May 22, 2008, Ottawa, Ont. – Dairy, poultry and egg farmers denounce World Trade Organization
(WTO) proposals that threaten the future of supply management and the
$42 billion in economic activity generated by their sectors annually.
The proposals found in a revised text produced by Crawford Falconer, the chair of the WTO’s agriculture committee, would put at risk the country’s dairy, poultry and egg farms which ensure a stable supply of safe, nutritious and affordable food for consumers. More than 250,000 Canadians, many of them in rural Canada, rely on supply management for employment.
“The proposals, if adopted, would destroy our farms by allowing Canada to be flooded with imported food,” said Laurent Souligny, chair of the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency. “Supply management depends on three equally important pillars—import controls, producer pricing and production planning. If Mr. Falconer’s proposals were accepted, the import controls pillar would be wiped out, devastating the sectors that rely on supply management,” he added.
Mark Davies, chair of the Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency, said it was gratifying to see the Canadian government take such a strong stand in support of its farmers. Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz, in a statement issued May 20th, said Canada saw little progress on proposals to accommodate Canada’s needs for supply management and firmly opposed proposals that do not address those needs.
“These needs include no reductions in Over Quota Tariffs on dairy, poultry and egg imports and no increase in the minimum market access for these products,” Mr. Davies said. “Other countries" needs are clearly being accommodated in this text. Specific language was added to address the needs of the European Union, the United States, Norway and Japan for example. In addition, this paper does nothing to correct the inequities resulting from the Uruguay Round.”
“Our federal government is standing on solid ground in continuing to fight at the WTO and we trust they will deliver the results supply management needs,” Davies said.
The text issued in Geneva earlier this week is worse for the Canadian supply-managed farmers than earlier versions of the document. In addition, provisions pertaining to the use of a Special Safeguard are contrary to the efforts being made by the Canadian government to give effect to current Safeguard provisions.
Gyslain Loyer, chair of Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, said dairy, poultry and egg farmers look forward to working closely with Mr. Ritz and International Trade Minister David Emerson over the coming weeks and months to ensure the Geneva text is improved to provide a fair and balanced outcome that meets the needs of all Canadian farmers.
Mr. Loyer added that the WTO text would reduce countries’ ability to establish their own food policies. With supply management, farmers work together to match what they grow with what consumers need and want. This provides consumers with a reliable supply of quality food at reasonable and stable prices while farmers receive their returns from the marketplace without relying on subsidies or taxpayer dollars.
“Trade liberalization is not the solution to the food crisis – Canadian consumers have been spared from substantial increases in food prices observed in other countries in the past year,” Mr. Loyer concluded.
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