Interventions in Committee
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View Lois Brown Profile
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Thank you to all of you for being here.
I have two questions I'd like to focus on. Perhaps, Senator, you could address the first one and then the second one will be for all three of you.
Canada has concluded a free trade agreement with Cameroon. I think we are doing some good things there. I know that when I was in Cameroon three years ago, they were talking about 13 billion dollars' worth of private sector money coming into Cameroon, mostly in initiatives to build hydroelectric dams for electricity. Is there an opportunity for the private sector money that's going into countries all over Africa to be incented to participate in some malaria reduction program? Obviously there's a vested interest for them because they need a healthy workforce in order to be productive. Is there some mechanism that could be established there?
My second question is for all of you. You've noted the work we're doing in maternal, newborn, and child health. One of the initiatives is to get front-line health care workers out into the most rural and remote areas and provide care for the most vulnerable people. Being proactive, is there something we can do to help increase the ability of the health care system in a country, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, to be more robust?
Pierre Flambeau Ngayap
View Pierre Flambeau Ngayap Profile
Hon. Pierre Flambeau Ngayap
2015-06-04 11:54
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Brown, thank you for your question, which is a very important one for Cameroon.
For ten years or so now, Cameroon has been putting a lot of effort into organizing a structured dialogue between the public and private sectors. We now have the Cameroon Business Forum, which meets twice a year. This forum brings together public and private partners to reflect on the common actions they can take to move the most important national initiatives forward. This is very new for Cameroon and it is working very well. There is a new vision on the part of the authorities that puts together transversely what the public and private sectors can do together to solve certain problems.
Globally, of course, we are all using a strategy of economic liberalization where the state is progressively less involved. In Africa, the state is taking a little more time to disengage, but the system is underway. Private-sector participation in major public policy decisions is now positive and anchored in Cameroon's governance strategy.
David Jacobson
View David Jacobson Profile
David Jacobson
2015-06-02 11:30
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee.
It is an honour to be back here in Ottawa to have an opportunity to talk to you about this important topic, and quite frankly, most of all to be back to see so many friends around the room.
As you say, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to address the relationship among the three North American countries from a number of perspectives. I was the ambassador here for four great years of my life. I have attended the North American leaders' summits. I am now the vice-chairman of BMO, the Bank of Montreal, with operations that span the border in a very significant way.
One of the things I should make clear from the outset is that it would be pretentious of me to try to tell Canadians how to negotiate with my country. All I can do is pass along my own perspective, based on my experience in areas where I believe all three of our countries should focus in order to enhance the well-being and prosperity of our people, which I know is a goal we all share.
To that end, I want to focus on five issues. First, while we have done a good job—not a perfect job but a good job—of reducing tariff barriers to trade between our two countries, we have to do a better job, indeed probably a much better job, of reducing some of the non-tariff trade barriers that still exist. We've taken some significant strides over the last few years, particularly with the beyond the border initiative between the United States and Canada, but it is not time to declare victory and rest on our laurels.
The best way to reduce delays and confusion at the border—and I think all of us on the panel so far are in violent agreement on this one—is to enhance the sharing of information before people and goods get to the border. First, this facilitates the swift movement of pre-cleared goods and people. As well, the time that border guards don't have to spend checking honest, good, law-abiding people and safe goods is time they can spend looking for bad guys and dangerous products.
In my mind, the best example—and again, this was alluded to earlier— is the NEXUS program. It has now taken the next step, in which both American and Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS can participate in the pre-check program, so that when we go through airport screening we don't have to take off our shoes, and we don't have to take liquids out of our bags every time we want to get on a plane. That is real progress.
I will tell you a true story.
Recently I was going through one of the pre-check lines and the woman in front of me said to the CBSA guard, “You know, this is the best program in the history of government.” I think I may have to agree with her on that one, so I want to congratulate all of you.
The second set of non-tariff trade barriers are the regulatory differences between our two countries. The same applies with respect to Mexico. It's not just the differences, but differences that really don't make a whole lot of sense, the so-called tyranny of small differences.
