Alberta beef producers concerned with recent U.S. trade tariffs

File. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

The recent beef between Canada and the United States over trade could impact Alberta’s well-known meat industry.

Last week, American President Donald Trump announced Canada would no longer be exempt from a 25 per cent steel and 10 per cent aluminum tariff, leading Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to announce Canada would implement retaliatory tariffs at the start of July.

Rich Smith, executive director of Alberta Beef Producers, told the 630 CHED Alberta Morning News that while the tariffs don’t directly impact their industry, it could lead to higher costs for the equipment that farmers and ranchers use.

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Smith added cattle producers in Canada, the US and Mexico favour open borders and free trade in cattle and beef. However, Smith notes the industry could become “collateral damage” in the future.

“As countries get into trade wars and there’s retaliation back and forth, there’s always a concern that it could interfere in the trade with our products.”

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Talks surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have also soured, with Trump suggesting the U.S. could make separate trade deals with Canada and Mexico.

Smith said that has producers even more worried.

“It shows the risks associated with relying too much on one market.”

Now, Smith said Alberta Beef Producers is looking to send their products across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to Asian and European markets — but they need the federal government to ensure the 11-country Trans Pacific Partnership is ratified soon.

“That would open up a bunch of markets in Asia where we’d be able to be quite competitive and reduce our reliance on the United States.”

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