Nova Scotia’s supply-managed agriculture industry has the full support of the province as Canada heads into negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Hong Kong next week. Chris d’Entremont, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, and opposition party agriculture critics John MacDonell and Stephen McNeil, have united to voice their support for farmers who might be affected by the upcoming trade negotiations. The WTO will be looking at the market system in Canada to determine if more share should be allotted to international commodities wanting to sell in Canada. “It is the market access portion of the agricultural negotiations that are most critical for Nova Scotia,” Mr. d’Entremont said today, Dec. 7. “We don’t want to see any negative changes to our supply-managed system. A decision that could open up the market to other countries causes us the most concern.” The supply management sectors in Nova Scotia — including farms producing dairy, poultry and eggs — provide about $200 million in farm receipts a year and represent almost half of the province’s farm production. “These talks are extremely important to the supply-managed commodities. Any weakening of this infrastructure will have a devastating effect on the agriculture community,” said Mr. MacDonell. “We strongly believe that this is an area that all the three parties can support wholeheartedly.” “We need to protect supply management in its present form to ensure the stability of the Nova Scotia agriculture industry and our food supply,” said Mr. McNeil. “That means ensuring there is no lowering of tariffs on imported products.” Nova Scotia has a larger share of supply-managed agricultural production than almost anywhere else in Canada. Dairy farming is Nova Scotia’s largest sector, with 300 farms, and is the largest agricultural processing industry, employing more than 1,000 workers. There are more than 100 poultry farms in Nova Scotia employing 1,000 workers in Kings County alone. The province is also home to 28 egg- and pullet-raising farms and several egg grading stations. Mr. d’Entremont will travel to Hong Kong to participate in the WTO process. Industry members also attending are Barron Blois, former national president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada; David Fuller, national president of the Chicken Farmers of Canada; Willy Versteeg, Nova Scotia director with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Mark Davies, vice-chairman of the Nova Scotia Turkey Producers’ Marketing Board. “I am looking forward to participating and bringing Nova Scotia’s message to our federal negotiators. Regular briefings are planned so we will have timely access to the negotiators and to our federal decision makers — Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Andy Mitchell and International Trade Minister Jim Peterson,” said Mr. d’Entremont. Most provincial ministers of agriculture from across Canada will be in Hong Kong for the WTO talks.