BRUSSELS (AP) — Farm groups from around the globe on Monday demanded further regulation they said is necessary to rein in commodity traders and stop the price volatility that has cut into their incomes.
The groups from 66 nations said in a joint statement that "the extent of liberalization must ... be tempered," allowing local governments to take whatever measures necessary to improve self-sufficiency and food security.
They hope to influence a midweek Paris farm ministerial meeting of the group of 20 rich industrial nations and major emerging markets, which is discussing more regulation in agricultural markets.
The groups, ranging from major European farms lobbies to small African farms, want protection of domestic markets, including the use of tariffs, and transparency in international trading.
They welcomed the French President Nicolas Sarkozy statement last week that agricultural commodities markets needed to be more transparent and open as a result of better regulation. The moves to set up a shared central database of food stocks and prices to help control market volatility and keep commodity speculators in check will be discussed as of Wednesday at the G-20 meeting of farm ministers.
"Many countries believe that agriculture can be treated any other economic sector. They believe they can leave agriculture up to the markets," said Paolo Bruni, president of the COGECA European farm association. "In fact, however, in the agricultural sector, we do need to have rules."
France, which chairs the G-20, realizes though that finding an agreement within the group poses many challenges. It says it will be tough to convince countries like China and India to show transparency on its farm commodities stocks. France said it will be equally tough to ask Britain and Australia to back regulation on the market.
The farm groups also insisted the World Trade Organization should back protective measures to make sure domestic agriculture can survive in developing nations. Again, they see the latest negotiations on a global trade deal as far too liberal when it comes to agriculture.
Djibo Bagna, the head of the Roppa West African farm organizations, insisted the agricultural sector had fallen prey to trade experts in the global negotiations instead of farm negotiators.
"We are questioning if the approach of simply opening markets, with regard to these issues and how they impact farmers who produce food, is really the best way forward," he said.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.