OTTAWA, Ontario – New trade opportunities are being created by the Harper government for the benefit of Canadian farmers, said a recent analysis of the work by the Federal Market Access Team. Gerry Ritz, Canada’s Agriculture Minister, released the report on Oct. 24 and highlighted among other positive results, Canadian beef exports to Russia have more than tripled in value since increased beef access was gained in recent years.

"Our ambitious pro-trade plan includes improving market access in the agriculture and agri-food sector," said Ed Fast, Canadian Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. "We are creating opportunities for Canadian farmers and their families by deepening and strengthening Canada's trading relationships in priority markets, opposing trade-restrictive measures and defending Canadian interests.

The report highlights accomplishments between January 2010 and March 2011 in 10 key markets for commodities including beef, pork, canola, wheat, pulses and animal genetics. It shows by collaborating and coordinating market-access efforts and activities, the federal government, provinces, territories and industry have succeeded in reopening, maintaining and expanding markets for many Canadian agricultural and food products.

Canadian beef exports to Russia more than tripled (328 percent) by value and hit $23.8 million (US$23.7 million) in 2010 after increased beef access was gained in 2009 and confirmed in 2010.

Ritz created the Market Access Secretariat (MAS) in 2009 to coordinate government initiatives with industry to pursue new and existing markets for the agriculture sector. The MAS is closely working with the Federal Market Access Team which gather resources from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Foreign Affaires and International Trade, supported by a Senior Market Access Coordinating Committee.

Canada is the world's fifth-largest exporter of agriculture and food products with annual exports worth over $35 billion (US$34.9 billion). Canada's trade in agriculture and food products contributed more than $11 billion (US$11 billion) to its trade surplus.

The report is available on the AAFC website.