Farm leaders have good first meeting with new Minister
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(TORONTO) – Farm leaders from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) met face-to-face for the first time yesterday with Chuck Strahl, the newly-appointed Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board. The CFA is pleased with the outcome and with its first impressions of Minister Strahl.
“The Minister has a good grasp of the important issues facing farmers and is clearly engaged and committed to working with the industry to address those issues,” said Bob Friesen, CFA President, following the meeting.
In the meeting members of the CFA Executive Committee raised the issue of short-term measures to help farmers deal with the immediate need while they transition to long-term measures for addressing the farm income crisis. Recent statistics show Canadian producers are coming out of one their worst income years yet, with predictions pointing to an even worse year to come. The Minister acknowledged the severity of the income crisis and the need to address its immediate symptoms as soon as possible.
The farm leaders raised other issues with the Minister, including: WTO negotiations, addressing the flaws in the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program, and important ecological goods and services initiatives like the Alternate Land Use Set-Aside (ALUS) program. There was also some discussion on the Canadian Wheat Board, an area where CFA policy differs from that of the new Conservative government.
“On issues like the Canadian Wheat Board and reforming the CAIS program I believe the Minister seems to be taking the correct approach,” said Friesen. “Our understanding is he does not intend to move forward rashly with revolutionary change against the will of farmers. My sense from our meeting is he intends to move forward at a reasonable pace, with ongoing consultation and partnership with industry.”
Founded in 1935 to provide Canada's farmers with a single voice in Ottawa, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is the country's largest farmers' organization. Its members include provincial general farm organizations as well as national and inter-provincial commodity organizations from every province. Through its members, CFA represents over 200,000 Canadian farmers and farm families.