Beef and Pork Access a Red Herring in CETA negotiations, says NFU

(Saskatoon, SK)– CETA negotiations have ground to a standstill with Canada claiming that the stumbling block is the EU’s unwillingness to provide market access for our hormone-free beef and pork. NFU research shows this claim to be hollow.

“Canada already has more access for both products than our exporters have used,” stated Jan Slomp, NFU Region 7 (Alberta) Coordinator. “Furthermore, our data clearly shows that farmers do not benefit from policies that focus on ever-increasing trade.”  

“Europe has firmly committed to the precautionary principle when it comes to meat produced with certain hormones and drugs, including growth hormones for beef and ractopamine (“Paylean”) for hogs,” Slomp noted. “After a World Trade Organization ruling on the issue of hormones in beef, Europe opted to continue paying a steep penalty rather than accept beef produced with the use of certain hormones. CETA does not change that. However, the EU already offers tariff-free market share for Canadian producers who do not use hormones.”

Canadian exports of hormone-free beef in 2011 totalled only 9,000 tonnes, despite a tariff-free quota of 23,200 tonnes. Ractopamine-free pork exports are allowed under several tariff regimes which together allow us to export just over 80,000 tonnes annually. In 2011, Canada exported no ractopamine-free pork to the EU, and just 5,000 tonnes in 2010.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has set up special inspection programs to help exporters meet all of the EU’s technical requirements. A few small Canadian abattoirs have been EU-approved to supply meat.

“The EU has already opened the door,” Slomp commented, “but Canadian exporters are not walking through it.”

“Our government is being disingenuous in proclaiming the benefits of CETA to farmers and suggesting that it is going to the wall to get an agreement,” stated Ann Slater,  NFU Region 3 (Ontario) Coordinator. “The information circulating unchallenged in the mainstream press amounts to nothing but wishful thinking.” 

“It appears to us that the federal government is holding out false hope to farmers,” Slater concluded. “They’re using access to beef and pork markets in the EU as a smokescreen to cover up for selling out Canadian farmers, should CETA be completed.”

See the NFU fact sheet, “Will CETA help family farmers in Canada by opening up more European market access for beef and pork?

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For more information, contact:
Jan Slomp, NFU Region 7 (Alberta) Coordinator:  (403) 843-2068
Ann Slater, NFU Region 3 (Ontario) Coordinator:  (519) 349-2448