Trade
May 23, 2017, Washington, D.C. - The Trump administration set the clock ticking toward a mid-August start of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico to try to win better terms for U.S. workers and manufacturers.

With a letter to U.S. lawmakers, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he triggered a 90-day consultation period with Congress, industries and the American public that would allow talks over one of the world's biggest trading blocs to begin by Aug. 16.

Renegotiation of NAFTA was a key campaign promise of U.S. President Donald Trump, who frequently called the 23-year-old trade pact a "disaster" that has drained U.S. factories and well-paid manufacturing jobs to Mexico.

Trump has pledged to use the NAFTA talks to shrink goods trade deficits that stood at $63 billion with Mexico and $11 billion with Canada last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Lighthizer told reporters NAFTA has been successful for U.S. agriculture, investment services and the energy sector, but not for manufacturing. He added that he hopes to complete negotiations by the end of 2017.

"As a starting point for negotiations, we should build on what has worked in NAFTA and change and improve what has not," Lighthizer said in a conference call with reporters. "If renegotiations result in a fairer deal for American workers there is value in making the transition to a modernized NAFTA as seamless as possible."

In his letter to congressional leaders, Lighthizer said NAFTA needs modernization for provisions on digital trade, intellectual property rights, labor and environmental standards, regulatory practices, rules for state-owned enterprises and food safety standards.

The Obama administration attempted to address many of these deficiencies in the 2015 Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which included Canada and Mexico, but Trump pulled out of TPP in one of his first official acts as president.

Canada and Mexico both welcomed the U.S. move to launch a NAFTA revamp.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, speaking at a news conference with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington, said the trade pact needed updating after nearly 25 years.

"The world has changed, we've learned a lot and we can make it better," he said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada was "steadfastly committed to free trade in the North American region," noting that 9 million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue urged U.S. officials to "do no harm" to businesses that depend on trade with Canada and Mexico and to move quickly on a new trilateral deal.

As the administration took its first formal step toward NAFTA renegotiations, the U.S. Commerce Department launched an investigation on Thursday into Boeing Co's (BA.N) anti-dumping claims against Canadian rival Bombardier's (BBDb.TO) new CSeries jetliners, drawing a threat from Canada to review a deal to buy Boeing fighter jets.

Lighthizer's letter is less detailed than a draft sent to lawmakers in March, which listed as objectives tax equality and the ability to reimpose tariffs if Mexican and Canadian imports pose a serious injury threat to U.S. industry.

Trump late in April had considered a full withdrawal from NAFTA, but was persuaded by senior officials in his administration to pursue negotiations instead. Lighthizer said he did not think a new threat to withdraw from NAFTA would be necessary.

"As the president has said, we are going to give renegotiation a good strong shot," Lighthizer told reporters, adding that he believed Canada and Mexico would negotiate in good faith.

He said he hoped to maintain the current trilateral format of NAFTA, but noted that many of NAFTA's problems are bilateral issues that need to be worked out with either Mexico or Canada.

"Our hope is that we can end up with the structure similar to what we have now. If that should prove to be impossible, then we'll move in a different direction."

Asked if the NAFTA talks would seek to resolve trade disputes over imports of Canadian softwood lumber or Mexican sugar, Lighthizer said he hoped those issues would be settled before the NAFTA talks begin under separate negotiations being conducted by the U.S. Commerce Department.

A Canadian source close to the lumber negotiations said it was unlikely an agreement could be reached by mid-August, however.

Lighthizer said he will seek public comment on the NAFTA process and intends to publish negotiating objectives on or about July 16.
May 12, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - Canada’s farmers and processors need the federal government’s help to navigate the increasingly complex labyrinth of international trade to ensure they have access to the foreign markets they depend on, according to a report released Tuesday by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.

The committee met with over 500 witnesses and other stakeholders from across the country to examine international market access priorities for Canadian farmers and processors — a key contributor to the Canadian economy — to understand the challenges they face when exporting their products and to identify possible solutions to facilitate and encourage international market access.

The committee’s report, Market Access: Giving Canadian Farmers and Processors the World, outlines ways to ensure Canadian products get to shelves around the world.

