Canadian Ag Minister defends CETA, as others say it failed Canadian agriculture

While Canada’s ag industry does blame the EU for not holding up its part of the bargain, it is also calling out the government for letting it happen. The Canadian Ag Minister defends it position to the industry.

Canada’s federal Minister of Agriculture and Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, is admitting that CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, with the EU is facing some problems. The deal was expected to reach $1.5 billion dollars in new agri-food exports for Canada, but so far, CETA has fallen short on most trade targets since its 2017 implementation.

Now, five former provincial premiers have written to the Prime Minister’s office expressing concerns that CETA has failed to deliver for Canadian agribusiness. That letter states the European Union Commission and many of its member states continue to impose a wide range of trade barriers.

In a virtual appearance at a recent International Agriculture and Food Summit, Bibeau said that some European government spokespeople continue to push a protectionist food agenda.

Minister Bibeau states, “I think the responsibility of the state is to ensure the safety of the food. Meeting consumer’s expectations is the responsibility of the industry. Definitely, we would like to see Canada benefit as much as the EU from CETA.”

She stated that, in a modern global-trade environment, special interest groups should not be promoting fears of imported goods or expect their citizens to be satisfied only with food products provided just by domestic producers.

“There’s only a few counties who maybe can be fully self-sufficient, but their population would have to adapt to a different way of living,” she notes. “I think with Europe, we have to keep advocating for a rules-based and science-based free trade agreement.”

On the web-based Ag and Food Summit, Bibeau said that there have been gains. The hard-hit Canadian canola sector has done well with Europe’s biofuel industry, and Canada’s east coast lobster is well received. However, western Canadian durum wheat farmers have suffered from Italian country-of-origin labeling, and Canada’s red meat sector continues to face European barriers. Bibeau, who comes from a dairy background in Quebec, also brought up the issue of Canadian dairy farmers opening their market to European cheese, this while taking quota cuts in their own supply-managed market to accommodate the European imports.

“I’ll start with cheese. We have hundreds of tiny, hand-craft cheese factories and all the quota, in terms of cheese, are filled. It hurts quite a big. We have some challenges exporting our durum wheat in Italy. Some challenges around beef, but it’s been very good for canola, for biofuels, and frozen lobster, cranberries. So, we have some wins but we would like to see it more balanced,” according to Bibeau.

RealAg Radio host on CETA leaving Canadians disappointed.