WTO and Agriculture  —  Sharing thoughts

They said...

Comments from participants in the 2nd partner forum of the coalition, June 13, 2006.
(The original quotations were in French)

“Supply management is a farming model with a human face, a model of solidarity that milk, egg, chicken and turkey farmers in Québec and Canada adopted together almost 30 years ago. This system makes it possible to adjust production to market demand and to earn a living directly from the market price. No subsidies are paid to these farmers. This model, when adapted, can be valuable for industrialized countries and implemented in developing countries.”

“70% of Canadian farm products serve Canadian needs, 19% for Canada/United States/Mexico trade and 10% to export around the world. We might be able to improve exports by 1 or 2%, yes, but without jeopardizing the other 89%.”

Laurent Pellerin,
UPA President General and Spokesman for Coalition GO5

“Global agricultural trade is not working properly. Especially not for meat and grains. Next to farmers in other countries, farmers under supply management probably have a privileged situation comparatively-speaking. We are still able to plan our production, we know the quantities we must produced to meet market needs. There is no overproduction, no interference from the government. In the medium term, we can plan the future of our businesses and their transfer. We are growing, thanks to supply management, in an ideal context.”

“Over 600 million farmers in the world earn less than two dollars per day. They can feed themselves from what they produce but cannot do much more than that. The WTO wants all of the world’s farmers to be in the same competitive system. Farmers’ expectations as concerns the WTO are entirely different: they mostly want to be able to feed their local populations and for countries to be able to maintain internal policies that are appropriate to their needs, realities and cultures.”

Marcel Groleau, President
Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec

“The presence of GO5 representatives in Geneva outside of the negotiations is important. In recent years, we have come a long way to inform people in other countries about what supply management is. We have checked and corrected the perceptions of farming association representatives, ambassadors, negotiators. We have explained to them how it works here.”

Serge Lefebvre, President
Fédération des producteurs d’œufs
de consommation du Québec

“We must continue to demonstrate that food sovereignty does not equal protectionism. We export a lot to the United States and Japan. But it has never been our objective to take the entire market and eliminate Japanese pork producers. Japan’s market needs cannot be met 100% by their farmers. We respect the countries that want to protect a minimum of their markets. There are a number of principles to respect at the WTO and food sovereignty is one of them. We don’t have a lot to gain with lower tariffs because countries will continue to subsidize in other ways and we will not have more access to their markets.”

Mario Hébert, Principal Economist
La Coop Fédérée

“The offers from rich countries now on the table at the WTO don’t live up to the spirit of the Doha Development Round. In exchange for meager progress on unfair rules in agriculture, developing countries are being pressured by Canada and others to radically reduce industrial tariffs -- tantamount to signing away their hopes for future development. Unless the rich countries fundamentally alter their approach, prolonging the Doha Round negotiations may be the best way forward.”

Mark Fried
Communications & Advocacy Coordinator
Oxfam Canada

“Lower tariffs in farming under supply management are impossible because big countries will continue to subsidize their agriculture without giving additional access to their markets.”

Guylaine Gosselin, General Manager
Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec

“Who are the WTO negotiations for? To get a better idea, we should consider changes in the prices of staple goods, such as food, clothing and housing.”

“The case of cotton grown in Africa is interesting when discussing supply management. It is said that Africa sells 98% of its cotton mostly to China. But it must be noted that it buys back 85% of its production in the form of used clothing or clothing made in China. So in other words, Africa’s net exports would be only 15% of its production, if it were able to process its cotton on its territory.”

André Beaudoin, General Secretary
UPA Développement international