NFU Pres­i­dent speaks to House of Com­mons Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - AGRICULTUR­E - Con­trib­uted

Na­tional Farm­ers Union (NFU) Pres­i­dent Katie Ward urged the House of Com­mons Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Com­mit­tee to sup­port changes to Busi­ness Risk Man­age­ment Pro­grams that will sup­port a ro­bust food sys­tem in Canada that can de­liver both pro­duc­tion and fair in­comes in the face of shocks and dis­rup­tions such as the COVID-19 cri­sis and in­creas­ingly er­ratic weather con­di­tions.

“All farm­ers want to make a good liv­ing by farm­ing. We do not seek gov­ern­ment hand­outs -- in fact, when you look up “self-reliance” in the dic­tio­nary, you’ll prob­a­bly find a Cana­dian farmer,” said Ward March 10. “Busi­ness Risk Man­age­ment pro­grams are the back­stops nec­es­sary to en­able farm­ers to con­tinue farm­ing in the face of un­ex­pected bad har­vests, low prices and un­ex­pected events. We note that when we lose farm­ers to one or two bad sea­sons we lose not only their pro­duc­tion, but the skills and knowl­edge these farm­ers hold.”

Ward shared in­for­ma­tion il­lus­trat­ing the stag­na­tion of farm­ers’ re­al­ized net in­come over the past three decades, even while to­tal rev­enues have gone up.

“It might be ob­vi­ous, but the lack of ad­e­quate net in­come leaves Cana­dian farm­ers in­creas­ingly vul­ner­a­ble to mar­ket fluc­tu­a­tions, weather-re­lated yield re­duc­tions, and ris­ing in­put costs. We need

BRM pro­grams that are eq­ui­table and work ef­fec­tively,” con­cluded Ward.

Ward urged the Com­mit­tee to rec­om­mend the fol­low­ing changes:

• Re­turn the AgriSta­bil­ity trig­ger to 15% of ref­er­ence mar­gin and elim­i­nate its el­i­gi­ble ex­penses cap;

• Make crop in­sur­ance (AgriIn­surance) more re­spon­sive to the im­pacts of cli­mate change and im­prove cov­er­age to make it more use­ful for smaller and more di­ver­si­fied farms;

• Sim­plify and stream­line ap­pli­ca­tion pro­cesses to make BRMs more ac­ces­si­ble, par­tic­u­larly for new and young farm­ers.

Ward also en­cour­aged the gov­ern­ment to make eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and ad­e­quate net farm in­comes a high pri­or­ity as a way to help keep down the cost of

BRM pro­grams. She also high­lighted the im­por­tance of the Cana­dian Grain Com­mis­sion (CGC) for the in­comes of grain farm­ers. The CGC is both a watch­dog to pre­vent grain and rail­way com­pa­nies from tak­ing ad­van­tage of farm­ers and it safe­guards our grain ex­ports’ qual­ity so it can com­mand a high price from ex­port cus­tomers.

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