OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA — Canada’s current administration is creating new trade opportunities for the benefit of farmers, according to an analysis of the work by the Federal Market Access Team released on Oct. 24.

"This market access report shows clearly that the Harper Government is growing more trade opportunities for our producers, strengthening their bottom line," said Minister Gerry Ritz at the Annual Market Access Meeting. "By reopening, maintaining and expanding international markets, we are making sure that Canadian farmers can make their living from the marketplace and continue to drive our economy."

Ritz introduced the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act on Oct. 18 that the government says will give Western Canadian wheat and barley farmers the freedom to market their grain as they choose.

The bill has passed the second reading and now moves to a committee of legislators.

An open grain market will attract investment, encourage innovation, create value-added jobs, and build a stronger economy for all Canadians, said Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) has refuted those claims, saying the legislation will remove farmers from the equation.

The government’s report highlights accomplishments between January 2010 and March 2011 in 10 key markets for commodities including beef, pork, canola, wheat, pulses and animal genetics. It shows that by collaborating and coordinating market-access efforts and activities, the federal government, provinces, territories and industry have succeeded in reopening, maintaining and expanding markets for many Canadian agricultural and food products.

Canadian beef exports to Russia more than tripled (328%) by value and surpassed C$23 million in 2010 after increased beef access was gained in 2009 and confirmed in 2010. Canada has also secured a more stable trading environment with China after negotiating transitional measures for canola seed exports, which enabled farmers to maintain exports of canola (seed, oil and meal) to China in excess of C$1.8 billion in both 2009 and 2010.

In 2009, Minister Ritz created the Market Access Secretariat (MAS) to coordinate government initiatives with industry to pursue new and existing markets for the agriculture sector. The MAS is closely working with the Federal Market Access Team which gather resources from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, supported by a Senior Market Access Coordinating Committee.

The report is available onAAFC website.