Minnesota Officials Monitor Potential Canadian Border Agent Strike And Its Impact On Trade

Minnesota state officials are closely monitoring a potential strike by Canadian border agents, which could significantly impact the movement of goods across the U.S. northern border. The agents, represented by Canada’s Customs and Immigration Union, are demanding better pay and benefits and are prepared to walk off the job as early as June if their demands are not met.

Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Thom Petersen expressed concern about the potential effects of a strike on the state’s agricultural commerce, as Canada is Minnesota’s top agricultural trading partner, alongside Mexico and China. The border crossing between the U.S. and Canada is a major hub for the trading of pigs, cattle, feed, corn, and farming equipment, with Minnesota exporting $7 billion in goods to Canada in 2023.

Petersen emphasized that border crossing times would be the biggest concern in the event of a strike, particularly for the 500,000 to 1 million piglets that cross the border, mostly from Manitoba. Delays could force the piglets to be held for longer periods on trucks, potentially affecting costs.

Mark Weber, the president of the Customs and Immigration Union, estimated that a crossing between Minnesota and Canada could take up to 10 hours if border agents strike. However, he stressed that union border agents do not want to strike, as they “love serving Americans” and protecting Canadians.

Minnesota officials have requested more meetings with their Canadian counterparts as the possible strike date approaches. Canadian officials have stated that they are fully committed to reaching a fair and reasonable agreement for border services employees and are ready to return to the bargaining table at any time.