The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) praises today’s announcement that Canadian beef will now have improved access to the European Union (EU) in the form of a 20,000 tonne duty free quota. This issue has been one of CCA’s top market access priorities and we congratulate Ministers Gerry Ritz and Peter Van Loan for keeping this issue at the forefront in order to achieve today’s result.

“This is an extremely important step for Canadian beef producers,” said the CCA 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.”

The 20,000 tonne quota was created in 2009 as a result of compensation negotiations between the U.S. and EU for the decade old WTO Dispute Panel that ruled the EU ban on growth promotants was not scientifically justified. The U.S. and Australia already have access to the quota. Canadian beef can now share the quota as well. Further steps to come include increasing the original 20,000 tonnes to 45,000 tonnes in 2012 and a staged addition of a further 3,200 tonnes for a total quota amount of 48,200 tonnes.

It remains a condition of access to the EU that beef must be produced from cattle raised without the use of growth promotants. There are many Canadian cattle producers who have relied on small domestic and U.S. niche markets to compensate them for the additional cost of producing cattle without growth promotants, but until now the high EU tariff has been a prohibitive barrier to that important market.

“I see this new access as an important foothold that bodes well for further things to come as Canada and the European Union work toward establishing a comprehensive economic and trade agreement,” said Toews. “It will provide those who are already producing cattle without growth promotants with new marketing options and encourage others to prepare for what remains on the horizon.”