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.
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.