Canadian farmers need greater access to foreign markets to thrive

News Release

The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry

Canadian farmers need greater access to foreign markets to thrive

May 9, 2017

Ottawa – Canada’s farmers and processors need the federal government’s help to navigate the increasingly complex labyrinth of international trade to ensure they have access to the foreign markets they depend on, according to a report released Tuesday by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.

The committee met with over 500 witnesses and other stakeholders from across the country to examine international market access priorities for Canadian farmers and processors — a key contributor to the Canadian economy — to understand the challenges they face when exporting their products and to identify possible solutions to facilitate and encourage international market access.

The committee’s report, Market Access: Giving Canadian Farmers and Processors the World, outlines ways to ensure Canadian products get to shelves around the world. World-renowned products like Quebec maple syrup, Alberta beef, blueberries from Atlantic Canada, Okanagan and Niagara wines, and canola from the Prairies all reinforce the Canada Brand. The committee sees the Canada Brand as crucial to positioning Canadian products on the international stage.

The committee makes 18 recommendations in its report, including:

  • That the federal government eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade and pursue free trade agreements with other countries.
  • That all levels of government work together to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers and invest in rail, road and marine infrastructure to guarantee that Canadian producers and processors are able to efficiently transport their products to consumers.
  • That the federal government improve access to infrastructure grants for farmers and food producers who want to invest in new technologies, and that Employment and Social Development Canada and Immigration and Citizenship Canada create programs that help farmers hire foreign workers to address labour shortages.

Adopting the committee’s recommendations will help the government ensure that the Canadian agriculture sector continues to thrive.

Quick Facts

  • The agriculture and agri-food sector accounts for 6.6% of Canada’s gross domestic product. Canadian export sales in this sector reached $51.5 billion in 2014.
  • Technical barriers to trade in the agriculture and agri-food sector include regulations addressing food preparation and food additives, as well as requirements setting out things like maximum residue limits for pesticides or related to genetically modified organisms.
  • The food service industry is the largest employer in the Canadian agriculture and agri-food system, accounting for 5.7% of all Canadian jobs.


“Market access is dependent on two things: Food safety and food traceability. Canadian food products are world-class, from Quebec maple syrup to Alberta beef. In order to get those products onto the table in faraway places like China, we must ensure we are able to deliver the quality consumers have come to expect.”

- Senator Ghislain Maltais, Chair of the committee.

“Canadian exporters are faced with increasing challenges. Not only do they need to take into account consumer needs, they also need to meet the import requirements of the countries they’re partnering with. Our study highlights the importance of the government in creating an environment conducive to exporting agriculture and agri-food products.”

- Senator Terry Mercer, Deputy Chair of the committee.

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Sonia Noreau
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Senate of Canada