Bad time for trade – but a good time for reading

It seems like a bad time for trade, at least for continuing success in opening new markets.

Both hard left and hard right in the U.S. are anti-trade and actively campaigning against trade in the present presidential primaries. (Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump come on down!!!)

Now is also a time when many of those on left and right in England have swung anti-trade, or at least anti-European integration, with a real possibility of the UK pulling out of the EU.

In Canada it’s a mixed bag, with less outright hostility to international trade, even though many on the left dabble in anti-trade rhetoric. It obviously makes sense for Canada to be generally pro-free trade and pro-international trade because we have a tiny population and produce huge amounts of goods and resources for which we can’t possibly provide a sufficient market. For Western Producer readers, other than those in supply managed sectors, international markets are vital. Without them, we’d have to brutally slash our production of wheat, canola, oats, cattle, hogs and a multitude of smaller commodities. This country is, and always has been, all about world trade, from the first French settlement based on fur extraction, to the Hudson’s Bay Company’s beaver pelt empire in Western Canada, to the millions of immigrants who settled the West in order to produce crops to feed Europe’s teeming masses. We’re not that different today, even if few seem to realize it.

A few weeks ago I tied up my part of the expansive multi-publications project we have been publishing on the Canadian-EU free trade deal, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. (Why do they give these things such bland and generic names?) It’s a hard subject to cover, because it’s so vast and the impact will take years to observe and feel. It’s also pretty heavy stuff, so I and my reporter colleagues Barb Glen, Shannon VanRaes, Lisa Guenther and Carolyn Cooper tried to find ways of breaking it apart so it wouldn’t seem too stodgy.

Below are our stories:

Expanding trade isn’t something that’s likely to inspire the kind of “movement” excitement that’s all the rage with Sanders and Trump supporters today, but it’s something most farmers need to both understand and appreciate. If you haven’t yet read our stories and experienced this rather large journalistic endeavour we did on your behalf, go and check it out. You’ve got a couple of weeks left before seeding, so maybe it can give you something to think about during those upcoming hundreds of hours on the tractor.

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