August 5, 2008 – Canada's dairy poultry and egg industry leaders have returned from Geneva, after World Trade Organization talks broke down abruptly when countries were unable to reach agreement on special safeguard mechanisms for developing countries.
Negotiators never had an opportunity to get to Canada's key issues in the group negotiations, but Canadian representatives held fast to the country's balanced position on agriculture in bilateral discussions with other nations represented in Geneva.
"While we didn't get to where we'd hoped to be, we thank Ministers Gerry Ritz and Michael Fortier, as well as the Canadian negotiating team led by Steve Verheul and John Gero, for the hours of work they expended representing the interests of Canadian agriculture," said David Fuller, Chairman of Chicken Farmers of Canada.
Dairy, poultry and egg farmers had grown very concerned with the latest text proposed by WTO Director General Pascal Lamy while negotiations were underway in Geneva.
"What was on the table would have endangered our industries as well as our contribution to the economic well-being of rural communities from coast to coast," said Jacques Laforge, Chairman of Dairy Farmers of Canada, "Our domestic market is the foundation of Canadian agriculture. Canadians purchase 70% of the agricultural products grown or raised in Canada. Yet, group negotiators didn't even get around to talking about it, because there was a
cluster of other issues to work through. The reality is that there is a long
way to go before we have a WTO deal that makes sense for Canada."
Farm leaders had been in Geneva for close to two weeks, along with provincial agriculture ministers and industry representatives from across the country. Leaders from both national and provincial dairy, poultry and egg organizations will continue to work to ensure that the WTO members know how important the dairy, poultry and egg industries are to Canada.
"As suggested yesterday by many countries during the Trade Negotiations Committee meeting in Geneva, the efforts of our negotiators should not be wasted," said Mark Davies, Chairman of the Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency, "We should build on the progress we've made, with a goal of achieving a solid agreement that ends, once and for all, the uncertainty created by what is now seven years of WTO negotiations."
"The government has always supported a position that makes sense for Canada" said Laurent Souligny, Chairman of the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, "Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers look forward to working with the government to ensure that Canada has a strong trade agreement that recognizes both the pillars of supply management and the need to have fair rules to support export interests."
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