Ag exporters say they are happy with how goods have moved across the Canada-U.S. border during the COVID pandemic
Canada’s border situation with the United States has proven to be a fortunate and rare success for Canadian agriculture during a time of crisis.
“COVID-19 has brought many challenges (but) luckily trade between Canada and the U.S. has not been one of them for the Canadian beef industry,” said Fawn Jackson, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s director of government and international affairs.
The Canadian Pork Council is sounding similarly happy with how well things have gone.
“So far, knock on wood, the Canada-U.S. border has not been flagged as a major issue that is impeding the operation of our industry in any serious way,” said Gary Stordy, director of government and corporate affairs at CPC.
Some Canadians have called for the Canada-U.S. border to be opened to non-commercial traffic, worried that the tourism and other summer reliant industries could be devastated by keeping the border closed for most back-and-forth traffic.
Others have called for the border to remain shut for the foreseeable future as a way to restrict the transmission of COVID-19 and slow its spread, especially as many U.S. states appear to have out-of-control epidemics.
Many Canadians have not realized that much cross-border trade has been occurring, but is mostly limited to commercial traffic and the passage of people working in essential services.
That might be because there have been few problems associated with the commercial flow. Truckers do not appear to have become infected and spread the virus to the other country or brought it back home.
Truckers have had trouble finding food, bathrooms and other support at times, but as the pandemic has evolved most of those problems have faded.
The news that Canadian and U.S. officials plan to extend the general border closure until late July brought relief to pandemic-worried Canadians and resignation to tourism-dependent businesses and communities, but was little remarked upon in agriculture.
Stordy said there have been “minor delays” in transportation of some inputs, and the closure has been a problem for farmers and businesses with operations on both sides of the border, but “no great impediments.”
For the cattle industry, also a continentally integrated sector, avoiding disruptions has mostly been achieved.
“The CCA is pleased that Canada and the U.S. were able to identify solutions that enabled the continued flow of goods and services across our border,” said Jackson.
“We are looking forward to the implementation of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico (trade) Agreement to further strengthen our trade relationship.”