IssuesAgriculture

Agriculture

First Published: Oct 02, 2019
Last Updated: Oct 02, 2019
Monitored by: Hugues Théorêt

Background

In March 2019, Marie-Claude Bibeau, MP for the Quebec riding of Compton-Stanstead since 2015, replaced Lawrence MacAulay as agriculture minister, becoming the first woman to handle the Agriculture portfolio.

The new Minister did not take long to get in the driver's seat on the hot issues of China blocking Canadian canola deliveries and the compensation being prepared for farmers and processors for the impact of recent trade agreements, particularly in the dairy sector.

Current Status

The new Minister did not take long to get in the driver's seat on the hot issues of China blocking Canadian canola deliveries and the compensation being prepared for farmers and processors for the impact of recent trade agreements, particularly in the dairy sector.

Current status

Following the recent ratifications of CETA and CPTPP, the federal government's 2019 Budget has committed up to $3.9 billion in support for supply-managed farmers.

Support will be offered to offset income loss for eligible dairy, poultry, and egg farmers, by making available up to $2.4 billion. Of this amount, $250 million has already been provided to support dairy farmers as a result of CETA, therefore a net amount of up to $2.15 billion will be available in coming years to deal with income losses associated with these agreements.

Assistance will also be offered to protect the value of investments made by farmers in supply-managed sectors, through a Quota Value Guarantee Program that will protect against reduction in quota value when the quota is sold. $1.5 billion has been set aside for this demand-driven program.

A national food policy will receive $134.4 million over five years, and the food processing sector will get $100 million to innovate and adapt to changing market dynamics.

A regulatory review will see the Canada Grain Act opened and examined. The government will also seek further input on how to extend the farm fuel exemption on fuel bought at cardlocks.

Also relevant to agriculture stakeholders is the announcement that all Canadians will have access to high-speed internet by 2030, thanks to a $1.7 billion investment over 13 years.

Liberal

No specific proposals yet beyond the commitments mentioned above.

Conservatives

At a speech in Saskatoon on Wednesday July 17, Andrew Scheer committed a future Conservative government to a review of the new Canada Food Guide on the basis that consultations specifically excluded those involved in the agricultural industries and did not reflect the preponderance of science.  This announcement sparked much debate as those proponents who like that the Food Guide removed emphasis on dairy and meat believe that the science supports that movement.

NDP

New Democrats are committed to fully protecting supply management and ensuring reciprocity in all trade negotiations and supporting our supply managed sectors as they innovate and grow.

New Democrats will introduce a payment protection program for produce growers and take immediate steps to restore protection for growers selling to the U.S. under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.

NDP will work with producers along the supply chain to increase the amount of Canadian food that is sold, processed, and consumed in local and regional markets.

Green Party

No specific proposals yet.

People's Party

No specific proposals yet.

Bloc Quebecois

No specific proposals yet.

October 2, 2019
Roberto Chavez

On September 29th, Liberals unveiled their campaign platform, which includes the following pledges on agriculture related files:

Supply Management

  • Going forward, continue to defend supply management – and will work with all supply managed sectors to develop a vision for the future.
  • Committed to make compensation arrangements with processors of supply managed sectors. Commits to continue defending supply management and work to develop a vision for the future.

Farm and Food Development Canada

Reaffirmed goal of making Canada the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products by 2025. To get there, Liberals promised to merge existing financial and advisory services currently scattered between several agencies into Farm Credit Canada, whose mandate will be enhanced and expanded into a new entity: Farm and Food Development Canada, lending capability will be increased by up to $5 billion per year. Investments would mostly focus on growing agriculture exports, with details on new programs to be determined after the election, some may apply to dairy.

September 18, 2019
Roberto Chavez

The Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) on September 12th called on all party leaders to unveil their plans to reopen markets that have been closed to Canada’s agriculture sector. “We are just weeks away from choosing a new federal government and we have yet to hear anything concrete regarding trade from any of our major parties or political leaders,” GGC Chair Jeff Nielsen said in a press release. “Whoever wins this election will be inheriting this situation and must have a strategy in place to address it in short order.”

September 18, 2019
Roberto Chavez

China has repeatedly declined to provide Canada with adequate scientific evidence to justify shutting the door to imports of Canadian canola, the federal government told the World Trade Organization in a new complaint.  Canada this week laid the groundwork for a challenge at the WTO of China’s ban on canola from Canada, which began in March.

The blockage of canola has been tied to a diplomatic spat between Canada and China that’s been traced to when Canadian authorities arrested Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou at the Vancouver International Airport last December.  Losing out on access to China’s market for what had been Canada’s top export to the country has cost the Canadian canola industry about $500 million in the past six months.

