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Agriculture should be plank of party platforms: CFA

Three main policy areas political parties need to address

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is calling on political candidates across Canada to show their support in the upcoming federal election for Canada’s farmers and the food system Canadians rely on each day. Canada’s farmers and farm organizations will be reaching out to candidates across the country — in-person meetings, mail-outs, and local events. The CFA will also be hosting a televised all-party National Agriculture Debate in the weeks leading up to the election.

“We urge all parties to show Canadians the importance they place on investing in Canada’s food and farm future by reflecting Canadian farmers’ priorities in their platforms. We encourage candidates to meet with farmers and hear about the realities in the food and agriculture industry first hand,” said Ron Bonnett, CFA president.

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“While the farmer constituency is relatively small, the economic activity they generate is significant — approximately $106.9 billion annually — and not to mention, they are largely responsible for putting food on Canadians’ plates each day. Our issues are not just farmer issues. What affects our industry, affects all of Canada,” Bonnett added.

CFA has three main policy areas it would like to see addressed by the political parties:

Maintaining a workforce

Like any industry, agriculture requires an adequate workforce to keep operations running. Farmers continue to identify chronic and critical labour shortages as one of the most pressing risks facing Canadian agriculture and a major constraint on both agricultural growth and global competitiveness. Agriculture is a complex industry that faces unique workforce challenges due to rural depopulation and seasonal production of highly perishable products. In response to these challenges, the Canadian agriculture and agri-food industries have come together as a complete value chain to develop a permanent solution to this pervasive and urgent challenge: the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Workforce Action Plan.

Managing risks

Agriculture is unique in the set of high risks it faces: volatile prices, unpredictable weather, and a global market influenced by government supports to producers in competing countries. For risks that cannot be addressed through on-farm management practices, Canadian producers require access to effective risk management programs to limit fluctuations in income that limit their ability to further invest in their farms and grow the Canadian brand at home and abroad.

Trade negotiations

Clear and effective rules governing international trade will result in better-functioning international and domestic markets — a win-win situation for our economy, producers and communities across Canada, and an ever-increasing global population. The Canadian government must approach all trade negotiations, including the current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, with the objective of achieving positive results for Canada’s farm and food future. Specifically, the CFA has outlined considerations under three main areas it urges decision makers to take into account when securing trade deal market access: market access, supply management and non-tariff barriers.

To hear what Canada’s political decision makers have to say about these issues and more, tune in to the Agriculture Leaders Debate on Sept. 30, held at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa and webcast nationwide. Stay tuned for further details at cfa-fca.ca.

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