Cattle industry to benefit from EU trade agreement

Beef exports could soon be on the rise once the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is made official. In the meantime, it was business as usual at the Meadow Lake Stockyards Oct. 24 with a pre-sorted Internet calf sale. Here, Carrie McWatters (left) and Blair Brooks herd cattle toward the auction ring Thursday morning.

Beef exports could soon be on the rise once the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is made official. In the meantime, it was business as usual at the Meadow Lake Stockyards Oct. 24 with a pre-sorted Internet calf sale. Here, Carrie McWatters (left) and Blair Brooks herd cattle toward the auction ring Thursday morning.

by Phil Ambroziak

Before long, more Canadian beef and beef products could be making their way overseas if the Canadian government and the European Union are able to come to terms on the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
The agreement  would provide Saskatchewan’s agricultural producers – particularly in the areas of beef and grain – with significant new access to the EU.

“It’s great news – any kind of free trade agreement with anyone is a good thing for any industry,” remarked Dwayne Degenhardt, a Goodsoil area rancher. “As far as the cattle market goes, from what I understand, for every dollar we spend we’re supposed to get something like $2 back. In any event, it’s something that should help keep beef prices consistent with where they are right now.”

According to a recent press release, the Canadian Cattleman’s Association (CCA) considers the agreement a potential “game-changer” for Canada’s beef industry, noting CETA provides new duty-free access for 64,950 tonnes of Canadian beef valued at nearly $600 million. The majority of that – 50,000 tonnes (35,000 tonnes of fresh/chilled beef and 15,000 tonnes of frozen beef) – is reserved for Canada.

“The removal of long-standing barriers in this agreement, such as high tariffs, finally enables Canadian beef producers to benefit from the high value the European beef market represents,” noted CCA president Martin Unrau. “We are confident the remaining technical barriers with the EU will be resolved and we look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Canada in this regard.”

Also in favour of CETA is Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall who recently said his federal counterparts have struck a good deal for Canada.

“Our government will support it,” Wall said. “It has been a long process to reach this stage, but we can now look forward to an agreement that will open markets for Saskatchewan businesses and exporters to the European Union, particularly for our province’s agricultural products.”

Meanwhile, Degenhardt said the deal should definitely benefit feed lots, which –  in turn – will also benefit ranchers.

“It should all work out for the best, as long as we can stay on top of BSE testing and such,” Degenhardt said.

Degenhardt’s family has been involved with ranching for many years while he, along with his wife, Sera, has personally been a part of the ranching industry for the last decade.

“My kids will be the fourth generation of ranchers in our family,” he noted.

It’s Degenhardt’s belief whatever agreement can be reached between Canada and the EU will eventually shape the face of the industry in the years to come.

“Changes will likely be gradual – I don’t expect prices to skyrocket or anything,” he said. “For the most part, it should allow cattle prices to remain steady and provide ranchers with a some greater stability. More European dollars coming this way is good. If they want to spend their money here, why not?”

While some concern about CETA was raised by the dairy industry with regard to the deal allowing European cheese makers to ship an extra 17,000 metric tonnes of their product tariff-free to Canada, the province has indicated CETA could also ease Canadian restrictions on EU investment, including in the uranium mining sector. According to a recent report, these changes would make Saskatchewan more attractive for EU investment in uranium mining projects and, in particular, create more economic opportunities and benefits for the people and communities of northern Saskatchewan.

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