When I was in Canada I talked all the time about Cheerios. I see Laura Dawson, the next speaker, smiling. I think she was the one who put this together with me. Because I am pathetic, I eat the same thing for breakfast every single morning. I eat Cheerios. When I'm in the United States I eat the Cheerios that are fortified in accordance with the requirements of the United States government, and when I'm in Canada I eat Cheerios that are fortified in accordance with a different recipe, as required by the Canadian government. I'm here, Mr. Chairman, to assure every member of this committee that I feel neither healthier nor cheerier in one country or another.
I remember the first time I talked about this, some guy in the back of the room raised his hand and said, “Well, which one should we adopt?” and I said, “It doesn't matter to me and it doesn't matter to you. Just make them the same." There are so many of these small differences that really don't enhance our health and safety in any measurable way. They're just different. Seat belts are different between our two countries. Deodorant is different between our two countries. All that these differences do is make products more expensive, reduce consumer choice, and lower product quality, and there is no commensurate public benefit.
The third area that I think we need to focus on in order to enhance the economic well-being of our citizens is continued work on regional trade agreements. Again, I think all of us on this panel are in agreement that NAFTA has been beneficial to Canada, it has been beneficial to Mexico, and it has been beneficial to the United States. But NAFTA was the original trade agreement, trade agreement 1.0. I think Ambassador Davila referred to TPP as trade agreement 2.0. I would probably call it trade agreement 4.0. We've learned a lot as we've gone on over the last few years, 20 years, and it is going to fix and address some of the deficiencies of NAFTA. It is going to expand the benefits of free trade to a number of our Pacific partners.
At the same time, Canada and the United States need to continue to work on trade agreements with the European Union. I think as a strategic matter, once the three NAFTA countries have trade agreements with the Pacific countries and have trade agreements with the European Union, it puts us, these North American countries, in an extremely strong position as the bridge between the other two great trading blocks in the world. This has the potential to create millions of jobs in your country and in mine.
The fourth thing that I think we have to think about is doing a better job of including Mexico in trilateral initiatives. This is particularly true, and the ambassador referred to this, in the areas of energy and in regulatory cooperation, where I think we can make a lot of progress.
Finally, we have to encourage regional cooperation between our countries. Again, as I travelled around Canada, I would constantly hear about the relationships north-south, indeed sometimes at the expense of the east-west relationships in Canada. The Pacific northwest economic region, PNWER, has for a long time worked to coordinate the efforts of the western provinces and the western states of the United States. The Atlantic premiers and the New England governors have long worked together to expand the economic benefits in their regions.
Just this past April I had the opportunity to participate in the Great Lakes Economic Forum that was held in my hometown of Chicago by the Council of the Great Lakes Region. That's a region that had $5.8 trillion of economic activity last year. It accounted for 30% of the combined U.S. and Canadian GDP and 31% of our jobs. If just that region, the centre of the two countries, was itself a country, it would rank as the third-largest economy in the world, ahead of Japan, ahead of Germany, France, Brazil, and the U.K.
The provincial and state leaders know and understand the importance of this. They are trying to continue the momentum of this regional cooperation. One of the things that I would encourage all of you to do is to work with them to facilitate that. In two weeks, I'm going to join the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence governors and premiers in Quebec City. In the coming months, representatives from these regions are going to travel all around the world and they're going to sell the merits of trade, not just in their province, not just in their state, but in these economically strong regions, which I think benefits all of us.
Mr. Chairman, Canada, the United States, and Mexico have a full plate of issues to work on to enhance the well-being of our citizens. I again congratulate you for your work in this area and I look forward to your questions.
Thank you very much.
View Ed Fast Profile
View Ed Fast Profile
2015-05-11 15:29
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Before I begin my comments, I want to introduce a number of other people at the table. First of all, I have my deputy minister here, Christine Hogan, along with my chief financial officer, Arun Thangaraj, as well as Martin Zablocki, the CEO and president of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, and, of course, Benoit Daignault, the president and CEO of EDC.
I'm here to discuss with you the 2015-16 main estimates and to highlight how our government has been supporting small and medium-sized businesses as they seek to grow and succeed in new markets around the world.
