North Country Businesses Caught In Trade War

North Country Businesses Caught In Trade War

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It's the busiest time of year for hardware stores like O.D. Greene Lumber in Adams. In the midst of a trade war with Canada, there's extra pressure on the business.

"It costs a lot more for us - dollars - having inventory tied up and you have to be careful with that. You just can't have as much inventory here as what you normally would because of the prices going up so much," said Jeff Pratt, vice president of O.D. Greene Lumber, Inc. 

Lumber has long been a point of contention between the two nations. In recent years, so has dairy and it's one of the major sticking points in getting a deal done now.

A few years ago, Canada added an extra tier to its dairy quota system, and essentially stopped taking dairy powder from the U.S.

"That's what kicked the sleeping dog," said Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay Matteson.

Stable trade with Canada is a big deal for dairy farmers. About a quarter of the dairy products that the U.S. exports go to Canada.

Matteson says between recent tariffs and the quota system, loosening up Canada's dairy market would go a long way in helping American farmers.

"If we can open that market back up, as good as it was or better with Canada, that creates more demand, takes milk out of the system; prices that farms get paid will go up," he said.

The U.S. just cut a trade deal with Mexico, but President Trump has threatened to forgo NAFTA and leave Canada out of a new North American trade deal.

Talks have stalled out each of the last two weeks, but are expected to begin again in the next couple of days.

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