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Farmers say Growing Forward 2 must drive productivity

July 6, 2011 -According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), optimism among its farm business members is down. After hitting highs of 67.4, the index for June 2011 dropped to 57.4. That's prompted the CFIB to urge a meeting of federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers to set the next agricultural policy framework to do more to drive productivity in the sector. 


July 6, 2011
By Canadian Federation of Independent Business

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July 6, 2011 –Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its Monthly Agriculture Business Barometer which shows optimism levels among its farm business members has tapered off to an index of 57.4 in June 2011 from February 2011 highs of 67.4 and behind the national business confidence levels of 66.3. As Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Agriculture Ministers meet this week (July 7-8), the CFIB is calling on governments to ensure the direction of the next agricultural policy framework, Growing Forward 2, fuels farm optimism and drives productivity in the sector.


"Excess moisture and flooding in many parts of the country, as well as high fuel and energy costs has certainly impacted the short-term outlook of farm business owners," said Virginia Labbie, CFIB’s senior policy analyst for Agri-business. "The Agriculture Ministers need to send some positive signals this week to help fuel optimism and ensure the direction of Growing Forward 2 addresses our competitive challenges and helps to drive productivity in the sector over the long-term."


In an open letter to FPT Agriculture Ministers this week, CFIB outlined its farm members’ priorities for Growing Forward 2 to improve the agriculture sector’s overall competitiveness. Top priorities for government action identified by 1,049 respondents to a recent CFIB Future of Agriculture survey include:

Focusing on regulatory reform and reducing red tape (72 per cent);

Reducing the total tax burden (68 per cent);

Improving market access for Canadian agricultural products (66 per cent);

Lobbying for a reduction in international subsidies (46 per cent);

Increasing focus on industry research, development and innovation (45 per cent); and

More responsive business risk management programs (42 per cent)."

CFIB agri-business members have made it clear that focusing on regulatory reform, reducing the total tax burden and improving market access are crucial to moving the industry forward and ensuring farmers are competitive on the world stage," said Labbie. "We hope these key action items are the focus of discussions this week and in the months ahead as governments determine the details of Growing Forward 2 ."


Business Risk Management (BRM) programs still frustrate producers and 42 per cent of farm members say designing more responsive BRMs should be a high priority for government action. "CFIB continues to hear from farmers that AgriStability is still extremely complicated, not responsive and too slow to address their needs. In fact, 1,100 farmers have signed a CFIB action alert calling for change," noted Labbie. "We hope governments use this feedback to make changes to existing programs and in the development of the next suite of BRMs in Growing Forward 2."


"It will be important for Ag Ministers to ensure their policy decisions and direction of Growing Forward 2 help to fuel, not dampen, optimism in the Ag sector. Time will tell if the Ministers are up to the task," concluded Labbie.


CFIB’s index is measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. Further details can be found at: www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/barometer