Agricultural Trade Barriers
Chapters 4 to 6 have focused on American and Canadian efforts to promote their agricultural exports and to pressure other countries to adopt trade liberalization measures. This chapter deals with barriers that the United States and Canada impose on their agricultural imports, particularly on goods moving across their common border. After discussing the issue of agricultural trade barriers in general, some case studies relating to specific commodities--cattle and beef, hogs and pork, and corn--are examined. Some conclusions are then put forward regarding the issue of trade barriers in Canada-U.S. relations. The last part of the chapter deals with American and Canadian attempts to embark on a "new" form of co-operation to deal with growing conflict stemming from bilateral and multilateral trade barriers: the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement. 1
Canadian-American agricultural trade has alternated historically between cycles of protectionism and liberalization. The commodity groups pressing for protection have changed over time, but the impetus for trade barriers generally increases during periods of economic distress and relatively low farm incomes. One of the major factors associated with low farm incomes is the accumulation of large agricultural surpluses. To understand current U.S.-Canadian trading patterns, it is necessary to provide some background beginning from the 1920s.
In the early 1900s, Canada's policies were affected by close interdependent ties with both the United Kingdom and the United States. For example, the United States responded to falling agricultural prices after World War I with a protectionist Emergency Tariff in 1921. This barrier contributed to a decline in U.S.-Canadian agricultural trade, and Canada therefore sought preferential agreements in the British Empire. A deterioration of economic conditions led to pressures for even greater U.S. protectionism, and Congressional passage of