Let me start briefly with some of our recent trade achievements. Canada is of course one of the great trading nations of the world. Trade generates approximately 60% of our GDP and is responsible for one in five Canadian jobs. In 2014, for the first time in our history, Canada's two-way trade topped $1 trillion. Last year, Canadian exports to the world increased by more than 11% over the previous year, reaching more than $524 billion. These numbers matter because increased trade leads to increased prosperity and better jobs for all Canadians.
This past April, the Minister of Finance tabled economic action plan 2015 in Parliament. This plan fully recognizes that international trade and investment are vital to the continued growth of the Canadian economy.
Mr. Chair, since coming to office in 2006, our Conservative government has made opening markets around the world for Canadian businesses a cornerstone of its economic policy. Today, Canadian businesses are more competitive in foreign markets through preferential market access, through better investment conditions, and through reduced barriers to international trade.
In August of 2014 we completed negotiations on an historic free trade agreement with the European Union. The EU is the world's largest integrated market, representing more than 500 million consumers and annual economic activity of $20 trillion. Once this trade agreement comes into force, Canada will be the only country to have free trade agreements with both the U.S. and the EU—I should say that we'll be the only major developed economy to have free trade agreements with both the U.S. and the EU—significantly improving our reputation as a preferred destination for foreign investment.
Canada will also be experiencing greater export success in another key market, thanks to our free trade agreement with South Korea, which entered into force on January 1 of this year. That agreement is expected to boost Canada's economy by close to $2 billion and increase Canadian exports to South Korea by over 30%. Also, of course, it makes Korea Canada's preferred gateway into the larger dynamic Asian marketplace.
Mr. Chair, this government knows that while traditional markets remain vitally important for Canadian trade, we have witnessed a remarkable shift of economic power to Asia. China, India, and the Southeast Asian family of nations are the high-growth markets of the future, and that is why we continue to engage with these countries, including in last week's announcement of the launch of exploratory talks on a Canada-Philippines free trade agreement.
To ensure our long-term prosperity, Canada must continue to expand its trade and investment opportunities around the world. Trade is really our lifeblood.
You may recall that back in the late 1980s it was the then Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney who masterfully brought into force the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement. That was soon followed by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
However, between 1993 and 2006, under the previous government, Canada fell way behind other countries that were aggressively negotiating trade agreements. In fact, over those 13 years, Canada signed a paltry three small trade agreements, forcing our government to play serious catch-up, and that is exactly what we've done.
Over the last nine years we have concluded forward-thinking trade agreements with 38 different countries, with many more to come. Soon our exporters will have preferential access to over half of the global marketplace.
In fact, when you add up the actual dollar value of the market access represented by all of Canada's concluded free trade agreements, 98.5% of them were negotiated under Conservative governments. We're very proud of that record. Trade, when done right, creates more jobs, higher wages, and greater prosperity for Canadians.
Canada cannot afford to allow the U.S. and our other competitors to ever outpace us again when it comes to market access. Indeed, with our free trade agreement with the EU, we expect that we will gain first-mover advantage over our American cousins.
With that in mind, our government continues to advance negotiations on a number of other ambitious trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP, as we call it, includes 12 Asia-Pacific countries, representing 800 million consumers and a $28 trillion market. That is why we're at the table negotiating the very best agreement for Canadians. We're also negotiating bilateral trade agreements with countries like India, Japan, and Ukraine.
Colleagues, in November 2013 I released the global markets action plan. That's our government's blueprint for creating jobs and economic growth through trade and investment. This global markets action plan, or GMAP as we call it, aligns Canada's trade, development, and foreign policy tools to advance our country's commercial interests around the world. We have placed a special focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, which are the backbone of our economy.
It might surprise you to know that there are more than one million SMEs across Canada, but only 41,000 export anywhere in the world. Of that number, only 11,000 actually export beyond North America. We need to improve that performance. Our goal under the GMAP is to nearly double the number of small and medium-sized enterprises that export to emerging markets. We want to move that from 11,000 to 21,000 SMEs that export to emerging markets.
