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LOW U.S. FARM PRICES ARE 'BANKRUPTCY PRICES,' SAY CANADIAN POULTRY, EGG AND DAIRY FARMERS

 LOW U.S. FARM PRICES ARE 'BANKRUPTCY PRICES,'
 SAY CANADIAN POULTRY, EGG AND DAIRY FARMERS
 OTTAWA, March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- "Low U.S. prices for agricultural products are not efficiency prices -- they're bankruptcy prices," said Louis Balcaen, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada.
 "The huge Farm Aid Concert being held in Texas on Saturday is evidence of the dire situation facing American farmers today," he added. "It's also evidence of what could become of Canadian poultry, egg and dairy producers if Article XI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is replaced with tariffs during this final round of negotiations."
 Farm Aid V is scheduled to take place at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas, on Saturday, March 14. Headlining the concert is country singer Willie Nelson, who is also president of Farm Aid Inc. He will be joined by approximately 50 other musicians, including: Paul Simon, John Mellancamp, Tracy Chapman, Kris Kristofferson and Canadian artist Neil Young.
 Balcaen will be speaking at a Farm Aid workshop on international trade scheduled for Friday, March 13, at the Texas Stadium in Irving from 3:30-4:45 p.m. He will also speak at a press conference and farmer forum scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. immediately following the workshop. He will be joined in Irving by representatives from the poultry and egg sectors.
 Currently, under Article XI of the GATT, a country is able to set import restrictions for commodities which are subject to domestic supply controls. In Canada, these include poultry, egg and dairy products.
 However, a recent proposal by GATT Chairman Arthur Dunkel calls for total or "clean" tariffication, with the removal of import quotas. "Some of our industries would lose more than half of their farms," Balcaen noted. "In fact over time, in some regions, such as Atlantic Canada, production of some commodities would be completely wiped out."
 As farmers meet, the poultry, egg and dairy sectors are calling on Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to honor his commitment to call President Bush to discuss Canada's position on Article XI.
 "At our farm leaders conference last month, the prime minister committed the federal government to a three-pronged course of action," said Ron Drohomereski, chairman of the Canadian Broiler Hatching Egg Marketing Agency. "This was to include the delegation to Europe, the development of a practical negotiating strategy, and a delegation to travel to Washington to meet with President Bush.
 "Well, we're still waiting for the last two of these commitments. We understand the prime minister has called Mr. Bush to discuss softwood lumber, and the Honda situation; and the North American Free Trade Agreement will be the subject of a conference call next week. We want to know where Article XI is on his priority list -- especially since the GATT deadline is mid-April."
 Adrian de Graaf, chairman of the Canadian Turkey Marketing Agency, said the 40,000 farmers and their supporters who rallied on Parliament Hill on Feb. 21 are waiting for the prime minister's response. "These are our livelihoods we're talking about."
 Waldie Klassen, chairman of the Canadian Chicken Marketing Agency, said Canadian consumers would also suffer the effects of tariffication. "Consumers would see extreme fluctuations in price, supply and product quality. Currently, the prices of poultry, egg and dairy products have risen at a slower rate than the Consumer Price Index for almost all other food products. Without supply management, prices might drop initially, but the increases could also be substantial as we become subject to other countries' agricultural concerns," he added.
 Ken Tjaden, chairman of the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, said the 38,000 poultry, egg and dairy farms contribute more than $10 billion annually to the Canadian economy. "Our commodities are among the most viable of the agricultural sector. They also provide valuable business to the processing sector and to input industries such as feed and equipment manufacturers. In fact, they are a vital component of many rural infrastructures. Without the clarification of Article XI, Canada's poultry, egg and dairy producers will soon need a Farm Aid concert of their own."
 -0- 3/10/92
 /CONTACT: Tim Finkle, communications coordinator, Dairy Farmers of Canada, 613-236-9997, or Kathryn Sauve, communications officer, Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, 613-238-2514/ CO: Canadian Egg Marketing Agency; Dairy Farmers of Canada ST: IN: SU:


TW -- DC028 -- 7029 03/10/92 16:11 EST
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