Farmers share concerns on environment minister appointment


When parliament returns November 22, the Canadian government will be led by a 39 member cabinet that was announced earlier this week. Heading up the agriculture file will be returning Ag Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. Other departments with a significant impact on agriculture include the ministries of environment, trade, and health.

On Thursday, RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney asked farmers across the country for their thoughts on the cabinet appointments.

Steve Twynstra of Ailsa Craig, Ont. responded by saying agriculture needs to step up its lobbying game, especially with the environmental and natural resources portfolios going to Ministers Steven Guilbeault and Jonathan Wilkinson, respectively.

“I guess my only reaction right now is the jury is out, the clouds are on the horizon on the environmental side with the clean fuel standard and fertilizer emission reductions, and how they want to deal with that.,” Twynstra explains. “Just the lack of credit we are getting for cover crops, for the management we’ve accomplished in the last two decades on managing our soils more effectively and more efficiently than what we did in the ’60s and ’50s. I’m afraid that people making those decisions don’t realize or don’t have enough skin in the game or advisors to know and give us credit for what we’ve accomplished in the past.”

Simon Ellis of Wawanesa, Man. says Bibeau returning in her position should lend some support to agriculture, but added he has concerns around the environmental conversations the government is having.

“[I have some concerns] on what sort of pressure that’s going to put on our industry. But I like to be optimistic,” Ellis notes. “I’m hoping they will talk closely with the industry and find the middle ground where everyone can work together. I think right now my biggest concern is whether or not these conversations can be had effectively over Zoom and stuff like that. Or whether or not we need to get people back face-to-face.”

Kevin Serfas of Turin, Alta. shared concern on the environment file.

“We’re in big trouble. Plain and simple. The environment minister for one is probably my biggest issue,” Serfas says. “And lack of western representation again. Granted, we do have two cabinet ministers at least. That was the most expensive cabinet shuffle in Canadian history.

Jennifer Doelman of Douglas, Ont. says that although she shares concern for the impact the environment minister could have, she is very happy to see Bibeau stay in her spot.

“I had the chance to meet [Minister Bibeau] a couple of times and I think she is very passionate about agriculture. I’m glad to see someone in terms of environment who is very keen for environmental stewardship. But I just hope that [Minister Guilbeault] understands that stewardship means that all of the stakeholders have to be able to thrive and function for a healthy ecosystem for everyone. It is hard to keep your hopes up sometimes.”

Corey Loessin of Radisson, Sask. says agriculture definitely has some challenges coming ahead.

“I think on one hand it’s good to see the ag Minister return, some experience in the portfolio is always a good thing. However some other departments or ministries I would say have got some challenges ahead. And there’s going to be several different fronts that ag is going to have to try to focus on, and ensure that decisions being made are considering the needs of the sector. And that’s not a new need, but I think it’s going to be heightened with developments we are seeing in the next little while,” Loessin says.

Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with re-named Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau on RealAgriculture. You can also find more about the new federal cabinet here.

Check out the full RealAg Radio episode, here.

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