My Question in Support of Canada’s Cattle Industry

Posted February 20th, 2015 in blog by Doug Black

Yesterday during Senate Question Period, I felt it was crucial to address an issue that Canada’s cattle industry has encountered. Here is the text of my question in support of our cattle industry, along with the Government Leader in the Senate’s response.

Hon. Douglas Black: My question is for the Leader of the Government of the Senate. Last week the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease, in an animal on a farm in Alberta. As Canadians, we know that Canadian beef is safe, and in this case the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that no part of the animal has reached the human food or animal food systems. Notwithstanding this, South Korea has taken actions to block beef imports from Canada.

Will you please, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, inform the Senate what steps the government is taking to ensure that we keep markets open for Canadian beef and communicate the safety of our product to our trading partners?


Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Thank you for your excellent question, senator. You have made it clear that you are committed to the Canadian economy and the people you represent in your province. That is to your credit.

Obviously I wasn’t anticipating that question, but I can say that as part of the government’s ongoing BSE surveillance activities, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed that a beef cow born in 2009 was infected with BSE. As the honourable senator indicated, the agency confirmed that no part of the animal’s carcass reached the human food or animal feed systems. In accordance with the internationally recognized protocol, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working with its provincial and industry partners. It will keep Canadians abreast of the situation as more information becomes available.

However, according to the World Organization for Animal Health, Canada remains a controlled BSE risk country, and we expect our trade partners to continue to recognize us as such.

As you probably know, on February 13, the organization told Reuters that the discovery and reporting of new cases of BSE gave the international community the assurance and evidence that the health surveillance systems were working and also showed Canada’s commitment to meeting its obligations and being transparent about reporting diseases to the World Organization for Animal Health.

As far as South Korea’s recent actions are concerned, that country followed our bilateral trade protocol. The government is applying Canada’s rigorous monitoring system and working to resolve this situation as soon as possible, because needless to say, it is disrupting trade.

I also want to take this opportunity to point out that the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association recently indicated that the finding of a case of BSE in a beef cow in Alberta, while unfortunate, demonstrates the robustness of the National BSE Surveillance Program Canada has in place.

The association added in its press release of February 13, 2015, that it has complete confidence in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the investigation that is under way.

Thank you.

Senate Statement – Alberta’s Agriculture Industry

Posted October 8th, 2014 in blog by Doug Black

I recently spoke to the Senate about the importance of Alberta’s agriculture industry, not only to Alberta’s economy, but to Canada and the world. This past summer, I learned all about the research and innovation being done in Alberta to improve farming techniques, conserve energy and resources, and increase business development. Alberta is the homeland of a number of agriculture firsts, and the agri-food processing sector and farm and livestock sectors generate tens of billions of dollars in sales every year.

As former Senator Buth once said, “Once in a lifetime you need a minister, a lawyer, or a doctor. But you need a farmer or a rancher every day.”

You can listen to my entire statement below.


Swift action needed to implement EU and South Korea free trade agreements

Posted October 7th, 2014 in blog by Doug Black

In late September, two major international trade agreements saw some significant progress. Canada and South Korea signed a Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA), and Prime Minister Harper met with the European Council for a signing ceremony for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). These recent advancements to the agreements with South Korea and the European Union are great news for Alberta’s economy and Canada as a whole, and I hope to see swift progress with their implementation.

Both these agreements are expected to increase two-way trade and grow the Canadian economy by billions of dollars. They represent a watershed in free trade for Canada and Alberta, and they will significantly expand trade for our resources, including agricultural commodities. The benefits of these agreements cannot be overlooked, and I am urging all governments to move as quickly as possible to implement these measures.

My travels to Lethbridge and southern Alberta this past summer have shown me just how critical it is that we support Alberta agriculture, for the benefit of not only the Albertan economy, but also the Canadian economy. These agreements should help to do just that. They will remove high tariffs that have been restricting Canada from being competitive in international trade, and they will open up huge markets for Alberta’s agriculture industry.

South Korea is already Alberta’s fifth largest export destination and a top importer of Alberta beef, and the South Korean FTA is expected to increase Canadian exports to South Korea by 32 per cent.

The agricultural industry is also Alberta’s second-largest source of exports to the EU, and CETA’s tariff removal will allow for a significant increase in agricultural sales. For instance, CETA will reserve 64,950 duty-free tonnes for Canadian beef. In comparison, U.S. beef will still see a 20 per cent tariff.

The sooner the government can put these agreements to work for Albertans, the sooner Canada will become a real competitor in international trade.

Senator Doug Black with local farmers from Lethbridge County

Senator Doug Black with local farmers from Lethbridge County


My Tour of Lethbridge and Southern Alberta

Posted August 26th, 2014 in blog by Doug Black
Senator Doug Black with Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman

Meeting with Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman

Agriculture is a fundamental part of Alberta’s economy, and I needed to learn more about it. So last month I visited Lethbridge and southern Alberta to find out more about this important industry, as well as hear about renewable energy in the region.

In this recap I talk about what I did on my tour and the concerns I heard from residents.

Canola: Connecting Western Canadian Farmers and the Heartland of India

Posted June 13th, 2014 in blog by Doug Black


Worker at the Jivo Factory outisde of New Delhi, India

A factory worker at the Jivo factory, outside of New Delhi.

A great article from the Globe and Mail recently talked about the growing export of canola to India. The story is yet another great example of the importance and value of our agriculture on the global market, and how our homegrown canola is making a positive difference halfway across the world.

In the Himachal Pradesh region of India, poverty, substance abuse and illiteracy are widespread problems. In response, Igbal Kingra, the former director of agriculture for the region’s state government, has started up a foundation to help fund the building of schools in the region.

Interestingly, most of the money comes from selling canola oil produced by the prairie farmers of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Canola oil—a Canadian innovation—have made Mr. Kingra and his followers an unlikely bridge between farms in Western Canada and the immense edible oil market in India… It’s a market where 1.2 billion people fry almost everything they eat, but do so mainly with palm oil

Unable to grow canola in Punjab, Kingra resorted to importing the oil from Canada. Today, the company, which operates under the name of Jivo, is thriving: it’s set to make $500,000 US in profits this year and close to a million next year. Already, Mr. Kingra has helped to build 129 modern schools for 60,000 students.

This has also translated well for our prairie farmers: canola oil exports to India have increased from a mere 82 tons in 2009 to around 1,600 in 2013.