That is why budget 2015 highlighted two new programs that deliver additional resources to support SMEs as they develop their export capacity. The first is a new export market development program that delivers a total of $50 million over five years in direct financial assistance to entrepreneurs who are seeking to expand into new markets. It is expected that each year this funding will help between 500 and 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses explore and expand their export potential. Funding could include dollar-for-dollar matching support to incent Canadian SMEs to join trade missions or develop web-based export prospecting solutions.
The Prime Minister also announced additional funding of $42 million over five years, with another $9.25 million ongoing thereafter, to expand Canada's trade commissioner service. We expect that this will allow us to deploy an additional 20 trade commissioners around the world where we need them the most, promoting the interests of our small and medium-sized enterprises
Historic free trade agreements require historic trade promotion. That's why in the fall of 2014 I launched the Go Global workshop series across Canada. These workshops are a partnership between our trade commissioner service, EDC, BDC, the Canadian Commercial Corporation, and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. The workshops will ensure that our SMEs are aware of the markets we have opened up for them and the tools we've made available to them so that they land successfully in those new export markets.
In just a few months the program has reached over 2,000 participants, and we expect that this program will continue. We've gone all the way from one coast to the other, helping our SMEs gain awareness of the tools that we've made available to them. We're breaking down the silos between our export agencies, taking a whole-of-government approach to trade, and bringing the resources of Ottawa to Main Street, directly to our businesses and the communities in which they operate.
Additionally, we have embedded 27 of our best trade commissioners in business associations across Canada. The goal is to allow our trade representatives to gain a better insight into the specific needs, challenges, and opportunities within each sector of our economy, in turn informing the development of policies and strategies that will better support our SMEs.
Finally, I want to inform the committee that last month I hosted the inaugural meeting of my global markets action plan advisory council. The council is composed of nine industry leaders from across the country representing key sectors of the Canadian economy who provide me with strategic insight and real-world perspectives to ensure the GMAP reflects the priorities, needs, and interests of Canadian businesses and that our government's trade policies stay ahead of the curve.
As one final note, over the last four years I have led many trade missions to our priority markets of interest: six trade missions to China; 13, soon to be 14, missions to Southeast Asia; four trade missions to India; and others to the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Trade missions representing a non-threatening environment within which Canadian SMEs can experience a new market, touch base with key stakeholders, and reach prospective customers, retailers, distributors, investors, and partners.
Our government is proud of its record of opening up new markets for Canada's exporters and investors. We believe our efforts will deliver unparalleled prosperity for future generations of Canadians. We are also confident the host of trade promotion tools we are providing to Canadian companies will free up and realize Canada's true export potential.
Mr. Chair, this government is fully committed to ensuring Canadian companies, especially SMEs, have the tools they need to seize some market opportunities available to them.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to your questions.
View Devinder Shory Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister.
Thanks to the officials as well.
Minister, you mentioned that there are one million SMEs and that only 41,000 of them export. That's shocking not only to me but also to a lot of Canadians. We talked about the visit of India's Prime Minister, which was the first visit in 42 years by an Indian Prime Minister. I and a lot of other people heard him say publicly, when he mentioned completing his road map, that he has a target to finish all these things by September 2015. Considering that we have such a small number of SMEs, I'd like you to expand on the effects that a trade agreement with India will have on our Canadian SMEs.
View Ed Fast Profile
View Ed Fast Profile
2015-05-11 16:14
I know that Prime Minister Modi made a public commitment to coming up with a road map for our free trade negotiations. We welcome that interest, by the way.
At the end of the day, what's most important is not the timeline. What's most important is that Canada conclude a quality trade agreement that serves our national interest. That has always been the standard we have set for ourselves, and that is the standard we are committed to meeting.
With respect to small and medium-sized businesses, I have spoken to many Canadians who have tried to do business in India and have found it a complex, frustrating environment. It is a very large economy when you have 1.2 billion people in one place. When you have a country full of entrepreneurs but without a coherent set of rules at times, it does become frustrating. That's why we believe it is in Canada's interest to conclude negotiations on both an investment treaty as well as a free trade agreement.
