By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
What will this mean for agriculture?
After intense lobbying, Canada has been invited to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks. This signals a major breakthrough for the Harper government, and if successful the new trade deal could generate up to $20.5 trillion dollars annually. But critics warn that entering into this trade deal could force Canada to make significant sacrifices to its agriculture policies. Canada’s dairy, poultry, and egg sectors which are currently protected under the supply management system limit foreign competition. While supply managed sectors are cautious to welcome this announcement, other commodity groups including the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, Canadian Pork Council, Grain Growers of Canada and Canadian Canola Growers Association are pleased to hear that the talks are underway. These non-supply management commodities rely heavily on the export market. Although, there is much speculation on the negative impact this new trade deal could have, the government remains confident that this partnership will not result in trade-offs on large ticket items. "We're not going to join into anything with pre-conditions that we have to agree to. That's not the nature of the negotiations," says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. Given the Harper governments pro-trade agenda, they have surprisingly been a strong advocate for the supply managed sectors maintaining that they will continue to uphold the status quo. As the talks begin to unfold, it should become clearer what the impact will be for the agriculture sector, and if the government can continue to dodge the bullet on upholding the supply managed sectors of the economy.