World-renowned products like Quebec maple syrup, Alberta beef, blueberries from Atlantic Canada, Okanagan and Niagara wines, and canola from the Prairies all reinforce the Canada Brand.

The committee sees the Canada Brand as crucial to positioning Canadian products on the international stage.

The committee makes 18 recommendations in its report, including:
  • That the federal government eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade and pursue free trade agreements with other countries.
  • That all levels of government work together to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers and invest in rail, road and marine infrastructure to guarantee that Canadian producers and processors are able to efficiently transport their products to consumers.
  • That the federal government improve access to infrastructure grants for farmers and food producers who want to invest in new technologies, and that Employment and Social Development Canada and Immigration and Citizenship Canada create programs that help farmers hire foreign workers to address labour shortages.
Adopting the committee’s recommendations will help the government ensure that the Canadian agriculture sector continues to thrive.
May 11, 2017 - According to Reuters, China has lifted a ban on Canadian poultry imports implemented in 2014 following an outbreak of bird flu, its quality watchdog said in a statement on Thursday.

The ban had been in force since December 2014, when Canada reported the detection of H5-type bird flu on two farms in British Columbia.
May 5, 2017, Winnipeg, Man. - U.S. President Donald Trump’s criticism of the protected Canadian dairy system has emboldened U.S. farm groups to tackle other longstanding agriculture irritants, as the countries move toward rewriting trade rules.

U.S. poultry exporters, who include Tyson Foods and Pilgrims Pride Corp., as well as egg sellers, are expected to seek greater access to Canada’s tightly controlled market in renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The U.S., the world’s second-biggest chicken exporter, will demand market access gains at least equal to those they would have realized under the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, industry groups and experts say.

Canada currently allows tariff-free egg imports amounting to 2.98 per cent of Canadian production, and chicken imports worth 7.5 per cent. Imports would have doubled for eggs and jumped by more than one-quarter for chicken under TPP.

Last year, U.S. poultry sales to Canada totalled $509 million, while American egg and egg product exports to Canada amounted to $46 million, according to USAPEEC (all figures US$). READ MORE
April 21, 2017, Ottawa, Ontario - With Donald Trump ramping up his anti-Canada trade rhetoric, Justin Trudeau says the United States like other countries subsidizes its dairy and agriculture industries by hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars.

And the prime minister says he will continue to protect Canada's agriculture producers, including the supply management system, as he tries to engage in ''fact-based'' conversation with the U.S. administration on a variety of trade irritants.

''Let's not pretend we're in a global free market when it comes to agriculture,'' Trudeau said Thursday in a question-and-answer session with Bloomberg television that preceded Trump's latest trade invective.

''Every country protects, for good reason, its agricultural industries. And we have a supply management system that works very well here in Canada.... The Americans and other countries chose to subsidize to the tunes of hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, their agriculture industries, including their dairy.''

He said the U.S. currently enjoys a $400-million dairy surplus with Canada.

''So it's not Canada that is a challenge here.''

Minutes later came the now-familiar sight of Trump in the Oval Office, followed by a pointed attack on Canadian trade practices and the impact on U.S. interests.

''Canada, what they've done to our dairy farm workers, is a disgrace. It's a disgrace,'' Trump said. ''Rules, regulations, different things have changed. And our farmers in Wisconsin and New York State are being put out of business.''

Trump was echoing and amplifying the complaints of Wisconsin and New York governors, who say Canada's decision to create a new lower-priced, classification of milk product has frozen U.S. producers out of the Canadian market.

Trudeau acknowledged the concerns of those two states, but said he didn't want to ''over-react.'' It was Trudeau's first comment since Trump first attacked the Canadian dairy industry on Tuesday at an event in Wisconsin.

Canada's ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton, fired back at Trump's criticism on Tuesday by writing to the governors of those two states telling them that the plight of their farmers was not Canada's fault. He said it was caused by U.S. and global overproduction of milk.

''Any conversation around that starts with recognizing the facts. Now I understand how certain governors are speaking to certain constituencies on that. It's politics,'' Trudeau said.

''Different countries have different approaches and we're going to engage in a thoughtful fact-based conversation on how to move forward in a way that both protects our consumers and our agricultural producers.''
April 20, 2017, Ottawa, Onario - Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier has welcomed U.S. Donald Trump's swipe at the Canadian dairy industry, saying that it's not just American farmers who are losing out.

Bernier says Canadians suffer more under supply management than Americans and if elected leader he promises to abolish the system.

On Tuesday, Trump targeted Canada explicitly in taking the next steps in his ''Buy American, Hire American'' policy, suggesting Wisconsin farmers are suffering because of the Canadian system.

Supply management has long vexed conservatives because it stands in sharp contrast to their belief in free markets, but most refuse to suggest dismantling the system as there is support for it in key constituencies.

Among them is Quebec, but that's not stopped Bernier from lashing out against the farms in his home province who are part of the system, making him the lone leadership contender to do so.

Bernier calls supply management a cartel, a phrase his competitor Erin O'Toole says turns farming families into nothing more than political props.

O'Toole says Bernier's policy demonstrates a lack of understand of agriculture and that the current system has nothing to do with any market specific issues in the United States.
April 17, 2017, Chicago, IL - Global outbreaks of bird flu in poultry have altered the flow of U.S. chicken meat, eggs and grain around the world, adding to challenges faced by domestic exporters and giving a leg up to Brazil, which has so far escaped the disease.

Different strains of avian flu have been detected across Asia, Europe, Africa and in the U.S. in recent months, leading to the culling of millions of birds and a flurry of import restrictions on eggs and chicken meat.

U.S. grain traders such as Bunge and Cargill have lost business because poultry deaths have reduced feed demand. Some domestic poultry producers, though, have managed to boost sales by taking advantage of trading bans that hurt rivals.

Sanderson Farms, the third-largest U.S. poultry producer, said it sold more chicken to Iraq when Baghdad backed away from Europe’s poultry due to bird flu, or avian influenza (AI), in the bloc.

Iraq imported 84.2 million kg of U.S. chicken meat last year, about three per cent of total U.S. chicken meat exports.

Data on chicken exports is not yet available for March, when the U.S. confirmed its first case of a highly lethal form of bird flu in commercial poultry in more than a year.

After the finding, South Korea, suffering its own worst-ever outbreak of bird flu, blocked U.S. poultry and eggs. That shut off opportunities for U.S. exporters hoping to make sales to cover shortfalls in South Korea, said Keithly Jones, a senior economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Last month, USDA cut its forecast for 2017 U.S. egg exports by six per cent to 305 million dozen because of South Korea’s ban.

U.S. grain traders, who were grappling with a global supply glut before flocks in other countries were culled to contain bird flu, have faced lower demand for the corn and soybeans that provide feed for chickens.

Bunge, one of the world’s top grain and oilseed traders, told Reuters that shipments to South Korea for February and March declined “on the back of reduced feed productions.” Shipments have since been picking up, according to the company.

In March, Cargill said South Korea’s outbreak, in which about 35 million birds have been culled, contributed to a decrease in quarterly earnings in its global animal nutrition unit. READ MORE
April 11, 2017 - The Trump administration has taken its initial step in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), sending the U.S. Congress a draft list of priorities for the negotiation.

The letter makes reference to a number of changes, including the specific mention of “opening Canada’s protections on dairy and poultry imports.”

The letter also touches on government procurement, tax policy, intellectual property, and rules of origin for things like car parts, telecommunications and dispute resolution. It also suggests a mechanism to impose tariffs if imports flood in and threaten U.S. industry.

The U.S. Congress will now be involved in revising the list. The administration will then issue a formal notice that it wants to renegotiate the deal and spend a minimum of 90 days consulting lawmakers and industry. Formal talks with Canada and Mexico could begin this summer or fall. READ MORE.
April 11, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The proposed Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada was drafted together by governments, industry and others who play a role in safeguarding plant and animal health.

The strategy will protect plants and animals from new and emerging risks by focusing efforts more on prevention and increasing partner collaboration and coordination.

