By Nathan Stevens
July 6, 2012
The future of farm programming in Growing Forward 2 remains unannounced, allowing more time for farmers and farm groups to influence the future. This summer is a vital opportunity for farmers and other stakeholders to provide their input on the safety net and strategic investments that support them in different ways.
Agriculture programming in Canada is driven by the reality of potential international competition and trade. Safety net programming seriously considers the potential impact on trade for export oriented commodities. Strategic investments have the potential to place Canada positively in the international arena. Given the size of our country and relatively small population, it makes business sense for a number of Canada’s agricultural industries to focus on increased trade in the global marketplace.
When it comes to safety net programming, the roles and responsibilities of industry and government in managing risk are a key part of the discussion, as well as the range of possible program design options. Whether through commodity associations, or the sector as a whole, farmers now have a chance to review safety net principles and determine if they want to maintain the status quo, make subtle shifts in policy, or embark in a new direction.
The other key consideration is the area of strategic investment. These are programs like the Environmental Farm Plan, the Food Safety and Traceability Initiative, and well as a wide variety of research programs and other grants. As many farmers know from personal experience in the last few years, these programs are already underfunded. Farm organizations and commodity groups need to consider whether industries as a whole will be farther ahead in the long-run by maintaining or improving these programs.
Ontario’s farmers still have the chance to provide input into the programs that help them through tough economic times or position them for the future. Now is the time for grassroots farmers to let their general farm organisations, their commodity groups, and their local politicians know if they are satisfied with the principles that are guiding agricultural programming in Canada.
Nathan Stevens is the Interim Manager and Director of Policy Development for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston and in Brantford and Woodstock. It is also found on the CFFO website:www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,200 family farmers across Ontario.