Ontario’s Minister of Ag defends supply management at Tri-National Agricultural Accord
By Kaitlynn Anderson
The discussions around NAFTA, including the debate on supply management, continue.
Earlier this week, the Honourable Jeff Leal, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, attended the 26th annual Tri-National Agricultural Accord in Denver, CO.
The aim of this forum is to bring together the agricultural leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico.
This year, the Accord focused on “building relationships at this particular point in our history when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is being renegotiated,” Minister Leal said to Farms.com.
Canada and the United States established the free trade agreement in 1988. In 1990, Mexico entered the agreement as well.
Over the years, NAFTA has been “a great (way) to increase jobs and agricultural production, and to create a better economic climate in all three countries,” Minister Leal said.
While current discussions have included some American concerns over supply management, Canada will continue to defend its system.
“Ontario stands with Canada and considers any proposal that seeks to undermine the integrity of the supply managed system to be totally unacceptable,” Minister Leal said.
“Here in Denver, I made the Ontario position very clear to my American colleagues.”
Ontario’s premier released a similar statement earlier this week on the government’s support of supply management.
While NAFTA was the main topic of discussion at the Accord, government officials addressed other concerns as well.
“We also had the opportunity to talk about regulatory harmonization, which is an area that I think (the three countries) have some common opinions on,” Minister Leal said. “This was an area that was highlighted to me when I toured the U.S. (this summer).”
This issue involves the delay of shipments of perishable products at border crossings, he said.
Overall, Minister Leal and other delegates have and will continue to ensure Canadian interests are heard, he said.
“Canada will be standing firm in defending Canadian sovereignty and interests and to make sure that renegotiating NAFTA does no harm,” Minister Leal said.
NAFTA renegotiations will continue into 2018.
Photo: Ronnie Chua / iStock / Getty Images Plus