This article is the fourth in our series outlining the plans of the four main parties for the ag industry and rural Canada
By Diego Flammini
With less than a week until the Canadian federal election, Farms.com wraps up our series on what the Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green parties have planned for farmers and rural Canadians should each party form the next federal government.
This article focuses on Andrew Scheer’s Progressive Conservatives.
“We’re the only party with a plan focused on you and on your needs,” Scheer said while releasing his party’s platform, “Andrew Scheer’s Plan For You To Get Ahead,” on Friday in Delta, B.C.
Here’s what a Conservative government could mean for the ag industry.
First, a conservative government would modernize the Canada Grain Act and the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) to make sure both entities “align with modern agricultural practices, global market requirements, and the needs of our farmers,” the platform says.
The modernization would happen through consultations with producers.
A Scheer-led government commits to returning the “$130 million in overcharged user fees amassed by the CGC to farmers.”
The Conservatives also have plans to reduce red tape for Canadian farmers.
The party promises to add competitiveness to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s mandate and “require that it work more transparently with those it regulates, encourage regulatory innovation and harmonization with international trading partners, and ensure that it has sufficient resources to deliver on its mandate,” the platform says.
Scheer’s party want to address the labour issues the industry faces.
The Conservatives would implement an Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Strategy “to better support farmers and food processors,” the platform says. This responsibility would fall under the Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister’s portfolio.
In addition, Scheer’s Conservatives would meet with farm groups that have been hit hard by market uncertainty, and review the Agri-Stability program.
Scheer promises to protect supply management by not including it in future trade talks, and to deliver compensation to farmers in those sectors to offset earlier trade concessions.
For produce growers, a Conservative government would regain financial protection and “take steps to restore the dispute resolution mechanism by which our produce sector was protected against the financial risk of a U.S. buyer becoming insolvent,” the platform says.
In October 2014, Canada’s fruit and vegetable growers lost preferred access to U.S. markets.
Scheer’s party also has plans for the beef sector and animal transportation.
First, it would apply for an upgrade to the World Health Organization for Animal Health to have Canada’s BSE status changed from controlled to negligible in 2020.
Secondly, the Conservatives would postpone the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s changes to animal transportation “to ensure that new regulations on the humane transportation of animals are based on complete evidence” the platform states.
Included in the platform but not in the ag section, the Conservatives would review Canada’s tax system, specifically “the rule that makes it easier to transfer a farm to a stranger rather than a family member.”
Scheer’s party has a vision for rural Canada more generally, too.
If elected, he would appoint a minister of rural affairs to ensure federal programs consider the viewpoints of rural Canadians.
He would also set aside part of the federal infrastructure budget for rural and remote communities, as well as expanding broadband access for those communities.
To manage rural crime, a Conservative government would add aggravating factors to the sentences of crimes that target rural victims, ensure the RCMP is accountable to the communities they serve, and work with the Insurance Board of Canada to decrease rates for people who have purchased home security equipment, cameras and barricades.
Other plans for rural Canada include creating the National Energy Corridor to move Canadian energy to new markets, encouraging new immigrants to settle in rural communities, and extending the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program for an additional three years to ensure it highlights rural Canada.
A Conservative government would also repeal the federal carbon tax.
Read our other election coverage to learn what the Liberal, Green and NDP parties have planned for farmers and rural Canada.