Put agriculture high on election agenda, groups urge
Farming ought to be a priority item in candidates’ platforms as they vie for votes in the October federal election, contends Grain Farmers of Ontario.
“It is time for the government to recognize not only how vital agriculture is to Canada, but how neglected grain farming has been when it comes to federal support,” says GFO chair Markus Haerle.
The organization wants candidates to commit to a “trade war fund” to support farmers in non-supply managed sectors, to assist grain and oilseed farmers who are suffering from global trade disputes and competition with U.S. and Canadian supply-managed farmers, who are receiving government “bailouts.”
The GFO seeks the implementation of long-term business risk management programming that shields Ontario grain farmers from price fluctuations beyond their control, and the defence of existing and new markets for grains and oilseeds.
The government should aggressively pursue new trade agreements and ratify trade agreements and continue to eliminate tariffs, the GFO argues.
“Eliminate the carbon tax and implement a clean fuels standard that recognizes the contribution of domestically produced corn ethanol and soy bio-diesel as low carbon alternatives,” the group suggests.
“The U.S. government just announced an additional $16 billion in relief for farmers (in addition to 2018’s $9 billion). It’s clear that they understand that farmers are being disproportionately penalized for the trade wars, relative to other industries, and that they are taking steps to look after that business. We expect the same recognition and support from our government. In Canada, agriculture is the foundation for more than 800,000 jobs, and those careers need to be protected,” said Mr. Haerle.
As campaigning begins for the fall federal election, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture will be advocating for many of the same issues that the OFA talks to MPPs about.
“Rural Ontario needs affordable energy, and well maintained roads, bridges and drainage systems that keep our industry moving,” says the federation. Communities also need reliable high-speed internet and markets which “depend on smart regulations and a skilled, local workforce.”
The lobby group is encouraging its 38,000 farm members to talk to local candidates and be sure that the importance of the agri-food sector and rural communities are on the minds of the candidates elected October 21.