52% of farmers think securing trade agreements and market access is a win for their farm

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For the exportable commodities such as canola, pork, beef, seafood, and wheat, trade is a fundamental staple of creating value for products being produced by Canadian agriculture. Canada is an export-reliant nation with vast agricultural production and production potential, but only forty million people in population.

According to CAFTA, Canada is the fifth largest exporter of agricultural and agri-food products in the world after the much more populated EU, U.S., Brazil, and China. Canada exports $82.2 billion a year in agriculture and agri-food products and approximately half of everything we produce is exported as primary commodities or processed food and beverage products.

In January, RealAgristudies asked Canadian farmers and ranchers about how they view certain policies impacting their operations. Twenty percent of producers believe that trade and market access have a very positive impact, and thirty two percent believe the impact is slightly positive. In comparison, thirty one per cent said trade and market access were neutral in impact, while twelve per cent said it was slightly negative impact and five per cent said it had a very negative impact on their farm.

Personally, I was surprised that only 52 per cent view trade deals and market access as having a positive impact on their operation given Canada’s reliance on exports for sales.

As I told an audience in Saskatoon this week, Canadians can only eat so many lentils, beef and pork.

Given Canada’s level of production, it’s paramount that Americans, Asians, Indians and Europeans are consuming Canadian products. Just think back to the BSE crisis and the impact it had on the Canadian cattle industry when the Canada/U.S. border closed.

In my speeches and keynotes this winter, audiences have expressed concern that it’s Canada’s importation of agricultural products that could be creating the concern for some producers. For example, the CETA agreement allows for the imports of European cheeses and yet Canada struggles to send beef into the region due to non-tariff trade barriers.

RealAgristudies will continue to dig deeper into how different segments of producers responded to the question on trade and other policy topics in the coming months. Stay tuned.

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