The Council of Canadians Hamilton chapter has commented in a newspaper op-ed on the impact of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) on agriculture in Canada.
Chapter activist Brian Griffith, a past-president of the National Farmers Union Local 351, writes in the Hamilton Spectator, “Agriculture is one of the largest industries in Canada. It is possible that CETA could provide some increased export potential for certain agricultural commodities (e.g. pork, beef, grain). Unfortunately, it will surely shrink the market for others (e.g. milk, poultry and eggs). Essentially, CETA will be eroding the market for areas that have been generally viable for Canadian farmers, the economy and the public purse and expanding the market for others that have historically been much more problematic. CETA is unlikely to help those producers much.”
Griffith notes, “For years, the beef industry has been fraught with a high percentage of farmers needing additional income to survive. …The processing industry has evolved to even more domination by fewer and more powerful enterprises. Beef farmers depend on competition between these packers to generate a sustainable price. CETA will not help these farmers accomplish this. Any price increase, which might occur as a result of more trade, will be offset by increased (over) production that will drive the price down again. This is the way the unregulated (free) market always works.”
He adds, “Further, some technical processing difficulties exist in Canada that will not likely allow our beef to be exported to European countries any time soon. The Canadian Cattlemans’ Association, despite aggressive government lobbying in favour of CETA, admits that it could be many years before these problems are resolved. Meantime, European beef can flow into Canada as soon as the agreement starts creating downward price pressures.”
And he highlights, “Now this may appear to be good news for Canadian consumers, but in the longer term it will surely lead to the consumption of more beef that is not produced in Canada. Farmers here will be competing with subsidized product from other countries that may not have the same safety standards as we demand, will undoubtedly have a higher carbon footprint because of more transportation or produced in a less environmentally responsible way by workers who are not adequately paid. In addition, rural communities in Canada will suffer because of fewer and less viable farming operations and will have reduced ability to maintain rural programs and superstructure.”
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