AHC Opposes 100% Tariff On European Oats

Because of a trade skirmish with the European Union involving bananas and beef, American horse owners and breeders may be paying more for their horse feed in the near future.

The American Horse Council (AHC) reports that the United States Trade Representative, which negotiates import-export issues with U.S. trading partners, has announced it intends to place a 100% tariff on various products imported from the European Union, including oats. The AHC has informed the USTR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture of the horse industry's opposition to such a tariff.

"Obviously, oats make up a large part of a horse's diet and an increase in this tariff would likely lead to a higher price paid by Americans. At a time when the economics of the horse industry are improving, we don't want it stopped for trade reasons, particularly reasons that have nothing to do with our industry," said Jay Hickey, AHC President.

It is not unusual for one country to impose or raise tariffs or other barriers to the importation of the products from another country in response to the imposition of similar barriers by that country. The USTR is proposing this action in response to the EU's failure to follow favorable rulings by the World Trade Organization regarding the importation of U.S. bananas into EU countries and the current EU ban on the importation of U.S. beef.

"The AHC agrees that in today's expanding global market the actions of the EU must be addressed," said Hickey. "Nonetheless, we believe that the resulting hardships to the $112 billion U.S. horse industry that could result from a 100% tariff on European oats have not been fully considered by the USTR. We hope that the USTR does not come to the aid of one sector of U.S. agriculture at the expense of another."

Currently, there is more than 1.5 million tons of horse feed produced in the U.S. Of this amount, approximately 25 to 35 percent is made up of oats. This 25 to 35 percent is comprised of both unaltered oats fed directly to horses and oats that are combined with other feed grains to form a mixture commonly known as "sweet feed." Domestic oat production fulfills about two-thirds of current U.S. consumption, with Canada supplying 87 percent of total imports and EU countries Sweden and Finland supplying the rest.

The AHC is very concerned that relying solely on Canada for oats could lead to higher prices paid by U.S. horse owners and breeders for feed. In addition, if Canada suffers problems with oat production, the oats supply would be reduced even further and more dramatically impact the price to the American industry.

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