One Size Does Not Fit All
By The Chicken Farmers of Canada; The Dairy Farmers of CanadaFeatures Business & Policy Farm Business
Feb. 8. 2008, Ottawa – Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers are deeply dissatisfied with
the revised modalities paper on agriculture, issued today by Crawford
Falconer, Agriculture Trade Negotiations Chair for the World Trade
Mr. Falconer continues to ignore the explicitly stated position of the
Government of Canada, which is defending Canadian farmers, including
those with supply-managed products.
Certain proposals within Mr. Falconer’s text are still entirely unacceptable for Canada, as they would devastate the livelihoods of Canada’s dairy, poultry and egg farmers. The text on sensitive products, for instance, does not reflect the concerns that Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz brought to Ambassador Falconer’s attention in a letter on August 31, 2007 and reiterated publicly in early January 2008.
The bulk of revenue from Canada’s total agriculture and agri-food production – about 71% – comes from the domestic market. It is unconscionable to gamble on a text that would have measurable negative economic impacts on Canadian agriculture.
“A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to these negotiations will not allow the WTO to reach an agreement,” says David Fuller, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada. “We’d hoped that countries’ special needs would be addressed in a thoughtful way. We are concerned that Chairman Falconer has done this for some countries, but not for Canada. The new text includes no improvements for Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers. There has been no progress in this regard since the first paper was presented.”
In fact, the situation could be worse than it was in the first draft. The text on sensitive products, for example, treats such products more harshly than ever. The selection and treatment of sensitive products outlined in the revised draft modalities still does not provide enough coverage for dairy, poultry and egg products. The government must work to ensure that all supply-managed products are included in the sensitive products category, without having to pay an additional cost.
The government must also negotiate to make certain there are no reductions to over-quota tariffs for sensitive products and no increases in market access, as was outlined in Minister Ritz’s letter to Mr. Falconer. We have already provided significant access to our markets. With the stronger Canadian dollar, the effectiveness of the current over-quota tariffs is already diminished.
“The Government of Canada’s trade position recognizes that it cannot accept uncertain gains for guaranteed losses,” says Jacques Laforge, President of Dairy Farmers of Canada. “Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers call upon the Canadian government to maintain its firm stand and reject any WTO text that does not benefit all Canadian farmers.”
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