| WINNIPEG, Manitoba
WINNIPEG, Manitoba May 4 U.S. President Donald
Trump's criticism of the protected Canadian dairy system has
emboldened American farm groups to tackle other longstanding
agriculture irritants, as the countries move toward rewriting
U.S. poultry exporters, who include Tyson Foods Inc
and Pilgrims Pride Corp, as well as egg sellers, are
expected to seek greater access to Canada's tightly controlled
market in renegotiations of the North American Free Trade
The United States, the world's second-biggest chicken
exporter, will demand market access gains at least equal to
those they would have realized under the failed Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP) deal, industry groups and experts say.
U.S. farmers also want changes to Canadian grain laws that
automatically assign the lowest price for their wheat.
"Anybody who has an issue with Canada, this is the time to
bring it up now," said Dan Ujczo, an international trade lawyer
with U.S.-based law firm Dickinson Wright. "The dairy issue
certainly signalled that."
Trump last month took a swipe at Canada's dairy system,
which prevents large-scale imports through steep tariffs, and
moved to impose tariffs on Canadian lumber.
U.S. farm groups with grievances took note.
"It's unfair for the dairy industry but it's unfair for
poultry and eggs as well," Jim Sumner, president of the U.S.
Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), said on Tuesday, adding
he plans to make that point with the U.S. administration.
Canada currently allows tariff-free egg imports amounting
to 2.98 percent of Canadian production, and chicken imports
worth 7.5 percent. Imports would have doubled for eggs and
jumped by more than one-quarter for chicken under TPP.
"I'd be surprised if (the U.S.) starting point was anything
less," said Ontario egg producer Roger Pelissero, chairman of
Egg Farmers of Canada.
Last year, U.S. poultry sales to Canada totalled $509
million, while American egg and egg product exports to Canada
amounted to $46 million, according to USAPEEC.
Giving up expanded access is a real risk, said Robin Horel,
chief executive of Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council,
whose members include Maple Leaf Foods Inc and Cargill
Ltd. But the industry will emphasize that despite
restrictions, Canada imports more chicken, turkey and eggs from
the United States than vice-versa, he said.
Meanwhile, in the northern U.S. plains, farmers aim to use
NAFTA renegotiations to open wheat sales opportunities.
Under Canadian legislation, U.S. wheat automatically
receives the lowest quality grade and price in Canada, while
Canadian wheat commands the price accorded to its quality in the
The result is that U.S. farms near the border have no reason
to truck grain to Canadian companies that may be closer, while
plenty of Canadian wheat flows south to American delivery
points, said Alan Merrill, president of Montana Farmers Union.
"It's just solid (lineups of) Canadian trucks, coming down
with grain," said Merrill.
Alternatively, U.S. farmers can negotiate price based on the
wheat's specifications, said Guy Gallant, a spokesman for
Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay. The vast
majority of buying by Canadian grain companies, however, is done
based on the country's grading system.
Farmer group Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association
urged Ottawa last week to change the law to make cross-border
wheat trade more fair, and avoid a trade dispute.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by