02.22.16

Daines, Zinke Request USTR to Prioritize Montana Issues with Canadian PM

U.S. CONGRESS — In advance of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first state visit to Washington, D.C., Montana Senator Steve Daines and Representative Ryan Zinke are urging the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to prioritize Montana issues in discussions with Canada. 

In a letter to Ambassador Michael Froman, Daines and Zinke requested that the USTR prioritize Montana issues as they prepare for Prime Minister Trudeau’s upcoming state visit including the renegotiation of the expired Softwood Lumber Agreement and wheat grading. 

“As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s state visit to Washington, D.C. on March 10 is rapidly approaching, we request that you prioritize a few issues critical to our constituents and Americans across the country during any working meetings or negotiations that may occur during the visit,” Daines and Zinke wrote. “In particular, we urge you to highlight the importance of renegotiating the now-expired Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) and to address issues related to the grading of U.S. wheat that is exported to Canada.” 

Next Month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit Washington, D.C., for his first time since being elected Prime Minister.

In December, Daines and Zinke sent a letter to newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to emphasize Montana priorities and ensure continued economic growth on both sides of the northern border.                                                                                                                   

Read the full text of the letter below or download it here:

Dear Ambassador Froman:

The United States and Canada have long had a close, productive, and mutually beneficial relationship. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s state visit to Washington, D.C. on March 10 is rapidly approaching, we request that you prioritize a few issues critical to our constituents and Americans across the country during any working meetings or negotiations that may occur during the visit.  In particular, we urge you to highlight the importance of renegotiating the now-expired Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) and to address issues related to the grading of U.S. wheat that is exported to Canada.

The expiration of the SLA poses tremendous challenges for Montana’s twelve sawmills, millwork, and treating facilities, and five engineered wood and panel product facilities. Our state’s wood product industry has been consistent in their message that a new agreement is a necessity. The global market has changed since the agreement’s original inception; therefore, we believe it is of utmost importance that the U.S. and Canada come together as swiftly as possible to identity new terms to the SLA. We urge you to deem this agreement as a priority, particularly in light of the challenges our timber industries face in our local, national, and global markets. 

Additionally, as you know, the U.S. is Canada’s largest wheat export market and Canadian producers compete equally with their U.S. counterparts when exporting into the U.S. As the Canada Grains Act and Varietal Registration System requires imported wheat to be graded at the lowest standard established, the result is that imported U.S. wheat is treated less favorably when compared to Canadian product. This distinction puts U.S. wheat at a significant disadvantage when it enters the Canadian market, and we encourage you to support efforts to establish reciprocal grading standards of wheat and barley between the U.S. and Canada.  

We look forward to working with you on these issues further and appreciate your consideration of our requests as you prepare for Prime Minister Trudeau’s upcoming state visit. 

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