Farmers hit by trade disputes should be helped faster, Trudeau says

Ottawa | Reuters — Canada’s agriculture department should move more quickly to help farmers harmed by protectionist measures imposed by other nations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Canadian farmers are caught up in a trade and diplomatic dispute between Ottawa and Beijing.

In a formal letter of instruction to Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, Trudeau said she should draw on lessons from recent trade disputes involving exports of canola, beef and pork and work out better ways to respond.

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“This should include the ability to provide faster short-term support for industry when required,” he wrote in the letter, one of the mandate letters published Friday for each of the federal cabinet ministers.

The Trudeau government is under increased pressure from farm groups who say they need immediate support for producers impacted by trade disputes.

Earlier this year Ottawa extended a federal loan program to offer more financial assistance to canola seed farmers hit by a Chinese import ban. Canada also has started the formal process to challenge China at the World Trade Organization.

In a statement, Bibeau said she would continue to work with industry and her provincial counterparts to advance the priorities outlined in the prime minister’s letter, which did not provide any further details.

China temporarily suspended Canadian beef and pork exports for four months over food safety concerns after bogus export certificates were discovered. Exports resumed in November after Canadian officials submitted a plan addressing Beijing’s concerns.

— Reporting for Reuters by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa.

marie claude bibeau

Ag Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau speaks to media at Cigi in Winnipeg on March 13, 2019. (Dave Bedard photo)

Ag Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau speaks to media at Cigi in Winnipeg on March 13, 2019. (Dave Bedard photo)

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