WTO agricultural negotiations intensify

                           GOVERNMENT MUST ACT NOW

    QUEBEC, June 19 /CNW Telbec/ - While a major meeting is being held
between trade ministers of the G4 countries - the United States, European
Union, India and Brazil - and in light of the latest proposals by the World
Trade Organization (WTO), which are very harmful to them, the Quebec dairy,
poultry and egg sectors are challenging the Government of Canada. Quebec's
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr. Laurent Lessard, and the
President of the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) and spokesperson of the
GO5 Coalition for a Fair Farming Model, Supply Management,
Mr. Laurent Pellerin, stated in a press conference that "The Canadian
government is responsible for the WTO negotiations and their outcome. That
outcome will be considered positive if and only if the farmers under supply
management are winners at the end of these negociations."
    Mr. Lessard and Mr. Pellerin were accompanied by the presidents of the
Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec, Mr. Marcel Groleau, the Eleveurs
de volailles du Québec, Mr. Martin Dufresne, the Fédération des producteurs
d'oeufs de consommation du Québec, Mr. Serge Lefebvre, the Syndicat des
producteurs d'oeufs d'incubation du Québec, Mr. Gyslain Loyer, and the Coop
fédérée, Mr. Denis Richard, all Coalition GO5 partners.
    The reference document submitted at the end of April by the Chairman of
Agricultural Negotiations, Crawford Falconer, anticipated major decreases in
customs tariffs that would prevent Canada from controlling its imports in
sectors under supply management. "It is clear that what is currently being
discussed at the WTO will not allow Canada to reach its objective. On the
contrary, the modalities proposed would have disastrous effects on the dairy
and poultry sectors," stated Mr. Pellerin.
    Mr. Pellerin reminded the federal government of its commitment to achieve
a positive outcome for the sectors under supply management at the end of this
round of negotiations. The stakes are high, since these sectors represent
nearly $3 billion in farm income, or more than 40% of the Quebec total. They
keep 75,000 people employed and generate several billions of dollars in
economic benefits.
    Following the example of other countries such as Norway, Iceland and
Switzerland, it is up to Canada to advocate the particular sensitivity of its
sectors under supply management to obtain special measures. "What we are doing
here today is very important. We are showing the other WTO member countries
that supply management is a major issue for Quebec and Canada. We are offering
all our support to the Minister of Agriculture in order to achieve the
objective of a positive final outcome for supply management," said
Mr. Lessard.
    A great deal of the current agricultural trade problems are the result of
agricultural subsidizing by the US and Europe. Both the United States and
Europe have changed their farm subsidies in order to maintain support despite
the reductions proposed by the WTO. Coalition spokesperson Mr. Pellerin
pointed out that less than 10% of world food products are traded between
countries. Even in Canada, which is the fourth largest world exporter of
agricultural products, 70% of farm income is derived from the domestic market.
    Mr. Pellerin emphasized that supply management, which has been practiced
in Canada for almost forty years for dairy and poultry sectors, fosters
quality home-grown food at reasonable prices and allows family farms to earn a
fair income from the marketplace without the need for government subsidies.
Supply management encourages local farming that reduces greenhouse gas
emissions from the transportation of food products. For the President of the
UPA, this unique model embodies the founding principles of the right to food
sovereignty that is being increasingly promoted around the world. Beyond the
immediate issues, he believes that an alternative to the all-out
liberalization of agricultural trade proposed by the WTO is necessary. The
right to food sovereignty, supply management and collective marketing are
future solutions to achieve this goal in the interest of all. "The Canadian
government should show leadership at the international level and propose food
sovereignty and supply management as the basis for sustainable agricultural
and agri-food development," concluded Mr. Pellerin.
    "In addition to being an excellent way to fill the plates of Quebec
families with Quebec products, supply management is being used all over Quebec
and contributing to the economic and social vitality of Quebec's regions. For
us, it is the identify Quebec agriculture. That is why the federal government
must do everything it can to promote and defend supply management, the key
element of our agricultural sector," concluded Mr. Lessard.

    Since its creation in 2003, the GO5 Coalition for a Fair Farming Model,
Supply Management, has been able to rally to its cause nearly 30,000 supports
and a number of organizations that believe in a strong agricultural sector and
a prosperous food industry. This coalition brings together farmers, agri-food
partners, companies, financial institutions, consumer groups unions,
municipalities, MNAs, MPs and individuals. Its actions are intended to support
the Canadian government in its efforts to obtain the conditions necessary for
the preservation of the supply management system at the end of the current WTO
round of negotiations. More information is available on the Internet site

For further information:

For further information: André Ménard, Press Officer, Office of the
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, (418) 380-2525; Patrice Juneau,
Public Affairs Advisor, Union des producteurs agricoles, (450) 679-0540, ext.
8591, Cell.: (514) 971-3699

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