This past February 25, momagri accepted the invitation of Coop Fédérée1, Quebec’s largest farming cooperative group, to attend their annual meeting and present the outcome of its work conducted since 2005. The meeting outlined the concurring opinions between Coop Fédérée and momagri on the perils of unfettered liberalization in agricultural markets, as stated in the Canadian organization’s press release at the close of the meeting. In addition, the organization also focuses on an emerging movement of international cooperation in agriculture that exceeds national differences of opinion.
Momagri Editorial Board
Montreal, Quebec), February 25, 2009 –Coop Fédérée and the Movement for a New Vision for Agriculture (momagri) agree that agricultural issues must be withdrawn from the current WTO Doha Round negotiations to avoid a genuine global food disaster. This view is reported in the conclusion of the presentation made by Jacques Carles, momagri Executive Vice President, who was asked to present his organization and its achievements during the Coop Fédérée’s annual general assembly.
“Agriculture is the only economic sector where dumping––that is to say selling at a loss––is treated as an institution. Agricultural markets do not abide by the same rule as manufactured products or services. They are subject to extreme price volatility that threatens the very existence of all agricultural economies. Farmers cannot fulfill their sustenance mission in a market that has become totally chaotic. They need forecasting means that only an international agricultural policy that regulates markets will bring them,” stated Jacques Carles.
For his part, Denis Richard, President of the Coop Fédérée, indicated: “the Coop Fédérée has always considered that agriculture and food should not be treated as ordinary goods. Just as it is the case for water and crops, agriculture and food belong to the global heritage and are the keystone of life. They should, in our opinion, benefit from an exceptional treatment in the current negotiations for the liberalization of trade in the WTO.”
“We must stress that Coop Fédérée and momagri are not against agricultural trade liberalization. However, such liberalization must be achieved by taking into account the specific and strategic nature of agriculture. The deregulation of agricultural product trade that would not encompass these components could indeed generate food crises in addition to the current economic meltdown,” added Claude Lafleur, Coop Fédérée Chief Executive Officer.
momagri is a Paris-based think tank that promotes a new vision for agriculture. Founded and chaired by Pierre Pagesse, Chairman of the French Groupe Limagrain, the organization includes representatives of agricultural enterprises and officials from the healthcare, economic development, strategy and defense fields. It aims to support the regulation of agricultural markets by way of new evaluation tools (such as economic models and indicators) and new proposals for an international agriculture and food governance based on free-trade principles.
Following official economic models, momagri undertook the difficult task of developing a model that would meet the specific nature of agriculture. This new model provided its first results in March 2008. Unlike most experts and international decision-makers, who thought that agricultural commodity prices would continue to rise slowly, the momagri model showed that severe turnarounds could occur in the short term. Current events proved it right: a few months later, most agricultural commodity prices recorded significant drops––over 50% for some. Due to the accuracy of its calculations and its formalization of formerly overlooked factors, such as speculation, the model developed by momagri raised positive interest in France as well at the international level. momagi was thus recently invited to present its work and the results of its model by the FAO, the OECD, the IMF and the WTO.
Moreover, Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, recently asked momagri to participate in an emergency taskforce on the global state of agriculture and join other renown contributors in the field of economics, including Professor Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prizewinner in Economic Sciences.
About Coop Fédérée
Established in 1922, Coop Fédérée currently represents over 58,000 members in 92 cooperative groups. Operating in various sites across Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, Coop Fédérée employs 11,175 people and posted revenues of over C$3.6 billion.
1 Established in 1922, Coop Fédérée currently represents over 58,000 members in 92 cooperative groups. Operating in various sites across Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, Coop Fédérée employs 11,175 people and recorded sales of over C$3.6 billion, or €2.25 billion. Cf http://www.coopfed.qc.ca/