The current drought is testing the current ag policy framework system, with multiple provinces recently requesting AgriRecovery.
A timely report on how ag policy is developed between federal, provincial, and territorial governments in the past, present, and future, may shed light on the problems with the current system, in time for the next framework to be negotiated set to be introduced for 2023.
Douglas Hedley, who had a distinguished career at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, was commissioned by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) to write a perspective report on the subject. His time as Assistant Deputy Minister for Farm Financial Programs from 2001 to 2004, meant being present during many difficult negotiations that led to the first Agricultural Policy Framework.
Broken may be too strong a word for how the current system works, but it certainly needs repair, says Hedley. “The reason it needs repair is that the world is a fundamentally different place than what it was, even 10 years ago.”
There are very obvious things that have changed, including Canada no longer being able to rely on the World Trade Organization to protect it — Canada can challenge another country, but the challenge just enters limbo, and the WTO does nothing about it, says Hedley.
Single-issue, processor, trade, or farm groups have “oars in the water” in agricultural policy, which is substantially different from years ago when the first framework was put into place.
Hedley notes that Canadian ag is also into trade issues not necessarily of the country’s making, for which there’s no protection.
“To suggest that we have a stable environment in which we can simply renew, with modifications, the standard set of policies that we have put in place over the last 25 years, five years at a time or so, to me is simply wrong,” states Hedley.
Listen to the full interview between Hedley, and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney: