Canada wants the United States to explain why its politicians have opened its Commodity Credit Corporation coffers to provide up to $30 billion of trade-related help to farmers, and how it intends to spend the money.
It’s perhaps a timing coincidence that the questions became public just when the U.S. and Canada slapped each other with punishing tariffs on steel, aluminum, maple syrup and some other commodities.
Canada submitted its questions to the World Trade Organization’s agriculture committee which meets several times a year to examine farm support programs and challenge those deemed to be out of line.
The Commodity Credit Corporation can make loans and direct payments to farmers when prices for corn, soybeans, wheat and other agricultural goods are low.
The White House is looking at ways to use CCC funds to offset farm income losses in a trade war with China or others, according to media reports.
Canada is also asking whether the U.S. could use the CCC money to buy products, such as skim milk powder, corn or soybeans.
The questioning amounts to a warning that Canada could file complaints with the World Trade Organization.
There is a problem, however, because the U.S. has not made appointments to the disputes-settling panels. The other World Trade Organization partners have been complaining for months about the lack of U.S. appointees.