In this file:
· CETA could bring slice of European market to Manitoba Pork
· Judge free trade by what we have lost
CETA could bring slice of European market to Manitoba Pork
By: Mia Rabson, Winnipeg Free Press
OTTAWA — The American market will likely always be Manitoba's BFF when it comes to trade, but opportunities in Europe for Manitoba pork producers and manufacturers will help diversify the province's export sales, local advocates say.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and Europe, known as CETA, passed two hurdles this week. The House of Commons voted in favour of implementation legislation and sent the bill off to the Senate for its approval. Across the pond, the European Parliament voted in favour with about 58 per cent of European MPs giving it the nod of approval.
Now the 28-member nations of the EU will have to pass it at their national legislatures.
Manitoba Chamber of Commerce president Chuck Davidson said the deal is a "great opportunity" for Manitoba business.
"With all the uncertainty we are seeing with the United States this is a perfect opportunity for Manitoba companies to look to diversify," said Davidson. "It's never going to change that the U.S. is our biggest trading partner but diversity is a good thing."
CETA eliminates or phases out most tariffs for goods travelling between Canada and the 28-member nations of the European Union. It increases quotas for agricultural products like pork and beef, and allows companies from each to compete for foreign government contracts.
Davidson said food products from Manitoba will likely see the biggest impact.
"Those are the doors that are really being opened," he said.
According to Manitoba Pork documents, Europe is the only region in the world where pork is a significant commodity in which Canada doesn't have decent market access. High tariffs and quotas have kept Canadian pork exports to the European Union extremely limited. Manitoba Pork said in 2011, for instance, only 415 tonnes of the 1.1 million tonnes of pork exports from Canadian producers went to the European Union.
Andrew Dickson, general manager of Manitoba Pork, said there are still some details to come which will tell the final story, but he expects a few Manitoba companies might decide it's worth it to focus on the European market. He said the market is extremely competitive for pork products so the profit margins are going to be tight, meaning it is likely only high-end specialty pork products, like specialty cut hams, might be worth shipping.
"It's a market of 500 million people," said Dickson. "Pork is their favourite dish. Surely to goodness there is a niche for us. We don't need a big slice."
Judge free trade by what we have lost
Farmers’ share of food profits has declined as has rural Canada’s economy, while farm debt and food imports have gone up
By Jan Slomp, Opinion, Alberta Farmer Express
February 15, 2017
Over the decades since the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and later, NAFTA, was signed, Canadian agriculture has undergone a significant shift.
There was once a multitude of diverse local and regional economic drivers, but now we have a “one-size-fits-all” export-driven, low-priced commodity production model. Farm capital needs have skyrocketed as illustrated by the massive $90-billion farm debt. Off-farm investors control more and more of Canada’s farmland. Production — per farm, per acre and per worker — continues to go up. And that production became increasingly export and transport dependent as NAFTA-driven deregulation accelerated consolidation and transnational ownership of handling and processing facilities. Farmer numbers are ominously declining, yet governments, and most farm commodity groups and agribusiness corporations remain euphoric over each signed trade agreement and growing exports.
What is missing in this picture is a few very sobering facts.
The once mighty farmer co-operative handlers and processors have been dismantled and absorbed into a handful of transnational corporations. Eighty per cent of Vancouver’s terminal capacity used to be owned and operated by prairie Pools. Now the private trade owns it all. With the Canadian Wheat Board gone there is no real economic participation by farmers beyond the farm gate, nor any referee to discipline the railroads. Prairie farmers, who once ran the majority of Canada’s grain industry, no longer have a direct connection to the customers and end-users who pay the real market value for their product.
Under NAFTA, Canada’s regulatory system facilitated North American integration of pork and beef slaughter, processing and marketing at the expense of regional and local processors, marketers and the jobs they provided. Despite trade agreements, Canadian exports are still disadvantaged due to transportation costs.
Apart from supply management sectors and a brief spike after 2009, overall inflation-adjusted net farm income is dismal. Farm communities across Canada are suffering from chronic economic decline. This was camouflaged by off-farm manufacturing jobs in Central Canada and resource sector jobs in Western Canada, but those jobs are no longer easy to get.
The decline of Canada’s rural economy is not often discussed, but four decades of loss — of elevators, rail service, machinery dealerships, manufacturing, processing, input suppliers, essential community services and retailing outlets — has steadily diminished the quality of rural life.
Government cutbacks to agricultural research facilities, public plant breeding, the PFRA and government extension services have further aggravated prospects...