Bison producers were among the farm groups that welcomed the end of negotiations for the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union in September.
But for them, the agreement represents a market expansion of major proportions: a potential 25-fold increase over current levels.
A 20 percent tariff is now placed on bison shipped to Europe, but CETA would allow producers to fill 3,000 tonnes of tariff-free quota.
“Every year, there’ll be 3,000 tonnes of quota available to bison producers on a first come, first served basis,” said Canadian Bison Producers executive director Terry Kremeniuk.
“It will be years before we’re able to move to that 3,000 tonnes, so that level was established with a longer-term vision in mind.”
Those 3,000 tonnes may sound small compared to the 50,000 tonnes of tariff-free access negotiated for Canadian beef and 80,000 tonnes of pork.
However, the bison tonnage is the equivalent of 10,000 to 12,000 animals, depending on size.
“That’s pretty significant,” said Kremeniuk.
Canada ships bison to the EU, but the process can be onerous, he added. The tariff will be dropped once CETA is established.