Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for the invitation to appear today.
The Grain Growers of Canada strongly support the ratification of the TPP agreement by Canada, and we would like to tell you why from the perspective of the individual farmer.
Our organization acts as a national voice for over 50,000 farmers from across Canada who actively grow and care for a variety of crops, including wheat, durum, barley, canola, oats, corn, soybean, peas, and lentils. We do this by bringing together provincial and regional grower groups to advocate for a federal policy environment that maximizes global competitive advantages and opportunities for Canadian farmers.
I am one of those farmers. My name is Margaret Hansen, and I am a third-generation farmer from Langbank, Saskatchewan, where I grow canola, wheat, barley, and oats with my brother and cousin.
You have already heard excellent comments from many agricultural organizations, and the Grain Growers of Canada believe that the importance of this trade deal cannot be emphasized enough. It is important for the future of farming and families across Canada. On a very personal note, trade is absolutely the future for my family and my community.
Canada is a major exporter of cereals, pulses, and oilseeds, and many of Canada's key, high-value markets are contained within the TPP zone. For example, Canada exports 90% of the canola and 75% of the wheat we farmers grow. The TPP region represents an impressive 65% of Canadian agricultural export markets, and at the same time encompasses some of Canada's key export competitors, including the U.S., Australia, and Mexico. You can clearly see why this agreement is so important to Canadian grain growers.
If Canada is left looking in from the outside, the missed opportunity of tariff reductions and increased market access are obvious, but in addition, our key competitors will gain an advantage over us, with preferential access into fast-growing TPP markets.
A typical Canadian grain farmer produces multiple types of crops within a growing cycle, including cereals, oilseeds, and pulses, all of which are exported to the TPP zone. In the canola industry, eliminating tariffs on value-added canola products could increase exports of canola oil and meal by up to $780 million per year. It could also bring new investment in canola processing to Canada and create jobs. The agreement will also keep Canadians competitive with Australian farmers who benefit from a $1.2-billion canola seed market in Japan.
TPP countries also represent growth opportunities for cereal exports as many growing markets reside within the TPP zone. Canadian wheat and barley exports will become more accessible through a reduction of state trading enterprise markups in Japan and tariff removal in Vietnam.
Equally important, Canadian farmers will remain competitive with Australia and the U.S. in key export markets. Australia holds a bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam. As both countries are included in the TPP, Canada would be put on a level playing field in this trading zone.
Closer to home, Canadian wheat will remain competitive in the major markets of Peru and Mexico. These markets are especially important to Canada as the U.S. is attempting to gain market share given its logistical advantage into these regions.
Pulse growers will see duties and tariffs eliminated within the TPP zone, which will allow pulse growers to have continuous, competitive access into markets such as Japan and Mexico.
An almost absolute certainty in the world of international trade is that tariff reductions give rise to the creation of all types of non-tariff barriers. Of particular concern to grain farmers are barriers to trade, such as maximum residue limits and low-level presence. The Grain Growers of Canada believe that non-tariff barriers need to be addressed and managed on a transparent, scientific basis as opposed to in the political arena. The TPP as written emphasizes these principles and includes a dispute resolution process to ensure that trade disputes are quickly addressed.
The value of the TPP agreement and the potential for Canada to remain competitive internationally are not only a benefit to growers but to the entire agriculture and agrifood industry, those along the supply chains, and communities across the country.
The deal includes countries with emerging markets that are seeing rapid population and income growth and will be importing additional higher quality food for years to come. Canadian farmers are extremely well positioned to meet this demand. To be left out of this historic agreement would be detrimental to the Canadian grain industry, and Canada cannot afford to remain on the sidelines and risk losing ground to our competitors in these markets.
For Canadian growers it is crucial to our livelihoods and our communities across the country that Canada not be left out of this agreement.