Business & Policy
SM Groups Not Consulted on Trade
By Dairy Farmers of Canada CFA
By Dairy Farmers of Canada CFA
October 19, 2009- Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) are strongly disappointed that provincial ministers approved Chapter Nine of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) , despite repeated warnings by agricultural organizations in all provinces that they had legal advice that the 2008 proposed text was ambiguous about supply management.
October 19, 2009- Canadian dairy,
poultry and egg farmers are strongly disappointed that provincial
ministers approved Chapter Nine of the Agreement on Internal Trade
(AIT) , despite repeated warnings by agricultural organizations in all
provinces that they had legal advice that the 2008 proposed text was
ambiguous about supply management.
"The concerns we shared with governments about the 2008 text remain with the text published yesterday," said Jacques Laforge, President of Dairy Farmers of Canada. "Despite the efforts of our members to talk to provincial officials, the officials have refused to hold consultations with farmers and industry about the text related to agriculture and supply management, and they have now approved it."
The provincial governments had committed to consult with farmers and industries but they did not follow up. As a result, despite the public assurances of the Ministers October 15, and of the Premiers in August or even back in 2007, that the "Chapter would not apply to measures relating to supply management", the text has not changed significantly from the 2008 version and the concerns of Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers remain.
The CFA reached out to the co-chairs of the Internal Trade Committee – Minister of Industry Tony Clement, and Yukon Minister of Economic Development Jim Kenyon – before the Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) meeting on October 15 in an attempt to meet with them and share some of Industry's concerns. However, consultation with industry never came to fruition. The final analysis of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Agreement on Internal Trade including the revisions to the agriculture chapter, Chapter Nine, was reviewed and finalized at the meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon on October 15th, 2009.
"The CFA is tired of the paternalistic, rather than true partnership, approach by government that they know best. What possible reason could they have not to discuss with industry if they indeed felt it was a good deal?" said CFA President Laurent Pellerin. "The initiative to renegotiate the text was without any prior consultation with affected industry groups. The revisions to Chapter Nine have effects for every sector of Canadian Agriculture, and CFA is very disappointed with the Agreement. It concerns the CFA and its membership."
Legal analysis of the text has shown that despite the Premiers assurances that the legislative powers of orderly marketing boards has been is excluded, the actual language is not adequate. In addition, further legal analysis has shown the text does not specifically protect the power for Ministerial Exemptions. The CFA hopes that Signatories to the text understand the need to consult with industry to ensure that the wording in the text does not undermine Canadian Agriculture before moving the process any further.
CFA and its provincial members have been asking their respective provincial Premiers and ministers responsible for Agriculture and Trade:
- To consult with industry in the process of negotiating the final text of Chapter 9 on agriculture;
- To not accept a text that will harm Canada's ability to run an effective supply management system and to regulate the core functions of the system;
- To not accept a text that will harm Canada's ability to run effective marketing boards;
- To propose to the other provinces that the wording and intention related to the protection and maintenance of supply management needs to reflect what was agreed to in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between Quebec and Ontario.
Despite these requests, industry has been ignored. Signatories must now ratify the text in their respective jurisdictions, despite providing no opportunity for the agri-food industry to see a copy of the proposed text and comment before approving it October 15. The CFA hopes that the federal government and remaining signatories listen to the concerns of Canadian farmers and consult with industry.