The automotive industry’s just-in-time cross-border shipping practices are a good model for the movement of agriculture and food between the United States and Canada, according to a new study. 

An Economic Analysis of Agriculture and Food Cross Border Movements: Windsor-Detroit and Sarnia-Port Huron, has been released by the University of Windsor’s Cross-Border Institute.

The study, prepared by the George Morris Centre, an independent, not-for-profit agriculture and food research organization, says efficiencies in cross-border movement of agri-food at both the Windsor/Detroit and Sarnia/Port Huron crossings have improved over the past decade. According to the study, this is in response to dramatic changes in exchange rates, as well as continual changes to regulatory oversight, border/customs issues, food safety and environmental regulations.

According to William Anderson, CBI director and Ontario Research Chair in Cross-Border Transportation Policy, continuing dialogue among the two national governments, various industry associations and the Beyond the Border and Regulatory Cooperation Council initiatives are essential to improving business practices that will reduce cross-border costs and delays for producers and food processors in the future.

“Naturally, the key challenge in the agri-food industry is perishability,” Dr. Anderson said. “This new report indicates that, similar to other industries, food producers are increasingly using just-in-time production and processing practices to fulfill commitments to major retailers."

Crossings at Detroit and Port Huron account for 75% of Ontario exports to the U.S. and 64% of Ontario’s Imports from the U.S., and agri-food is an important part of that flow. Essex, Kent and Lambton Counties, including the rapidly growing greenhouse industry, are especially dependent on cross-border shipments.

"We have to continue to work cooperatively to find new and better ways to make that cross-border flow more efficient.”

The full report is available online.