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Cairns Farmers Talk Tough On Agriculture

Presidents of the national farmer organisations in the fifteen Cairns Group countries met in Seattle today to demand an end to discriminatory practices in world agricultural trade.

Representing million of farmers in South America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Cairns Group Farm Leaders demanded more open, transparent and non-subsidised systems so that agricultural trade is treated no differently to trade in other goods.

In a press conference in Seattle, Cairns Group Farm Leaders said "the dramatic levels of support in countries such as the European Union, Japan, Korea and the United States has placed an unfair economic burden on our members. The non-fulfillment of the rules and spirit of the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture by the rich developed countries is a form of economic imperialism".

"Developing countries are condemned to poverty and under development. Export subsidies and high domestic support also penalise efficient food producers amongst developed Cairns Group countries."

Cairns Group Farm Leaders said that their specific demands for a Seattle Ministerial Mandate were the total elimination of export subsidies, substantial reductions in domestic support and vastly improved market access for fair-trading agricultural producers.

Farm Leaders also expressed their strong opposition to environment, labour and social concerns being introduced into the new round of WTO negotiations. These issues should be discussed in other relevant fora.

The Cairns Group is widely known as the 'third force' in the WTO agriculture negotiations. It accounts for around one-fifth of the world's agricultural exports and represents the same number of people as the combined populations of the United States and the European Union.

Alistair Polson, President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand, represented New Zealand.


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