Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Business Policy
Optimism at the farm gate high


February 9, 2011
By Canadian Federation of Independent Business

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February 8, 2011, Regina,
Sask – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) recently released
its Monthly Agriculture Business Barometer, which shows improvement in
agri-business optimism that unfolded late last year appears to have carried
over into 2011.

February 8, 2011, Regina,
Sask – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) recently released
its Monthly Agriculture Business Barometer, which shows improvement in
agri-business optimism that unfolded late last year appears to have carried
over into 2011.

CFIB’s Agriculture
Business Barometer Index
finished the month of January at 64.3 – just slightly
off December levels of 64.7 and behind the national Business Barometer Index of
68.9. As Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Agriculture Ministers meet
this week, the CFIB is calling on governments to ensure their policies fuel
this optimism in 2011.

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“We are very encouraged to
see optimism levels in the agriculture sector at a four year high,” said
Virginia Labbie, CFIB’s senior policy analyst for agri-business. “The
agriculture ministers have a real opportunity this week to send some positive
signals to help build on this momentum and continue to address the competitive
challenges in the ag sector.”

When farmers were asked to
prioritize how governments could improve the agriculture sector’s overall
competitiveness, preliminary results from CFIB’s Future of Agriculture Policy
2011 survey revealed farmers’ top priorities for government action included:

  • Focusing on regulatory reform and reducing red tape;
  • Reducing the total tax burden;
  • Improving market access for Canadian agricultural
    products; and
  • Increasing focus on industry research, development and
    innovation and more responsive business risk management programs.

“Agri-business owners
believe reducing red tape and focusing on regulatory reform is a low cost way
for governments to drive productivity and innovation in the agricultural
sector,” said Labbie. “CFIB welcomed Prime Minister Harper’s announcement of a
Red Tape Reduction Commission and is pleased several provinces also made formal
commitments to focus on red tape reform.”

“Food safety is a top
priority for our members and is a goal all farmers share,” explained Labbie.
“However, CFIB reminds agriculture ministers that farmers are not immune to the
burden of red tape and urges them to also make a formal commitment this week to
remove unnecessary barriers to growth.”

While farmers are upbeat
for the coming year, CFIB contends there is still some unfinished business on
Business Risk Management (BRM) programs.

“FPT ministers have been
reviewing BRM programs since July 2008 and CFIB farm members hope there will be
some tangible improvements made to programs like AgriStability in the areas of
transparency, predictability and timeliness,” noted Labbie.

“It will be important for
ag ministers to ensure their policy decisions further fuel, not dampen,
optimism in the ag sector. We hope the ministers deliver the right signals this
week,” concluded Labbie.

CFIB’s index is measured
on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting
their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those
expecting weaker performance. Further details can be found at www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/barometer.


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