Agri-food industries are split on CETA

News-AgriFoodIndustry-300The new Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union (EU) has split agri-food interests in Canada.

The agreement still has a few details to be worked out and could take up to two years to be ratified but when completely implemented, the CETA is expected to result in $1.5 billion in new agri-food exports including $600 million in beef, $400 million in pork, $100 million in grains and oilseeds, $100 million in sugar containing products, and a further $300 million in processed foods, fruits and vegetables according to the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance.

Discussions around CETA have been ongoing since 2009, and reported breakthroughs on meat and dairy issues in September have allowed Canada and the EU to move forward and finalize the agreement. But both sectors have had different reactions.

Canada Beef is celebrating the announcement that will give the sector broader trade access in European export markets. The European market holds great opportunity for Canadian beef and veal, with the potential for 64,950 tonnes of duty-free market access for Canadian beef and veal worth over $600 million.

“Canada Beef is positioned to work with our trade partners to take advantage of the new export opportunities in Europe. We are committed to the Canadian beef brand and will continue to foster strong partnerships in Europe to increase demand for our beef,” said Rob Meijer, President of Canada Beef.

Canada will gain unlimited duty free access to the EU with live cattle, genetics, most offals, tallow and rendered products, processed beef products and hides and skins effective immediately. The Western Grain Elevator Association and the Wild Seafood industries are also among the groups to endorse the new pact.

But the deal has left a bitter taste in the mouth of dairy farmers, particularly for cheese makers. The deal would give the EU an additional exclusive access of 32% of the current fine cheese market in Canada.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada said in a statement they are “angered and disappointed with this news as the reality is that Canada would lose its small, artisan and local cheese makers and a world-leading industry with top quality products — within a short time frame.”

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