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Agriculture should be a priority in party platforms


April 6, 2011
By Canadian Federation of Agriculture

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NEWS HIGHLIGHT

Agriculture should be a priority in party platforms

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture and its members are calling
on all parties to make agriculture a platform priority during the 2011 federal
election campaign.

April 6, 2011, Ottawa,
Ont. – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture and its members are calling
on all parties to make agriculture a platform priority during the 2011 federal
election campaign.

“More than ever,
agriculture and food have been in the spotlight as the global community
recognizes the importance in ensuring the growth and sustainability of this
essential sector,” said Ron Bonnett, CFA president. “When Canadian farmers head
to the polls May 2, they will be voting for the party that best reflects the
needs of the agricultural sector and the opportunities in turning the sector
into a world leader and a top place for investment.”

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Bonnett added that
Canada needs to remain “competitive on the international stage while ensuring
profitability at the farm gate. Canadian farmers are entrepreneurs,
constantly looking for ways to reduce costs and enhance productivity, but can
only go so far when dealing with international markets. Proper allocation of funds
and forward-thinking policies, such as support for the development of a
comprehensive National Food Strategy, are needed from the federal government in
order to help drive the agricultural industry ahead of the curve.

“Governments need to
include farm groups in the decision and program design process. Whether it’s
setting research agendas, designing next generation BRM or setting proper food
safety protocols, farmers’ organizations must be engaged.”

Farm families across
Canada – 200,000 strong – are a large part of the rural vote. They will be
following the campaign closely and insisting parties include the following in
their platform policies: 

National Food Strategy
Agricultural policy must be developed within the context of a long-term plan, a
National Food Strategy, implemented in partnership with industry, government
and consumers. (See nationalfoodstrategy.ca)

Business Risk Management
and Rural Policy
– The Growing Forward II consultations and implementation must
be dependable and not result in gaps in programming during the transition, as
in the past. This framework is not set to take effect until April 1, 2013, and
some of the changes that are necessary cannot wait that long. The CFA and its
members have outlined short, mid and long-term essential for a bankable and
predictable suite of programs and policies.

Research and Innovation
– A commitment must be made to invest in agricultural research, restoring
funding level for agricultural research to at least the mid-1990 levels as an
essential component to a globally competitive agricultural sector. Agriculture
and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
has seen their total funding cut 42 per cent from
an average of $4.5 billion between 2004 and 2008 to $2.57 billion for 2011 and
2012. If even a fraction of this savings was reinvested into agricultural
research and innovation, Canadian agriculture would be well situated for
another 20 years of growth. Candidates and parties should articulate a
clear plan on how their government will revitalize agricultural research and
development. 

Grains and Oilseeds
Given the considerable controversy regarding the selection of government
appointees to the board of directors of the Canadian Wheat Board, the
producer-elected board members must be allowed to provide a roster of names
from which the government can select an appointment. 

Ecological Good and
Services
– Candidates need to increase their support for programs that
strengthen and enhance sustainable practices, including a strong, well-funded
national program of Environmental Farm Plans and a cap-and-trade system that
allows carbon offsets to be produced and sold by farmers.  

Food Safety – As of
today, 19 national commodity groups, representing 99 per cent of production,
have developed or are developing HACCP-based, auditable national on-farm food
safety programs for their producers. However, this carries a large capital cost
for individual farmers. These initiatives, which benefit the public good, must
be mitigated by government support and public funds.  

To view the CFA’s full
list of election demands, please visit www.cfa-fca.ca.

The CFA
will be hosting a National Agriculture Leader’s debate with Agriculture Minister Ritz
and the agricultural critics from opposition parties. The event will take place
Monday, April 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Château Laurier. Observers are
welcomed to attend. The event can also be viewed live by
podcast at www.cfa-fca.ca.