Farmers hit by trade disputes should be helped faster, Trudeau says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Dec. 11, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Blair Gable)

Ottawa | Reuters — Canada’s agriculture department should move more quickly to help farmers harmed by protectionist measures imposed by other nations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Canadian farmers are caught up in a trade and diplomatic dispute between Ottawa and Beijing.

In a formal letter of instruction to Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, Trudeau said she should draw on lessons from recent trade disputes involving exports of canola, beef and pork and work out better ways to respond.

“This should include the ability to provide faster short-term support for industry when required,” he wrote in the letter, one of the mandate letters published Friday for each of the federal cabinet ministers.

The Trudeau government is under increased pressure from farm groups who say they need immediate support for producers impacted by trade disputes.

Earlier this year Ottawa extended a federal loan program to offer more financial assistance to canola seed farmers hit by a Chinese import ban. Canada also has started the formal process to challenge China at the World Trade Organization.

In a statement, Bibeau said she would continue to work with industry and her provincial counterparts to advance the priorities outlined in the prime minister’s letter, which did not provide any further details.

China temporarily suspended Canadian beef and pork exports for four months over food safety concerns after bogus export certificates were discovered. Exports resumed in November after Canadian officials submitted a plan addressing Beijing’s concerns.

— Reporting for Reuters by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa.

marie claude bibeau
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has announced $6 million will be invested in Canada Pork International (CPI) to focus on strengthening, diversifying and growing of Canada’s pork exports. It will help to boost the awareness of the industry in the priority international markets. Why it matters: A halt to exports to China has made finding other markets for Canadian pork more important. “This funding will support promotion of world class pork in Asia, Europe and here in North America through activities that include market research, trade-show exhibits, marketing in high value markets and growing markets for chilled pork,” says Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. CPI is the export promotion market development agency of the Canadian pork industry. It is a joint initiative of the Canadian Meat Council, and the Canadian Pork Council. “(CPI) is a key partner in us driving forward with the economics of pork and the contributions internationally that this industry can bring for all Canadians,” says Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph. The project is funded through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s Agri-Marketing Program, a five-year $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to help strengthen the agriculture and agri-food sector. With exports of $3.9 billion last year, Canada is ranked third in exports of pork and the project is working to build on this success. “This agreement has been essential to the great success of the Verified Canadian Pork branding strategy in Japan and we are thrilled with the opportunity to continue our brand efforts in Japan and other markets,” says Martin Lavoie, president and CEO of Canada Pork International. China halted the import of Canadian meat products following the discovery of “bogus” export certificates - the government is continuing to work to rebuild the trust of the Chinese market, although there’s concern that the Chinese move is politically motivated. “We have already shared with them some initial measures to strengthen the system to reassure them and hopefully have the markets re-opening as soon as possible, having these regular conversations still makes me hopeful that we will have the market for meat, especially pork but also beef, re-open as soon as possible,” says Bibeau. Ontario and Canadian pork industries rely heavily on exports, so having funding to boost the profile and marketing of that product is beneficial, says Eric Schwindt, Ontario Pork Chairman. “With today’s investment of $6 million I’m confident that Canada’s pork industry can capture exciting new opportunities and continue to be a pillar of Canadian economy,” says Bibeau.


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