A lack of agriculture having any sort of place in the recent throne speech deserves due criticism, as agriculture is an economic driver that will help see the country through to the other side of the pandemic, says a senator from southern Ontario.

“The government frequently speaks about its commitment to agriculture, yet in the last two throne speeches, it never seems to make the cut on their priority list,” says Senator Rob Black. “The role of agriculture and agri-food industries have played through COVID, has certainly shown that agriculture has a place in getting us out of, or moving us forward at the end of the pandemic.”

The Governor General didn’t mention agriculture at all in her speech, and Black — and probably everyone involved in agriculture in this country — thinks that a more concrete commitment to agriculture is owed.

What brief mentions agriculture did get in the throne speech centred on foreign workers and dairy compensation related to the recent trade deals. Black addressed this in his own rebuttal speech recently. “[Dairy farmers have] lost significant market share and will over the longer term, and they were promised compensation a year or more ago, based on the two trade agreements that were agreed upon, and since that time CUSMA has come into play,” says Black. He agrees with the organization that the time is now for compensation.

Another key issue that also wasn’t addressed was rural broadband internet. A government-only solution may not be in the cards, and the government will need to be open to the private-public partnership opportunities, he says.

“This pandemic has just shown us that we need [internet], we all need it, and in this day and age, it’s just absolutely unacceptable that so many rural and remote and northern regions aren’t connected,” Black says.

Details are yet to come in on the federal government’s climate action plan, and in regards to carbon taxation, the industry is having issues reconciling with what they need to do to meet the potential expectations. Black is hearing a lot about the issue from stakeholders across the country. The plan won’t necessarily fail farmers, but in his opinion it will not adequately support agriculture in the transition. To achieve GHG reductions, the government and the ag industry need to work together says Black, and the government needs to recognize the work that has already been done.

Hear the full conversation between Senator Black and Shaun Haney below, including kind words in tribute to the late Anita Stewart: 

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