April 8th, OTTAWA – Farm leaders across the country met with government representatives from multiple Federal parties during the CFA Lobby Week from April 4-8. The CFA Board had approximately 40 meetings during the week with MPs, Senators and key government officials where they outlined the priority issues facing Canadian farmers.
CFA relayed the sector’s massive economic and environmental potential, while outlining the main obstacles to reaching that potential and the partnerships with government needed to fully realize Canada’s potential.
Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food generated $139 billion to Canada’s GDP and employed 1 in 9 Canadians in 2021. Furthermore, Canadian agriculture has been identified as a sector poised for explosive growth by the Federal Government in the Barton Report, as well as by leading financial institutions, such as the Farmer 4.0 Report from the Royal Bank of Canada.
Not only that, Canadian agriculture has a unique advantage in the fight against climate change. While other sectors can only reduce emissions, agriculture has the potential to become a net carbon sink through carbon sequestration and new technologies such as feed additives that cut methane production from cattle.
The CFA Lobby Week focused on three key pillars that farm leaders from across the country have identified as the most pressing national priorities for Canadian agriculture. These included:
- Formalizing early engagement with farmers on all agri-environmental policy initiatives to realize their potential as a natural climate solutions provider while ensuring policies are pragmatic and feasible.
- Increasing the funding envelope for the next Agriculture Policy to support adoption of environmental best management practices and enhance disaster relief.
- Supporting the industry-led National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing.
Discussions also touched on other key areas such as fertilizer availability and pricing, rural connectivity, trade, soil health, transportation infrastructure, and fertilizer availability.
“The CFA Lobby Week provides an opportunity for farm leaders to engage with key decision , make our industry’s priorities known, and share our expertise as stewards of 7% of Canada’s land base. It also allows us to build, maintain and grow the productive relationships we need to help our sector reach its potential for both the environment and the economy,” said Mary Robinson, CFA President.
CFA will continue to push for these priorities as well as many others throughout the year to deal with short and long-term issues within the sector.
During Lobby Week the 2022 federal budget was released, which included some new commitments that are in-line with Canadian agriculture’s priorities outlined above. These include:
- $450 million over five years to Canada’s National Trade Corridors Fund.
- $16 million over 2 years to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Jobs and Growth Fund, with an additional $12 million for the CFIA to accelerate investigations into recent detections of potato wart.
- The budget also highlights over $1 billion to help Canadian agriculture transition to a low carbon economy that was recently announced in the 2030 Emission Reductions Plan.
- Various improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program including:
- A commitment to create a Trusted Employer Program.
- $64.4 million over three years for LMIA processing
- $14.6 million over three years for employer inspections
The budget also continued the government’s commitment to compensate supply-managed sectors related to CUSMA and noted the development of a National School Food Program.
The budget, in conjunction with the recently announced emissions reduction plan, has made significant investments that represent an important step forward in environmental programs. However, it is crucial that farmers are engaged early and continuously as these policies and programs are developed to leverage their on-farm expertise and ensure programs are pragmatic for the diverse farm operations and climates across Canada.
The budget also mentioned ongoing Federal-Provincial-Territorial deliberations on the next Agriculture Policy Framework (APF), and CFA remains committed to working with the Federal government to increase its funding envelope.
“The budget provides modest investments in infrastructure and highlights recent commitments to climate change solutions, as well as welcome changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program that build on important improvements announced earlier this week for Canada’s food and beverage manufacturing sector. While we still need details on the specifics, these commitments should make the program more efficient for farmers, help address labour shortages in food supply chains, and reinforce protections for workers,” said Keith Currie, CFA Vice-President.
“While this budget has some positive developments, farmers have their eyes firmly set on the development of the next Agriculture Policy Framework which will be implemented in 2023. Farmers need to be continuously engaged on the development of the APF, and are pushing to have the funding envelope increased for this framework to better reflect the prominence of agriculture as a climate solutions provider, growth in the sector, and increased risks and input prices facing Canadian agriculture today.”