Food, Fuel and Free Trade was the focus of a panel discussion on Tuesday to a sold out crowd with Brad Wall and Frank McKenna at Canadian Western Agribition.
Former Premier Brad Wall says the Federal Government should be supported with regards to the way they reached out for assistance in dealing with the challenging US administration in order to get the USMCA done.
He notes he’s concerned by the de facto veto the U-S now has on trade deals with non-party countries like China.
“By the way, the effort should be continuing from the Federal Government down that free trade road, is my personal view. We obviously now have to make sure to keep the Americans in the loop because they clearly have got concerns, if we can address those along the way I don’t think that particular element of this deal precludes us from getting a formalized deal. It certainly doesn’t stop us from continuing to do what the Premier here has been doing, which is to press our interests to advance the industry’s opportunities and export chances for Saskatchewan, Canada, and Asia.”
The former Premier of New Brunswick, Frank McKenna says it’s important to reduce our dependency on the U-S adding that trying to get a free trade deal with countries like China is going to be challenging, which is why he agrees with the concept of sector agreements for now.
McKenna is also the Former Canadian Ambassador to the United States and says when it comes to the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement it was a good thing we got a deal.
He says there are a few nicks in it, but over a trillion dollars in trade is protected, noting however that ratification of the agreement could be a challenge.
“It’s going to go into the sausage factory in the United States now. We’ve got a different political party now controlling Congress, so it’s going to get confusing and complicated and they’ll be horse-trading and there’s no guarantee of anything. I suspect at the end of the day we’ll have some form of the current agreement.”
He notes if it doesn’t get through we’ll go back to the original NAFTA which always worked well for Canada.
In talking to the crowd at Agribition Wall also cautioned the group that Agriculture needs to learn from the negative branding that hit the energy sector giving all Canadian oil the unfair designation of being dirty oil.
He notes that same lead manifesto that calls for an end to oil and gas, and an end to mining is calling for an end to modern agriculture.
Wall says things that are not scientifically based but have a hipster appeal are being used to market against the interest of Agriculture.
“Consider that you can go to a store in Saskatchewan today and buy a finished product made from oats. The label on the oats will say GMO-free; there is not an oats crop that is GMO on the planet. That label is so powerful; the GMO-free label is so powerful, notwithstanding the fact that there isn’t any science that backs it up.”
He says, as a result, we’re seeing non-GMO crops or at least up the value chain using that label to sell a product.
Wall says the Agriculture industry needs to be aware of what’s being said and be ready to counter it.