Canada-EU trade agreement opens controversy across country’s ag industry

Canada officially set in place a trade agreement with the European Union (EU) at a summit in September and since then, there have

Amelia Naismith


Canada officially set in place a trade agreement with the European Union (EU) at a summit in September and since then, there have been many mixed reactions across the province.

Within Canada’s agricultural industry, it seems dairy operations could be the most heavily impacted by the EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA).

Cherylynn Bos, co-owner of the Rock Ridge Dairy Farm, located near the south end of Ponoka County, has created the largest goat milk farm and processing operation in Alberta, with the help of international practices and she says there could be concern, depending on how the trade agreement affects Canada’s dairy, specifically cheese, market.

“The deal, they’re (federal government) going to allow 18,500 more tons of European cheese into Canada, tariff free,” said Bos.

This will increase the tonnage from approximately 21,000 to 39,000 and allow Europe access to 9 per cent of the Canadian market, up from five per cent.

Europe will also have guaranteed exclusive access to 32 per cent of Canada’s fine “artisan” cheese market.

“They’re mostly going to be importing fine cheese,” guessed Bos.

“As for artisan producers, the Canadian fine cheese market and its producers will be most affected by this,” she added.

Canadians spend approximately 11.5 per cent of their disposable income on food products and 1.07 per cent of that on dairy products.

“The unknown with this is will the market expand, will Canadians eat more cheese . . . or will it simply replace the Canadian percentage consumed in the market?” Bos asked.

If the market does not grow, she feels there would be a negative impact on cheese producers, then farms and then the local economy, as the sales would not be keeping the money spent in the vicinity. “Your dollars are gone from the community, that’s never a good thing.”

“The other thing about the agreement is it’s also opened up for us, unlimited access to the EU cheese market,” said Bos.

However, she does not believe this is as good of an opportunity as the federal government is making it out to be.

In Canada cheese and dairy costs are higher than in Europe, which will mark up the final product. “So to open the Europe market, that’s great . . . but who’s going to buy them when our product is so much more expensive?” Bos pondered.

“Will this (CETA) truly affect us? It’s hard to say,” she added.

She feels only time will tell if Canada’s market and system will be able to withstand and flourish in a more diverse market.

“For the overall good of the country I think it was an ok thing . . . I’m sure they benefited in other areas at the expense of this one,” said Bos.

Mark Matejka, who runs a cattle operation in Ponoka County, does not feel the same concerns as Bos. “I think it’s positive in the livestock industry because it opens up a new market.”

However, Canadian cattle producers also face limitations with the European market, as there are standards and other practices that need to be met.

“I think with any export and free trade agreement there will be winners and losers,” said Matejka, meaning some strains of the agricultural industry will benefit more than others.

He feels it will be difficult to tell how the cattle industry and Canada as a whole will be affected until trading and importing is in full effect.

Ponoka County grain farmer Bryce Liddle also sees CETA as a positive. “It’s never a bad thing to open up more markets.”

“You can never please everybody,” said Liddle. “I’m not worried about anything myself.”

Documents given to Ponoka News from Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins’ office detailed many of the benefits expected as an outcome of CETA.

One of the benefits mentioned was new jobs created across the country because it will open new markets.

“CETA is a 21-centuary, gold-standard agreement and is Canada’s most ambitious trade initiative ever,” stated the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada document.

Canada has cultural and historical ties with the EU and the Federal Government states it is the largest importer of goods worldwide.

“Reducing and eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers will make Canadian goods, technologies and expertise more competitive in the lucrative EU market,” the article states. “Under CETA, world-class Canadian products will enjoy preferential access to the EU.”

“When CETA comes into force, almost 94 per cent of the EU agricultural tariff likes will be duty-free,” the document continued.

Alberta is the EUs largest export destination and the Canadian Government says this will allow the province to significantly benefit from the trade agreement.

National Farmers Union president Jan Slomp is less than impressed with the trade agreement. He feels the negotiations and procedures behind the agreement were done out of turn and in secret.

He also believes CETA will negatively impact Canada’s agricultural industry in the years to come; corporations will gain new power through CETA while local institutions such as municipal governments will no longer be encouraged to adopt policies valuing local purchasing.

According to Slomp there is no gain in sight for Canadian farmers as a result of CETA.

The European Commission website states the full effects of the agreement could take many years to be felt.



Just Posted

Stettler and area youth jump into curling this winter

Junior Curling Program runs Monday nights in Stettler

Stettler secondhand charity looks for new home

Superfluity lease not being renewed; will move by Sept., 2018

First auction of 2018 has solid numbers: auction market

Stettler Auction Mart sees 700 head move through Jan. 9

Lars Callieou to entertain in Halkirk on Feb. 10

Volunteer appreciation supper held on Friday night

Outrage against hunting ‘pretty animals’

But its ok if they are ‘stupid and ugly’

Stettler and area youth jump into curling this winter

Junior Curling Program runs Monday nights in Stettler

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Provincial park no more

The province transferred Sylvan Lake Provincial Park to the Town yesterday

Most Read

Weekly delivery plus unlimited digital access for $50.40 for 52 issues (must live within 95 kilometers of Stettler) Unlimited Digital Access for one year for $50.40 Prefer to have us call you? Click here and we’ll get back to you within one business day.