Livestock and trade

Governments have facilitated a massive increase in corporate concentration as a consequence of their overwhelming focus on exports to the exclusion of factors like farmer income, animal welfare, and environmental well-being. 

In the Canadian beef industry, there was a massive rise in exports throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, mostly in the form of integration with the American market after NAFTA was signed. While global corporations profited from this trend, the prices received by farmers fell precipitously. The situation grew even more dire when a 2003 case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)—commonly known as Mad Cow Disease—in Alberta led the United States and many other countries to close their borders to Canadian beef exports. As this case demonstrates, integration with world markets merely increased risk and price volatility, but not profitability for livestock producers.

The federal government and industry lobbyists have also used trade deals to advance a false narrative of conflict between farmers in supply-managed and non-supply managed livestock sectors, arguing Canada needed to give Europe access to Canada’s dairy market in order to secure export markets for Canadian beef as part of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement [CETA]. In reality, CETA gave away a significant portion of supply-managed markets to European sellers without delivering any of the promised benefits for beef farmers.

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Read more: CETA the Wrong Deal for People, says National Farmers Union

Rather than continuously falling into the trap of export overdependence, the NFU supports Canadian farmers to produce high-quality products for domestic consumption as well as trade that serves all farmers’ interests. Visit the NFU website’s trade section for a broader analysis of issues surrounding trade deals and agriculture.

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