CCA welcomes Harper-Obama Agreements on Border Cooperation

Calgary, AB – The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) welcomed the news today that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama have agreed on a number of initiatives to streamline border transactions and improve regulatory cooperation between Canada and the U.S.

The Canadian beef industry exports approximately 40 per cent of its production and 80 per cent of that goes to the United States, said CCA President Travis Toews. “We have an immense interest in ensuring that the Canada-U.S. border operates as efficiently as possible,” he said.

Canadian beef and cattle exports to the U.S. are projected to total $1.6 billion in 2011. Farm cash receipts for cattle and calves are projected to surpass $6.5 billion in 2011 and the beef industry’s contribution to the Canadian economy is projected to reach $26.2 billion.

Every time a regulation or a regulator’s interpretation of a requirement is different in Canada than it is in the U.S., that presents a barrier or an additional unnecessary cost to doing business in each other’s countries. We are pleased that Harper and Obama have acknowledged this dilemma and have agreed on joint action plans to address many of the issues that the CCA had highlighted.

Under today’s announcement, there are commitments to:
• implement electronic border-related document transmission and receipt of clearance decisions for food and meat products no later than December 2013;
• reduce and eliminate duplicate meat inspections at the border through enhanced meat safety equivalence agreements;
• align Canadian and U.S. approaches to the naming of meat cuts;
• align application and review processes for veterinary drug approvals including efforts to establish identical maximum drug residue limits in both countries;
• and a number of other initiatives both within agriculture and related to movement of people and transporters across sectors.

It is important to note that while today’s announcement sets the political direction for these initiatives, there is a great amount of detail to be developed and regulatory processes to undertake. The CCA is pleased that the initiative is being described as an ongoing effort and a new way of doing business. We will continue to work with regulators on both sides of the border to achieve the maximum benefit from the initiative.