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New CAFTA Head Wants To Get Along

“I’m positive that with some discussion, we get a better understanding of each other. It works around here.”

– STAN EBY

Stan Eby hopes to replace the long-standing tensions between export-oriented farm groups and the supply-managed sector with a more positive relationship that respects the goals of both sides.

Eby, a longtime Ontario cattle producer, was elected president of the Canadian Agri Food Trade Alliance at its recent annual general meeting here.

He beat Liam McCreery, another familiar face from the Ontario farm scene, to take the top post in CAFTA, which is pushing the federal government for a new WTO deal that will improve market access for Canadian meat and grains.

CAFTA’s trade positions usually put it at odds with the supply-managed dairy and poultry boards and sometimes even the Canadian Wheat Board. Eby says he plans to reach out to bridge that gap.

“When I look out my window at home, I see dairy farms,” he says in an interview. “When I was president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, I had a good rapport with Jacques Laforge (president of Dairy Farmers of Canada). I want to re-establish that kind of relationship.”

He said dairy farmers took a hit just like beef producers when BSE was discovered in 2003. “It’s certainly in their interest to see better export rules for breeding stock and cull cows.

“I’m positive that with some discussion, we get a better understanding of each other. It works around here,” he says of his farm near Kincardine, Ont.

While negotiations with the European Union on a free trade agreement are still in early days, CAFTA members are hopeful it could lead to greater exports of beef, pork and grain to Europe without harming supply management.

That could ease tensions in Canada on a possible new set of international trade rules through the WTO.

A deal with the EU could be a real benefit for Canadian agriculture, Eby says. “But our preference remains to get a meaningful one at the WTO.”

He noted that U. S. President Obama called for a deal in the Doha round and that the United States “will make their trading partners follow the rules.” Eby chucked when asked about that comment in light of COOL and other American restraints on imports.

Eby, who calls himself a semi-retired beef producer, has been raising cattle since 1971. He works with his oldest son who took over the cattle-feeding part of the business in 1994. Eby still backgrounds and pastures cattle. He’s also a former head of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association.

He succeeds Albertan Darcy Davis. The other members of the executive are vicepresident Rick White of the Canadian Canola Growers Association and treasurer Richard Phillips, executive director of the Canadian Grain Growers.

McCreery is former CAFTA president and is staying on the organization’s board of directors. Seventeen farm groups are represented on the CAFTA board.

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