Azevêdo encourages WTO members to consider benefits of procurement pact

September 17, 2015, Geneva – Director-General Roberto Azevêdo urged the organization’s members to consider joining the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), citing the “huge economic opportunities” offered by GPA accession and its positive impact on both trade and development.

In his keynote address on 17 September to a GPA symposium hosted at WTO headquarters in Geneva, DG Azevêdo noted that current parties to the GPA have opened procurement activities worth an estimated 1.7 trillion dollars annually to international competition. Forty-five WTO members are party to the GPA, up from 22 in 1996.

DG Azevêdo noted that the GPA was revised last year to increase the Agreement’s flexibility, including improved transitional measures for developing countries. “Through its provisions, the Agreement itself promotes transparency and good governance,” he said. “It supports good practices in government procurement. And it serves as an important benchmark for national policy reforms.  “In turn, this can have positive effects for efficiency and also as a means to attract foreign direct investment,” he added.  Government procurement accounts for 10-15 per cent of the GDP of an economy on average.

DG Azevêdo said implementing and expanding the WTO’s existing agreements — not only the GPA, but the recently-concluded Trade Facilitation Agreement and the Information Technology Agreement — strengthens the trading system and bolsters opportunities for economic growth and development.  “With this in mind, I encourage more WTO members — especially developing and emerging economies — to look at the benefits of GPA accession,” he declared.


U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes on Attitudes on Sustainability & Agriculture

September 1, 2015, St. Louis, MO –  Randy Krotz and Nancy Kavazanjian, USFRA, discuss research findings at 2015 Farm Progress Show.

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®) is focused on answering questions consumers have about how food is grown and raised. These questions are often answered online on the organization’s social media platforms and via its signature Food Dialogues® series of panel discussions. Additionally, USFRA gathers insights on the types of questions and concerns about agriculture that are top-of-mind by surveying consumers. Today, USFRA shared insights from a recent consumer survey focused on farming, ranching and sustainability.

“For USFRA, no question about agriculture is off the table,” said Nancy Kavazanjian, Chairwoman of USFRA. “We want to make sure farmers and ranchers are involved in the most important conversations about food. We know that impact on the environment is a frequent conversation when it comes to food production. While farmers and ranchers are stewards of the land, we have not always been vocal voices in the environmental conversation, and we want that to change.”

USFRA intends to use findings from the research to better answer questions consumers have about sustainability and agriculture. The survey found that 56 percent of all respondents agreed with the statement, “Farmers and ranchers use new technologies and innovations to protect the environment.” While 47 percent of all respondents agreed with the statement, “The way that most of today’s farming and ranching operations in the U.S. grow and raise food meets the standards of sustainability.” However, when presented with the same statement, the survey revealed that women are less likely than men to agree that farming and ranching practices are sustainable – 37 percent of women versus 59 percent of men responding they are in agreement.

Additionally, the survey findings provided several insights to help farmers and ranchers better engage in conversations about sustainability practices on their farms or ranches. Among the findings:
• Consumers are interested in learning more about what farmers and ranchers touch most – The survey revealed a need to frame stories about sustainability around water, soil, air and habitat.
• Consumers are interested in the human impact of sustainability – Respondents shared interest in the actions farmers and ranchers are taking to improve human health through access to safe, nutritious food and the impact they are making on the local community, specifically improvements to the social and economic well-being of agriculture communities.
• Consumers are interested in how agriculture is focused on the future, versus defining past successes – When discussing sustainability, respondents want to hear about future commitments to the environment versus stories about a farming operations’ multi-generational history. Consumers are also interested in learning how farmers and ranchers are doing more with fewer resources and impact, while preserving the land for the next generation.

“The findings of the sustainability survey provide many insights that will help farmers and ranchers better connect with consumers,” said Kavazanjian. “There are many stories about environmental stewardship to be told and this research will help us guide our storytelling. I’m particularly excited to help farmers and ranchers share how they are using cutting edge technologies on farms and ranches across the country to improve sustainability. We can now better tell these stories, knowing what is most important to consumers when it comes to sustainability.”

About the Survey Methodology
The Tarrance Group conducted a national survey of consumer attitudes regarding sustainability for USFRA. These key findings are based on on-line interviews with N=1,000 targeted segments of the consumer population across the country. The specific consumer segments were as follows: Millennial (18-34 year old) parents; Millennial (18-34 year old) non-parents; Food Connectors and 150 general Consumers. Responses to this survey were gathered June 26-30, 2015 and the margin of error associated with a sample of this type is + 3.1% in 95 out of 100 cases.

About U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®)
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA) is a group of 90 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners leading a movement to answer questions about how food is grown and raised. USFRA provides resources and tools to navigate today’s food issues landscape with a broader goal of building trust in American agriculture. Follow USFRA on Twitter @USFRA using #FoodD. For more information