‘Ma­jor risk’ for P.E.I. farm­ing

Pres­i­dent of P.E.I. Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture says labour is one of the in­dus­try’s big­gest pri­or­i­ties

Journal Pioneer - - THE ISLAND - BY DAVE STE­WART

Car­bon pric­ing and labour are two of the big­gest is­sues fac­ing Is­land agri­cul­ture right now, says the pres­i­dent of the P.E.I. Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture (PEIFA).

David Mol de­liv­ered the pres­i­dent’s re­port Fri­day at the fed­er­a­tion’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Char­lot­te­town. “Labour con­tin­ues to be a ma­jor risk for the in­dus­try, and your PEIFA does not need the risk as­sess­ment to be com­plete be­fore mov­ing for­ward on this im­por­tant file,’’ Mol said.

The pres­i­dent noted that the fed­er­a­tion has re­cently part­nered with a con­sult­ing firm in ap­ply­ing for funding from the Cana­dian Sta­tus of Women Coun­cil.

“If suc­cess­ful in our ap­pli­ca­tion, we will ex­am­ine how to cre­ate bet­ter op­por­tu­nity for women in agri­cul­ture. This project will tackle not only gen­der equal­ity but labour as well. Labour re­mains a pri­or­ity is­sue for farm­ers and for the fed­er­a­tion.’’

Mol said the PEIFA re­mains vig­i­lant on the tem­po­rary for­eign worker file and is ex­plor­ing ways to get more of the prov­ince’s youth to take up agri­cul­ture as a ca­reer.

“If suc­cess­ful in our ap­pli­ca­tion, we will ex­am­ine how to cre­ate bet­ter op­por­tu­nity for women in agri­cul­ture. This project will tackle not only gen­der equal­ity but labour as well. Labour re­mains a pri­or­ity is­sue for farm­ers and for the fed­er­a­tion.’’ David Mol

Another is­sue the fed­er­a­tion is fac­ing this year is car­bon pric­ing and how it may sup­port agri­cul­ture.

“The PEIFA is ea­gerly await­ing the prov­ince’s an­nounce­ment on this pol­icy and wants to work with gov­ern­ment to en­sure farm­ers are not left sim­ply pay­ing taxes,’’ Mol said. “This pol­icy needs to ac­count for the need for us to be com­pet­i­tive with our re­gional, na­tional and global com­peti­tors.’’

In ad­dress­ing the is­sue of public trust, Mol noted that even though Is­lan­ders live close to farms “they don’t nec­es­sar­ily un­der­stand what we do.’ So, they’ve come up with a con­cept called Farm and Food Care P.E.I., an ini­tia­tive de­signed to bridge the gap by in­clud­ing a broad band of com­mit­tee mem­bers from re­tail sup­pli­ers to pri­mary pro­duc­ers. This led to the hir­ing of Kayla Nieuwhof as pro­gram co-or­di­na­tor.

“This pro­gram puts us on the of­fence with public trust and, as it moves for­ward, I am ex­cited about its po­ten­tial.’’

Mol also touched on the new Cana­dian Agri­cul­ture Part­ner­ship (CAP) that was signed in St. John’s, N.L., last year. The most no­table changes in­clude the ad­di­tion of cli­mate change and public trust within the agree­ment. In ad­di­tion, CAP in­cludes a full-scale re­view of Canada’s busi­ness risk man­age­ment pro­grams.

Re­gard­ing the na­tional food pol­icy, Mol said the fed­er­a­tion’s past-pres­i­dent, Mary Robin­son, has been lead­ing the file. Robin­son has ar­gued about the need for this to be a strat­egy and not a pol­icy, as well as the need for it to al­low for evolve­ment as the food sys­tem moves for­ward.

Also, the PEIFA rene­go­ti­ated its terms with Sco­tia­bank in re­la­tion to its ad­min­is­tra­tion of the ad­vanced pay­ment pro­gram.

“With over $40 mil­lion an­nu­ally ad­vanced to pro­duc­ers, PEIFA put the lend­ing out for ten­der and reached a new deal that in­cludes the re­duc­tion of rates for pro­duc­ers,’’ Mol said.

DAVE STE­WART/THE GUARDIAN

David Mol, pres­i­dent of the P.E.I. Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture, says car­bon pric­ing and labour are two of the big­ger is­sues fac­ing the farm­ing in­dus­try in P.E.I. He was speak­ing Fri­day at the fed­er­a­tion’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Char­lot­te­town

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