Canadian Agri Food Trade Alliance

Trade is my Future

As the voice of Canadian agriculture and agri-food exporters, CAFTA is dedicated to supporting a more open and fair trading environment for agriculture and agri-food.

As part of this mission, we are highlighting the over 90 percent of Canadian farmers who contribute to our rural and urban communities while depending on trade to earn a living. These are their stories.

Meet Mark Verkuyl
Woodstock, Ontario


Real access to world markets and the CPTPP will play a crucial role in the success of my family’s farm now and for future generations.

Read Mark's short story here

Mark Verkuyl
Ontario Hog Farmer

Mark Verkuyl’s full story

Mark Verkuyl farms near Woodstock, Ontario, alongside his wife, Sara, his brother Ken and his wife Cindy, and his parents, Tony and Brenda. They raise 1,100 sows from farrow to finish on 1,100 acres, and are committed to continual improvement and taking advantage of opportunities to expand their business.

One of their key opportunities is in the export market. As a pork producer, Mark has seen first-hand how Canadian pork is appreciated around the world. “We are seen around the globe as producing high-quality, safe pork,” he says.

With the demand for Canadian pork growing overseas, especially in Asia, Mark knows that a vibrant and open trade market is vitally important to the industry.

Mark says that free trade access is key for his-and the pork industry’s-future success. “I’ve really valued the opportunity to meet with a couple of different Japanese companies who buy our products,” Mark says. “The big takeaway for us has been their acknowledgement and discussion around the excellent quality of Canadian pork. We continue to strive to meet and exceed these levels of excellence, particularly in this market.”


The globally competitive, Canadian hog and pork industry generates $13.1 billion in economic activity and 31,000 on-farm jobs.

Another 69,000 Canadians rely on the pork sector for their livelihoods.

Well over 70 per cent of the industry’s output is now exported, with pork and pork products shipped to almost 100 countries.

We export 1.173 million tonnes valued at $3.4 billion (we also Import 201,716 tonnes valued at $1.2 billion)

Pork exports for 2016
(%share Volume)

USA 33% China 25%
Japan 18% Mexico 9%
Other 15%

Meet Brett McRae
Brandon, Manitoba


“The CPTPP is one that is going to be extremely important for Canada to be a player in.”

Read Brett's short story here

Brett McRae
Manitoba Rancher

Brett McRae’s full story

Brett McRae is a young farmer and rancher who is constantly looking for new and improved ways to maximize his farm’s potential.

Working with his parents and sister, Brett is the 5th generation to operate on Mar Mac Farms, just southwest of Brandon, Man. The McRaes raise purebred Red Angus, Black Angus, and Simmental cattle, and grow barley, wheat, oats, canola, and yellow peas, in addition to hay and forage corn.

“Our land base is very well suited to both cattle and crop production,” Brett says. “The key for our farm going forward is to really integrate the cattle and the grain land together and get the best out of both — synergistically using the two together.”

Brett says the family’s purebred livestock definitely holds the farm’s biggest export potential. He adds that their biggest buyer by far is the United States, but they have sent live cattle as far as Russia.

Having trade agreements with the U.S., such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is crucial to the livestock industry, and the ag industry as a whole, he says.


Canadian cattle spend most of their lives out on pasture, and are an important part of the Prairie grassland ecosystem.

Canada raises quality beef for the world market. However, Canadian beef is often subject to high tariffs when imported. The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will lower or eliminate several tariff trade barriers into key markets such as Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The CPTPP is incredibly valuable to Canada’s ranching families. As an example, once implemented, the trade deal could double or triple annual beef exports to Japan to nearly $300 million.

Meet Caroline Sekulic
Rycroft, Alberta


“Free trade is absolutely essential. Non-tariff and tariff barriers are costly and create huge imbalances.”

Read Caroline’s short story here

Caroline Sekulic
Alberta pulse grower

Caroline Sekulic’s full story

Caroline Sekulic farms at Rycroft, Alta., where she and her husband Nick are raising three teenagers alongside cereals, oilseeds, and pulses.

While all of the crops she grows are largely exported, Caroline has a particular passion for pulses, which includes chickpeas, lentils, peas, and beans. On her farm, she grows yellow peas and has also grown faba beans.

“Pulses are of special interest to me because they help fertilize the soil, are water-efficient, and are a practical source of protein and nutrition.” she says.

“They are already a staple food in most countries where food security and access are issues. They are also versatile and can be added to so many foods to improve the nutritional profile,” she says.

Caroline says that free trade is absolutely essential, not just for her farm, but for sustainable food-production systems to thrive. “The world can only have proper food access if trade is unimpeded.”

  • In 2015, 99% of the pulses produced in Canada were exported. In that year, Canada exported 6 million tonnes of pulses worth nearly $4.2 billion
  • Canada exports its pulses to over 120 countries. By value, Canada’s largest export market is India, accounting for 36% of total exports in 2015
  • Did you know? Canada is the world’s largest exporter of lentils. Canada is responsible for 40.7% of world lentil production (2014 FAO) and 76.8% of world lentil exports (2015)
  • In 2015, Canada exported approximately $428 million (512,646 tonnes) of pulses, pulse flours, and pulse fractions to Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnershipmembers. Combined, CPTPP members would be Canada’s second largest market for pulses

Meet Corey Loessin
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


“Exports are of paramount importance to our business.”

