Food imports from the United States, Mexico, China and other countries are putting pressure on the viability of producing similar commodities in the southern Ontario farming community of Norfolk County.
“Norfolk County Council is concerned about the effect these trends are having on our farmers, and we continue to ask our senior levels of government to act surely and quickly to protect Canadian and Norfolk producers,” said Mayor Dennis Travale.
Norfolk County has annual gross farm receipts of $419 million, making it the fifth largest agricultural region in Ontario. By comparison, China shipped $430 million in agricultural products to Canada last year. In total, worldwide imports of agriculture products to Canada increased by 10% in 2006 to $22.4 billion, compared to 2004. The U.S. shipped $13 billion, Mexico $878 million, Brazil $639 million, and Chile $400 million.
Apple juice was China’s largest food export to Canada, up 69% compared to 2003. China shipped $28 million worth of apple juice to Canada last year, much of which may be used in drinking boxes popular among children.
“We want you to know where your food comes from, so trade statistics from the federal government were analyzed carefully,” said Clark Hoskin, Manager of Tourism & Economic Development. “We discovered some astonishing trends. Some of these countries have less stringent food safety standards than Canada , but imports continue to balloon.”
Current Import/Export Fact Sheets: http://www.ats-sea.agr.gc.ca/stats/fs-fd-eng.htm
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, agricultural imports from China have increased by 38% between 2003 and 2006, with more that $430 million in imports from China to Canada last year.
The amount is larger than the entire annual gross farm receipts for Norfolk County, one of Canada ‘s largest agricultural regions. In 2005, Norfolk farms reported $419 million in gross income.
Apple juice concentrate from China led the way, with $27.6 million of imported apple juice arriving in Canada in 2006, up 69% compared to 2003. Norfolk County is a major apple-growing region.
Ten times as much fresh garlic or $2.6 million was imported from China to Canada in 2006, compared to 2003, when $249,694 was brought in. Norfolk growers have produced garlic in the past.
Fresh pears and quinces were the second largest import from China to Canada, with $15.8 million arriving in Canada in 2006, up 47% compared to 2003.
Ginseng root imports from China to Canada grew exponentially over three years, from $2.9 million in 2003 to $8.8 million in 2006. Norfolk County is Canada’s largest grower of ginseng.
Prepared or preserved asparagus imports from China grew by 38% between 2003 and 2006, with $1.4 million imported last year. Norfolk is Ontario’s largest grower of fresh asparagus.
Chinese imports of dog or cat food saw large increases over the past three years, from $1.8 million in 2003 to $5.8 million in 2006. Animal feed preparations also accounted for $6.3 million last year, up 16% from 2003.
Increases in Chinese imports were also recorded for cabbages, carrots and turnips, peas, beans, spinach, grapes, apples, and peaches. Norfolk County produces these fruits and vegetables.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada , agricultural imports from India have increased by 29% between 2004 and 2006, with more that $152 million in imports from India to Canada last year. Canada received $19 million in rice from India in 2006, up 27% from 2005.
More significantly, Indian imports of pickled cucumbers increased ten fold, to $1 million in 2006 from $90,000 in 2004. Imports of other preserved vegetables rose five fold, to $7.4 million in 2006. Cucumber production and pickle processing have traditionally played an important role in Norfolk ‘s agricultural economy.
Imports of pickles increased 71%. India and others shipped $12 million worth to Canada last year, squeezing many Norfolk cucumber growers out of the market. Norfolk grew 35% of Ontario ‘s cucumber crop last year.
The value of imports of cigarettes skyrocketed six-fold last year, to $162 million. Manufactured tobacco imports rose 19% to $17 million in 2006, and “smoking tobacco” imports increased 43% to $7.2 million last year. Imports of cigars and cheroots increased 7% to $41 million. Norfolk County tobacco growers produced 58% of the Ontario tobacco crop in 2006. They are now facing the demise of tobacco growing, due to the drop in world prices and other factors. Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, India, Argentina, Turkey, Russia and the Philippines ship tobacco and related products to Canada.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada , agricultural imports from Mexico have increased by 51% between 2004 and 2006, with more that $878 million in imports from Mexico to Canada last year.
The amount is more than double the entire annual gross farm receipts for Norfolk County , one of Canada ‘s largest agricultural regions. In 2005, Norfolk farms reported $419 million in gross income.
Cigarettes containing tobacco led the way, with $141 million of imported cigarettes arriving in Canada in 2006, up from a miniscule $108 in 2004.
Among vegetables, Mexico imported $98 million in fresh tomatoes in 2006, up 31% from 2004. Imports of fresh peppers increased by 22% to $54 million. Fresh asparagus from Mexico increased 42% to $21 million. Cucumber imports increased 11% to $28 million.
Among fruit, Mexico imported $43 million in fresh grapes last year, up 48%. Fresh raspberry imports increased four-fold in two years, valued in 2006 at $23 million. Watermelon imports increased 56% to $21 million. Imports of strawberries increased to $8 million, up 34% from two years earlier.
Imports of raspberries have increased 102% since 2004. Mexico, Chile and other nations shipped $73 million worth of raspberries into Canada last year.
Asparagus imports rose 18%. Mexico, Peru and others shipped $65 million worth to Canada last year. Norfolk County produces 54% of Ontario ‘s asparagus crop.
Strawberry imports jumped 22%. California, Florida, Mexico and Argentina shipped $225 million in fresh strawberries to Canada last year. Norfolk County ‘s growers produce 12% of Ontario’s strawberries.
Imports of fresh cherries increased 55%. The United States, Chile, and other countries shipped $93 million worth to Canada last year.