Trudeau says Canadian farmers hit by trade disputes should be helped faster

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Blair Gable

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s Agriculture Ministry should move more quickly to help farmers harmed by protectionist measures imposed by other nations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

Canadian farmers are caught up in a trade and diplomatic dispute between Ottawa and Beijing.

In a formal letter of instruction to Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, Trudeau said she should draw on lessons from recent trade disputes involving exports of canola, beef and pork and work out better ways to respond.

“This should include the ability to provide faster short-term support for industry when required,” he said.

The Trudeau government is under increased pressure from farm groups who say they need immediate support for producers impacted by trade disputes.

Earlier this year Ottawa extended a federal loan program to offer more financial assistance to canola seed farmers hit by a Chinese import ban. Canada also has started the formal process to challenge China at the World Trade Organization.

In a statement, Bibeau said she would continue to work with industry and her provincial counterparts to advance the priorities outlined in the prime minister’s letter, which did not provide any further details.

China temporarily suspended Canadian beef and pork exports for four months over food safety concerns after bogus export certificates were discovered. Exports resumed in November after Canadian officials submitted a plan addressing Beijing’s concerns.

Reporting by Kelsey Johnson; Editing by Leslie Adler