OTTAWA, APRIL 14 - The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) Board of Directors met in Ottawa April 7-9 to discuss policy priorities for the agricultural sector, including priorities farmers across Canada would like to see on party platforms in the upcoming federal election.
"The CFA brings together farmers in every province and various commodities across Canada. Although the Canadian agriculture sector is diverse, priorities to sustain and strengthen Canadian farms were clear and unanimous throughout last week's discussions," said CFA President Ron Bonnett.
The policy priorities that will be the focus of much of CFA's work over the coming months include:
- Ensuring a viable, successful future for Canadian farms. Currently, there are several barriers to those hoping to enter a career as a farmer, which is troubling considering the average age of a today's farmer is 54. The tax policy environment, farmland values and industry succession planning must be reviewed. The bottom-line: If a Canadian food supply is to be maintained, Canadian farmers need to stay in business.
- Leveraging trade opportunities. Trade agreements must mean real market access for Canadian farmers. It is also vital that trade agreements are sought out while simultaneously strengthening the agricultural infrastructure at home, which would include: ensuring Western crop farmers have a cost-effective and efficient railway system to transport their product to national and international markets; maintaining a balanced trade position that recognizes the economic stability and contribution supply management provides; ensuring Canadian producers and their value chain partners have access to a sustainable, robust workforce; and, addressing interprovincial trade regulations and standards that inhibit growth.
- Building trust and transparency in agriculture. A stronger social license is required to safeguard a food system that works for both farmer and consumer. Fostering an improved two-way communication and developing increased awareness and transparency are essential.
Each of these areas have their own intricacies with policy, program and specific project recommendations which will be detailed by the CFA over the next couple of weeks.
The Board of Directors also approved new policy statements on Research, Pipeline and Taxation. The policies will be adopted into the federation's standing policy and can be viewed here. A motion was also brought forward and approved to establish an Internal Trade Committee that would develop policy that addresses barriers to interprovincial trade. The Committee will present its recommended policy at October's Board of Directors meeting.
Denis Landreville - Canada's lead agriculture negotiator - attended the meeting to update the CFA on current trade negotiations. Landreville provided an update on the ongoing the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and the WTO negotiations which appear to have regained some momentum. He also addressed a variety of questions pertaining to the implementation of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
"Between grassroots input, CFA's elected and staff expertise, continued work with government and our partnerships across the valuechain, we are confident significant headway will be made in the policy areas important to farmers. In lead up to a federal election, CFA looks forward to working hard to raise the profile of Canadian food and farmers ," Bonnett .
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is the country's largest general farm organization. Its members include provincial general farm organizations, national and inter-provincial commodity organizations - representing over 200,000 Canadian farmers and farm families through its members. Founded in 1935 to provide Canada's farmers with a single voice in Ottawa, the CFA works on behalf of Canada's farmers to ensure the continued development of a viable and vibrant agriculture and agri-food industry in Canada.