Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Canadian and Developing Country Farmers and NGOs Join Forces

Farmers Talk Trade in Ottawa Canadian and Developing Country Farmers and NGOs Join Forces story courtesy of Oxfam Canada May 17, 2005 OTTAWA. A new global alliance of farm groups and non-governmental organizations was born here today to defend family farmers and small-scale producers threatened by current and proposed World Trade Organization rules. "Farmers are facing hard times everywhere," said Marcel Groleau, member of the executive committee of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, one of the sponsoring organizations. "Unless producers' rights are acknowledged at the WTO, things will only get worse. Countries must retain the ability to pursue collective solutions, such as supply management." Representatives of farmers, farm groups and civil society organizations from Canada, Brazil, India, Senegal and Zimbabwe met yesterday to plot joint strategy to influence the trade talks underway in Geneva. They published a joint declaration and pledged to take the fight to their national governments. "At the WTO rich countries are pursuing an Iraq strategy on agriculture," said Rangarirai Machemedze the Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) based in Zimbabwe. "First they disarm countries by reducing tariffs and outlawing orderly marketing. Then they bomb them with dumped subsidized goods. It is devastating farmers everywhere." Canada's supply management in dairy, poultry and eggs, and the Canadian Wheat Board are two farmer-friendly tools on the WTO chopping block, the groups said. Proposed rules also threaten ways in which developing country farmers cooperate to seek a fair return on their efforts, India's dairy cooperatives and joint marketing on Brazil's family farms, for example. "We small-scale farmers are pursuing viable solutions," said Ndiougo Fall, president of ROPPA, a network of farmers' organizations in West and Central Africa. "Trade rules must not tie our hands. The rules must allow countries to adopt the trade policies they need to fight hunger and poverty." The farmer and civil society groups insisted that WTO rules must also stop the dumping of subsidized exports and allow countries to defend themselves against dumping, by raising tariffs where necessary. "Governments everywhere have an obligation to ensure people's right to food," said Gauri Sreenivasan, trade policy analyst at the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, who spoke on behalf of the NGO coalition, Canadian Food Security Policy Group. "Trade rules must respect this human right, allowing for a diversity of approaches in local agriculture, rather than hamstring governments with a one-size-fits-all policy."

For further information, please contact:
Mark Fried, Oxfam Canada: 613-850-9723
Katia Gianneschi, CCIC: 613-241-7007, ext. 311

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