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Alberta’s beef sector optimistic about NAFTA negotiations
Alberta’s beef sector optimistic about NAFTA negotiations

The next four weeks could impact a generation, according to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter
Farms.com

Members of Alberta’s beef industry are satisfied with the overall progress of NAFTA negotiations, which are currently in their sixth round in Montreal, Que.

The most recent discussions led to the completion of a chapter on anti-corruption measures, according to the Financial Post. Negotiations on auto parts continue.

While those items may not be directly linked to agriculture, they are a step in the right direction, according to Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

“At this stage I think we’re feeling that more tangible offers are being put on the table,” Laycraft told CBC on Friday. “I’m certainly feeling more optimistic than I was in November.”

Until NAFTA is finalized, however, questions remain surrounding the impact on the beef industry.

Canada, Mexico and the United States trade many industry commodities, including genetics, animals and embryos, across their borders.

Those agreements need to continue to ensure the viability of the countries’ respective beef industries, according to Kelly Smith-Fraser, a producer near Innisfail, Alta.

Trade “is important for our own herds, for the enhancement of our breeds and for breed improvement,” she told CBC. “Our breeds and producers utilize a lot of data and we need to be able to access that data freely. If there’s tariffs placed on data, as well as live animals and genetics, that would have implications for producers here.”

The longer NAFTA talks take, the importance of Canada’s involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership becomes more evident.

A trade deal without the U.S. means Alberta’s beef producers, for example, could have more opportunities to market their products.

“Having that agreement approved now is a big deal,” Laycraft told CBC. “These next four weeks are four of the most important weeks for our industry for a generation.”