Canada - EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
The National Farmers Union has joined with other citizens’ organizations in the Trade Justice Network to challenge the scope and secret negotiating process of CETA, the Canada-European Union free trade negotiations, and to highlight the need for a more sustainable, equitable and socially just international trade regime.
On September 26, 2014 Canada released the text of the CETA agreement, but only after negotiations ended. The agreement must be ratified by member states of the European Union before it can come into force. The NFU contributed to Making Sense of CETA, an analysis of the final text published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' analysis of CETA (see page 86 - 89 of the document). The NFU is also a signatory to the Social Movements STATEMENT on Canada–European Union Summit in Ottawa in which over 100 union, farmers', and womens' organizations; First Nations groups; NGOs; consumer associations; environmental groups; research networks and other civil society organizations from Canada and Europe outline why we strongly oppose CETA.
In October 2013 Prime Minister Harper announced he had signed the CETA agreement "in principle", however the actual text of the deal was still being kept secret, while some details were yet to be finalized. Press reports focussed on the "beef and pork for cheese" trade-off. NFU research shows that there will be little to no benefit to beef and pork producers, while the dairy sector will suffer real losses if CETA is implemented.
The NFU obtained leaked copies of the draft text at several stages of the negotiations and has analyzed each one from the point of view of agriculture, food and farmers. It has become clear that CETA is not so much about removing trade barriers – few exist between Canada and Europe – but more about limiting the power of elected governments to prevent them from making laws that would restrict global corporations and to ensure that these corporations will have permanent economic and legal advantages over individual citizens and independent businesses.
In February 2013, the NFU signed on to the Transatlantic Statement Opposing Excessive Corporate Rights (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). We join labour, environmental, Indigenous, women’s, academic, health sector and fair trade organizations from Europe, Canada and Quebec representing more than 65 million people who are demanding that Canada and the EU stop negotiating an excessive and controversial investor rights chapter in the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
In December 2014 the NFU presented the brief, Agricultural Impacts of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food. The brief is based on the finalized text of CETA and summarizes our concerns.
In June 2015 the NFU was asked to present its views as part of the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee's study on international market access priorities for the Canadian agricultural and agri-food sector. Read the NFU's brief and the official transcript of the meeting. These documents are also available in French.
If CETA is adopted there will be severe impacts, including:
- severe restrictions on farmers’ right to save and re-use seeds, with penalties potentially including jail time for violators
- precautionary seizure of a farmers assets (including crop, machinery and bank account) on alleged (not proven) patent or Plant Breeders' Rights infringement
- loss of local food market potential due to rules against local procurement by municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals.
- restrictive rules around the use of Georgraphic Indications – the names of products such as “feta cheese” and “parma ham” based on where they are traditionally produced.
- 13,000 tonne reduction in domestic market for Canadian cheese, which will harm our artisanal cheesemakers and dairy farmers.
It is also worth noting that the EU subsidizes its farmers and Canada does not.The EU spends $50 billion/year on agricultural subsidies. In the Netherlands, for example, farmers receive more than € 400 per hectare ($218/acre). Canada provides a limited safety net program, called Business Risk Management (BRM). From 2007 to 2010 BRM programs paid out about $3.4 billion/year. If these funds were applied evenly on a per-acre basis (which they are not), the program would pay out about $20/acre of Canadian farmland.Canadian dairy, egg, chicken and turkey farmers do not use the BRM programs because the supply management system ensures they earn an adequate income from selling their product.Canada’s dairy sector operates almost entirely within the domestic market.Canada’s Agriculture Ministers have repeatedly stated that farmers should get their income from the marketplace, not the mailbox so it is unlikely that Canadian farmers will ever get European- style subsidies.
The benefits of CETA to the agriculture being touted by the federal government are unlikely to materialize.
- Europe has exempted its regulations around GMO crops from CETA meaning that Canadian farmers who use GMO technology will not gain access to the European market through CETA.
- Europe has elected to pay penalties under the World Trade Organization in order to avoid importing Canadian beef that has been produced using growth hormones. CETA will not open the European market to producers who continue to use these hormones, while Europe already allows hormone-free beef to be imported from Canada tariff-free.
For more information about CETA:
Brief presented to House of Commons Agriculture Committee, December, 2014:
CETA Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament Assembled
Terry Boehm's presentation on CETA at the 41st Annual NFU Convention
June 2014 - PEI Organizations' Brief on CETA
Fall-Winter 2012 - Trade Agreements and Democracy
Spring 2012 - CETA getting tougher on Citizens with each SECRET Draft
Fall 2011 - CETA - A Corporate Charter for Canada?
Spring 2011 - CETA must be stopped!
Fall-Winter 2010 - Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is offensive in every sense
Dec 21 2010- NFU's position on the CETA talks were validated by what came next – Letter to the Editor, published in Ontario Farmer
Fall 2010 - CETA/UPOV steamroller set to crush farmers
April 27, 2012 - Federal Government is Weak-Minded on CETA Deal
January 18, 2011 - NFU President Protests CETA Negotiations in Brussels
October 22, 2010 - NFU Joins Ottawa Rally Against Canada–EU Trade Agreement
October 14, 2010 - National Farmers Union Launches Campaign Against Canada–EU Trade Agreement
April 21, 2010 - Secret Text Of Canada-EU Trade Deal Released: The Agreement May Be The Largest Single Issue On Farm-Policy Horizon
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The National Farmers Union is a direct-membership voluntary organization made up of Canadian farm families who share common goals. It is the only farm organization incorporated through an Act of Parliament.
NFU members believe that the problems facing farmers are common problems, and that farmers producing diverse products must work together to advance effective solutions. The NFU works toward the development of economic and social policies that will maintain the family farm as the primary food-producing unit in Canada.