Free trade agreements not only eliminate tariffs between Canada and a trading partner, but they also eliminate many of those frustrating processes behind the scenes or behind the borders that trip up Canadian entrepreneurs when they look to do business in a new market.
We are very much optimistic that we'll be able to conclude an agreement with India that will reduce, and in some cases eliminate, those non-tariff barriers and make it easier for Canadian companies to invest in and do business with India in a transparent and predictable way.
View Devinder Shory Profile
We are talking about small companies and start-ups. Everything, I believe, for start-ups is good and helpful.
Mr. Letenneur, I believe you talked about foreign duties, trade barriers as I call them. As I mentioned, and as my colleague alluded, our government envisions free trade agreements and would like to have a level playing field. Our business is to go out of this country and sell products. I'm sure you should be happy with all kinds of free trade.
Besides the free trade agreements, do you think the government should do something else to lower these kinds of barriers or other barriers?
Nicolas Letenneur
View Nicolas Letenneur Profile
Nicolas Letenneur
2015-04-27 16:42
For a company like mine, a small business from Quebec, the free trade market is more dangerous than enriching. The main reason is that, in my field, free trade will bring to the Quebec market some very large companies, specifically European ones—and that is already happening—that will replace small local businesses. In my context, the free trade market is more damaging than it is beneficial.
Imposing taxes on products similar to mine and complicating their entry through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency would help us much more. It seems to be much too easy for products to come into the country.
View Colin Carrie Profile
View Colin Carrie Profile
2015-04-20 16:57
Are you aware of any common strategies that you see out there? You mentioned the regulatory way as the new way of getting around some of these things. Do you see any other techniques some of these countries are using?
Glen Hodgson
View Glen Hodgson Profile
Glen Hodgson
2015-04-20 16:57
I'll focus on North America.
I very much like the fact that we're talking to the Americans about reducing the barriers at the border and about trying to make progress in terms of regulatory alignment and common sense there. This was a fairly major agenda driven out of the Privy Council Office here and the Oval Office—the president's office—in the United States. For strategies beyond that...I think in North America we are on the cutting edge when it comes to thinking about freer trade. The Conference Board is a big supporter of free trade in almost any form, almost any place. That's a wealth created for our economy.
Rick White
View Rick White Profile
Rick White
2015-03-10 15:30
Mr. Chair, thank you for the opportunity to testify on your study on promoting domestic trade by reducing interprovincial trade barriers.
The Canadian Canola Growers Association represents 43,000 canola farmers from Ontario west to B.C. on issues that affect the profitability of canola. A key tenet of our work is to ensure open trade for canola and canola products domestically and internationally. Our sector has set an industry goal of producing 26 million tonnes of product by the year 2025 and a strong domestic market is important for realizing this goal.
We would like to extend support for Industry Canada's initiative to modernize internal trade in Canada and specifically to the committee for its study on barriers to agriculture and agrifood trade. A transparent, well-functioning, and predictable internal market is important to ensuring a healthy growing agriculture sector and one where investors are encouraged to locate.
A predictable, barrier-free market has the potential to generate new opportunities within Canada. Eliminating trade barriers, whether domestic or international, is key to farmers' success.
As Canada seeks to expand our international trade agreements, we also need to make sure that our internal markets are as barrier free as our international markets. Open markets foster competitiveness, growth, and jobs.
There are a few key areas where we see that a stronger Agreement on Internal Trade could resolve internal disputes and interprovincial irritants and make Canada a more attractive place to invest.
One area that needs attention is the dispute mechanism of the Agreement on Internal Trade. Stronger language, similar to the binding commitments we make when signing international agreements, and more certain timelines for the resolution of disputes, would bring more certainty to the process.
The case involving Quebec’s Food Products Act that was brought forward under the agreement by the Government of Saskatchewan and supported by Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia, is a case in point. Although the case was eventually won, last week an appeal panel under the Agreement on Internal Trade upheld the 2014 ruling that Quebec’s Food Products Act did in fact restrict the sale and marketing of vegetable oil-based dairy blends, including canola. The timeline between when the case was brought and until it was resolved was long.
