Connectivity ‘grey’ under new trade agreement

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Some producers are concerned that a farm equipment industry push against modification may spell the end of connectivity — in other words, the ability of third-party manufacturers to produce tools which adapt farm vehicles for specialized uses.

An example would be a combine header specifically designed for pulse crops.

But abolishing connectivity is not on the agenda of the manufacturing and dealership sectors, said John Schmeiser, CEO of the Western Equipment Dealers Association.

However, that doesn’t mean the ag industry shouldn’t be vigilant in protecting it, but perhaps not for the reasons producers might think.

Connectivity was a matter of discussion under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (the successor to NAFTA) signed by all three countries in 2020. While the language around connectivity is clear on the U.S. side of the agreement, the Canadian wording leaves room for interpretation, he said.

“What we’ve found is that the U.S. language is really clear that (connectivity) can continue where the Canadian language is a little grey,” said Schmeiser. “There’s an effort out there to ensure the definition of connectivity continues.

“We have an integrated farm equipment market in North America and we shouldn’t have two sets of rules, but lawyers have looked at the language and have raised concerns. They think the intent is there but it needs to be a little bit clearer.

“Because the market is so harmonized in North America we will rest a little easier and customers will rest a little easier when we have the clarity in the language that we need.”

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