Minister Olson’s Column from AgriBusiness Forward - Market access continues to be a strong focus in 2014

April 2013

 

The adage ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ has withstood the test of time for a reason.

It’s hard to believe it’s almost been a year since Alberta officially signed the Growing Forward 2 agreement with federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. Since then, I’ve seen Minister Ritz quite frequently as we have common challenges and common goals.

 

We have both been advocating for our beef and hog industries to push for an end to the U.S. government’s mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rules, which has resulted in extra tracking and segregation costs for the livestock sector on both sides of the border. Ensuring existing markets remain open for all of our producers is essential and we are also striving to open doors to new markets.

 

Alberta’s Premier kicked off the new-year with a trip to India, leading a trade mission to build new partnerships, increase market access and support Alberta companies as they pursue new opportunities in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

 

Alberta’s ongoing success is driven by exporting goods and services around the world and India, with a population of more than a billion people, is a tremendous opportunity. It is also the world’s third largest economy in terms of purchasing. Alberta has many products that are highly sought after by the ever-growing middle class and India is already Canada’s largest market for pulses like lentils and chickpeas.

While in India, the Premier signed two agricultural agreements. The agreement with the northeastern state of Meghalaya is primarily for swine genetics. This region is culturally different from other parts of India. Protein and pork are staples and there is interest in developing a pork industry to supply nearby customers including China. Alberta companies could provide live hogs, genetic material and expertise on how to care for and grow the pig breeding industry.

 

The second agreement is with Punjab, which is the region known as India’s bread-basket. This agreement will help increase trade in swine genetics and dairy production. Both agreements establish Agricultural Working Groups (AWG) which will encourage government staff in Alberta and India to work on projects of importance to the two regions. There are opportunities here not only for swine, but also for other Alberta products ranging from canola and pulses to farm equipment and food processing.

 

Premier Redford also opened up a new Alberta trade office in New Delhi which will provide on-the-ground resources for Alberta companies wanting to connect with the Indian market. Alberta’s trade office staff helps establish strong relationships and cultural ties while providing guidance to Alberta businesses wanting to enter foreign markets. Information about the services provided can be found at international.alberta.ca.

 

In the year ahead, I expect to be very busy connecting our agriculture industry with new markets. Given the quality of the products and services we offer, I am confident that we will see many new doors opening.

 

Verlyn Olson, Q.C., Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

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