The dairy sector received mention during the speech while the grain sector didn’t
By Diego Flammini
Members of Canada’s ag sector have mixed reactions about how the government addressed industry concerns during the throne speech on Wednesday.
During her address yesterday, Governor General Julie Payette mentioned farmers twice.
One instance highlighted the government’s commitment to support supply-managed sectors with “full and fair compensation for recent trade agreements” which include the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement.
Members of supply-managed industries welcomed the promise.
“The speech from the throne sent a message to dairy farmers that the government’s commitment to compensate them for the losses they incurred from (these trade deals) is still part of its deliverables,” Pierre Lampron, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada, said in a statement.
But only when payment details are released will the sector know if the government is following through on its word, he added.
The egg sector is also pleased with the compensation announcement.
“Canada’s 4,700 poultry and egg farmers welcome yesterday’s speech from the throne,” Egg Farmers of Canada said in a statement. “In particular, the federal government’s reaffirmed commitment to launch programs and initiatives to mitigate the impact of recent trade agreements on our farmers.”
The second reference to farmers came when Payette described producers as “key partners in the fight against climate change.”
The beef sector is happy to see its members recognized for the work they do.
Canadian beef farmers and ranchers “work hard to ensure the health of both their land and animals and that is why we have set ambitious industry goals for 2030,” the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association said on Twitter. “Great to see today’s #thronespeech recognized farmers and ranchers as a partner in the fight against climate change.”
The governor general mentioned other industry topics as well, including protections for migrant workers and a commitment to address food insecurity in the country.
The grain sector, however, didn’t receive any attention.
Prior to the throne speech, Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) released its ‘Speech from the Combine’ to highlight six items the grain sector would’ve liked to see in the governor general’s address.
Only one of GGC’s requests – the need for rural connectivity – was mentioned.
The government committed to accelerating the Universal Broadband Fund “to ensure that all Canadians, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed Internet.”
Despite that lone bright spot, GGC is disappointed with how the grain sector fared in the throne speech.
“Our goal with the Speech from the Combine was to provide government with clear and specific directives for what our industry needs right now to deliver an economic recovery and benefit all Canadians,” Jeff Nielsen, president of GGC, said in a statement. “We are disappointed that so little attention was paid to addressing the challenges facing our sector.”
Despite the divided reaction to the throne speech, farmers should know the government is working to help them.
The speech included other indirect items that can benefit producers, said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s federal ag minister.
The governor general mentioned “that we will invest in clean technology, (and) we will support farmers for them to be more resilient,” she told Farms.com. “Or investing in mental health resources.”
These measures are in addition to extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Business Account and creating jobs through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, she said.
Farmers can expect to hear more about Minister Bibeau’s work soon.
Ministers will receive their new mandate letters in the coming weeks. And Minister Bibeau is meeting with her colleagues soon to address other industry issues, she said.
“My meeting with my provincial counterparts in November will be an important moment and I’m very hopeful that we will be able to make some significant improvements to the business risk management suite or at least AgriStability,” she said.