Fresh from his recent trade mission to India, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Oneil Carlier briefed the Alberta Cattle Feeders at their annual general meeting Thursday morning at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer, with a focus on expanding the swine, and pulse crop market.

Carlier was asked to speak at a The Pulses Conclave in New Delhi, where he stressed how much pulse crop trade means to both countries.

“It was a great opportunity for me as well, to express to Indians and people from around the world that grow and market pulses, about the importance that pulse trade is with India. Alberta grows the most yellow and green peas in the world, and the vast majority of that crop is going to India. So with these reset tariffs that’s obviously a concern for Canada and for Alberta, and it was basically a political decision.”

He says those political motives for the 50% import duty tariff on field peas are a result of India having a bumper crop year, combined with an upcoming federal election, where politicians are playing to their mostly farmer voter base.

He spoke about some of the challenges affecting international trade for Canada, with the India tariffs being one of them, and the uncertainly surrounding NAFTA being another.  

But, there is also hope for emerging markets in the future.

“You talk about challenges; within those challenges are opportunities as well. Opportunities to expand our markets to Japan with TTP, in Europe with CIDA, I think there’s some good opportunities. Keeping in mind that United States remains our largest trading partner and always will, but the more we can expand our market is great, but we have to work with what we can with the Americans.”

He says this may lead to some Alberta farmers to rotating away from a pulse crops until the tariffs are lifted.

India is currently the largest producer and consumer of pulse crops while Canada comes in second, with India being their main exporter of pulses, along with canola meal, lentils and malt.