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Canola Council President Gives 'Speech From The Combine'

Canola Council of Canada (CCC) President Jim Everson gave the following speech on canola’s strategic priorities at the Canola Industry Meeting, hosted by Ag-West Bio in Saskatoon this week.
 
The Speech from the Combine
 
It’s great to be back in Saskatoon, in the heart of the canola country.
 
I wish I could say, here on December 4, that harvest is all wrapped up. But we all know how challenging this crop year has been and about the canola still to be harvested.
 
So let me start by acknowledging and thanking the farmer. Growers faced it all this year. Drought in the south, excess moisture in many areas, early frost and snow, and a constant bombardment of news about the unpredictable global marketplace – the U.S.-China dispute, China’s actions to limit canola seed imports and trade disruptions in other commodities.
 
My hat is off to the farmer who navigates these challenges on a daily basis and continues to do their very best day in and day out.
 
With these many challenges to the farmer in mind, I chose to title my presentation today, “The Speech from the Combine.” It’s an important time for our federal government as tomorrow they will lay out their plan for the new Parliament in the Speech from the Throne.
 
And while people will be viewing tomorrow’s speech from many perspectives, seeing it ‘from the combine’ means looking for how it will take practical measures within our control to enable sustainable growth – just like how farmers make plans from the combine for the practical things they’ll do tomorrow.
 
We all know there’s been a lot of talk since the October 21 election – about who will speak for the West in Cabinet, about pipelines, about equalization and other issues. At home, the federal government is in a minority Parliament and relations between it and the provincial governments are strained. On the international front, there’s a weakening of commitment to rules-based trade globally, unpredictability over tariffs and increased protectionism.
 
And yet, the next months and years are pivotal for our industry.
 
So today, I’d like to talk about the practical things we can do – things that are within our control. About how we get beyond the noise and focus on strategic priorities. Strategic priorities that will enable more sustainable growth and opportunity for everyone in the grains and oilseeds value chain.
 
So what does the canola sector need to see in the government’s plans for this Parliament? For farmers combining, thinking of the future, what advice do they have for tomorrow’s speech by the Governor General?
 
The draw bolt of growing the ag sector is cooperation between industry and government, and between the federal and provincial levels of government. Agriculture, as we all know, is a shared jurisdiction. National programs, such as the Canadian Agricultural Partnership are federal-provincial in design and both levels of government have strategies to promote growth.
 
Today’s news seems to be dominated by conflict between our governments, especially across the West.
 
But, I think it's a good thing that this divisiveness is not evident on agriculture issues. Since March, our industry has been severely challenged by the market disruption with China. My experience throughout this period is that provincial and federal governments have worked well together and with the industry to find solutions. Both levels of government participate, at senior levels, in the Canola Working Group and are working well together with industry.
 
We are expecting that unity to be reflected among Canada’s governments. Only with the combined energies of the provincial and federal authorities will we weather this storm.
 
Another key ingredient for success is a clear mission and work plan. And here too, our industry should be in a good place.
 
Troubled as this year has been, we still want decision makers to recognize the growth and potential of our sector. We’re still a story of growth and ambitious, attainable goals.
 
During its first mandate, the Liberal government established some bold objectives for the export-oriented agriculture sector. Building off of the visionary roadmap outlined by Dominic Barton, now Canada’s Ambassador to China, the government established the Economic Strategy Table for Agriculture, chaired by Murad Al Katib from AGT Industries here in Saskatchewan.
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