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CFIB Urges Agriculture Ministers To Fix Business Risk Management Programs

With the Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Agriculture Ministers’ Virtual Meetings taking place on November 20th and 27th, the Canadian Federation of Independant Business (CFIB) is urging agriculture ministers to focus on policies that will help drive growth in the agriculture and agri-food sector so that it can perform to its potential.
 
“Almost eight months have passed since the first lockdowns and we know far too many small businesses across the country are still left struggling to survive,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice-president of Western Canada and Agri-business. “But the agriculture sector has fared somewhat better than many sectors. Thankfully, due to the essential nature of their operations, many farms and small businesses serving the agriculture sector were able to keep operating and were not subject to mandatory government shutdowns.”
 
According to CFIB’s regular update of its Small Business Recovery Dashboard, 66 per cent of Canadian businesses are fully open, 42 per cent are fully staffed, but only 28 per cent are making normal sales, compared to the Agriculture sector, where 78 per cent are fully open, 53 per cent are fully staffed, and 56 per cent are making normal sales.
 
“While these statistics paint a more optimistic picture for the sector, it doesn’t hide the fact that some farms and small businesses took it on the chin during the pandemic. We also know many are still worried about the economic repercussions of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of a second wave,” explained Virginia Labbie, CFIB’s senior policy analyst, Agri-business. “We hope the Ministers will be discussing policies this week that will help improve the bottom line of our producers including finally coming up with some meaningful improvements to Business Risk Management Programs (BRM) after years of review.”
 
CFIB recently sent a letter to all FPT Agriculture Ministers outlining its farm members’ priorities:
 
- Address the inadequacies of BRM programs and ensure they are timely, responsive, effective and transparent.
- Create a more competitive tax environment (e.g. freeze CPP premiums & federal carbon taxes, as well as exempt natural gas, propane and aviation fuel used for farming activities).
- Make it easier to sell agri-businesses to family members.
- Reduce red tape for farmers.
- Address the shortage of labour in the agriculture sector.
- Introduce a Grocery Code of Conduct (the unbalanced and unfair power relationship between retailers and smaller grocery suppliers must be addressed).
- Focus on trade and market access for all Canadian agri-food products.
 
“We encourage the Agriculture Ministers to tackle these important issues. Further delays in BRM enhancements cannot be put off until the next in-person meetings in July 2021 or the next new policy framework in April 2023,” added Braun-Pollon. “Focusing on policies that ensure farmers remain competitive will help the agriculture sector play an important role in Canada’s economic recovery."
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