Representing Canadian producers on world stage

By Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
January 10, 2008
By By Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
It's a huge honour for a farm boy like me to serve Canadian producers in Ottawa and this week I had the additional privilege of representing them to the world.
The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is meeting in Rome, Italy, and last Tuesday I had the opportunity to give a speech there on behalf of Canada.
I delivered Canada's message that the FAO must continue to push ahead with its reform agenda and more efficiently deliver results. I was proud to see the esteem the international delegates in that room have for Canada’s views.
The speech I gave at the FAO was just one element of our work in Rome. Canada is an exporting nation, especially when it comes to agriculture, and the FAO is a prime location to sit down with international partners to discuss trade.
Those bilateral discussions I had with major trading partners were the meat of the trip. Acting U.S. Agriculture Secretary Charles Conner and I reaffirmed our shared commitment to keep the beef trade moving smoothly and the importance of having the U.S. remove temporarily increased meat testing measures for Canadian products. India's Minister of State for Agriculture, Kantilal Bhuria, and I worked on pulse-crop issues such as fumigation and pest-risk assessments, moved on to reducing Indian tariffs on canola oil, and finished up by looking for ways to improve market access for Canadian pork and cattle genetics. Increasing access for high-quality Canadian beef and pork was also a key point in my conversation with Japanese Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Masahiro Imamura. Russian officials asked for imports of Canadian cattle genetics, Finland discussed our shared commitment to biofuel development, and Peru took onboard our requests about re-opening the market to Canadian beef and increasing pork imports. Each country had unique issues, but each of them are eager to work with Canada and we're making the most of those opportunities through respectful dialogue.
Canadian farmers produce the highest quality products in the world and I was proud to tell the world about what they're doing. This is just another example of what I and the rest of our government is ready to do to get the job done for our farmers and farm families.

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