Election 2019: Ag groups want the parties to pay attention

Green Party leader Elizabeth May walks off the set past moderator Paul Wells (l), Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh after the Maclean’s/Citytv leaders’ debate in Toronto on Sept. 12, 2019. (Pool photo: Frank Gunn via Reuters)

MarketsFarm — Two major national farm organizations want the political parties to pay more attention to agriculture as the federal election continues.

However, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) have somewhat different takes as to what they see as paramount.

“It’s really important that we uphold the quality of our food products. The need for effective and enforced regulation from publicly-funded institutions such as the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) that are trusted by our customers,” said Cam Goff, the NFU’s vice-president of policy.

Goff has a 4,000-acre family grain farm near Hanley, Sask.

He stated the federal government, along with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), haven’t included farmers in the discussions when it comes to regulatory changes.

“Really good public institutions are being dismantled or defanged,” Goff said, noting there is a proposal to remove the CGC’s outward inspections, as the commission’s role and the Canada Grain Act are reviewed.

“That just spells bad news for farmers and Canadians in general,” he commented.

It’s something of the opposite message from the CFA, which wants to see less regulation, according to Chris van den Heuvel, its second vice-president.

Van den Heuvel has a 160-head mixed dairy and beef operation on Cape Breton Island near Port Hood, N.S.

“It’s changing the regulatory environment to make it easier to do business within Canada,” he said, adding there should be few red tape barriers to do business.

Van den Heuvel said the CFA began its Producing Prosperity campaign earlier this year, which has been based on food security, environmental stewardship and economic growth.

“We’re asking each of our political parties to have a look at our campaign. See that agriculture is not just important to rural Canada, but to all of Canada,” he said.

Apart from government, agriculture is the single largest employer in the country with more than 2.3 million people involved in the sector, according to the CFA.

Five years ago agriculture contributed $112 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product. Now that’s up to $142 billion, said van den Heuvel.

“The big thing is the recognition and investment in agriculture, as one of the powerhouse sectors in the Canadian economy,” he stated.

Canadians go to the polls Oct. 21.

— Glen Hallick writes for MarketsFarm, a Glacier FarmMedia division specializing in grain and commodity market analysis and reporting.

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