On Saturday, John Masswohl, vice-president of government affairs with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, told the Alberta Morning News that Europe has had a prohibitively high tariff on Canadian beef.
“Now we’ve got some very significant quantities of a quota for duty free access to both fresh and frozen beef,” he said. “So that’s going to provide some incentive, and probably for those who are already exporting to Europe, gives them some additional eligibility.”
The next step, according to Masswhol, is to establish technical conditions to get the agreement to reachits full potential.
He said that means getting the rulebook in place so that more cuts of beef could be exported to Europe,something he says is tied to legal liability for food safety.
Masswohl said the North American market has responded to outbreaks from different bacteria in meatlike E.coli, by developing technology to make meat as safe as possible.
He said some of these techniques include using lactic acid, citric acid and peroxyaceatic acid to reduce the amount of E.coli bacteria that exists in meat.
But Masswohl says in Europe, the liability is on the consumer.
“The companies aren’t liable,” he said. “So in Europe, if the consumer gets sick from eating beef that has E.coli that they didn’t cook properly, well it’s the consumer’s fault for not cooking it properly.
“So they have been slower to review and approve the efficacy of these products.”
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations could also have an effect on Canadian beef producers, but Masswohl warned there may not be positive developments for beef producers.
He said Canadian, American and Mexican beef producers have gotten together and said NAFTA works for them already.
“It’s been a great opportunity to expand our business for all three countries,” Masswohl said. “We like the fact that it’s entirely duty free trade of beef and cattle. No quotas, no safeguards… that doesn’t happen in beef trade in the NAFTA countries.”
He said federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay has called for a roundtable with stakeholders ahead of NAFTA agriculture discussions, to make sure their concerns are heard.
Round three of NAFTA renegotiations being Saturday in Ottawa and run until Wednesday.
By Cassandra Jodoin
Radio Anchor/Reporter 630CHED