WINNIPEG (B)--The Saskatchewan government March 21 said it's concerned proposed legislation in North Dakota and Montana will hurt producers trying to export their products south of the border.

The bills in question could severely delay or stop the export of any agricultural crop or raw products, beef, and pork, the government said.

Deputy Premier and Agriculture and Food Minister Clay Serby and Intergovernmental Affairs and Justice Minister Chris Axworthy have written to North Dakota and Montana officials in protest.

"The legislation being proposed by North Dakota and Montana would erect trade barriers that are not based on science or on legitimate health concerns," Serby said. "The bills are also inconsistent with both the WTO and NAFTA; we will press the federal government to take action if they are passed."

According to CBC Saskatchewan radio, the North Dakota legislation would mean that any grain or livestock exported into the U.S. from Saskatchewan would have to be tested for chemical or drug residues. The Montana law would force all meat imported from Canada to be clearly labeled as Canadian.

Axworthy said he's raised the government's concerns with the lieutenant governors of Montana and North Dakota. He also requested Canada's minister of trade, Pierre Pettigrew, to ask his U.S. counterparts to ensure any such state legislation is consistent with international trade obligations.

Letters have been sent to North Dakota Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Terry Wanzek, Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Montana House Agriculture Committee Chairman Don Hedges and Lt. Gov. Karl Ohs, the Saskatchewan government said.

Minister Serby also voiced concerns over the legislation with U.S. federal officials as well as North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson and Montana Agriculture Director Ralph Peck at a meeting in Washington Feb. 23.

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