Agricultural and Food Policy Systems Information Workshops

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In late 1994, Jack Gellner and Bruce Kirk from Agriculture and Agri- Food Canada; Ron Knutson of the Agriculture and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University; Karl Meilke of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Business at the University of Guelph; and Al Loyns from the Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management at the University of Manitoba, organized the First Agriculture and Food Policy Systems Information Workshop. Originally envisioned to be a 3-5 year effort to identify means and subject matter for subsequent workshops, the project had a goal of furthering the harmonization of trade and policy relations among the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Seed funding for the first workshop was obtained from several sources. Farm Foundation and USDA supported part of the contribution of several of the United States attendees. Agriculture and Agri- Food Canada provided support for the Canadians and for the workshop proceedings. The Universities of Guelph and Manitoba, and Texas A&M supported the three principle academics in planning the workshop and proceedings.

The first workshop, in 1995, consisted of a small, invited group of U.S. and Canadian agricultural economists who met to examine trade disputes in the grain sector and to increase knowledge and understanding of policy instruments in the two countries. The next year, a follow-up workshop studied issues in the US and Canadian dairy industries. While the first workshop consisted predominantly of university and government agricultural economists, the second and subsequent workshops have included perspectives from agribusiness as well.

The third workshop (1997) addressed harmonization, convergence, and compatibility in agricultural and agri-food policy. For the first time, Mexican participants joined the gathering, making the workshop tri-national. The theme of the fourth workshop (1998) was the economic harmonization of the grain-livestock subsector in the NAFTA countries. Antonio Yunez-Naude of El Colegio de México joined the workshop planning committee. A fifth workshop (1999) emphasized NAFTA's impact on the agricultural sectors of the three countries, as well as the potential for a Western Hemisphere free trade agreement. Additionally, after operating informally, the group chose to name itself the Policy Disputes Information Consortium.

A sixth workshop (2000) focused on the lessons to date from the NAFTA experience. Continuing the by-invitation-only format, the seventh workshop (2001) examined structural changes in the three countries. An eighth workshop (2002) was titled "Keeping the Borders Open." In 2003, the final workshop, "Farm Policy Developments and Policy Tensions Under NAFTA," was held.

In 2004, the Policy Disputes Information Consortium was succeeded by a successor organization, the North American Agrifood Market Integration Consortium.

The Policy Disputes Information Consortium is grateful to the following organizations who provided funding for these workshops and the dissemination of their proceedings: Farm Foundation; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Canadian Agri-Food Trade Research Network (University of Guelph - University of Saskatchewan - Laval Université); Agricultural and Food Policy Center - Texas A&M University; Cargill, Ltd.; Competition Bureau, Industry Canada; El Colegio de México; (PRECESAM/Ford & Hewlett Foundations); Royal Bank of Canada; Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (SAGARPA); Senado de la República - México; Saskatchewan Wheat Pool; and United States Department of Agriculture (Agricultural Marketing Service, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, Economic Research Service, Foreign Agricultural Service).


Al Loyns (Prairie Horizons Ltd), senior editor
David P. Ernstes (Texas A&M University), PDIC webmaster
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