up front By Bryden Winsby
Talk about an exercise in frustration... I
f I get to make another career choice, it won't be to do what Denis Landreville does.
His job is to negotiate international trade agreements, a process that seems fraught with challenges that would test my patience and lovable nature beyond the breaking point. Landreville was a featured speaker at this year's Pacific Agriculture show, where he explained the objectives and complexities of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty. A dozen countries in the Asia- Pacific region, including Canada, are participating in the negotiations, which, if successful, could bring significant benefits to many industrial sectors, including agriculture, as you'll read in Contributing Editor Grant Ullyot's piece in this issue.
Agriculture, in fact, has been at the centre of international trade talks for decades. As I understand it, the TPP has resulted from failure of the World Trade Organization to resolve the seemingly endless conflict between free/fair trade and protectionism (especially farm subsidies). The WTO has been around since 1995, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which took effect in 1948. Participating nations — there are now 160 of them — have participated in protracted 'rounds' (such as Uruguay for GATT, Doha for the WTO) in efforts to resolve various issues. These rounds are a whole lot more than week-long conferences. They take years. The WTO still hasn't completed the Doha Development Round, which was launched in 2001 with a focus on the needs of developing countries. The original deadline for reaching accord was Jan. 1, 2005 — and that was the year the TPP process began as the Trans- Pacific Strategic Partnership Agreement. Participating countries set the goal of wrapping up negotiations in 2012, but contentious issues such as (surprise!) agriculture, intellectual property, and services and
investments have caused negotiations to continue, most recently in Ottawa last summer.
Tough job, but somebody has to do 4 British Columbia Berry Grower • Spring 2015
it. And the food's probably pretty good (subsidized or not). Our cover story, meanwhile, takes a look at what’s up with the province’s raspberry sector, which has rebounded after some difficult
years that prompted a number of growers to abandon that crop in favour of blueberries. The Raspberry Industry Development Council’s chair, Arvin Neger, knows raspberries as well as any producer, and says he is committed to doing what he can to ensure the rebound is a lasting one. Elsewhere you’ll find a follow-up on last year’s story about the use of drones to keep bird pests away from blueberry fields. This time it’s with dummy drones, foam cutouts that look like the real thing, placed atop a long pole complete with the same
bird-scaring whistles that are used with the flying version.
Lower-tech and less expensive, perhaps, but they could be very effective. And it’s hard to avoid chuckling at the concept.
Further on, y0u can read why Mary Forstbauer, co-president of the Certified Organic Associations of B.C. (COABC) is happy that the provincial government has stepped in to help set standards aimed at preventing producers or retailers from claiming their products are organic when they are not.
And finally, an update from well- known honeybee supplier John Gibeau on the need to get your pollinators ASAP, because while the quality of bees is good, their availability, as in past years, is not.
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