The end of February Annual Meeting of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) brought together over 150 farm and food leaders from across Canada to discuss policy and advocacy priorities for the organization.
“The value of the meeting is the perspective and insight brought to the table by those in the fields and on the front lines, dealing firsthand with the issues facing the sector,” said CFA Vice-President Humphrey Banack. “With the resolutions and priorities brought forward by farm leaders across Canada, the CFA will work towards ensuring the best policies are in place for the growth and betterment of the sector and its stakeholders.”
Under the theme, “Keeping It Competitive – Today’s Family Farm”, farm and food leaders put forward practical solutions and recommendations on a range of issues, including: crop transportation, taxation, research, pipelines and trade mandates. Much discussion centred on the urgent grain transportation situation facing Western farmers. The CFA established a special issues committee to further study the issue, and off-site meetings were held with a number of stakeholder groups and officials including Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.
“The meeting with Minister Raitt and her policy staff was extremely productive, and the CFA appreciates the Minister’s cooperation and willingness to work with farmers and shippers. The urgency of the situation – an estimated $2-$4 billion loss to the Canadian economy and farmers’ livelihoods – was recognized by the Minister. The CFA looks forward to working together as the situation evolves and to meeting with her again when our Board meets in April,” said Banack.
The CFA was also pleased to hear from Agriculture Minister Ritz and appreciated the candid dialogue and time spent with the delegates. The Minister addressed a number of producer questions, speaking to the grain transportation issue, CETA – reaffirming support for supply management – among other topics.
The CFA met with the leader of the official opposition party, the Hon. Thomas Mulcair, where Western grain transportation was the main topic of discussion, and welcomed NDP Agriculture Critic Malcolm Allen’s address during the plenary session. Mr. Allen noted the NDP’s impending food strategy and interest in the CFA, industry-led National Food Strategy
Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau addressed the crowd, with opening remarks from Liberal Agriculture Critic Mark Eyking. Mr.Trudeau touched on a variety of producer issues including a national food policy, bee health issues, and grain transportation concerns in Western Canada.
“We appreciate the frank discussions with the political leaders and stakeholders. It’s only through working together that we can achieve lasting success of our farmers, the food system and Canadian consumers,” Banack commented.
In recognition of the UN-designated International Year of Family Farming, the meeting delegates heard from UPADI and AAFC on a “Dialogue on Family Farming in North America”, as well as a roundtable discussion on the family farm and international trade with representation from New Zealand, Japan, the United States and the European Union.
“As an organization – and as part of a country largely comprised of family farmers – the CFA will work this year to enhance the awareness of farmers and the work they do to provide the abundant and affordable supply of food, fuel and fibre we enjoy as Canadians,” Banack noted.
Meeting documents will be available on the CFA website (www.cfa-fca.ca) this coming week (first week of March).