NY senators call for investigation over influx of Canadian onions

06:54PM Feb 06, 2020
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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
( Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand )

Two U.S. senators from New York are calling for federal investigations into unfair trade subsidies for Canadian onion growers.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, both Democrats from New York, said in a Feb. 6 news release that New York onion growers are struggling because of an influx of Canadian onions priced below the price of production.

“New York State is home to prime onion-producing land, yet our farmers are unable to sell their goods in a domestic market that is flooded by cheap Canadian exports,” Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in the release. “Farmers across the country have been struggling to keep up with growing production costs, while Canadian exporters have been able to dump cheap onions onto the market at prices comparable to 30 years ago.”

The influx could only be happening because of some type of government subsidy that is lowering costs for Canadian growers, she said in the release. 

“This would amount to an unfair trade practice and needs to be immediately investigated,” Gillibrand said in the release. “I stand with the National Onion Association in calling on the U.S. International Trade Commission and the United States Trade Representative for a full review of Canadian pricing, subsidies and exporting practices.”

Canada’s suspected unfair pricing practices have left New York onion farmers at a steep competitive disadvantage, Schumer said in the release.

“As costs of production, labor, and equipment continue to rise, it’s time for the U.S. International Trade Commission and U.S. Trade Representative to immediately investigate Canadian onion exporters’ pricing practices along with the Canadian government’s trade regulations and level the playing field once and for all, allowing New York farmers to finally harvest the massive potential of their onions” he said in the release.

Growers in New York state’s Orange County’s “Black Dirt” growing region are offered only $7 per 50-pound bag of onions, only about $2 more than prices 30 years ago, according to the release. 

The push for an investigation into the onion industry will help identify which factors contribute to unfair prices and ensure increased market transparency, according to the release.

 

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