Letters to the editor, Oct. 15, 2015

TPP is dangerous

To the Editor:

For Canadians who have been rejoicing over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, please be warned: There are many obscure provisions in this agreement that will, for many years, hang around our necks like the proverbial dead albatross.

Here is just one of the examples highlighted by Nobel prize-winner Joseph E. Stiglitz and Adam S. Hersh, a senior economist at the Roosevelt Institute.

“The TPP would manage trade in pharmaceuticals through a variety of seemingly arcane rule changes on issues such as ‘patent linkage,’ ‘data exclusivity,’ and ‘biologics.’ The upshot is that pharmaceutical companies would effectively be allowed to extend — sometimes almost indefinitely — their monopolies on patented medicines, keep cheaper generics off the market, and block ‘bio-similar’ competitors from introducing new medicines for years.”

The potential saving from bulk purchasing genetic pharmaceutical is enormous.

This one provision alone in the TPP agreement will threaten the survival of our medicare system as we know it. Because of the lack of transparency, we should be careful what we wish for.

Grain dump a protest?

To the Editor:

Re: 100 bushels of wheat dumped at Conservative candidate Larry Maguire’s Brandon campaign office.

So what does this mean?

Could it be that farmers in the area were trying to tell Maguire they are very unhappy and not in favour of losing the Canadian Wheat Board?

Could it be that farmers in the area are angry at losing the single-desk advantage of selling their wheat that was taken away from them by the Conservative government without the vote that was promised?

Was the dumping of grain just a small example of what farmers will continue to lose if the Conservatives gains a majority in the Oct. 19 election?

Perhaps the individuals or person responsible will openly share their frustrations when the time is more appropriate.

Regulation bad option

To the Editor:

When forecasting predicts increases of Canadian grain exports, smart producers will want to assess grain freighting and decide whether regulation (under the revenue cap) or a new commercial framework should govern.

In a Sept. 17 letter to The Western Producer, the Saskatchewan Wheat and Barley Development Commissions and the Agricultural Producers of Saskatchewan endorsed the regulation option.

That position is not in the best interest of producers.

Unlike a commercial arrangement, regulation under the revenue cap does not allow for incentive pricing for peak loads or during periods of surge. Nor does it allow for penalties for non-performance. Although the letter claims the revenue cap encourages investment in new hopper cars, it fails to mention that compensation is at about 25 percent of cost. With railways entitled to inflationary price increases only under the revenue cap, a 25 percent contribution to new cars hardly makes the business case for new car investment.

Add to that the revenue cap’s “free rider” provision, which allows the railway that doesn’t invest in new hopper cars to benefit from the purchases or leases by the other. It is an active discouragement to investment, especially where there is an imbalance in fleet size between the two railways.

Then there’s interswitching revenue, a matter of particular relevance to grain’s export position at Vancouver.

To ease port congestion, the railways interswitch each other’s traffic. But workload performance is not recognized under the revenue cap. CN, which has carried a heavier workload, has been hit with huge bills under the revenue cap for its co-operation.

After years of attempting to remedy this inequity, it recently gave notice that it is backing away from any port infrastructure improvements on Vancouver’s North Shore, a matter of concern for producers or grain companies seeking efficient access to export markets.

From farmgate to port, the regulatory system impedes the producer’s bottom line. Producers should investigate the commercial option.

TPP needed for exports

To the Editor:

Sunterra is a family farm-based company that raises and produces agriculture products, particularly fresh high quality pork, for domestic and export markets. We have developed strong relationships with customers in Japan, Hong Kong and China.

Nevertheless, we are experiencing greater competition from suppliers located in other countries. The change in circumstances does not result from our production or processing costs. It is occurring because governments in other countries are negotiating terms of trade which are more favourable to their companies than those available to Canadian exporters. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) provides a time-limited opportunity to address the growing inequality in the terms of market access.

Sunterra is very pleased the Canadian government has recognized both the necessity of competitive terms of export market access and the importance of participating as a founding member of the TPP. We strongly support this effort as it is critical to not only existing business, but also to future opportunities.

Ninety-five percent of our current fresh pork production is sold into the markets covered by the TPP. We anticipate the agreement will accelerate significant additional growth in member country exports to the region.

The futures of our families, those who work in our facilities and those in supporting industries are reliant upon exports to TPP markets.

The assurance of competitive access will allow Sunterra to expand its contribution to the local community and to the Canadian economy. Conversely, the loss of competitive access would be devastating to our company, our workers and our community.

Sunterra looks forward to the completion, ratification and implementation of the critical TPP agreement and the opportunities it will bring to all Canadians who participate in this country’s export-dependent pork industry and agriculture and agri-food sector.


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