Inter-provincial Barriers: Where’s the Beef?

In yesterday’s Ontario Farmer, the federal Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, railed against “tremendous inter-provincial trade barriers.” His example was restrictions on moving beef between provinces. My understanding is that, to the extent such restrictions exist, they arise from federal regulations rather than from provincial policy.

Ritz claimed, “I have no problems with Quebec beef coming into Ontario as long as Ontario beef can go the other way . . . Six or seven billion dollars are lost because we can’t ship across that border.” Depending upon how it is measured, Canada’s total beef-cattle output is worth about $10 billion annually and mainly comes from the prairie provinces. Therefore, $6 billion is totally outside the realm of possibility of what any conceivable restrictions on moving beef between Quebec and Ontario might cost.

Of course, Ritz might have been referring to more than beef in saying, “we can’t ship across that border.” However, $6 billion is way too high even as an estimate of all alleged inter-provincial barriers. Even the vegetable-oil industry does not claim to lose more than $20 million due to Quebec’s margarine restrictions, which would be partly offset by the dairy industry’s gains.

Ritz targets inter-provincial barriers

Ontario Farmer

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Page: A11

Dateline: Douro

. . .

Speaking to about 100 farmers here the ag minister bemoaned a country which can export easier than it can trade internally. He told of a friend who operated a packing plant in Lloydminister, which straddles the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border, who could export product , but couldn’t sell a steak “across the street” into the next province.

“We’ve got some tremendous interprovincial trade barriers and they’re not helpful. We’re going to have to come to grips with that. “I have no problems with Quebec beef coming into Ontario as long as Ontario beef can go the other way,” Ritz said during a 20 minute presentation.

A contractor to help pay for his farming habit, the minister said the two things plumbers learned were “shit don’t run up hill and pay day is Friday,” he said in calling for a “free flow of goods. Six or seven billion dollars are lost because we can’t ship across that border” Ritz said. “We’ve had some in-prov meetings and we’re addressing that.”

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