Convincing policymakers and politicians that agriculture matters is easy; it’s getting them to push for changes and advancements that are tricky. Part of the reason for that is the compartmentalization of the industry, sure, but there are plenty of overarching issues that impact most farmers — and that’s where change needs to start.
Mary Robinson, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, says that building consensus around the CFA’s Producing Prosperity one-pager and pledge has been incredibly successful; it’s translating that support for agriculture into real policy improvement that will be the challenge in the year ahead.
Many farmers are still waiting for an improvement in international markets, but there are other local issues of national importance, such as a chronic labour shortage, putting a value on ecological goods and services, and modernization of regulations and business risk management (BRM) programs. These are the areas the CFA is focused on, Robinson says.
Robinson says that there are plenty of great examples of how different business sectors come together with commonality in language and a push for common goals; agriculture can do the same.
Robinson’s group is working with the government to bring the hardships facing Canada’s farmers front and centre, as well as being strategic in policy; examples of which include looking at red tape and process changes that could head off some issues before they happen.