Farm policy priorities
By Canadian Federation of Agriculture
Mar. 11, 2013, Ottawa, ON - Farm leaders from across Canada met in Ottawa February 26-28 for the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) - Canada's largest national farm organization - to discuss policy priorities for the sector.
"The meeting brings together expertise and insights from across the country. Our members bring forward concerns and solutions from within their memberships to develop common positions at the national level, reflecting the voice of farmers across Canada," said CFA President Ron Bonnett.
Many of the discussions this week focused on policy obstacles affecting the growth of the industry, including:
- concerns around large-scale farmland purchases by farmland trusts, foreign entities, and private financial sector investments;
- the need for a clear understanding and transparency around the 5-year agricultural policy framework - Growing Forward 2 - in order to properly inform the next suite of federal agricultural policy;
- the impact of employment insurance changes and its impact on farmers and their seasonal workers;
- the need for increased commitment to agricultural research funding and capacity;
- the need for an impact assessment and proper consultation with affected players on changes to container standards;
- and the need for a rail costing review and concerns around amendments to the Canada Grain Act.
A complete list of the resolutions can be found here.
The delegates were pleased to hear from Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Gerry Ritz who provided details on the Outlook on Farm Income released later that morning, as well as answering a variety of producers' questions dealing with the winding down of the Shelterbelt program, changes in regulations of container size, research, succession planning and concerns related to Agri-recovery limitations in assisting those who experience severe drought in Eastern Canada.
The delegates also appreciated the opportunity to have an open dialogue with NDP Agriculture Critic Malcolm Allen and Liberal Agriculture Critic Frank Valeriote.
Representatives from the Conference Board of Canada, the National Food Strategy (NFS), and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada presented on the panel, "Uniting the Vision of Agriculture and Food in Canada". The panel highlighted the strong similarities between the Conference Board's Canadian Food Strategy and the industry led NFS and the need for government to move forward on building on the work done to date by industry in adopting a food strategy for the country.
This year was an election year for the CFA, with Ron Bonnett returning for a second term as President. Humphrey Banack of Alberta was acclaimed first Vice-President and Marcel Groleau of Québec, second Vice-President.
"It's an exciting and critical time for agriculture. The discussions had at this meeting generated strong policy positions and solutions to address the challenges facing the sector today, and I look forward to working with our members, the government and stakeholders," Bonnett remarked.