Canadian beef producers are beginning to crack open the European Union market.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan yesterday announced an agreement has been reached which gives Canadian producers duty-free access to a 20 thousand tonne quota.

"After more than two decades, Canadian beef producers will again have duty-free access for hormone-free beef," says Ritz. "Canada's portion of this 20 thousand tonne access is estimated to be worth more than 10 million dollars annually (according to the Canadian Beef Export Federation.}"

The United States and Australia already have access to the quota.

"Canada is now on the same level as them, as preferred trading nations," explains Ritz. "We're also in the stages of negotiating our own stand-alone 3200 tonne access."

The 20 thousand tonne quota was created in response to the WTO Dispute Panel ruling that the EU ban on growth hormones was not scientifically justified. The quota will be increased to 45 thousand tonnes in 2012.

"This is an extremely important step for Canadian beef producers," says Canadian Cattlemen's Association president Travis Toews. "The European Union is a high income market willing to pay the higher cost of beef produced from cattle without growth promotants, but for years our access has been limited to a small quota at a 20 per cent duty. Finally we can start to scratch the potential of this market."

~ Wednesday, November 24, 2010 ~