National agriculture policy promotes values that should be shared around the world: Speller

by 5m Editor
16 June 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Food safety, quality and environmental protection are the guiding principles of Canadian agricultural policy and other countries should follow our lead, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Bob Speller told international counterparts at the World Meat Congress, the first ever to be held in Canada.

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In keeping with this idea, the minister then urged global action to reverse the serious economic impact caused by a single case of mad cow disease in Alberta last year. It shut the border to Canadian beef, and has hurt the national $13-billion industry.

“We are working hard domestically, and we are working hard internationally – because the reality is that no single country is completely without risk of BSE. BSE is a global challenge. And as such, it demands a global response,“ he said.

“World markets are increasingly integrated and interconnected.“

Speller reiterated an important reminder that his message – Canadian beef is safe to eat – is rooted in science.

“Not only were we able to respond to the situation in a thorough, transparent and timely fashion – as pointed out by the International Team of Experts in their report last June – but we were able to maintain and strengthen the trust and confidence Canadian consumers have in the safety and the security of Canada’s food systems,“ said Speller.

Later in the day, Speller addressed beef producers who gathered for a “Walk for Beef“ rally in downtown Winnipeg, where he delivered a similar message.

His remarks come on the heels of the first leadership debate in Ottawa, where Prime Minister Paul Martin was the only leader to mention the importance of agriculture.

“When a Canadian industry is facing unfair competition from another country… we have the duty to support that industry. The same thing applies to agriculture,“ declared Martin.

Earlier this week, Speller, the candidate for Haldimand-Norfolk, issued a warning to Western producers that the issues of concern to them do not hit the radar screen for Alliance-Conservative leader Stephen Harper.

“Stephen Harper is not promising any new programs or funding. And he has not committed to defending the three pillars of supply management,“ said Speller.

“Further, his platform lumps agriculture with fisheries and oceans and natural resources. We don’t even know if he thinks agriculture is important enough to ensure it has a separate government department,“ he added.

At today’s event, Minister Speller also held bilateral meetings with European Union Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler, Argentine Secretary of Agriculture Miguel Santiago Campos, and Brazilian Vice Minister of Agriculture Jose Amauri Dimarzio.

Source: - 15th June 2004

5m Editor