U.S.-CANADA CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE (CCA)
February 23, 2001
The CCA co-chairs called the meeting to order and adopted the agenda (Annex 1). A list of attendees is attached (Annex 2).
The Co-chairs acknowledged the progress made to date and the benefits of meeting for the fourth Consultative Committee on Agriculture (CCA) meeting. The meeting was held at the offices of the United States Trade Representative in Washington, D.C., and followed a morning meeting with representatives of the Province-State Advisory Group.
Grain and Feed Issues
The U.S. delegation requested that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) eliminate the phytosanitary certificate requirement for imported U.S. wheat and barley seed into Canada. The U.S. asked that CFIA accept use of a seed tag (which lists point of origin), issued by the official state seed certification agency, which is currently accepted for imports of U.S. soybeans and corn seed. Canada agreed to review the U.S. request after APHIS and CFIA complete Phase III of the scientific risk analysis of the U.S. National Karnal Bunt Monitoring Program.
The U.S. raised concern with Canada’s dumping and subsidy investigation against U.S. grain corn, particularly the high provisional duty announced in November 2000. The U.S. noted that the provisional duty is not only hurting U.S. growers, but also the Canadian livestock sector. The USG will await Canada’s final determination on March 7. Canada noted that these investigations are conducted through a quasi-judicial process subject to Canadian trade law and fully consistent with Canada’s WTO and NAFTA obligations.
The U.S. delegation inquired as to the status of Health Canada’s review of domestic nutrient fortification requirements. Canada noted that Health Canada and FDA are jointly requesting that the National Academy of Sciences make recommendations on Daily Recommended Intakes (DRI). Both delegations agreed that this topic should be discussed in the NAFTA technical working group on Food Packaging, Labeling and Food Standards.
The Canadian and U.S. delegations discussed recent reports of potential trade remedy actions by the U.S. and Canadian tomato industries. Both countries expressed interest in avoiding a disruption in tomato trade, and agreed to consult their respective industries to clarify specific concerns. Upon further consultations with industry both governments agreed to revisit this issue.
The U.S. delegation raised concerns with potential shipments of Washington state potatoes that were reportedly denied access into Alberta. According to reports from U.S. potato industry representatives, Manitoba producers denied ministerial exemptions to shipments of U.S. potatoes. The Canadian delegation responded by explaining the process for obtaining ministerial exemptions and noting that, in this case, a request for a ministerial exemption was never received by Canadian officials.
The U.S. delegation requested an update on the status of CFIA’s proposed rule on the certification of foreign seed labs. The U.S. noted that the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) will accredit U.S. seed laboratories on request and asked whether CFIA was prepared to recognize ISTA certification. CFIA responded that it anticipates publishing a proposed rule on this matter soon.
The Canadian delegation again expressed its disappointment that the U.S. had not removed its restrictions on the movement of potatoes from Prince Edward Island imposed since October 31, 2000, due to the discovery of potato wart in one field. Additionally, the Canadian delegation requested that the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Agency (APHIS) provide a quick reply to the additional information that Canada sent to APHIS on February 19, 2001. The Canadian delegation reiterated its willingness to look for ways outside of the NAFTA dispute resolution process to expedite resolution of this issue. APHIS acknowledged receipt of the additional Canadian information, and noted that APHIS will participate in consultations with experts in Europe during the week of March 5, 2001. APHIS representatives also noted that the U.S. and Canada will hold bilateral plant health technical discussions in mid-March, and that potato wart will be one of the issues addressed at this meeting.
FDA reported that it continues working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to address concerns related to FDA’s import monitoring procedures. FDA reported that it anticipates adjusting downward its import sampling/examination rates for selected Canadian produce before the next Canadian growing season to reflect FDA’s current confidence in the effectiveness of CFIA’s monitoring and control programs for microbial pathogens. FDA indicated that FDA and CFIA were preparing an accomplishment report for the "CFIA-FDA Action Plan on Food Safety" that would identify the initial group of produce types subject to the adjusted rates.
The Canadian delegation reported that publication of a final animal health regionalization regulatory amendment is targeted for the end of the first quarter 2001 deadline as set out in the December 4, 1998 Canada-United States Record of Understanding on Agricultural Trade (ROU). The amendment is on track to meet the deadline but, given that it is in the regulatory process, it is not possible to know in advance the date of completion. Any significant delays that might arise will be communicated to the U.S.