Together with a similar dispute and ruling in Ontario in 2011, it took close to five years to secure access for western Canadian vegetable oils in Ontario and Quebec. That timeline is too long to provide industry participants with incentive to invest and innovate. A dispute settlement mechanism and compliance mechanism similar to those in the WTO or NAFTA should be considered as a key part of a modern AIT.
To illustrate the positive impact such changes could lead to, we can look at the opportunities in Ontario and Quebec. These provinces represent two-thirds of the Canadian food market and represent a significant market for growth in food products. As a result of the ruling, there are now new opportunities for marketing and processing of Canadian-grown canola. Increased domestic sales diversify our customer base and keep the economic benefits at home in terms of increased value-added manufacturing and job creation. Equally important, Canadians are increasingly looking for healthier food options, which canola can provide through butter-oil blends and alternative new products.
Another irritant currently faced by canola farmers that could be addressed by an expanded AIT is the growing patchwork of provincial and municipal non-scientific regulatory or quasi-regulatory restrictions. For some time we have seen a move by other jurisdictions away from a science-based approach and guidance provided by expert national regulators. This has resulted in inequities among industry participants, including growers, depending on where they live in Canada. Provinces and municipalities can take decisions of a regulatory nature that are directly contrary to scientific evidence provided by national regulators whose job it is to set standards and safeguard Canada's food and environmental safety.
Measures restricting the use of neonicotinoids, enacting cosmetic pesticide bans, or proposing local bans on genetically modified foods have been taken contrary to evidence provided by national regulators. They are serious impediments to a well-functioning and coherent internal market and send mixed signals to investors, creating uncertainty that leads to underinvestment and a lack of innovation.
A good recent example are the proposed Ontario restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments. If this proposal is implemented, it will result in Ontario canola farmers no longer having access to the same pest control alternatives as their counterparts in the rest of Canada or their competitors south of the border. This impacts both Canada’s exports, but also the intraprovincial trade in crop protection products and seeds. It is estimated by the Grain Farmers of Ontario that, if adopted as proposed, this regulatory change would cost Ontario farmers $630 million. It would discourage investment in the province and encourage production and investment to move elsewhere.
More broadly, such initiatives undermine the general public’s confidence in the federal regulatory infrastructure and in Canada’s food system. It has also had an adverse impact on investment in Canada. Investors are looking for stability and uniformity when calculating their return on investment and determining whether to invest.
An enhanced AIT could be a place where, if agreed to by provinces and territories, disputes could be resolved with a view to making our internal and external agreements work together seamlessly.
The last point I’d like to raise with the committee is the lack of consistency between Canada’s international free trade agreements and the Agreement on Internal Trade.
The federal government has worked diligently to secure and open international markets for agriculture and agrifood, and as such, it only makes sense that intraprovincial trade occurs on equal or better terms than those extended through the most ambitious of Canada’s free trade obligations. As the vegetable oil industry has recently experienced with its AIT panel ruling, the dispute settlement mechanism process should be made more robust and align with those extended under our other key trade agreements like NAFTA and the WTO. An updated process would assist in reducing domestic barriers to trade and strengthen Canada’s ability to compete internationally.
Thank you again for your invitation. I’d be happy to take any questions when the time comes.
View Bev Shipley Profile
Thank you, Mr. Keddy.
One of the things about being chair of the committee is that usually I don't get to ask many questions, so I'm going to take the chairman's privilege, if that's okay. I have two or three quick questions.
Kerry, in your opening, you talked about the ability to share the experience. I have to think that this has to be one of the strongest things that can happen in the involvement, the building up, and the encouragement to one another as farmers. Do you do that in any sort of formal way, where you will take it regionally and sit down with different organizations, and not all grain farmers and not all chicken farmers? If you do, how do you build that confidence and trust among each other so that you're not just sharing the general stuff? A group that I know started out and have it right down to where they actually share all the fine details of their operations, because they've built this incredible trust among each other. They share the good things and the bad. Is there any part of the program that does this?
