The 34th North American European Union Agricultural Conference, a major forum for discussion on solutions to the world economic crisis affecting farmers, was hosted by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture at Niagara Falls, Ontario this fall. This year, there were representatives from 73 farm organizations from 19 different countries.
It is widely agreed that agricultural production needs to grow by at least 70 per cent to meet the world’s needs by 2050.
The world economy is just coming out of the deepest recession since the Second World War, 60 years ago. Credit has become scarce, investments and asset prices are falling, there are dramatic drops in international trade and farm commodity prices are volatile. Add to this the continuing demand for cheap food along with increased food safety and environmental concerns.
The shaky state of many governments’ finances seems to point toward additional cuts in support programs and further increases in taxes. It is interesting to note that many industrialized countries have become aware that removal of market regulations and moving farm support to direct payments has not been enough to assure stability of farm economies. The EU is currently working on a policy instrument in the form of risk management. With market volatility expected to become even more so with the effects of climate change, risk management strategies will become even more critical in the future.
The “food price” scares of just months ago and continuing food shortages around the world are hopefully a wake-up call for countries not to neglect agriculture.
Greg Marshall is president of the Agricultural Producers of
Saskatchewan. He farms near Semans, Sask.