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Pork Industry Denied Countervailing Duties

posted on August 20, 2004

The process of reopening the U.S. border to Canadian beef imports is inching forward. Word on the street is that USDA attorneys have finished reviewing public comments on the cattle imports. But it still may be three to six months before a decision is reached, which likely puts any final ruling beyond the November 2nd election.

American meat trade with Canada has become a dicey issue, and not just in beef. U.S. hog producers say there's been a deluge of heavily subsidized pork imports from north of the border in recent months. But they're having a tough time getting their own government to back an unfair trade practices claim.

Pork Industry Denied Countervailing Duties Earlier this week, the U.S. Commerce Department issued a preliminary ruling that Canadian hogs were not receiving subsidies large enough to justify imposing countervailing duties. The National Pork Producers Council, or NPPC, says it is surprised and disappointed with the initial decision and hopes for a different outcome when the final ruling is made in December.

This week's decision contradicts the U.S. International Trade Commission which ruled in May that Canadian subsidies do indeed injure U.S. producers. However, the Bush administration rejected the claims that Canadian hog farmers are being unfairly subsidized by their government. U.S. pork producers receive few subsidies except to make environmental improvements.

The ruling stems from a petition filed on March 5, 2004, by the NPPC, along with state pork producer organizations and 119 individual U.S. pork producers. They all claim Canadian farmers unfairly benefit from 22 national and provincial programs that protect them from drops in prices and encourage production. The U.S. pork industry says the petitions were filed in order to remedy the alleged imbalance in the marketplace that has been caused by Canadian trade practices. Imports of Canadian hogs rose to 7.4 million last year, up from 5.7 million in 2002.

In a separate but related antidumping case, the NPPC says the Department of Commerce has postponed a preliminary ruling on whether Canadian hogs are being dumped in the U.S. market. It claims the Canadian farmers have been selling hogs in the United States at less than market value. That ruling is expected in October.

Tags: agriculture animals industry livestock markets meat news pigs pork