“Canada has repeatedly attempted to obtain information from China regarding the scientific basis for its measures and on the process to restore full market access for Canadian canola seed,” the Canadian government said in a Sept. 9 filing to the WTO.

September 5, 2019
Roberto Chavez

Twelve Manitoba rural municipalities declared a state of agricultural emergency due to severe drought conditions they’re facing, which, among other issues, has left some producers unable to feed their cattle.

August 20, 2019
Roberto Chavez

China’s move to stop buying several Canadian agricultural products has punished beef, pork, canola and soybeans farmers, and now industry leaders are worrying about the prospect of a broader threat — an eventual U.S.-China trade deal.

But a few Canadian crops have had stronger sales to China over the past year. The trade fight between the world’s two largest economies has, for example, helped contribute to a surge in Canadian wheat exports to China since Beijing imposed tariffs on American products. There are industry fears about what could come next — what will happen to Canadian farm exports if U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping eventually strike a deal?

“If Trump forces China to buy a lot of American agri-food products, we won’t be selling Canadian agri-food products to China,” said Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance. “Canada may benefit in the short term, but we’re going to get whiplash if Trump makes a deal with China.”

Innes said Trump has been clear that any trade agreement would feature major agricultural purchases by China from the U.S. At the moment, there are few signs of progress in U.S.-China negotiations. The trade war has grown increasingly bitter in recent months.

The two sides have hit each other with levies on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods. Last week, China announced it would stop buying American farm products in response to Trump’s threat of fresh tariffs on Chinese imports.  On Tuesday, however, the U.S. Trade Representative softened its position by announcing it would remove some Chinese products from a tariff list over “health, safety, national security and other factors.” Robert Lighthizer’s office also decided to delay the application of duties on certain products until Dec. 15, instead of the previous start date of Sept. 1.

Negotiators are expected to meet next month in Washington for another round of talks. Between January and June, federal numbers show Canada exported $335 million worth of wheat to China — an increase of more than 60 per cent compared to the same period in 2018.

August 20, 2019
Hugues Théorêt

On August 16th, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has announced $1.75 billion in compensation for Canadian dairy farmers to offset a loss of market share resulting from free trade agreements with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim. Canada’s approximately 11,000 dairy producers will receive the money over eight years, with $345 million to be distributed this year. The sums will be allocated according to producers’ quotas, with an average farmer with a herd of 80 cows receiving $28,000 in the first year. Bibeau promised a similar program when the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement comes into force.

August 13, 2019
Roberto Chavez

Manitoba beef producers are struggling to feed their herds amid a province-wide feed shortage caused by consecutive dry years.

“Last year and this year has probably been the worst it’s ever been for us here at our farm,” Dianne Riding, vice-president of Manitoba Beef Producers, told CBC News.

The Manitoba Beef Producers and Keystone Agriculture Producers said this week that the dry conditions have resulted in lower than expected yields of hay and forage, which typically feed cattle.

Farmers could be forced to sell parts of their herds of cull their cattle if they can’t find a way to feed them, which would deal a significant financial blow to farmers and shrink cattle prices, according to Riding.

August 7, 2019
Roberto Chavez

Ontario’s agriculture minister is calling for the federal government to offer compensation to meat producers who have been affected by the ongoing trade spat with China. In a letter to Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau released on Tuesday, Ernie Hardeman says his office has been told that affected farmers are losing between $15-$30 per hog per week in revenues, because of China’s decision to block pork imports coming from Canada.

“Ontario strongly encourages the federal government to work with the meat sector to provide compensation to ensure they remain viable until predictable trade is restored and assist them in securing new export markets,” Hardeman wrote.

In what Canadian officials understand as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, China has suspended necessary import permits for Canadian canola — citing unsubstantiated pests complaints — and pork. China also suspended Canadian exports of meat in late June after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency discovered several dozen veterinary health certificates had been forged.

The Trudeau government has so far increased the maximum loan limit under the Advance Payments Program (APP) to $1 million, and for canola farmers, have made $500,000 interest-free.

July 23, 2019
Naomi Shuman

The federal government announced a three-year Agri-Food Immigration Pilot, which will begin accepting applications in early 2020. A maximum of 2,750 applicants, plus family members are to be accepted yearly. This will hopefully address labour shortages in the agriculture sector, particularly in the meat processing and mushroom production. In addition, this program gives temporary foreign workers or migrant workers with 12 months of full-time experience in the agriculture sector a pathway to permanent residency in Canada.

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