WTO Workshop in Alberta

On August 10th 2005 the delegation of farm leaders that attended the WTO Public Symposium in Geneva in April of this year organized a workshop and BBQ involving the heads of industry from across Western Canada.  (Click here for an attendance list.)

Joining us from Ontario was Liam McCreery, the president of CAFTA. Also in attendance were representatives from AB Agriculture, Food & Rural Development, International & Intergovernmental Affairs, the AB Grain Commission, the AB Barley Commission, MPís Myron Thompson & Kevin Sorenson, MLAís Luke Ouellette, Minister of Restructuring/Government Efficiency and our Minister of Agriculture, Doug Horner.

The day kicked off with a power point presentation from CAFTA on the Doha negotiations, what they hoped to achieve, and where the future will take them. A round table discussion on the issues followed. Representatives from AB agriculture and International Trade discussed the Doha Development Accord Framework and what is at stake for Alberta. The highlight of the meeting was a ninety-minute, question and answer conference call, with Steve Verheulís office. (Steve Verheul is Canadaís Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the WTO). Networking took place throughout the day and continued into the evening with a second more informal session being held on a farm near Elnora.  Background papers were provided to all participants.

The WTO background papers give farmers a brief history of the talks and an overview of the main issues and concerns. It also gives recommendations of how we, as farmers, can persuade the federal liberals to promote true liberalization of agriculture. Click here for a letter that I encourage all farmers to print and send to their MPís and additionally, Diane Findley, Stephen Harper, David Anderson and Ted Menzies. Their telephone/fax numbers and e-mail addresses will be made available to you.

This is a time sensitive issue. Once a deal is reached at the WTO (possibly by December 2005) and it is ratified, we are locked into the outcome for the next 15 years or more! It is your choice whether or not you wish to have a say in your future or if you are going to allow 10% of the farming community (supply management) to form policy for you. REMEMBER, our group is doing everything in our power to help farmers attain a viable future in agriculture but without your support and your input to your members of parliament, we will not be heard!