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Farmers to lobby King over FTA

The Nation, Bangkok

Farmers to lobby King over FTA

7 July 2004

Dairy farmers across the country have pledged to petition His Majesty the King for help as part of their objection to the government’s freetrade agreement (FTA) with Australia, the chairman of a dairy farmer’s cooperative group said yesterday.

The group said they would be seeking 50,000 signatures for the petition.

Waranop Kerdtavi, chairman of Sonta Chom Bung Dairy Farmers Cooperative in Ratchaburi, said the cooperatives sent their letter opposing the inclusion of dairy products prior to the signing of the FTA.

The production costs of other countries are Bt5 per litre and sold at Bt7 to Bt8 per litre, while Thai dairy farms sell raw milk at Bt11 to Bt12.50 per litre, said Waranop.

“We’ll face the problem of trying to sell raw milk in a market that is already oversupplied,” he added.

He said that in four to five years it was possible that Thai dairy farmers may have to give up their jobs, which were granted to them by HM the King.

“I don’t understand why the government was so quick to sign the agreement before studying the impact it would have,” Waranop said, adding that he noticed the government paid more attention to Thai restaurant openings and Thai student privileges overseas, something very few farmers’ children could relate to.

Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana said the government had studied the law, especially the Constitution, before signing the FTA, in response to claims by scholars who have suggested the FTA with Australia might be breaking the law.