You are invited to join the conversation this month and contribute your ideas on the draft strategy.

Read the draft strategy and provide your feedback through one of the following options:
To be successful, the strategy must be shaped by and reflect views of all partner groups. This consultation provides the opportunity for all stakeholders to have a say in the final contents of the strategy.

Please provide your comments by April 30, 2017.

Contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency with questions about the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada or to request the consultation documents in an alternative format:
  • Online
  • By email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • By phone: 1-800-442-2342 / 1-613-773-2342
For the most part, European farmers view the liberalization of agricultural markets positively. Many felt that farmers were relying too heavily on subsidies, a dependence that negatively impacted markets. In terms of trade, the use of subsidies also disadvantaged some countries – particularly those in developing nations – and cost taxpayers dearly each year. In recent years, policy reform and the reduction of trade barriers have addressed these issues; now new problems have surfaced.
When a laying hen is finished laying she becomes “spent fowl,” with her meat used for deli purposes or tenderized and flavoured for soup or TV dinners. Much of this spent fowl is imported from the United States under no tariff restrictions, fulfilling a Canadian demand that does not displace broiler meat.
While making the rounds at ag industry events this winter, I noticed one topic was sure to draw a crowd every time. It seems producers, suppliers and other industry stakeholders are eager to soak up information on markets and international trade – and with good reason.
Jan. 25, 2017-  An Independent Agri-Food Policy Note released today by Agri-Food Economic Systems explores the expanding trade policy agenda now facing Canadian agri-food as the trade agenda of the Trump Administration and other factors become evident.

“Not that long ago we thought the major sources of uncertainty dogging Canadian agri-food trade had been resolved”, says Al Mussell, Agri-Food Economic Systems research lead and co-author of the policy note. “That is quickly being proved wrong.  We had not expected US trade policy to turn protectionist, and in the interim a number of other major trade issues have arisen”.

The policy note takes stock of the range of developments in US trade policy under the new Trump Administration, the implications and alternatives for Canadian agri-food, and the consequent demands on trade and domestic agricultural policy. It highlights both bilateral shifts and multilateral issues that will reshape domestic and trade policy and require Canadian attention.      

“We face a problem of breadth and depth”, says Douglas Hedley, Agri-Food Economic Systems associate and co-author of the policy note. “The sheer number of prospective trade complaints and defensive actions coming from the US could swamp our capacity to effectively analyze and mount a successful defense; this may be a strategy of the new US administration”.  

Mussell says, “a retrenchment of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, potential renegotiation of NAFTA, a prospective US border tax, and US trade complaints raised against Canada will drive Canada to consider alternative markets.  This puts more pressure on CETA and prospective new trade agreements with Japan, China, and perhaps others to provide markets for our agri-food products.  It will also require alignment between domestic agricultural policy and this new trade environment”.

“At the same time, a WTO Ministerial meeting is scheduled for later this year, in which domestic support for agriculture is likely to be a key element," Hedley adds.  Canada will be pressed to advance its agenda for reduced agricultural support globally and to deal with its own sensitivities.  This will further draw upon our trade policy capacity”.       

The Independent Agri-Food Policy Note can be accessed at www.agrifoodecon.ca.

August 17, 2016 - The Alltech Corporate Career Development Program is seeking to recruit 12 recent bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates who wish to develop skills in science, veterinary science, biotechnology, information technology, marketing and finance.  Recent graduates are encourage to apply during the window of Aug. 15–Sept. 30 via the Alltech Corporate Career Development Program website. The program will commence in February for the 2017 group.

Alltech aims to develop future leaders within the agriculture industry and values long-term talent development through the Alltech Corporate Career Development Program, which started in 2012. This program was designed specifically by Dr. Aoife Lyons, Director of Educational Engagement at Alltech. Education, development and engagement are fundamental to the culture of Alltech, now one of the top five animal health companies in the world.

“This is a life-changing opportunity for recent graduates to interact with colleagues from other countries, develop both their technical and interpersonal skills, and share innovative ideas,” said Dr. Lyons.

