As farmers, the cost of inputs affects our bottom lines. Competition in the supply of these inputs is essential to keep supplies adequate and prices realistic, and to keep Canadian farmers competitive in world markets.
Last summer the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food began an examination of competition in agricultural inputs, with particular focus on the fertilizer industry. This needs to cont inue and reach some hard-edged recommendations.
Farmers are particularly incensed to hear that Canadian fertilizer products such as potash are delivered to countries like India and China for substantially lower prices than we are offered here. We are told these are important markets and big customers. The only answer is that we are insignificant customers.
Our regulatory network in Canada also makes sure that we are slow to get access to new pesticide products. And we’re the last to get access to much cheaper generics when the patents come off.
If farmers are to remain competitive in international markets we need better access to products far sooner and at more competitive pricing than we have been getting. This all needs to happen in a timely manner. Government can help make that happen. Health and safety concerns regarding these pesticides are nothing but smoke and mirrors as consumer products made with these cheaper inputs flow daily into Canada as imports, and sit beside Canadian products on the store shelves. Ian Wishart is president of Keystone Agricultural
Producers. He farms near Portage la Prairie.