Open Letter – To the Right Honourable Stephen Harper and the Honourable Gerry Ritz
By Dairy Farmers of Canada
By Dairy Farmers of Canada
Feb. 12, 2008, Ottawa – The Canadian government, over the past two years, has repeatedly indicated its strong commitment to support only a WTO agreement in agriculture that would maintain a healthy and viable supply management system in the dairy, egg and poultry sectors. Although you and members of your Government continue to reiterate, on all public platforms, that this government delivers on its commitments, your commitment to supply management is often questioned, both domestically and internationally, by those who believe that Canada will sign a WTO agreement when a deal is generally agreeable to most other WTO members. Such distrust is often fuelled by the dichotomy that exists between the Government's domestic actions and the progress portrayed in the negotiations in Geneva.
Last week, the Chairman of the WTO Agricultural Negotiations, Mr. Crawford Falconer, released a proposed agriculture modalities text outlining the current status of the negotiations in agriculture. For Canadian
dairy, egg and poultry producers, this text is a potential agreement that would devastate supply management and bring significant economic turmoil to these agricultural industries. The Canadian government, once again, indicated that it could not support this text, which did not recognize Canada's
commitment to maintain supply management programs in the dairy, egg and poultry sectors. Clearly, Mr. Falconer is not listening and the Canadian government must work to ensure the Canadian position is reflected in the final agreement.
The day prior to the release of the Chairman's paper, Minister Gerry Ritz, addressed Dairy Farmers of Canada's Annual Policy Conference. In his speech, the Minister reiterated the Government of Canada's strong support for supply management, a commitment he indicated that was highlighted in the
Throne Speech last fall. He challenged those who doubted this commitment to look at the actions already taken by the Government in support of supply management. For example, the Federal Government worked with its provincial counterparts to recognize supply management as a business risk management
program within the new Agricultural Policy Framework; it initiated negotiations with its trading partners for the application of new import controls on milk protein concentrate, as per Canada's rights under Article
XXVIII of the GATT; and it proceeded with the harmonization and clarification of regulated cheese standards despite strong international criticisms for doing so.
Most recently the Minister also announced the Government's intention to operationalize the WTO Special Agricultural Safeguards for supply-managed goods. Such safeguards, once activated, could prevent significant surges in imports from destabilizing the industry and causing financial hardship to
agricultural producers. It is therefore, important to not only implement the safeguard domestically but to stand up at the WTO for maintaining this right.
Minister Ritz emphasized that Canada is not at the negotiating table to win a popularity contest, but to defend Canada's best interests. We, representing Canada's dairy, egg and poultry producers, believe that the Government's commitment to continue to work with our industries demonstrates its intent to deliver only a WTO deal that will ensure a trade environment permitting strong and prosperous supply-managed sectors.
Mark Davies, Chair Gyslain Loyer, Chair
Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency Canadian Hatching Egg Producers
David Fuller, Chair Jacques Laforge, President
Chicken Farmers of Canada Dairy Farmers of Canada
Laurent Souligny, Chair
Canadian Egg Marketing Agency