VICTORIA, BRITISH-COLUMBIA – During his keynote address at the Canadian Meat Council's 90th Annual Conference, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz reaffirmed the Government of Canada's commitment to the Canadian red-meat sector.

"As one of Canada's leading exporters and a major customer for our livestock farmers, our red-meat processors are a key part of Canada's economic recovery," Mr. Ritz said. "If packers are competitive and profitable, our farmers will benefit through stronger markets and our economy will benefit through new jobs."

The Canadian government is helping the red-meat sector become more competitive and profitable by investing in long-term, innovative solutions, including more than $6 million for a beef research cluster and $75 million under Canada's Economic Action Plan to help processors upgrade meat plants, handle older cattle and develop long-term solutions to reducing the costs of specified risk material (S.R.M.) disposal.

While stressing S.R.M. disposal under Canada's Enhanced Feed Ban is key to regaining beef access in markets closed due to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (B.S.E.), Mr. Ritz urged continued collaboration on all sides to use the federal investment to develop long-term solutions to increase the competitiveness of producers.

During the past 18 months, Mr. Ritz has partnered with Canadian farm leaders to lead international trade missions, which restored beef access in the Middle East, Colombia, Russia and Hong Kong as well as pork access in China. These efforts alone will bring an estimated $116 million worth of new business to Canada's pork and beef industry every year.

Contributing to the success of these missions is the new Market Access Secretariat, which was built on the recommendation of the Beef and Pork Value Chain Roundtables. The Secretariat backstops government and industry efforts in expanding existing markets and opening new ones.

Canada’s red-meat industry generates 67,000 jobs and more than $4 billion in export. The Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan supports farmers by improving infrastructure, investing in innovation and building stronger international trade relationships. Investments in viable market opportunities will help to build an even stronger agriculture industry and Canadian economy.