The Speaker: The hon. Member for Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater.
Agricultural Exports and NAFTA
Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last year 40 per cent of our agriculture products were exported to the United States, bringing in $4 billion to the Alberta economy. The North American free trade agreement, or NAFTA, has played a critical role in giving Alberta producers access to the American market. To the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. Farmers in my riding are curious to know: what is the government doing to protect Alberta’s agricultural interests under NAFTA?
The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
Mr. Carlier: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and to the member for the question. We understand how important it is for Alberta producers to get their products to market. It makes life better for farm families, makes life better for small communities, small rural communities. It’s important for diversifying our economy and creating jobs that support families. We’re working closely with the government of Canada and with other provinces to defend Alberta’s interests during the review of our trade agreements with the United States and Mexico.
The Speaker: First supplemental.
Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To the same minister: how is the government ensuring that the supply management of agricultural products is protected in any proposed changes to NAFTA?
The Speaker: The hon. minister.
Mr. Carlier: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and to the member for the question. Our government strongly supports supply management. Together, SM5 commodities accounted for 6.9 per cent, or $891.6 million, of the total value of agricultural production in 2015. The latest demands to scrap the supply management system in the United States are unacceptable to us and industries like dairy. They’ve made unsupportable suggestions like this on other issues before. We’ll continue to advocate for a system that ensures stable access to safe, healthy food.
The Speaker: Second supplemental.
Mr. Piquette: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To the same minister: what is being done to diversify Alberta’s agricultural exports to make us less dependent on exports to a single market such as the United States?
Mr. Carlier: Mr. Speaker, the world knows our reputation for good, safe, and quality products. Our government will work to open those opportunities for producers. That’s why I’m pleased to participate in trade missions that showcase our amazing products, places like China, Japan, Korea, and Europe. We will continue to monitor developments in the U.S. very closely, and we will take a pragmatic, long view of any proposed changes to ensure that we’re protecting Alberta’s interests. The United States is Canada’s biggest trading partner, and we value that relationship. We also know that we need to diversify our markets so that more people around the world have the opportunity to enjoy amazing agricultural products: beef, pork, grain, and oilseeds.