The Canadian delegation raised its continued concern regarding North Dakota’s proposed animal import rules. The U.S. reported that North Dakota officials are considering additional revisions to the proposed regulations published in mid-2000, and added that the revised proposed regulations would have to be approved by the state Board of Animal Health at its next quarterly meeting in March. FDA then reported that it had sent North Dakota officials a letter on December 20, 2000 expressing concerns with practical aspects and policy implications of implementing certification requirements in the proposed rule.
The Canadian delegation requested information on the status of the USDA proposed rule on the exclusion of imported beef and lamb carcasses from the USDA grading process. The U.S. delegation reported that the proposed rule awaits further review by the Secretary of Agriculture following the new Administration’s order to halt further action on all proposed regulations.
A representative with the FDA noted that the Veterinary drug side-by-side has been completed and approved by the United States. The Canadian delegation acknowledged a delay in their ability to make public the side-by-side comparison, and noted that Health Canada continued to work on Canadian administrative policies and regulatory changes before releasing this document. The US requested that the publication of the veterinary drug side by side be made a priority. Canada agreed that publication of the comparison is a priority, and that the necessary work is proceeding as quickly as possible.
A representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided the CCA with a status report on U.S.-Canada pesticide harmonization activities. The CCA acknowledged the progress that EPA and Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) are making on joint registrations, workshares and harmonized data requirements. EPA reported that the next NAFTA Technical Working Group on Pesticides meeting will be held this fall in Mexico City. The CCA briefly discussed the third North American Market for Pesticides meeting, and agreed that the next meeting should be held this fall in Washington.
Both delegations acknowledged the importance of the New World Wine Producers mutual acceptance agreement, and the positive effect that the agreement would have on negotiations with Europe.
The U.S. delegation expressed concern that Canada’s proposed metric package requirements could negatively impact U.S. exports to Canada. The Canadian delegation invited the USDA’s Agricultural Counselor in Ottawa to meet with CFIA representatives to ensure that there is no misunderstanding concerning the proposal.
The U.S. delegation acknowledged appreciation of Canada’s work toward the harmonization of nutritional labeling rules and policies to accord substantially with those of the U.S. Both delegations discussed the mutual benefits that can be achieved through harmonization, and agreed to continue discussions in the NAFTA Technical Working Group Meeting which will be held in April 2001 in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. delegation raised the issue of Canadian export licenses for sugar containing products and informed the Canadian delegation that U.S. companies remain concerned about Canada’s export licensing scheme for these products.
Both delegations acknowledged mutual satisfaction with progress made so far in the WTO Agriculture Negotiations, particularly in the area of biotechnology. This issue will be discussed further during the March 2001 meetings in Geneva.
Common interests between Canada and the U.S. concerning the threshold for biotech in non-biotech seed lots in addressing mutual concerns and avoiding negative consequences on trade was discussed. Additionally, interest with moving forward in working with other like minded countries was discussed.
The Canadian delegation raised its concern with various U.S. state legislative initiatives pending in North Dakota and Montana. Canada noted that in its opinion, many state legislative initiatives could potentially violate U.S. international trade obligations and threaten Canadian exports to the United States. The U.S. Delegation acknowledged Canada’s concern and noted that two of the House Bills would not be acted upon.
The Canadian delegation also sought clarifications on U.S. Senate Bill 226, a bill that would establish a "Northern Border States - Canada Trade Council". The U.S. delegation responded that the legislation is a reintroduction of similar legislation from the last Congress, and added that the legislation has not moved beyond the Senate Finance Committee. The Administration has not taken a position on the bill.
The Canadian delegation raised the issue of breaded mozzarella cheese sticks, which through a tariff reclassification, are now subject to the U.S. TRQ regime. The Canadian delegation noted mounting pressure from the Canadian industry on this matter with regard to reciprocal treatment. U.S. officials are consulting with U.S. dairy industry representatives.
Following-up on an issue raised at the July 2000 CCA meeting, the Canadian delegation inquired as to the status of proposed U.S. regulations affecting the importation of industrial hemp products. The U.S. delegation stated that it is aware of the Canadians concerns and reported that the proposed regulations await review by Bush Administration officials.
The certifying process for industrial alcohol imports was raised by the Canadian Delegation. The U.S. delegation stated that this issue is outside of the scope of the CCA, and asked Canadian officials to raise this issue with officials at the U.S. Department of Treasury.
The delegations agreed that the next CCA meeting would be held later this year, possibly in the western United States; the date to be established by the four CCA co-chairs. The co-chairs of the U.S.-Canada Province-State Advisory Group invited the CCA to hold its next meeting in Manzanillo, Mexico, site of the NAFTA Tri-National Agricultural Accord meetings on September 6-8, 2001.