Read Corey’s short story here

Corey Loessin
Saskatchewan pulse grower

Corey Loessin’s full story

Corey Loessin is a fourth-generation farmer based near Saskatoon, Sask. Along with his wife Joan, the Loessins grow oilseeds, cereals and pulse crops, including red lentils, yellow and green peas, and, occasionally, faba beans.

“Most of our production is destined for export, either directly, or with some processing en route,” Corey says. “Of what we produce, the amount that is domestically consumed is tiny in relation to the overall production and the amount that gets exported. Exports are of paramount importance to our business.”

He feels strongly that keeping that production chain healthy — and maintaining preferential market access — is key to keeping Canadian exporters competitive on the world market.

Canada’s customers expect the highest quality food ingredients, as Corey has seen first-hand in India. “We need to focus on producing the best possible crop,” Corey says.


Pulse crops include: peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and faba beans.

Canada exports 95% of the pulses our farmers grow. In 2014, Canada exported over $3.2 billion. In 2015, Canada exported 6 million tonnes of pulses worth nearly $4.2 billion.

Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of field peas, Canada’s largest pulse crop.

Canada accounts for 32% (2010) of world pea production and 55% of world pea trade (2008). Canada’s largest pea market is India which accounts for almost half of Canada’s yellow pea exports.

Photos courtesy of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers

Meet Margaret Hansen
Langbank, Saskatchewan


“About 50 per cent of what we grow is canola and virtually all of it is exported. Canola has huge potential internationally right now.”

Read Margret’s short story here

Margaret Hansen
Saskatchewan canola grower

Margaret Hansen’s full story

Margaret Hansen is a third-generation grain farmer based near Langbank, Saskatchewan. Her farmland is ideally suited to growing canola, barley, and wheat.

Her farm can grow — and will continue to grow — more crops than Canadians could ever consume. Margaret’s success as a farmer hinges on an international need for the farm’s products.

Margaret farms in partnership with her family, and they’ve worked diligently to expand their landbase to support the families involved in the farm.

The driving force behind Margaret’s farm’s future growth hinges on Canada’s robust international trade relationships. Her farm wouldn’t have seen the same kind of growth without access to foreign markets, and her future depends on trade.


Canada is a world leader in canola, producing two-thirds of the world’s supplies. China alone imported $2.6 billion worth of canola in 2015. The canola industry contributes $19.3 billion to the Canadian economy and supports our rural communities.

Did you know?
Our trading partners love Canadian canola. In 2015, total exports of seed, oil, and meal totalled $8.9 billion.

Meet Markus Haerle
St. Isidore, Ontario


“For our family-run farm, competitive access to world markets is key. “Once you lose that market, it’s very difficult to get it back.”

Read Haerle’s short story here

Markus Haerle
Ontario soybean grower

Markus Haerle’s full story

Markus Haerle and his family own and operate a mixed-farm near the community of St. Isidore, ON. On their farm, they grow grains, oilseeds, corn, soybeans and spring wheat, and collect eggs from laying hens.

Markus is heavily involved in farm organizations, and has traveled extensively to Japan, the U.S., and Malyasia to meet with the people who buy and consume the crops he grows.

Canada’s identity-preserved soybeans, grown through a rigorous traceability system, are among the highest quality in the world. Markus takes great pride in the extra effort and commitment required when growing crops for the high-value customers of quality Canadian soybeans.

  • Japan’s families are Canada’s customers — Japan has the lowest rate of food self-sufficiency, and looks to countries, such as Canada, to feed its population.
  • A large portion of Canada’s high quality, high value products find a home in Japanese markets. For example, Japan imported nearly $325 million worth of soybeans in 2015.
  • Canada exported over $3.55 billion in agriculture and agri-food products to Japan in 2015.

Meet Matt Sawyer
Acme, Alberta


“When you start to participate in these trade missions, you realize what a global market place agricultural export is. You’re competing with people globally.”

Read Matt’s short story here

Matt Sawyer
Third-generation Alberta farmer

Matt Sawyer’s full story

Matt Sawyer’s Alberta farm grows a variety of hard red spring wheat, malt barley and canola. He also raises black angus cattle. Export market demand is a crucial part of his farm’s success.

Strong export markets don’t happen by chance — they are the result of diligent relationship building with Canada’s customers. Matt understands that and has been an active participant in several trade missions, representing his farm and its products in Europe, Japan and Mexico. His success hinges on promoting and differentiating Canada’s quality food products on a global stage.

“To meet in person and talk about our farming practices and what we do on a grassroots level builds a trust with the customer that is so important in our business,” Matt says.

  • Canada is Japan’s largest malt barley supplier, providing 40% of malt imports.
  • In 2014, Japan imported nearly $399 million in barley.
  • Canada is also the second largest supplier of barley imports for Japan, with a 26.8% share.
  • In 2014, Canada exported approximately $800,000 of barley to Mexico.
  • Also in 2014, Canada exported $29.4 million in malt to Mexico.
  • Mexico is highly dependent on imported feed ingredients (60% of feed products are imported). This is a huge opportunity for Canada.
  • Canada’s share of the $168 million beer market in Mexico is only 0.26%.