8:24 AM Dec 1, 1993


Geneva 1 Dec (TWN) -- European farmers as well as some farm groups from developing countries have announced a demonstration in Geneva on 4 December against the GATT and its Uruguay Round accords.

Meanwhile, more organized groups, like the COPA (Committee of Agricultural Organizations in the EC) and COGECA (an organization of cooperatives of farmers in Europe), called on GATT Director-General Peter Sutherland Wednesday to convey their opposition to the Agriculture text in the DFA and the Blair House accord.

Another farm group, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, claiming to represent 81 national farmers organizations (including the US Farm Bureau which is a US group supporting the US position on agriculture in the Round), also met Sutherland and called for "clear and improved GATT rules and disciplines for agricultural trade which would apply equally to all members" and for a global understanding on the policy reform process in agriculture.

COPA and COGECA representatives, dressed in impeccably cut suits and looking like business executives and diplomats, however, told a press conference that they would not participate in the demonstrations.

In their statements at the press conference and in a letter to Sutherland, the COPA and COGECA, all complained that the Blair House accord would go beyond the CAP reforms and penalise European agriculture and farmers and affect their exports.

The COPA and COGECA representatives presented their criticisms in terms of what they saw as the 'unfair' US demands, and the different support (farm loan rates and deficiency payments to farmers) provided by the US to its farmers and agribusiness.

But they were unable to answer why the GATT should conform to the CAP and not the other way round and why the rest of the world, particularly the farmers in the developing world, should pay a price for the subsidised competitions between the US and EC or why European farmers should think they have a god-given right to dump their surpluses on world markets at subsidised rates.

"We sympathise with the problems caused to farmers in some developing countries and want everyone to cut their subsidies and allow free market prices", a COPA representative said, but backed away when he was asked whether this would not be achieved by all subsidies being cut immediately.

They warned that if the Blair House accord went through without changes, it would have consequences on CAP reform and instead of the 4-1/2 million hectares of set aside, there would be 12 million hectares of set aside, going up to 20 million hectares if productivity improves. It would result in loss of European farm incomes and would require EC compensation to farmers of 32 billion ECUs and create unemployment.

The COPA wanted the 'peace clause' in the Blair House to be made permanent, and objected to the US-EC Blair House accord under which the EC has agreed to abstain from subsidised exports of beef to Japan and Southeast Asian markets.