A letter outlines how the federal government has hurt the ag sector
By Diego Flammini
The ag critics in the Conservative shadow cabinet have outlined the challenges the industry has faced under Liberal leadership.
International trade issues with countries like China, Italy and Vietnam, and dairy-sector concessions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, are making it difficult for Canadian farmers to operate successful businesses, John Barlow, the agriculture critic, and Richard Lehoux, the associate agriculture critic, said in a letter to Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.
“The importance of good trade relationships for Canada’s agriculture sector cannot be stressed enough,” the Dec. 4 letter said. “This means not only are open markets important to Canada’s farmers and producers – but also predictable and dependable transportation for agricultural products is essential to their success.”
The transportation refers to the recent CN strike, which “cost the Canadian economy over a billion dollars,” the letter says.
Other factors affecting Canadian farmers include the current suite of Business Risk Management programs and the federal carbon tax.
“All these issues affect not only the bottom line for farm families from coast to coast, but their mental health as well,” the letter said. “Farmers and producers are continually affected by political issues beyond their control, causing a mental health crisis in Canada’s agriculture community.”
The Conservatives have also outlined how the Liberals can repair the damage the party has caused to the ag sector.
The Trudeau government should withdraw from the Asian Infrastructure Bank and increase inspections and examine retaliatory tariffs on Chinese products. The feds should also be transparent about when supply-managed farmers can receive trade compensation and commit to not putting supply management on future trade negotiations, the letter said.
The federal government is in the process of supporting farmers.
On Nov. 21, Minister Bibeau tweeted that all eligible dairy producers would receive letters outlining how to access compensation through the Dairy Direct Payment Program.
The federal ag minister remains committed to re-establishing important trade access for Canadian ag, she said.
“Regaining full market access for our canola seed to China remains a top priority for our government and we have continued to advocate on behalf of Canadian farming families since China first raised their concerns,” Bibeau said in an emailed statement to Farms.com.
“We are working closely with agricultural stakeholders on this issue, including the Government-Industry Working Group on Canola that regularly engages. Over the coming mandate, I look forward to working with my parliamentary colleagues on how we can best support our farmers and farm families.”
John Barlow photo