As there’s many moving parts in agriculture, some may forget what’s happening in the background when it comes to policy. It might be surprising to some that farmers in other countries as close as the U.S. and as far as Africa deal with similar issues on both a large and small scale.
At the inaugural AgSmart event, held at Olds, Alta. at Olds College, RealAgriculture’s Jessika Guse caught up with Cherilyn Nagel, international director with the Global Farmers Network (GFN) and farmer from Mossbank, Sask.
Although not typically the most common conversation at a shop party, policy is incredibly important to how our farms function. “Early on in my policy career, I noticed that there just was not a lot of farmers that were sitting at the table in the discussions around the future rules of our industry,” she says.
Nagel says she’s found Canada’s policy framework surrounding agriculture has a huge impact on the global stage. One example that stands out for her is the farm labour shortage.
“It’s been a conversation that we’ve had in Canada and I didn’t know that farm labour shortage was a problem in so many other countries too,” she says. “I have a colleague that lives in India and he says the very same thing: it’s challenging and difficult to find good skilled labour to work on their farm. Certainly in Argentina they’re going through the same thing, in Australia, New Zealand, it’s a common policy issue around the globe for farmers.”
On the topic of trade, Nagel explains that trade policy may be tumultuous with what’s going on around the globe; however, GFN is trying to find commonalities in the issue around trade as the organization believes products should be traded world wide, and there must be strong trade agreements in place.
As far as what producers can do to be more involved, Nagel says it’s not as scary at is sounds.
“I’ve been giving the sales pitch for farm policy importance for almost two decades now, and I’m challenged all the time because most farmers I run into correlate farm policy with politics, and politics is a really hard sell right now,” she explains. “We’ve got a lot of Canadian political drama, U.S. political drama —we have geo-political drama happening around the globe. So it’s a really hard sell.”
On the bright side, she says there’s a few things that every farmers can do that would help push the needle when it comes to good farm policy. Those being:
- Contact your elected officials at the municipal, provincial, and federal level
- “Any elected official that you can get in contact with, will benefit the farm policy arena.”
- Become involved with a farm organization
- “I strongly believe that that advocacy voice is needed at all of these discussions.”
Listen to the full discussion between Guse and Nagel in the video below.