Sky not falling with TPP deal

If you look hard enough, will you find a dead rat in Canada’s version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal?

Maybe, but the carcass doesn’t appear to be in the farming sector.

New Zealand, which was one of the nemesis countries for Canada, pushed hard to allow its dairy sector access to Canadian markets. That was anathema to Canadian farmers who are protected by supply management quotas.

The deal announced Oct. 5 between 12 nations covering 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product is now being sold to citizens in each country.

In New Zealand, trade minister Tim Groser noted that each country had to make some “ugly compromises” to get the deal done.

He then offered up this gem as quoted by the New Zealand Herald’s website: “And when we say ugly, we mean ugly from each perspective. It doesn’t mean I’ve got to swallow a dead rat and you’re swallowing foie gras. It means both of us are swallowing dead rats on three or four issues to get this deal across the line.”

It’s doubtful you’ll see prime minister Stephen Harper use such a colourful metaphor. The humdrum headline issued by Agriculture Canada says, “Government of Canada delivers new programs for supply management sector.”

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It might be spin, but it’s not dizzying.

The deal opens key Asian-Pacific markets to Canadian beef, pork, fruit, grain and canola oil producers, possibly worth billions of dollars in the future.

However, Canada had to surrender part of its dairy sector quotas. TPP partners will have access to 3.25 percent of the dairy market, 2.3 percent of the egg market, 2.1 percent for chicken and two percent for turkey.

For this, Ottawa will provide 100 percent income protection for 10 years for producers and some protection for dropping quota values when they are sold. In all, the feds are providing $4.3 billion to supply managed producers and processors to steer them through the effects of the deal.

No one has seen the final version of the agreement, so that decaying rat may yet be lurking in the text, but from an agricultural standpoint, the sky is still high and blue.

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