Minimal mention of agriculture in speech from the throne

As the 43rd session of parliament opened Dec 5th, the Governor General laid out the government’s priorities going forward.

This year’s throne speech was titled “Moving Forward Together,” and key priorities outlined were: fighting climate change, strengthening the middle class, walking the road of reconciliation, keeping Canadians safe and healthy, and positioning Canada for success in an uncertain world.

Although many have taken to social media platforms to say agriculture was left out, it wasn’t entirely. That said, there was minimal mention of the sector at a time when farmers and ranchers are under incredible stress both from Mother Nature and markets.

The only excerpt of the throne speech directly linked to agriculture was:

The Government will also continue delivering on an economic agenda that will grow a modern Canadian economy.

This means moving forward with the new NAFTA to maintain a strong and integrated North American economy. On this and other trade agreements, those in the supply management sectors will be fully and fairly compensated, with many farmers in the dairy sector receiving their first cheques this month.

To ensure fairness for all in the new digital space, the Government will review the rules currently in place.

The Government will remove additional barriers to domestic and international trade for businesses and farmers, continue with ambitious investments in infrastructure, and reduce red tape so that it is easier to create and run a start-up or small business.

And the Government will pursue a responsible fiscal plan to keep the economy strong and growing.

Grain Growers of Canada react

The Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) chair Jeff Nielsen says the speech displayed a concerning lack of understanding of the unique needs of Canada’s export-oriented agriculture producers.

Nielsen went on to call it “surprising” given the amount of challenges the industry is currently facing.

“Farmers are facing times of unprecedented challenge in the international marketplace through trade disruptions due in large part to a rise in protectionism, and here at home with weather volatility and a lack of reliable business risk management programs” he says. “The absence of any recognition of the dire circumstances facing farmers today, suggests that our political leaders are not only oblivious the harsh realities facing Canada’s export oriented farmers, they are without a plan to address them. It is our hope that the passing reference to remove additional barriers to domestic and international trade for businesses and farmers will come with a robust plan to expand and diversify trade and support the domestic and global competitiveness of export-oriented farmers.”

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