Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions welcome back Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, say first order of business should be to improve Business Risk Management programs and work with farmers on fertilizer reduction targets
Following this morning’s federal cabinet appointments, The Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions welcome Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau back into her role as Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. With farmers now experiencing the effects of the worst drought and heat conditions in two decades, the commissions say the Agriculture Minister’s first order of business should be to develop long and short-term solutions to the issues farmers will be facing going into the 2022 crop year.
Solutions can be directly achieved through improvements to the suite of Business Risk Management programs, while avoiding further damage by reviewing the impact of the carbon tax on farm operations and rolling out fertilizer reduction targets in a way that won’t hurt farm profitability and competitiveness. The commissions also want to see the Canada Grain Act Review promptly resume.
Given the dire situation farmers are facing following this year’s drought, Minister Bibeau’s previous mandate to review the suite of Business Risk Management programs becomes more urgent than ever. Farmers need disaster relief solutions that enable them to manage risks beyond their control through responsive, predictive and equitable programs. Further, with the new agriculture policy framework drawing nearer, farmers need to see increased funding to these programs to ensure effectiveness. More direct engagement with farmers is needed for these programs fulfill their mandate of improved resiliency, growth and prosperity in the agriculture sector.
“The 2021 crop year has been an unfortunate demonstration of how crucial it is to have Business Risk Management programs that accomplish their mandate,” said Tara Sawyer, Alberta Barley Chair. “In the absence of disaster relief options that truly work for farmers, we are bracing for the consequences of this year’s drought to roll into the 2022 crop year. We look forward to working with Minister Bibeau to develop solutions that work for farmers.”
With fertilizer reduction targets of 30 per cent on the horizon, farmers are also concerned that this federal expectation could result in unintended consequences that could cost farmers more than $48 billion in lost revenue over the next eight years, and severely hamper their ability to increase production, while also driving up the costs of food. Farmers have already been reducing their fertilizer outputs for years to improve their economic sustainability. The Commissions say the federal government must consult with farmers before a fertilizer reductions strategy is rolled out to ensure that agricultural practices are accounted for and that this strategy won’t hurt farm incomes.
“We welcome Minister Bibeau’s return to her previous role and look forward to consulting with her ministry on their fertilizer reduction strategy,” said Todd Hames, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair. “Our concern is that if this strategy is launched without farmer input, fertilizer reduction targets could cost our industry greatly. Farmers have already been reducing their fertilizer use for decades to achieve better economic sustainability. Any reduction targets must consider the competitive and growth implications at stake.”
The commissions are also calling for the Canada Grain Act review to resume. Following our previous submission to the review process, the commissions will continue to press for the role of the Canadian Grain Commission to be redefined as well as to see mandatory outward weighing and inspection eliminated.
By working with farmers on these key issues, the agriculture industry looks forward to meeting the federal government’s target of increasing agri-food exports to at least $75 billion by 2025.
Director of Marketing and Communications
Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions