Is Canada's bread on the menu for the Three Amigos?

  • National Newswatch

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosts the leaders of Mexico and the United States at the Three Amigos Summit on June 29th, let's hope that where Canada's bread will come from is on the menu. With 90% of Canada's farmers relying on international trade, Canada's bread comes, and will come from export markets - markets that will bring a lot more value to Canada once the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ratified.The bread I'm talking about is what will sustain our prosperity, our jobs and our communities. Canadians may not see it when they sit down for lunch, but more than 200,000 farms and hundreds of thousands of jobs in food and beverage processing depend on export markets. They are not just producing food for Canada and tables around the world, but providing bread for communities across the country.Make no mistake about it. Trade drives Canada's agri-food industry. More than 50% of the beef and 70% of the pork raised by Canadian farmers is exported. The same goes for 65% of our malt barley, 70% of our soybeans, 75% of our wheat, more than 90% of our canola and 95% of our pulses. Families all around the world enjoy what Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector produces.So why has Canada not committed to ratifying the TPP? As a trading nation, Canada could be demonstrating to our TPP partners the importance of international trade to growth, jobs and economic stability. Staying silent misses an opportunity for Canada to promote its own interests in expanding trade.The TPP encompasses 12 countries, including Canada the US and Mexico, which collectively account for 800 million people and roughly 40 per cent of the global economy. While some argue that the North American Free Trade Agreement is good enough, few realize that eliminating tariffs and other trade barriers through the TPP is vital to the future viability of Canada's trade dependent agriculture and agri-food sector.Take Japan as an example, Canada's third largest market for agri-food exports. A Japanese family eating Canadian food puts bread on our tables. Right now, Australian farmers have preferred access to the Japanese market because of Australia's free trade agreement with Japan. The TPP will put Canada's farmers on a level playing field so they can continue to grow food for generations to come, both for our local markets and for those in faraway places. Without it, Canada's income from this high value market will dwindle – along with the jobs it supports.And agricultural exports are not just important for rural areas. They're important for cities too.Take Toronto as an example. It's the second largest and fastest growing food and beverage producing hub in North America. Three-quarters of the food produced on farms right outside the area are processed inside the region . More people work in the city's food and beverage sector than anywhere else in Canada, including those in food processing, research and development, life sciences and more. Their bread comes from trade too.This is why we urge our Prime Minister to make sure Canada's bread is on the menu at the Three Amigos Summit. The TPP is an incredible opportunity for the future of hundreds of thousands of people who work every day to put food on plates both here and around the world.Brian Innes is vice president, government relations with the Canola Council of Canada (CCC), and serves as president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA). Brian joined the CCC in 2011 and leads government relations activities including trade policy, market access and regulatory affairs.