Members at Keystone Agricultural Producers summer advisory meeting here last week heard an update on lobbying efforts for the new Growing Forward 3 (GF3) program.
“We have delivered our messages to senior policy staff from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Manitoba Agriculture in June and yesterday we attended an official stakeholders’ meeting,” KAP president Dan Mazier told the meeting of about 50 members. “This is all in preparation for the upcoming federal-provincial territorial meeting.”
Mazier said KAP is seeking improvement in the areas of the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) programming, funding for farm safety programming and changes to Business Risk Management (BRM) programs.
“With regards to BRM, we are stressing that the cuts made to AgriInvest and AgriStability in the current Growing Forward 2 have undermined the program. Producers don’t see a reasonable chance for trading their payment for AgriStability and are pulling out of the program,” Mazier said.
“We need to know there are programs that will help in challenging times and we have made a number of key recommendations, which include restoring AgriStability’s trigger to 85 per cent of historical reference margins and eliminating the reference margins limitations.”
Mazier said KAP has also put forward recommendations on investing in research and enhancing Canada’s reputation in food production at home and abroad.
Producers at the meeting reported generally good overall crop conditions, but there were concerns over hay quality as well as the return of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus.
“There was Canadian Food Inspection Agency protocol in place to deal with PED but it was lifted earlier this summer and we have since seen three new cases,” Mazier said. “I stressed to (federal ag) Minister MacAulay the importance of retaining this protocol and we will assist Manitoba Pork in any way we can with further lobbying efforts.”
KAP general manager James Battershill reported continued growth in membership numbers.
“Membership to the end of June 2016 currently sits at 3,553 fully paid members. We are 10 per cent higher than we were at this time last year,” Battershill said.
Members passed 11 new resolutions that included timelier weed management in rural municipalities, upgrades to Highway 283, and increasing the organization’s monetary support to farmers with disabilities and Camp Wannakumbac.
Another passed resolution will see KAP supporting the creation of a soybean-processing plant.
Members also voted for the organization to further lobbying for an increase in funding for GF3 in order to keep up with inflation and cover the costs of the expanding range of programs.
“All of these issues are so important to our industry and KAP will be working over the next year to further promote our position, as well as ensure the best possible outcome for GF3,” Mazier said.