to their product upon arrival. To mitigate these initial impacts, we urge that you request the Government of India to immediately reverse its decision, or at least delay imposing it for 90 days to allow shipments under existing contracts to be delivered. 

In the event India continues to impose this highly-disruptive trade measure, we ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture to use discretionary authorities, as appropriate, to purchase dry peas that otherwise would have been exported to India during the current marketing year. These authorities include 7 U.S.C. 612c (Section 32) to purchase surplus commodities that would otherwise depress domestic prices, and sales or donations under domestic or international food assistance programs.  

We look forward to working with you to mitigate the impact of this unanticipated and devastating action by the Government of India on U.S. dry pea producers and processors.

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