Since the introduction of the draft Responsible Grain code of practice in late 2020, there have been farmers expressing their concerns and displeasure with the concept, based on numerous factors. There’s been plenty of discussion on social media platforms regarding the code’s intent, funding, and value to farmers.
Given the feedback from farmers over the last two months, the Responsible Grain committee announced last week that it will be holding a second round of consultations in the fall after harvest, delaying the original plan to begin implementing the code in spring 2021.. They say the fall consultations will also involve an updated draft based on the consultations that farmers and organizations have participated in this winter.
There are varying degrees of opposition among the farmers who don’t think the code is a good idea, and some have turned to putting pressure on the provincial crop commissions by threatening to request a refund of their check-off payments.
Until now, the provincial commodity groups have generally been focused on facilitating and encouraging farmer feedback. They have not contributed any funding directly to the code, but the provincial groups are members in some of the national organizations that did put money in to leverage 75 per cent federal funding for the project in 2020, including the Canola Council of Canada, Cereals Canada, and Grain Growers of Canada.
Based on multiple conversations on Monday, the bulk of the pushback against the code appears to be in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Staff with both SaskCanola and the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) say they have seen an increase in requests for check-off refunds over the past month.
MCGA went as far as to issue a statement on Monday (February 1) saying, “the MCGA board unanimously objects to the Responsible Grain Code of Practice as it is currently written, and has committed many hours to date reviewing the documents in detail and sharing these objections with the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops.”
We recognize the overwhelming number of policy issues currently facing farmers. The MCGA board has been deeply engaged in each of these issues, and confirming our position based on your feedback. Read about our position on Code of Practice & more here. https://t.co/3Ymvs9pLv1 pic.twitter.com/BFHNqYwQwY
— Canola Growers (@CanolaGrowers) February 1, 2021
The Manitoba Crop Alliance, meanwhile, says it “is involved in the consultation without endorsement until we see the final product.”
Alberta Canola highlighted the fact it has not been directly involved in funding the initiative.
No Alberta Canola checkoff funds have been used for the development of Responsible Grain.
Our involvement has been to encourage all farmers to participate in the consultations (our elected farmer directors are going through the same consultation process individually)
— Alberta Canola (@AlbertaCanola) February 1, 2021
While a few public statements have been made this week regarding the first draft, many farmers who have contacted RealAgriculture are looking for more of a direct statement against the entire code of practice concept, and not just the first draft.