Throne Speech addresses agriculture, but raises some concerns
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CFA Executive Director
(OTTAWA) – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) was pleased to hear the government address agriculture in last night’s Speech from the Throne. The Speech raised a couple of positive points however there are strong concerns about what was not said.
“To have agriculture specifically addressed in a Throne Speech is definitely a good sign. CFA welcomes the expressed support for supply management and the linking of farmers and biofuels,” said Friesen. “However, the priorities we set down earlier this month were not addressed. The Throne Speech did not speak to our concerns on moving forward with the next generation of agriculture policy, on regional flexibility, or on addressing truth in food labeling.”
The Speech from the Thrown stated that Canadian farmers would benefit from the new “Growing Forward” agriculture framework. However that framework has not been completed yet. The process of developing programs has only just begun and is moving very slowly, despite the fact the programs from the first agriculture policy framework will expire early next year. CFA would like to have seen the Speech make a commitment to moving the process forward in a timely manner.
One of the priorities CFA has for the federal government right now is establishing flexibility within federal funding for regional agriculture programs, both business risk management (BRM) programs and non-BRM programs. In the Throne Speech the government indicated it would introduce measure to limit the spending of federal dollars in areas of provincial jurisdiction. CFA is very concerned these measures will prevent the federal government from being able to support regional programs, which farmers believe it has an obligation to do.
This year CFA has made a very strong case for the need to address the problems with food labeling in Canada. CFA wants to see rules tightened to require food labeled “Product of Canada” to contain 100 per cent Canadian produce. CFA also wants the government to work with industry to establish a new “Grown in Canada” branding and promotion initiative. CFA specifically listed this as a priority for the government in this fall session of Parliament, but that was not addressed in the Speech from the Throne.
CFA is concerned that, in the Speech from the Throne, the government has made removing single desk marketing for barley from the Canadian Wheat Board one of its main agricultural priorities. “Of all the issues in agriculture the government needs to address, this is hardly a priority. This is not what we need the government to be focusing its time and attention on,” said Friesen.
Given the current situation facing Canadian pork producers, CFA would also have liked to see a commitment to making sure the Canadian livestock sector gets more profitable market access.
“If the Speech from the Throne is the list of the government’s priorities, then we are pleased that agriculture in general is mentioned among those priorities,” Friesen added. “But the government has not yet addressed the specific priorities that are key for the industry right now.”
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.