600 Action News | Thursday, 14 October 2010
NFU against EU trade proposal
The National Farmers Union is raising alarm bells over a proposed trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.
The NFU obtained a draft of the secret text earlier this year.
NFU President Terry Boehm says the public is being kept in the dark because the parties have agreed not to disclose the text until after negotiations are complete.
"I think people have become a little blase’ about trade agreements. They think the world didn’t end with NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) so it won’t end with the next one or the next one. But this agreement is really leapfrogging far beyound anything we have seen at the WTO (World Trade Organization) and what not," says Boehm.
The NFU lists a number of concerns:
1) The ability to use farm saved seed. The NFU says the text contiains intellectual property rights enforcement measures, similar to what is already in place for canola.
2) The future of supply management (dairy, eggs, poultry) and the Canadian Wheat Board.
3) The NFU says all levels of government, including cities and municipalities, will be prohibited from giving preference to local food and locally owned business and services.
Some farm organizations support an expanded trade agreement with Europe. They say it would reduce tariffs and open markets for commodities, such as beef and pork. The NFU maintains Canada has very little to gain because it says the average EU tariffs are only 2 per cent.
Canadian and European trade negotiators will hold another round of discussions next week in Ottawa. Boehm says the two sides are hoping to finalize a deal next year.