“Previous Career Development Program members have worked in a variety of areas, including internal auditing for Latin America and marketing and event promotion for ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, an annual symposium with more than 3,000 global attendees,” she continued. “We strive to match successful applicants’ interests with Alltech’s global needs.”

The 12-month, salaried, full-time mentorship program will begin with an intensive three-month training period at Alltech’s global headquarters in Nicholasville, Kentucky, USA, where graduates will study topics including sustainable energy, communications, marketing and international business. Afterward, they will continue training and development while simultaneously managing key company projects in one of the company’s global offices, guided and mentored by senior management.

Tanja Marincich of Santiago, Chile, was accepted to the program this year and is now finishing her training and development with the European finance team at Alltech’s European Bioscience Centre in Ireland.

“The program has not only given me immediate insight into the inner workings of a multinational business, but it has given me the opportunity to embrace the work and values of the Alltech family,” said Marincich. “Five months ago, I was welcomed into a culturally diverse, open-minded group that has allowed me to develop both hard and soft skills. It is more than a teamwork environment; Alltech is a place where everyone’s ideas are heard, and the program gave me a chance to be a part of it.”

Applicants should be strong team players with excellent communications skills, including fluency in English, with another language as an added advantage. Joining this global team opens the door to a stimulating, fast-paced and rewarding future. 

July 12, 2016 - The National Chicken Council (NCC) strongly supports efforts to create a more reasonable and sustainable approach to the nation's biofuel fuel policy, as the compelled diversion of corn from feed to fuel continues to exact a heavy toll on U.S. chicken producers, and American consumers at the pump and the plate.

"NCC believes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is properly proposing to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce ethanol blending requirements below the statutory levels," said NCC President Mike Brown in comments submitted to the agency in response to their proposed renewable fuels volume requirements.  "However, NCC believes the volumes proposed for 2017 are overly aggressive and based on faulty assumptions about the fuel market and thus should be further reduced to limit the disruptions to the corn market and nation's feed supply."

The EPA on May 18 proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that are lower than statutory targets for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel, however they are increases from 2016 requirements. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set renewable fuel percentage standards each year, which the agency has consistently failed to meet since the RFS was implemented. 

Brown wrote to EPA Administrator McCarthy that the use of corn for ethanol has created an uneven playing field for chicken producers. "In short, EPA's proposal to set the 2017 implied conventional ethanol mandate above the blend wall reignites the food versus fuel inequity inherent in the structure of the RFS." (As EPA notes, the e10 blend wall, "represents the volume of ethanol that can be consumed domestically if all gasoline contains 10 percent ethanol" and "marks the transition from relatively straightforward and easily achievable increases in ethanol consumption as e10 to those increases in ethanol consumption as e15 and e85 that are more challenging to achieve.")

The impact of the food versus fuel pressure on feedstock has been severe.  Since the RFS was enacted, chicken producers alone have faced $53 billion in higher actual feed costs due to the RFS.  During the RFS era, at least a dozen chicken companies have ceased operations – filing for bankruptcy or having been acquired by another company.

"Given the unpredictable weather right now throughout the Corn Belt and the volatility in the corn market this past week, it is obvious that chicken producers are again only one supply shock, flood or drought away from high volatile corn prices as in 2009 and 2012," Brown continued. "Where chicken producers have to adjust production and limit flocks due to corn prices, the RFS protects ethanol producers from having to make the same type of adjustments."

Additionally, Brown pointed out that the rapid rise in ethanol exports in 2014 and 2015 is indeed a spillover effect that applies further pressure on the corn and feed market beyond Congressional intent under the RFS and is an urgent emerging resource constraint.  For the four years of 2013 through 2016, ethanol exports will likely consume nearly 1.2 billion bushels of corn in addition to the corn consumed by domestic ethanol.

Congress, through Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, set the 15 billion gallon cap on corn ethanol under the RFS to prevent ethanol production from diverting too great a volume of corn from feed, food, and seed use to energy.  At the time Congress set this cap, ethanol exports were not envisioned. While increased exports of ethanol put upward pressure on corn prices, they do nothing to improve domestic energy independence as is the stated goal of the EISA legislation.

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