For Immediate Release - September 18, 1998
Contact: Anastasia Burton
(Helena)---Governor Marc Racicot today announced that stepped-up efforts to inspect Canadian trucks as they cross the border into Montana will begin at 8:00 am MST on Monday, September 21, 1998.
"We in Montana are faced with a difficult issue," Racicot said. "On one hand, our commodities are subject to extensive Canadian quarantine import restrictions, while on the other hand, Canadian commodities are allowed to freely enter the United States by the federal government. It is critical that our federal officials address this disparity."
Racicot has requested that the Montana Departments of Agriculture, Transportation and Livestock monitor the state's trade corridors to ensure that trucks meet Montana safety, weight, licensing, plant/animal health and ownership requirements necessary to transport products into the state.
"I have specifically asked the Montana Department of Agriculture to provide representatives at border stations to carry out their authorized inspections on trucks traveling across our borders," Racicot said. "I have also asked the Department of Transportation and Department of Livestock to coordinate increased monitoring of all truck weights, livestock certificates and truck safety."
All involved agencies will record the results of the monitoring and provide this information to Racicot for his review as the project continues. Inspections will continue at least until September 25, at which time operations will be reviewed for continuation beyond that date.
"The concern that unfair trade differences reduce the ability for United States producers to trade with Canada continues to escalate," Racicot said. "There are ongoing constraints, both perceived and real, that inhibit movement of products between our two countries. These continue to cause grave concern for citizens of Montana and the United States."
Department of Transportation portable weigh stations will be located south of Shelby, and in the Cut Bank, Turner and Plentywood/Scobey areas. They will inspect all commercial vehicles, including those from Canada, to ensure that they meet Montana requirements. Department of Livestock inspectors will also inspect trucks carrying livestock. Department of Agriculture employees will be located at ports which include Raymond, Turner and Sweetgrass.
"We will utilize the full authority of Montana law to inspect trucks crossing the Canadian border into Montana," Racicot said. "These actions create an opportunity to impress upon Congress the need to ensure that our producers are not adversely affected by international trade policies."
Depending on circumstances, trucks or commodities not meeting the requirements of Montana law will be fined, required to come into compliance, or sent back to Canada, according to Racicot.
"Montana has always enjoyed a beneficial and friendly trading partnership with our neighbors to the North, and we will not disrupt this long-standing relationship. Montana will continue to work with Canada to develop lasting, mutually equitable trade policies," Racicot stated.
Specific enforcement efforts will include:
The Governor's actions come as concerns rise that the federal governments of Canada and the United States are not addressing the unfair restrictions placed on U.S. producers.