Group on Grains and Oilseeds

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   This document has been made available in electronic format  
            by the Committee for the Promotion and 
               Advancement of Cooperatives COPAC
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                  GROUP ON GRAINS AND OILSEEDS

                        19th April 1996

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                             REPORT
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           Prepared by Jean-Jacques Vorimore, Chairman


The current market situation was presented by Mr. Cathelinand of
OECD, and this was followed by an in-depth discussion. The main
concerns are: the supply shortage linked to adverse weather
conditions and to recent policy decisions, the fall in stocks
levels and the rise in world needs.

The regional review of developments in agricultural policies
showed clearly the efforts being made to adapt to the new policy
environment in the different countries. The favourable market
situation was making it easier than expected to meet obligations
under the Marrakesh Agreements. Even though the present market
situation hides the difficulties that there could have been in
fulfilling these obligations, no country questioned the progress
made in international trading relations. The willingness to move
forward in trade agreements was not contested, even though
questions remain concerning, for example, the new US Farm Bill
or export taxes in the European Union. Moreover, there are still
variations in production costs, often linked to monetary
distortions, which have not yet been resolved.

In general, farmers' organizations are becoming increasingly
involved in efforts to adapt farm policies, and are even playing
a leadership role in some cases. Thus, real efforts towards
liberalization and privatization are being made, even though
steps are taken cautiously so that, in the case of failure, it
would still be possible to resort to former policies.

Everyone is preparing for the next round of WTO negotiations in
1999, with all the issues in mind pertaining to the green or blue
boxes in particular. Everyone is trying to be in a good situation
to meet present and future requirements of the trade agreements.

Everyone is hoping that the present good market conditions will
last for a few more years. However, the present euphoria must not
leave farmers unprepared for a swing back of the pendulum in the
short or medium term to the previous difficult market situation;
markets can be very unpredictable.

It is necessary to take advantage of this improvement in the
market to make the right adjustments, in line with agreed rules
- which must be the same for everyone - in order to reduce all
distortions to competition. In this regard, one should not forget
the sometimes negative effects of certain agricultural policies
on the developing countries. In conclusion, if the adjustment
opportunity offered by the present situation is not taken, it
would be very risky for the future, and a serious strategic
error.

The Group discussed the "seeds" issue, with experiences varying
according to the countries concerned. There was, however, a clear
common interest in maintaining research efforts for plant
varieties, at a reasonable cost for farmers. In order to maintain
research programmes, it is necessary to have a return on
investment, and this must be a part of IFAP's concerns.

In this work of IFAP on seeds, which is crucial for the future
world food supply, producers must mobilize not only the large
international organizations,  but also the large private
companies. This is necessary: to ensure an adequate quantity of
production and food security, the quality of farm products and
of food in general, and also to promote all that plant breeding
can bring to conservation of the environment. In this way,
farmers can make a positive contribution to the World Food Summit
in Rome next November.

The Group heard several experiences of non-food uses of grains
and oilseeds, in particular in bio-fuels. This is a sector that
should also be promoted.

Finally, the Group re-elected Mr. Jean-Jacques Vorimore (France)
as Chairman, and Mr. Andrew Inglis (Australia) as Vice-Chairman.