Steve Verheul gave a presentation to the annual meeting of the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association in Brandon over the weekend. Verheul is this country’s chief negotiator in the free trade agreement being attempted between Canada and the European Union. Verheul is an impressive guy and he provides convincing arguments for why the deal would be good for Canadian agriculture and the entire country. The deal wouldn’t stop the heavy European agricultural subsidies, but EU beef production is shrinking and Canada is a logical supplier. Currently, there’s an 80 per cent duty on any beef above the limited quota amount. Canada is hoping for much better market access and even though that market would demand beef produced without growth promoters, it should provide some opportunities. Beef is sensitive for a number of EU nations, just as the supply managed industry are sensitive in Canada. Europe wants access to Canada for specialty cheeses. These sorts of agreements always involve give and take and a deal will not be without controversy. The goal is to finish the negotiations next year. Verheul was asked specifically about the allegation that a deal would limit the ability of Canadian farmers to save their own seed. He said that are no implications in the current text regarding farmer saved seed.

I’m Kevin Hursh.

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