OTTAWA, FEBRUARY 26 — This week’s annual meeting of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) brought together farm and food leaders from across Canada under the theme “Building Trust, Farm to Table”.
“The value of this meeting is bringing the farm community together to develop policy solutions and build partnerships that help move us towards collective success as an industry. Now more than ever, it’s important that we take a farm to table approach to the decisions that govern our industry, and I’m pleased this meeting was a forum where the agriculture and agri-food industry and government came together to address meaningful outcomes for Canadian farms and food,” said CFA President Ron Bonnett.
At the meeting, the CFA membership passed 37 resolutions that will outline much of its advocacy efforts in the coming year. This year’s resolutions cover a range of issues, including: conservation, climate change, labour, rural infrastructure, crop protection, international trade and standards, risk management and the grading, trade and transportation of grains and oilseeds.
The CFA Board also approved a detailed set of recommendations for the next Agricultural Policy Framework. The recommendations were informed by CFA analysis and discussion with farmers, industry leaders and government. The CFA will continue to work towards building consensus within the industry and will continue its conversation with government, ensuring decision makers are aware of industry’s recommendations and the suite of solutions developed.
A new committee was struck to develop a CFA policy on farm safety. These policies will guide CFA’s advocacy posions on the matter.
The CFA was also pleased to welcome the Canadian Forage and Grasslands Association into its membership and will welcome Mushrooms Canada on board in April. The addition of these national commodity groups will further strengthen CFA’s voice for Canadian farmers.
The CFA heard from various political leaders at its meeting. A Ministerial panel with Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Secretary of Agriculture for Mexico, Jose Eduardo Calzada Rovirosa focused on opportunities facing Canadian and Mexican farmers, with competitiveness being a key theme. Minister MacAulay highlighted the need to establish international food standards to ensure a level playing field between trading countries, while also noting the importance of innovation and investment in new technologies in a competitive market. Secretary Calzada noted that recognition of quality for a country’s brand is key in developing markets and maintaining a competitive edge and said he would like to lead an initiative to develop a joint Canada-Mexico app that would assist producers in finding markets for their products.
Conservative Agriculture Critic Chris Warkentin discussed the need to have reliable infrastructure readily available to support the agricultural sector. NDP Leader Hon. Thomas Mulcair also addressed the delegates and touched on a variety of producer issues, including agriculture’s role in recent trade deals and stated his support for supply management.
The meeting also featured a panel that examined what the value chain is looking for from farmers on the increasingly important issue of social licence. Rory McAlpine of MapleLeaf Foods outlined the initiatives the company has developed as part of its sustainability approach towards building public trust. Bob Chant from Loblaw highlighted feedback from consumer studies they have conducted, while George Greene from Stratos Inc. gave delegates an overview of the need for collective action as a sector in order to create consumer and market confidence and gave examples on experiences of other sectors the agriculture industry could benefit from.
“It’s clear now more than ever that a farm to table approach is needed when making decisions that affect Canadian farm and food. In our role as the national farmers’ organization, we will work to build consensus amongst food chain players and to carry out the mandates given by our members to achieve an even stronger Canadian agriculture sector, at home and abroad,” said CFA President Ron Bonnett.
Video and accompanying documentation, including passed resolutions, will be posted on the CFA website, www.cfa-fca.ca, in the coming days.
For more information, please contact:
Jessica Goodfellow/Erin Kelly
CFA Director of Communications