Succession planning I think is likely one of the most critical aspects in terms of the industry itself. How do we move that generational asset from one to the next? It hasn't changed in 40 or 50 years; the numbers have. They're the same issues. Mr. Dreeshen talked about land values, and he's absolutely right. With regard to that, do you set up a sort of professional direction and seminars around that to invite not just your own but to reach out through the commodity organizations and other farm organizations for them to come in? What I'm finding when I talk to some of the succession planners is that it's a huge issue, and if you don't start your succession planning until you are 50 or 60 years old—and many don't—it becomes a huge financial quandary.
The last question I would ask is in terms of agriculture and the opening of markets. I think that in Canada we've recognized this in terms of our growth and our strength in many things, but I'm going to talk about agriculture, because I believe that agriculture is the foundation on which every free trade agreement is built; I really do. That said, do you have some thoughts about it? One of the things is open markets. I think that we as a government also have an obligation to help access those markets. I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about what we might do to help improve that and to help you as the coming-on farmers who are our next generation. Some of you may be in this position of making regulations or legislation some day, but you could help us in terms of some of your thoughts in getting better access. I know there's the transportation issue out west. I guess I'm trying to work around taking up all the time on that one.
I'll leave those quick three questions out there, and anyone can jump in, please.
Kerry Froese
View Kerry Froese Profile
Kerry Froese
2015-02-26 16:46
On your first question about how we deal with things from the different commodities and how to gain that trust, I think just coming to our conference and networking with each other and learning that we all have this strong passion for agriculture, that's where we gain the trust to share that information with each other. While it may not be very specific, as it's generalized to farms, it's easier to do that sharing of information when you're from the same commodity. You can be more specific with your targets of whatever you're growing or producing. As part of our national event, we do round tables where we discuss all these issues as young farmers.
On your last question, about the issue of opening markets and such, that would vary per commodity. I'm a poultry producer, which is also a supply-managed commodity. Without having the supply-managed industry in Canada, we probably wouldn't exist as poultry producers. The United States is so large; there are farms in there that are bigger than all of Canada's. Having that assurance of a fair cost of production model that provides me with a fair return is something that I as a young farmer do see definite benefit investing in.
Larry Spratt
View Larry Spratt Profile
Larry Spratt
2015-02-26 16:47
I'll first answer your two questions and kind of tie them together.
For succession planning, you mentioned meeting as a group, as individuals, and provincially we did. We had one where there was succession planning. We actually had an adviser whose job was to facilitate between the two generations, and we were able to talk about differences. For instance, my dad basically was able to just give me the farm; there were no questions. But for a friend of mine, he and his dad would fight over it. His dad literally threw a hammer at him one time. They were fighting so much they went for two weeks through harvest without talking to each other. But through this group, he was able to call me and ask how I was able to work with my dad. Communication is the big thing.
In terms of the open market, you mentioned transportation. It's just the accessibility. Right now where we grow, in northern Saskatchewan, we had an opportunity with Quaker Oats, for example, in the U.S. They wanted to buy as much oats as we could produce in our area, but we just couldn't get the product to them. They went somewhere else and we missed out on almost a dollar more a bushel for us as producers. On our farm that would have been an extra $200,000, which would have helped out. But it just was not there for us. We couldn't get the product to them and we missed out.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
It was the same when I went to some of the western states. I think the one group of states completely understood it. There was unanimous support for what we were saying, because they understood the problem, but sometimes issues like this do get politicized, and that's what we ran into in Washington.
As a committee, we're all supportive of dealing with COOL and helping our farmers have access to the market once they have a fuller understanding of it. You guys do. We're preaching to the converted again.
I want to talk to Kerry about CETA and the benefits that could potentially be realized. Initially the Canadian Cattlemen's Association brought their concerns about this new market to us. There are definitely some regulatory differences in comparison with the way we normally do business selling cows to different groups. But we saw the tide shift, and they realized it was a huge opportunity. We saw that with dairy too. There is potentially a large market waiting there.
There's a bit of concern, too, because it's a new era. These markets, again, have their own different regulatory issues, let's say.
Kerry, from your perspective, especially as a poultry producer, have you seen that as an opportunity?
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