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More than 400 partners from the fields of agriculture, business and civil society rally to support supply management

Montreal, November 11, 2012 – At the joint invitation of the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), the Coop fédérée and the GO5 Coalition, 400 people, including producers, processors, representatives of the world of finance, and business and community partners met at the Mont-Royal Centre, in Montreal, to insist that the Government of Canada remain very firm in the final negotiations of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, as well as in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.

They also demanded that the Government comply with the unanimous motion voted by the House of Commons on November 22, 2005, in accordance with its commitment. This motion instructs the Canadian government “to obtain results that ensure that supply-managed commodities are subject to no reduction in over-quota tariffs and no increase in tariff quotas.” The responsible ministers and the Prime Minister have reiterated this commitment on multiple occasions in recent years, specifically each time Canada has begun a new round of negotiations.

The negotiations between Canada and Europe are entering the final phase and the Ministers will soon have to address very challenging issues. In particular, Europe is requesting greater access to the Canadian cheese market. Canada has already allocated more than 6% of its domestic cheese market to imports. Europe has cornered more than two-thirds of this market, valued at $156 million in 2011. Europe, however, has opened less than 2% of its domestic market to foreign cheese and its red meat imports cover barely 0.5% of its requirements.

“The CETA negotiations are comprehensive and involve many sectors. The talks are not being conducted individually, by sector. There is no need for Canada to make concessions in agriculture to obtain greater access to the European market. It has already made many concessions, particularly if the importance of geographical indications and rules of origin for countries such as France, Italy and Greece are taken into consideration. Canada’s recognition in this regard is invaluable for Europe. Therefore, it would be totally unjustified for Canada to increase cheese import quotas and offer Europe guaranteed access, while receiving nothing comparable for Canadian beef and pork,” said Marcel Groleau, President of the UPA and spokesperson of the GO5 Coalition.

“The Government of Canada has made a commitment to defend supply management. We ask it to remain firm and to not give in to the demands of the European Union,” he added pointing out that the United States would only need to increase its dairy and poultry production by a few percentage points and it would flood the Canadian market.

This gathering was an opportunity for the Coalition and its partners to publicly support supply management and present the benefits of this system for all stakeholders. Denis Richard, President of La Coop fédérée, said that Canada must not grant the European Union any further access to Canadian supply-managed commodity markets. “Thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity are at stake. These sectors are among the few that allow farmers and their business partners to be consistently profitable and to deliver a regular supply of locally produced and high-quality dairy and poultry products.”

“We understand the importance of trade agreements to our economy. Canada has signed some ten agreements since the 1980s, all the while preserving supply management. All countries have strategic sectors to protect. Canada is no exception. This position is justified and does not in any way prevent the conclusion of a globally advantageous agreement with Europe,” added Richard.

Canada’s producers of supply-managed commodities receive no government subsidies to support their revenues and cannot compete against the European treasury. According to the European Court of Auditors, subsidies accounted for 40% of the average gross income of European milk producers in 2007. These subsidies are not on the table in the negotiations between Canada and Europe.

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“Import controls are essential for the supply management system to function efficiently. If Canada gives in to the European Union’s demands concerning cheese, the consequences will be troubling since Canada is engaged in both bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations. New Zealand and the United States, in particular, would be quick to also demand that we open up our markets to them,” concluded Groleau.

The supply-managed commodity sectors are among the few that are consistently profitable, while not relying on Government subsidies. In Quebec alone, they generate more than 40% of all farm revenues, 80,000 jobs and $7.2 billion in GDP. Thanks to supply management, milk, eggs and poultry producers earn fair returns each year, without the need for subsidies. Their business partners earn profits and consumers enjoy a regular supply of local, high-quality dairy and poultry products.

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Source: Information:
Éliane Hamel
Director of Communications
Union des producteurs agricoles
450 679-0540, extension 8235

Ben Marc Diendéré
Communications Director
La Coop fédérée
Telephone: 514 710-9772

Patrice Juneau
Public Affairs Advisor
Union des producteurs agricoles
450 679-0540, extension 8591
Cellulaire : 514 702-8591

Vincent Cloutier
Agricultural Affairs Director
La Coop fédérée
Telephone: 514 858-2011

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