It received the invitation Prime Minister Stephen Harper sought in June and on Oct. 10 its negotiators joined 10 other nations at the negotiating table.
All of Canada’s agriculture policies that bear on international trade are on the negotiating table, yet the federal government insists it will do its best to retain supply management for the dairy and poultry sectors.
It faces heavy pressure from New Zealand, Australia and the United States to open the Canadian market to dairy and poultry imports.
Canada’s grains, oilseeds, pork, beef, sheep and veal producers all believe the negotiations could bring a deal that would increase their markets.
Hog farmers in the United States are also lobbying hard against Canadian subsidies for that sector.
The Canadian Pork Council and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz have been unable to come up with a plan to address the worst hog-farming losses in memory.
While the Trans-Pacific talks involve 11 nations, and Japan may yet join, the biggest changes for Canadian agriculture and food would be in trade with the United States. These negotiations might bring significant reductions in the trade barriers and farm subsidies that remain in place under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).