MacAulay vows to defend NAFTA at ag ministers meeting

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Canada’s agriculture ministers are gathered here to hammer out the next policy framework and discuss other sector concerns such as the impending NAFTA renegotiations.

The U.S. released its list of negotiating priorities earlier this week and the first round of talks is scheduled to begin Aug. 16.

Wheat, dairy and wine are all on that list.

Federal minister Lawrence MacAulay yesterday said the government will stand by all its farmers throughout the talks.

“I’m not the official trade negotiator,” he said at a news conference announcing money for a Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture project. “But without a doubt we will make sure that we have capable trade negotiators in agriculture and in the trade department who will handle these issues very capably.”

MacAulay said the federal government has been clear in its support for the supply management system for dairy, poultry and eggs.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture, also here for its summer board meeting, discussed NAFTA as well.

President Ron Bonnett said the board met with American Farm Bureau vice-president Scott Vanderwal, and both organizations agreed any agricultural negotiations should proceed on a “do no harm” basis while working toward regulatory harmonization.

“Things are actually working pretty good,” he said.

Second vice-president Marcel Groleau, a Quebec dairy farmer, said Canada’s dairy farmers know the sector will be targeted, but he pointed out that the U.S protects commodities like sugar and peanuts.

He said Canada imports eight percent of its dairy consumption while the U.S. imports less than two percent.

“So, our market is not totally closed,” he said, adding that the U.S knows its issue with surplus milk won’t be solved by access to the Canadian market.

Most of the provincial ministers attended the CFA-hosted roundtable yesterday at the conclusion of the board meeting.

British Columbia’s new minister, Lana Popham, was just sworn in Tuesday and did not attend, and neither did New Brunswick minister Rick Doucet. Saskatchewan minister Lyle Stewart is at the meeting but skipped the roundtable. All three sent officials.

ADVERTISMENT

  • old grouchy

    Somehow I think that support is going to look like the support that happened in the CETA talks. The Canadian government offered entry rights for 38 000 tonnes (!!) of fine cheese (note not the cheap stuff) in return for a promise to consider Canadian pork and beef for import. Good deal – – – eh? (For the EU that is!)

  • ed

    What he would need to do is start moving back to a place where we were years ago. Trade for no other reason than volume becomes a law of the jungle thing pretty quickly. Give away a bit of this at below the cost of production, more of that at below the cost of production and a whole lot of something else, again all below the cost of production you are going to suffer. Don’t worry, the tax payer can make up for it with provincially and federally subsidized tax payers hard earned dollars through programs like AgriInsurance, AgriStability, AgriInvest, interest free cash advances, capital gains exemptions, reduced school taxes, low priced purple gas and diesel, young farmer interest rebates, deferred income “kick the tax can down the road” tax reduction allowances, zero down payment low cost land loans, and the list goes on and on and on. These are the stand on your own two feet, rough and tough, independent farm business entrepreneurs that don’t need no help, don’t ya know. They got rid of their own CWB single desk price positive collective wheat marketing cartel in return for an every man for himself type, “lamb to slaughter” market in strategy. This bold and under researched move has elevated the AgriStability taxpayer payments to new highs, even with the triggers for such payments tampered with to attempt to reduce reduce those payments and shield the taxpayers from the lower wheat prices. Predictable as that was! Anyway, if Mr. Macaulay wanted to be helpful, he would not allow the buy low, sell high attitude that is so prevalent in our agriculture in Canada today and would apply some common sense policy that would protect the farmer, consumer and tax payers from the gong show that is unfolding in front of us. Just because Canadian Ag. is gliding downward and has not hit the ground yet doesn’t mean it is flying. On the contrary, it is just getting closer to rock bottom. Let us hope that gets better soon. Farmers at least deserve that.

    • Harold

      I am sure that most Canadians believe that the NAFTA deal was designed by our guys with Canadian interests foremost and the US and their guys and the Mexicans and their guys and that the original NAFTA deal was created by that round table of professionals. If one were to believe this myth then they would also back the NAFTA deal in its present form. There is a solid reason why our politicians are tight lipped about the elements of this subject matter and why this agreement is the biggest deal unheard of, and is, and was, kept behind closed doors. Nothing held behind closed doors gets better. What we all deserve is transparency and in transparency each of us will know how to rightfully respond.
      As you already know, professionals of Canadian interests were not involved in the dismantling of the CWB and you know of the secrecy and oaths of silence which surrounded its sale. (giveaway) You probably know that if the 51% had to pay in exchange what the taxpayers are currently paying that the current Improvements would not have been so forthcoming. If we give our sovereignty away, there will be no shortages of countries that wont come in to our country to harvest our resources and place the inhabitants of Canada into their slave trade and destroy our businesses and further create our job losses.
      The Canadian government has been giving away our sovereignty piece by piece for decades and is continuing to do so. The lack of transparency that we allow creates the weak knees of all Canadians. MacAulay is never our Canadian hero and neither is any other politician.