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A big trader in food products

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As a nation, we import about half of what we eat, and export about half the food we produce. This makes Canada one of the most trade dependent nations for agriculture and fish products. Other countries, especially the United States, are just as hungry for our agricultural exports.

Many of our imports are products we cannot grow. Grapes from Chile and oranges from Morocco are just two imports we now take for granted each winter. Our exports suggest a reputation as the world’s bulk food store. Evidently, bulk food is good business for Canada: we posted a trade surplus of $8.2 billion in food and fish products in 2005.

Canada imported $22.0 billion of agricultural and fish products in 2005. Fruits and vegetables, either in whole form or in preparations, accounted for 29%. Another

29% was beverages and other prepared foods, 18% was fish, meat and live animals, and 24% was mainly cereal products, sugar, and fodder and feed for animals.

In 2005, our exports of agricultural and fish products totalled $30.2 billion. About 38% was fish, meat and live animals; 19% was grains and cereals; 9% was oilseeds and other vegetable products; and 34% were alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, other foods, animal feeds and tobacco. The United States is the destination for two-thirds of Canada’s agricultural exports.

Greenhouse vegetables, as well as live cattle and hogs, became big export businesses in the 1990s, as a result of the 1988 Canada–U.S. Free Trade Agreement. To accommodate the increased export demand, greenhouses, feedlots and hog barns were built or expanded in the last 15 years.