International Summit on Ag and Food Transporation - December 1-4, 2008, Washington, DC, U.S.A.

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 Purpose of travel
Doug Griffiths, Parliamentary Assistant to Agriculture and Rural Development Minister George Groeneveld, attended the International Summit on Agriculture and Food Truck Transport Conference on behalf of the Minister. The mission was successful in meeting its objectives as outlined below.

The conference was enlightening, and provided a good opportunity to build personal relationships with our neighbours to the south. These relationships can be instrumental in furthering Alberta’s trade objectives through diplomatic channels when cross-border issues arise. As well, the viewpoints offered shed a lot of light on the lack of uniformity among Americans on issues that have made the trade relationship with our U.S. counterparts challenging over the last few years.

Mission Objectives
The objectives were to record the issues, observe the perspectives of key players in the U.S. agriculture and transportation sectors, including biofuels, and make connections with individuals who may be valuable contacts in support of Alberta’s agriculture and transportation trade goals. Information will be beneficial in future resolution or avoidance of trade disputes and cross-border issues. Apply the issues raised and information gathered to the ongoing bio-fuel discussions in Alberta.

The Hon. Clayton Yeutter, Senior Advisor for International Trade for Hogan and Hartson, who formerly held the posts of U.S. Ambassador, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and U.S. Trade Representative, discussed trade tariffs. His key observation was that tariffs come down in order to enhance freer trade, but countries, including the U.S., subsequently use food security and safety issues as trade barriers. He indicated that this was not in the best interests of the U.S. economy. He said food traceability will become mandatory, and warned that the U.S. will fall behind its competitors if it does not adopt better food safety protocols. It was encouraging to hear a U.S. expert on food and agriculture trade policy endorse the kind of measures Agriculture and Rural Development Minister George Groeneveld and his department have already brought forward, primarily through the Alberta Livestock and Meat Strategy.

Jolanta Iwanicka, First Secretary from the Embassy of Poland, made a presentation on biofuels. The European Union has been working very hard to promote biofuels, but as much as we believe them to be ahead of us, they are facing some very challenging issues. Iwanicka indicated that because the largest growth in greenhouse gases in the EU comes from truck transport, demand will grow for biofuels use in the EU. Although Poland and the EU in general will significantly ramp up biofuels production, Iwanicka forecast only marginal increases in commodity prices for grains and oilseeds. Specifically, she predicted the use of cereals and oilseeds would increase 20 per cent and 47 per cent; respectively, but saw that translating to price increases of just three per cent for cereals and 15 per cent for oilseeds. Even with a major increase in biofuels production, she said that more than half the demand for biofuels would be supplied by imports.

An interesting note is the statistic that 65,000 farmers in the U.S. control 85 per cent of that nation’s agricultural production.

Doug Griffiths, MLA Battle River – Wainwright and Parliamentary Assistant to George Groeneveld, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
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This information published to the web on January 12, 2009.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 15, 2018.