(December 9, 2014, Saskatoon) – The National Farmers Union (NFU) was pleased to provide comments on the agricultural impacts of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) to the House of Commons Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee. The NFU was invited to appear as a witness at the Committee’s recent meeting studying the CETA agreement. The meeting was curtailed due to a vote in the House, so the NFU has submitted a written brief.
The CETA negotiations have been completed, but so far, the agreement has not been ratified or adopted. The NFU is urging the Agriculture Committee to recommend that CETA not be adopted, as it provides little to no benefit for Canadian farmers, yet will cause serious negative impacts.
The NFU highlighted the harm to Canada’s dairy farmers and their communities that would result from Canada’s concession to the EU, allowing it to sell an additional 18,500 tonnes of cheese in Canada. “Under our supply management system, Canadian dairy farmers earn their income from the marketplace,” noted Ann Slater, NFU Vice-President, Policy. “In contrast, European dairy farmers obtain 30 – 60% of their incomes from direct subsidy payments. CETA thus undermines a stable farm sector in Canada by replacing part of our domestic market – and all its related employment — with subsidized EU product.”
CETA provides additional tariff-free market access for beef and pork, over and above Canada’s existing and unused access for beef produced without growth hormones and pork produced without the drug ractopamine. “CETA will not lift the EU's long-standing ban on meat produced with the use of growth promoters because EU consumers are committed to quality food, even if it costs more,” said Jan Slomp, NFU President. “CETA negotiators have made a bad deal for Canadian farmers by trading a real Canadian cheese market for fictional European beef and pork market access.”
CETA will also constrain the ability of governments at all levels to use economic and regulatory tools. Public procurement measures in CETA mean that Canadian municipal and provincial governments, as well as public institutions such as universities, hospitals and prisons, will not be able to use “buy local” policies to support farmers and food processors in their own areas.
“The Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanisms in CETA allow EU corporations to sue Canadian governments if they believe a law or regulation passed in the public interest will reduce their future profits,” said Terry Boehm, Chair of the NFU Seed and Trade Committee. “Such disputes would not be settled by the courts but by paid tribunals that would have the power to order governments to withdraw the disputed rule and/or pay compensation to the company. This is profoundly undemocratic.”
“We often hear government talking about competitiveness. In international trade, this is simply about price: our government is using trade deals such as CETA to force Canadians into a race to the bottom. As farmers we are told to just produce more, by using more inputs, and that the government will help us export more of our farm produce through trade deals,” said Slater. “European consumers are not necessarily looking for cheap food. Instead they tend to spend more of their income on food so that they can eat higher quality food, which includes non-GM grains, beef produced without hormones, and pork produced without ractopamine.”
“Our submission to the Ag Committee shows that increased exports have not led to an increase in net income for farmers,” added Boehm. “When our products, including agricultural output, are sold on the world market for less, that does not benefit Canadians – but it does benefit the global corporations that scour the world seeking the lowest cost inputs for their manufacturing processes.”
“The impacts of CETA point to the conclusion that our government is not looking out for the best interests of Canadian people or Canadian farmers, but is instead acting on behalf of global corporations,” said Slater.
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For more information:
Jan Slomp, NFU President, (403) 843-2068 cell: (403) 704-4364
Ann Slater, NFU Vice President (Policy) (519), 349-2448 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry Boehm, Chair, NFU Seed and Trade Committee, (306) 255-2880 cell: (306) 255-7638