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Farmers await a TPP conclusion

Sept. 30, 2015, Winnipeg, MB - As canola farmers across Canada hustle to wrap up their harvest, they are closely following the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in Atlanta this week. The outcome will have crucial implications on the crop they harvest in the coming years. Canola farmers rely on export markets, and a TPP agreement that gives Canadian canola nothing less than equal access to markets in the TPP region is paramount.

Last week, Rick White, CEO of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, was working with family to wrap up their canola harvest in southeastern Saskatchewan and not a moment too soon. This week, White is attending the TPP negotiations in Atlanta, Georgia, keeping a close eye on the interests of the 43,000 canola farmers in Canada whom the association represents.

Canola continues to be the single largest field crop grown on Canadian farms, generating $19.3 billion in economic activity every year. "Ninety percent of the canola grown here is exported as seed, oil or meal, so trade discussions that impact canola markets are a top priority," says White.

White believes Canada must be at the negotiating table, and is particularly concerned with ensuring Canada's canola farmers remain competitive in key Asia-Pacific markets. For example, Australia already enjoys lower Japanese tariffs on canola oil because of an existing agreement between the two countries. "Japan is one of Canada's longest-standing customers for canola, but Australia's current agreement threatens our position," says White. "The TPP is our best opportunity to fix trade imbalances such as this and to keep Canadian farmers competitive within the region over the long-term."

In 2014, Canadian canola exports to TPP members totaled $5.7 billion, accounting for over 60 percent of canola export sales. If tariffs on oil and meal were phased out across the TPP region, exports could grow by $780 million per year.

"For canola farmers, a strong TPP agreement that includes Canadian canola is critical," says White. Anything less will result in lost market opportunities for the canola we harvest in future years."