Pork sector cheers deal with Honduras

More access | Any federally certified Canadian plant will be able to export meat to the country

Canadian trade minister Ed Fast signed a free trade deal with Honduras Nov. 5 that the pork industry says offers a potential $7 million a year in expanded exports.

Cesar Urias from Canada Pork International said the deal will re-store access that the industry had before 2009, when sanitary regulations changed in Honduras to exclude Canadian products from plants not sanctioned by the new rules.

Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz also announced that Honduras agreed to recognize Canadian inspection and certification standards for meat export proposes.

“It was a market, but before 2009, just a few plants had been approved,” Urias said.

“With this agreement, any plant certified under federal standards in Canada can ship product to Honduras. It is a huge advantage.”

Sales potential in Honduras is small compared to the industry’s multibillion-dollar sales, but Canadian Pork Council president Jean-Guy Vincent praised the deal, saying it was possible because of high national standards for animal health and inspection.

“We are extremely fortunate to have excellent animal health status, a good supply of high quality feed grains, a very low animal population density and a strong reputation all over the world as a supplier of safe high quality pork,” Vincent said in a statement.

“Canada is a globally competitive and successful producer and ex-porter of pork and pork products. The key factor to sustaining our success is the ability to access a wide variety of markets.”

An early government announcement had said the trade deal with Honduras would benefit pork and beef exporters, but John Masswohl, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s director of government and international relations, said it doesn’t hold promise for the beef industry.

“We really gave it a pass,” he said. “We congratulate the pork industry on more access.”

Vincent said the deal is part of a broader recovery plan for an industry that has been battered by years of low prices, farm losses and a contraction of the sector in the face of un-sustainable economics.

“Canada is already among the world’s top three pork exporters that exported to over 100 countries in 2012,” he said. “The Canadian government’s commitment to trade agreements is key to maintaining existing pork markets, and opening up new markets to pork is critical to the Canadian hog industry.”

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