NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) was a hot topic at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in London, Ontario last week.

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association's Director of Government and International Relations, John Masswohl, spoke about NAFTA during the foreign trade presentation.

Masswohl says, there's no compensating for the loss of the U.S. market, but he doesn't think it will come to that.

"I think we will have an outcome in the NAFTA negotiations where we have a new agreement, where we kind of remain whole in terms of what need for beef access, but I think the path between where we are now, and getting to a successful conclusion, could be very unpredictable and could have some negative moments in it."

Masswohl says, despite trade tensions, Canadian beef has done well in some markets.

"We've actually increased and picked up some this year in the U.S. market, so there's some negatives, but there's some positives as well, and so far the positives have outweighed the negatives."

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association's strong relationship with the U.S. and Mexican producer organizations (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas) is something they've worked on for many years, says Masswohl.

He adds, they've released two joint trilateral statements with their counterpart organizations in the last year regarding the NAFTA negations.

"We collectively, the cattle producers of Canada, Mexico and the United States, are supportive of NAFTA and maintaining NAFTA as a trilateral agreement, keeping country of origin labeling (COOL) out of it, maintaining trade and unlimited duty free access the way it is."

There's been some concern about the U.S. and Mexico recently meeting without Canada, but Masswohl says, it's nothing to worry about, as they will sort through some bilateral issues and bring Canada back in later.


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