By Letter to the Editor on February 10, 2018.
Regarding the story Jan. 26 about economist Danny LeRoy’s article for Maclean’s magazine:
Hundreds of family egg farmers across Canada feel very disappointed when an article is published that puts down a system that has been good for Canadians for over 60 years, allowing consumers to purchase top-quality, fresh, local food at an affordable price.
While we farmers recognize the opportunities the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) provides to Canada and the overall economy, there was little incentive for Canada to give away this much market access, given the associated impacts on consumers and loss in family farm incomes.
Mr. LeRoy’s claim that the market access conceded for supply management will not be filled is erroneous and concerning. First, it is not inconceivable that Mexico could take a pass at filling the access for shell-processed eggs, due to low labour costs and lack of competition from the U.S. Second, Asian CPTPP members (and potential new members) are contenders to fill market access over time, as they become more sophisticated in egg production and ramp up their processing capabilities.
CPTPP and NAFTA cannot be considered in isolation. An approach that allows for “double dipping” market access under both agreements is unacceptable, and will negatively impact Canadian farmers and consumers. This would provide an unfair advantage to U.S. demands. If the U.S. wants access to the Canadian markets for supply, they should rejoin the CPTPP and take advantage of the access originally conceded in response to their demands.
For Mr. LeRoy’s clarification, the remaining 11 members of the CPTPP agreed on Jan. 23 to a revised trade agreement in principle. The CPTPP agreement grants access to the Canadian egg market in the order of 16.7 million dozen eggs, or approximately 2.3 per cent of total egg production.
Canadians overwhelmingly prefer Canadian eggs, with nearly nine in 10 agreeing or somewhat agreeing it is important that the eggs they purchase are produced in Canada.
Our farmers make a sizable contribution to Canada’s food system, help keep rural communities vibrant, and feed urban consumers’ appetite for locally produced food. The concession under the CPTPP impacts the livelihood of Canada’s more than 1,000 egg farming families. Given the seriousness of the CPTPP outcome, egg farmers in Alberta and across Canada urge the government to expedite work on mitigation measures. We must work side by side to address the impact this will have on our farmers, on our consumers and on our ability to produce and deliver the Canadian products they expect, need and enjoy.
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