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Farm Tour Engage MB Min Editorial

We’re Listening
 
Negotiations have begun with the Federal and Provincial/Territorial Governments on a new 5 year Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) agreement. CAP funds Business Risk Management (BRM) programs like AgriStability, AgriInsurance, AgriInvest, as well as research and market development programs. For this reason, I determined it was crucial to meet producers face to face to find out what they want from these programs moving forward.
 
In late July and early August I met with producers from all across the province. Throughout the tour we heard a variety of concerns and recommendations. In terms of BRM programming, producers expressed their frustration with the AgriStability program. The general consensus was that the program is complicated, time consuming, not bankable or cash flow friendly, and does not work in a diversified operation. Participation rates are low, and the fact that 25% of the AgriStability program budget is eaten up by administration costs further enhances producer frustration.
 
AgriInsurance was generally endorsed, although there is a need to keep up with agronomic improvements in crop varieties, yields and filling reports. There was also a lot of discussion about AgriInvest. The program has a high participation rate among grain and pork producers but a low participation rate for the cattle sector. AgriInvest was seen as efficient with low administrative costs, with the account being readily available for low income years or used for capital purchases. 
 
Outside of BRM, producers also had the opportunity to voice a host of other issues. Participants discussed the future of the agricultural industry in Manitoba as it pertains to education and training of the next generation of farmers, who expressed the need to continuously incorporate the latest scientific and technological advances in our schools and post secondary institutions. There are also challenges associated with Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT) Class 1 driver training. In general, producers acknowledged the need for MELT, but costs, availability, and accessibility of the program make improvements imperative. Agricultural Crown Lands was also a topic of discussion. Availability, usage, purchasing, and matching lease rates to productivity were areas for discussion. 
 
Concern was expressed that the Federal Government must be more proactive on interprovincial and global trade opportunities, as we depend on trade for the agricultural economy. Producers stressed the need for the agricultural sector to be viewed as an economic driver on the federal level and not target the agricultural sector as a means of reducing the federal deficit. 
 
I sincerely appreciate the time the farm community took from their busy schedules to share their prospective on the farm economy. These inputs will assist the Manitoba government in negotiations with our counterparts on a new CAP agreement. Producers are encouraged to continue this conversation through EngageMB. To take part in the online engagement, visit https://engagemb.ca/engaging-mb-ag-industry. The online public engagement will close Tuesday, Sept. 1.
 
Again, thank you, stay safe, and all the best to our agricultural sector. When agriculture does well in Manitoba, the Manitoba economy does well.  
 
Blaine Pedersen
MLA Midland
Minister of Agriculture and Resource Development
 
Source : Manitoba