Canadian Cattle Industry Gains Immediate Market Access to Azerbaijan

Ottawa, Ontario, February 29, 2012 - Canadian cattle producers will benefit from new access to yet another international market. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast announced today that Azerbaijan has agreed to export conditions to allow Canadian cattle to enter the country immediately, building on a recent string of market access success stories.

"As a trading nation, the Government of Canada is working hard to ensure that agricultural exports continue to grow and contribute to economic growth and jobs here in Canada," said Minister Ritz. "Today's announcement flows from our unwavering commitment to create new and diverse export opportunities for our hardworking farmers to help boost their bottom lines."

"We are pleased with the science-based decision of the Government of Azerbaijan to open its market to Canadian cattle," said Minister Fast. "With one in five jobs generated by trade, our government understands that access to new markets means greater prosperity and financial security for hardworking Canadians and their families. That's why we have consistently fought for fair and open access for our producers and exporters around the world. Opening new markets and creating new opportunities that benefit Canadian businesses and workers are at the core of our government's broad and ambitious pro-trade plan."

Canadian farmers can now export cattle to Azerbaijan, with the bulk of expected sales being in dairy genetics. The announcement is an important step forward in Canada's agricultural trade relationship with Azerbaijan.

"The Canadian Livestock Genetics Association (CLGA) has expressed a keen interest in Azerbaijan's rapidly growing agricultural market," said Rick McRonald, Executive Director of the CLGA. "This will be a totally new market for the Canadian genetics industry, and we expect that the first potential Azeri live cattle buyers will be in Canada next month. This could result in initial sales of 2,000 dairy heifers. We thank the Government of Canada for its support in achieving market access. This is one more in a recent string of successes."

Market access for cattle was also recently announced for Peru and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Serbia that will help pave the way for increased business and co-operation on animal genetics.

Canadian agri-food exports to Azerbaijan averaged more than $2.1 million per year from 2009 to 2011. Pork is Canada's primary export to Azerbaijan, with an average annual export value of $1.7 million. Other Canadian exports include beef, poultry and pulses.

Until today, Canada has never before had market access for cattle to Azerbaijan. This new access enables Canadian farmers to capitalize on the significant growth occurring in Azerbaijan's agricultural sector and strengthen their foothold in the Caucasus region.

For more information, media may contact:

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
613-773-7972
1-866-345-7972

Meagan Murdoch
Director of Communications
The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
613-773-1059

Browse our news releases