Foreign access concerns poultry producers

The sector has presented the federal government with five initiatives to counter the impact of recent trade agreements

RED DEER — Future trade agreements should not give more access to foreign chicken or turkey entering Canada, said the executive director of Chicken Farmers of Canada.

“The government must ensure no further access is conceded in future trade agreements,” said Michael Laliberte.

More access was granted in the United States-Mexico- Canada Agreement, as well as in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership Canada signed with Asian-Pacific nations. A poultry working group was established at the end of 2018 and members have told the government they are disappointed with the concessions.

The working group wants government commitments to build the industry rather than a compensation package.

“We are promoting long-term solutions rather than just a short-term payout,” said Darren Ference, an Alberta producer and chair of Turkey Farmers of Canada, who spoke at the Alberta Turkey annual meeting in Red Deer Feb. 26.

The group has presented five initiatives to counter the impact of the agreements:

  • Investment tax credits to support producers so they can improve their operations.
  • Establish a market development fund.
  • Set up a tariff rate quota designed to ensure minimal disruption.
  • Enforce Canadian production standards on imports.
  • Monitor fraudulent importation of mislabelled meat. It is estimated that 25 percent of Canada’s spent fowl imports are actually mislabelled broiler meat. Spent fowl imports reached 82.8 million kilograms in 2018, up 1.8 million kg from 2017.

The group also wants assurances that imported poultry meets the same production and food safety standards imposed on Canadian producers.

“We want to make sure our government directly and indirectly is demanding these programs uphold our practices,” said Ference.

It is hard to follow up to get information on some of those issues, said Phil Boyd, executive director of Turkey Farmers of Canada

“Veterinary agreements are one thing. It doesn’t necessarily touch animal welfare provisions in terms of Canadian practices. It doesn’t necessarily touch antibiotic use when we are going on a strategy to stop using Category I, II and III for preventive treatment,” he said.

The greater access for foreign poultry permitted into Canada will be phased in.

Turkey breast and thigh meat are most likely to come into Canada, where 10 million kg access was granted under CPTPP. Much of it could come from Chile, said Boyd.

In 2017, Canada produced 1.2 billion kg of chicken worth $2.5 billion. About 60.8 percent was produced in Quebec and Ontario according to Chicken Farmers of Canada.

That same year, more than 167 million kg of poultry meat and edible byproducts (fresh, chilled, frozen), worth $511 million were exported to 67 countries with the largest importers being the U.S., Philippines, Hong Kong and South Africa. Other importing countries included Gabon, Taiwan, Cuba and Jamaica.

Under full implementation of the USMCA, Canada has granted an additional 12.7 million kg of chicken market access to the U.S. The combined access in CPTPP and USMCA will raise the level of market access from 7.5 percent of annual production to 10.7 percent after 18 years, according to figures from Chicken Farmers of Canada.

The tariff rate quota (TRQ) managed by Global Affairs Canada was set at 90.1 million kg in 2018, with a 0.5 million kg holdback, which brought the volume to 89.6 million kg. Actual TRQ import volumes for 2018 reached 89.2 million kg.

Imports of chicken from the U.S. accounted for about 67 percent of total TRQ imports, with a volume of 59.7 million kg. Brazil is the second largest exporter of chicken to Canada, followed by Thailand, sending volumes of 12.6 million kg and 11.1 million kg.

Imports from Europe have been gradually increasing year-over-year, with Hungary representing 4.2 percent of imports in 2018, followed by Germany, which shipped 1.4 percent of the volume. Canada imported chicken from a number of other countries, such as Great Britain, France, Chile, and Israel.

In addition, the Import to Re-Export Program allows chicken processors to import chicken duty-free, with the agreement that they will further process the product and export it. In 2018, 19.8 million kg of chicken were imported through IREP, representing an increase of 1.3 million kg or 6.9 percent over 2017.

Where will imported turkey come from:

  • Four million kilograms expected from Chile under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership once the deal is ratified in the South American country.
  • One million expected from the United States under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

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