Agriculture Policy Needs Action At Federal Level

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A report by the Western Centre for Economic Research (WCER), a University of Alberta economic research facility, provides an examination of recent trends in agriculture and food exports from Alberta and provides recommendations for the improvement of the agriculture sector.

The report entitled Alberta Agriculture and Food Trade: Recent Trends, is authored by Senior Economist Dr. Joe Rosario, and focuses on four main areas: industry competitiveness, research and development, trade enhancement and international marketing, and Canadian agriculture structure and reform.

“It will take some work to bring Alberta’s and Canada’s agriculture back to prosperity,” says Rosario, who spent over 30 years with the Alberta Department of Agriculture as a trade policy analyst. “Both the provincial and federal governments should revise their agriculture policy orientation and once again make agriculture a policy priority. Furthermore, both orders of government need to focus on making Canadian agricultural products competitive on an international scale.”

The report recommends diversifying Alberta exports through expansion into the pork markets in Mexico and China, as well as intensifying research and development programs in Alberta. At the national level, the report recommends that Canada make dramatic adjustments to its approach in the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round of trade negotiations towards a greater focus on trade liberalization.

“This would allow Canada the opportunity to re-examine its supply management practices, and make Canadian products more competitive internationally while improving market access for both the livestock and crops industries,” says Rosario.

The report also recommends reducing the powers of the Canadian Wheat Board in order to stimulate more value-added processing.

The study, documents the experience of several key exports, most notably beef, pork and cereal crops. Rosario’s work underlines the importance of Canada – U.S. trade for the agriculture sector. The report suggests that livestock industry could add value to their production through animal genomics, tracking and tracing, and increased marketing efforts to remain competitive. The report is available at www.business.ualberta.ca/wcer

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