U. S. Farmers Block Imports From Canada AtBorder

The Associated Press

by

Brian Witte

07 Dec 1998

 

PEMBINA, N.D. -

Unhappy about a recent agreement with Canada, farmers blockedhighways and halted Canadian trucks to protest trade policies they callunfair to American growers.

Protesters stopped about a dozen Canadian trucks yesterdayat three North Dakota sites near the border, said Col. Jim Hughes, commanderof the state Highway Patrol. Farmers also protested at the border at Sweetgrass,Montana.

At rallies in North Dakota, farmers demanded a moratoriumon Canadian grain imports until domestic grain prices rise above the costof oproduction.

An agreement reached last week between U.S. and Canadiannegotiators calls for stepped-up monitoring of Canada's wheat sales andlower barriers on American grain and livestock moving north. It does notplace limits on imports of Canadian grain and livestock, as many U.S. producershave demanded.

The farmers described the agreement as a meaningless politicalgesture.

"They didn't address the right issues," saidCurt Trulson, a farmer who helped organize the protests and joined 50 otherson the icy interstate at Pembina.

John Rice, another farmer, said there could be more protestsuntil the federal government takes stronger action to help farmers.

"I believe this is going to be a growing populistmovement," he said.

Deanna Allen, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Wheat Board,which sells and exports all grain grown in western Canada, said the protestshave almost no impact on shipments because most wheat and barley move byrail.

Farmers in both countries are struggling with a downturnin commodity prices, which some economists blame on the Asian economic crisisand a worldwide grain glut.

"It's not the Canadaian farmers we're against,"said Hank Zell, a farmer from Shelby, Montana, "We'd love to see bothsides get together and work on world trade instead of fighting with eachother."de instead of fighting with eachother."