Grain farmers want action — but not handouts — from federal government

The Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) have been joined by two other eastern Canadian grain groups, to put further public pressure on the federal government to make adjustments to the AgriStability business risk management program.

The three grain groups have launched an online and radio campaign claiming that Canadian grain farmers are going out of business because of increased ad hoc payments to U.S. farmers, which interferes with grain market prices, making Canadian farmers uncompetitive.

Markus Haerle, chair of GFO, says that the groups want the feds to support Canadian grain farmers in the same way they went to bat for the steel and aluminum industries when faced with U.S. tariffs, but stops short of asking for American-like ad hoc support payments.

Haerle says, in the audio below, that the grain farmers are asking that the payout trigger of the AgriStability program be re-instated to 85 per cent (from 75 per cent), and that reference margin limits be eliminated. The request is not new — it has been a bone of contention between farm groups and the federal government for several years — but the advent of COVID-19 economic fall out and the subsequent support payments to American farmers mean that the current program no longer works for farmers, he says.

The combination of ad hoc support payments and farm bill support amount to about 40 per cent of American farm income. This, Haerle says, is incredibly disruptive to an open market, where Canadian farmers have to compete.

Listen on to hear more from Markus Haerle on measuring the success of the ad campaign and more:

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