One Size Does Not Fit All - Dairy, Poultry and Egg Farmers Deeply Dissatisfied with WTO Text

    OTTAWA, Feb. 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers are
deeply dissatisfied with the revised modalities paper on agriculture, issued
today by Crawford Falconer, Agriculture Trade Negotiations Chair for the World
Trade Organization (WTO).
    Mr. Falconer continues to ignore the explicitly stated position of the
Government of Canada, which is defending Canadian farmers, including those
with supply-managed products.
    Certain proposals within Mr. Falconer's text are still entirely
unacceptable for Canada, as they would devastate the livelihoods of Canada's
dairy, poultry and egg farmers. The text on sensitive products, for instance,
does not reflect the concerns that Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry
Ritz brought to Ambassador Falconer's attention in a letter on August 31, 2007
and reiterated publicly in early January 2008.
    The bulk of revenue from Canada's total agriculture and agri-food
production - about 71% - comes from the domestic market. It is unconscionable
to gamble on a text that would have measurable negative economic impacts on
Canadian agriculture.
    "A 'one-size-fits-all' approach to these negotiations will not allow the
WTO to reach an agreement," says David Fuller, Chair of Chicken Farmers of
Canada. "We'd hoped that countries' special needs would be addressed in a
thoughtful way. We are concerned that Chairman Falconer has done this for some
countries, but not for Canada. The new text includes no improvements for
Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers. There has been no progress in this
regard since the first paper was presented."
    In fact, the situation could be worse than it was in the first draft. The
text on sensitive products, for example, treats such products more harshly
than ever. The selection and treatment of sensitive products outlined in the
revised draft modalities still does not provide enough coverage for dairy,
poultry and egg products. The government must work to ensure that all
supply-managed products are included in the sensitive products category,
without having to pay an additional cost.
    The government must also negotiate to make certain there are no
reductions to over-quota tariffs for sensitive products and no increases in
market access, as was outlined in Minister Ritz's letter to Mr. Falconer. We
have already provided significant access to our markets. With the stronger
Canadian dollar, the effectiveness of the current over-quota tariffs is
already diminished.
    "The Government of Canada's trade position recognizes that it cannot
accept uncertain gains for guaranteed losses," says Jacques Laforge, President
of Dairy Farmers of Canada. "Canadian dairy, poultry and egg farmers call upon
the Canadian government to maintain its firm stand and reject any WTO text
that does not benefit all Canadian farmers."

For further information:

For further information: Marty Brett, Chicken Farmers of Canada, (613)
266-5159, (613) 566-5926; Shelley Crabtree, Dairy Farmers of Canada, (613)

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