by Richard Froese
Prospects for local beef producers appear brighter with a new international trade agreement progressing.
An optimistic future for the industry was presented by the Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) during a regional fall meeting Nov. 4 at Triangle Hall.
The new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 12 countries would greatly boost the beef industry, the ABP says, although it still has to be approved by the new Liberal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“My view is that he will more-than-likely honour it,” says ABP finance chair Roland Cailliau of Valleyview.
“The TPP is crucial for the livestock industry; we’re a trading country and the TPP is all about trade.”
It would reduce tariffs on exporting commodities, he says.
With TPP, Canada could double or triple its annual beef exports to Japan to nearly $300 million, one of many benefits.
That would also boost an already-vigorous agricultural field.
“The cattle industry in Alberta is healthy and prosperous in most of its sectors,” Cailliau says.
For Canada the TPP was signed by the former Conservative government with Stephen Harper as prime minister and Ed Fast as minister of international trade in early October during the federal election campaign.
Now, TPP will move forward in Canada with Trudeau and International Trade Minister Christia Freeland, a Toronto MP born in Peace River.
“We are happy to see an agreement on the TPP with Canada as a founding member,” says ABP chair Greg Bowie of Ponoka.
“These trade issues are critically important for our industry and we will be encouraging our new federal government to maintain the strength and leadership on trade issues that was shown by the previous government.”
ABP is also working with the new provincial government led by the New Democratic Party, with positive meetings with several ministers including Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier of Whitecourt – Ste. Anne.
“We are committed to work collaboratively with the new government to ensure that the interests of cattle producers and Albertans are served by government policy and legislation,” ABP executive director Rich Smith says in a brief video report.
“During the plan review in 2014, one of the strong messages we heard from producers was the need for ABP to be better at engaging and influencing the provincial government.”
That will be more vital now as the ABP and other beef organizations face decreasing support for funding.
“The biggest issue this year will be funding options,” Bowie says.
“Government doesn’t put money into research and marketing unless industry does first and we need that to stay competitive.”
ABP is also working with the Alberta government to put agriculture under the Occupational Health and Safety regulations and ensure they are acceptable to producers.