Does CETA Really Benefit Beef Producers?

Agriculture

Dec 02
cows in a field

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a free-trade agreement between Canada, the European Union and its Member States. The agreement has been in force for about a month. However there haven’t been any big changes that the beef industry has seen. Canada has been exporting beef to Europe for many years.

According to experts, the agreement can increase Agri-food exports from Canada by around $1.5 billion a year, with a $600 million boost in beef sales, pork sales increasing by around $400 million and a $100 million increase in sales of grains and oilseeds.

In an editorial in the Canadian Cattlemen, editor Gren Winslow said, while CETA has given Canada unprecedented access to one of the richest markets in the world, it will almost certainly remain tantalizingly out of reach until a dependable supply chain is established and filled with EU-certified steers and heifers.

Future and enterprising producers and packers will have to sort out exactly how long that could take, Winslow added stating that the challenges of servicing the European market are well documented.

“The European beef market won’t accept hormone-treated beef and that is never going to change. The Canadian government officially recognized that fact earlier this month when it ended its decade-long dispute with the EU […]”

Gren Winslow

“The European beef market won’t accept hormone-treated beef and that is never going to change. The Canadian government officially recognized that fact earlier this month when it ended its decade-long dispute with the EU and withdrew its complaint from the World Trade Organization, giving up any right to retaliate against this policy,” he said.

The other major hurdle is the EU’s refusal to recognize the safety of the carcass washes North American packers use in conjunction with steam pasteurization and hazard management to control bacteria in their plants, according to experts familiar with the matter.

While there is research being done to prove the safety of these washes, the results could take time to arrive thus delaying the process. Further, various European health and safety officials would have to recognize the technology.

Experts are hopeful that larger plants would purchase EU- eligible cattle for late 2019 or early 2020. Smaller regional packers are already looking at the market. To be eligible to be sold in the European Union, the cattle must be enrolled with the CFIA and certified by a veterinarian selected by CFIA from birth to feedlot and into the approved plant. This also means that calves born and enrolled next spring won’t be market ready until 2020.