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MPs acknowledge Ag Day in the House of Commons

MPs acknowledge Ag Day in the House of Commons

Multiple lawmakers took time to recognize and thank farmers

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Multiple Members of Parliament used their time in the House of Commons on Feb. 15, Canada’s Agriculture Day, to thank farmers and all those working in the ag sector for keeping people fed, supporting rural communities and helping drive Canada’s economy.

Richard Lehoux, the Quebec MP for Beauce and dairy farmer, for example, voiced his pride of being part of such an important industry.

“As a fourth-generation farmer, I am very proud of the contribution that agriculture makes in my region. It is very important that future generations have the stability and predictability they need to maintain the family farms that do so much to keep our rural communities strong,” he said.

“As Conservatives, we want to create prosperity and opportunities for the entire agricultural industry. Agriculture must be one of the economic drivers for getting our economy back on track. The government must adopt policies that make farming easier, not harder.

“Today, on Canada's Agriculture Day, let us take a moment to thank all those who work tirelessly to provide us with excellent food.

“I thank all farmers across Canada for their passion, commitment and perseverance, but, above all, I thank them for feeding our families.”

Liberal MP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell in Ontario, Francis Drouin, who’s also the parliamentary secretary to Agriculture Minister Bibeau, highlighted the passion farmers put into their work, and how crucial agriculture is to Canada’s economy.

“They pour their hearts and souls into providing us with the best food in the world while protecting the environment for future generations, despite enormous challenges such as natural disasters and labour shortages,” he said. ”Billions of dollars and 2.1 million jobs in Canada depend on our industry, and it all starts with the farm.

“As the saying goes: no farmers, no food, no future. Now, more than ever, let us support them in their efforts to sequester carbon, to protect biodiversity and to reduce emissions while, at the same time, increase yields and protect farm livelihood.”

Alistair MacGregor, the B.C. MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, who also serves as the party’s ag critic, also delivered remarks on Canada’s Agriculture Day.

Farmers work tirelessly to produce food for Canadians and they need to be compensated properly, he said.

“This is a day to showcase the innovative ways our agriculture and agri-food sectors are confronting the challenges of food production in the 21st century,” he said.

“Food matters, and its journey from the farm to the factory to the fork is an important topic of discussion. This is especially true when so many Canadians are struggling to feed their families and so many farmers are struggling with debt while corporate grocery chains are making record profits.

“My NDP colleagues and I are committed to taking on those corporate profits and reinstating fairness for both farmers and consumers.”

John Barlow, the Alberta MP for Foothills and Conservative ag critic, thanked farmers in the House of Commons too.

Canada’s ag sector includes diverse types of work, and Canadians must work together to educate one another on how food is produced.

“We all have a role to play in educating Canadians about where their food comes from, why we do it, how we do it and the fact that we do it better than anyone else in the world,” he said. “Whether they wear coveralls or lab coats, the people who work in this industry are world leaders in innovation, sustainability and efficiency. On this Canada's Agriculture Day, now more than ever, our Canadian farm families need a partner, an advocate.

“No matter where one is in the world tonight, when we sit down with friends and family and have a meal, thank those who work so hard to put that quality food on our tables.”

Minister Bibeau used part of her time to highlight recent investments into the sector.

These include $150 million into the protein supercluster, and nearly $20 million to support industry businesses looking for employees.

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The Investment Opportunities of Industrial Hemp

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The fledgling U.S. hemp industry is decades behind countries like Canada, France and China, but according to impact investor and this week’s podcast guest, Pierre Berard, it could flourish into a $2.2 billion industry by 2030 and create thousands of jobs.

To reach its potential, what the hemp industry needs most right now, Berard said, is capital investment.

Last month, Berard published a report titled “Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity — A Pioneering Venture for Investors and Corporations Driven by Environmental, Social and Financial Concerns” in which he lays out the case for investment.

It’s as if Berard, with this report, is waving a giant flag, trying to attract the eyes of investors, saying, “Look over here. Look at all this opportunity.”

Berard likens the burgeoning American hemp industry to a developing country.

“There is no capital. People don’t want to finance. This is too risky. And I was like, OK, this sounds like something for me,” he said.

As an impact investor who manages funds specializing in agro-processing companies, Berard now has his sights set on the U.S. hemp industry, which he believes has great economic value as well as social and environmental benefits.

He spent many years developing investment in the agriculture infrastructure of developing countries in Latin America and Africa, and said the hemp industry feels similar.

“It is very nascent and it is a very fragmented sector. You have pioneers and trailblazers inventing or reinventing the field after 80 years of prohibition,” he said. “So I feel very familiar with this context.”

On this week’s hemp podcast, Berard talks about the report and the opportunities available to investors in the feed, fiber and food sectors of the hemp industry.

Building an industry around an agricultural commodity takes time, he said. According to the report, “The soybean industry took about 50 years to become firmly established, from the first USDA imports in 1898 to the U.S. being the top worldwide producer in the 1950s.”

Berard has a plan to accelerate the growth of the hemp industry and sees a four-pillar approach to attract investment.

First, he said, the foundation of the industry is the relationship between farmers and processors at the local level.

Second, he said the industry needs what he calls a “federating body” that will represent it, foster markets and innovations, and reduce risk for its members and investors.

The third pillar is “collaboration with corporations that aim to secure or diversify their supply chains with sustainable products and enhance their ESG credentials. This will be key to funding the industry and creating markets,” he said.

The fourth pillar is investment. Lots of it. Over $1.6 billion over seven years. This money will come from government, corporations, individual investors, and philanthropic donors.

The 75-page report goes into detail about the hemp industry, its environmental and social impact, and the opportunities available to investors.

Read the report here: Seeing the U.S. Industrial Hemp Opportunity

Also on this episode, we check in with hemp and bison farmer Herb Grove from Brush Mountain Bison in Centre County, PA, where he grew 50 acres of hemp grain. We’ll hear about harvest and dry down and crushing the seed for oil and cake.