As government develops policy, draws up a budget, and sets a direction, they do so with input from voices within the government but also from voices outside the Parliament Hill bubble.
Katie Ward is the president of the National Farmers Union, and farms near Ottawa, Ont.. She’s our guest for today’s RealAg LIVE! to talk about filling that role, and what policy topics have been top of mind for her organization and bringing them to the federal government.
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- Katie’s family has been farming since the early 1800s in the Ottawa area
- Katie raises sheep and hogs, forage and grain, plus has done CSA and vegetable production
- What and who is the National Farmers Union?
- The NFU was criticized for allowing “gardeners” into the membership
- Some of those market gardens run incredible margins and profits!
- Is the federal government finally catching up with the climate file that the NFU has been on? YES
- NFU had motions in 1997 and 2003 to that effect
- Farmers now need to adopt low-emissions agriculture, and government needs to support that
- Low-emission agriculture is likely lower input
- Carbon tax? NFU doesn’t support a carbon levy in and of itself, but does support the plan to reduce emissions
- Advocate for rebates, incentivized carbon reduction is the goal
- Hopeful to see more through the next budget that will be more “carrot” than stick
- It takes time to move a ship as large as the federal government
- Why a rebate vs exemption? Rebate (and the effort to have to apply for them) could mean farmers (and researchers!) put the work in to get us off the fossil fuel train
- Childcare for rural areas and families is less about cost and more about access
- Some farms need middle of the night care, or at intense times, or in-home — there are some really neat examples
- Farms have to be safe for workers and families and kids!
- The Canada Grain Act is up for review, what does NFU want to see? (see more of what other farm groups are saying here)
- Dispute resolution is a big one
- Transparency is key, too (Sask Wheat and NFU are pushing for this)
- But some groups are for and against, others want 3rd party inspections, but NFU is concerned about the branding of Canadian grain
- The CGC inspection, NFU feels, is a cost of doing business
- Farmers for Climate Solutions — NFU is a founding member
- What about trade? NFU is in favour of smart trade for Canadian farmers — not all trade deals shake out the way that they’re promised
- CETA for example, we don’t have the slaughter capacity to service the EU market, and that was warned about
- NFU feels very strongly that farmers should maintain the right to save seed
- The value creation model is not one that NFU supports
- She says she wants more money to stay in farmers’ pockets
- Katie and her group have had amazing face time with the government
- And part of that is because she approaches it from a solutions perspective