Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced his new, larger cabinet set to face the many challenges ahead for Canada, including regional disgruntlement, a threatened economy, and trade disruption around the world. Agriculture is in the middle of all of the these great challenges. Quebec MP Marie-Claude Bibeau will return as minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, after filling the position in…
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced his new, larger cabinet set to face the many challenges ahead for Canada, including regional disgruntlement, a threatened economy, and trade disruption around the world. Agriculture is in the middle of all of the these great challenges.
Quebec MP Marie-Claude Bibeau will return as minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, after filling the position in the later part of the last Trudeau government, taking over from Lawrence MacAulay.
“I think Bibeau has some support from agricultural stakeholders based on her genuine approach to learning about the industry in her short time on the file,” says Shaun Haney, host of RealAg Radio.
“Now that Bibeau is familiar with the file, there will be a high expectation from farmers across the country to deal with trade issues, trade disruption compensation, business risk management program and shrinking expectations of farm profitability in the next 12 months.”
Other cabinet portfolio appointments impacting agriculture:
- Finance – Bill Morneau
- Environment and Climate Change – Jonathan Wilkinson
- Foreign Affairs – François-Philippe Champagne
- Deputy Prime Minister – Chrytsia Freeland
- Transport – Marc Garneau
- Trade diversification – Mary Ng
- To note, former trade diversifiction minister Jim Carr, is undergoing cancer treatment. The prime minister has asked Carr to serve as a special representative for the Prairies.
RealAgriculture will have a further breakdown of the cabinet appointments and the impacts for agriculture as the day progresses.
It’s entirely possible that the United States Congress could ratify the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA/CUSMA) before Christmas, says Jim Wiesemeyer, Washington analyst for ProFarmer, as the votes are there — but…
It’s entirely possible that the United States Congress could ratify the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA/CUSMA) before Christmas, says Jim Wiesemeyer, Washington analyst for ProFarmer, as the votes are there — but will they?
There is still work to be done in Congress ahead of the holidays, Wiesemeyer says, including passing a spending bill, so ratification before this session ends is possible. That said, 2020 is an election year: if the USMCA ratification is pushed into the new year, the odds of ratification decline dramatically.
Congress will be dealing with impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump, and in an election year, people will be focused on campaigning.
Wiesemeyer says that while that may be the case, there’s really no reason to wait to move the agreement forward as there are enough votes to pass it, and there’s no question it will pass in the senate, he says.
There are still a few points of the agreement that could be up for discussion, namely some labour and environmental rule enforcement, but any large-scale changes would flip the agreement back to Canada and Mexico — which is unlikely.
Canada’s trade industry will be watching closely for ratification to happen sooner rather than later, with the hopes of adding back some stability with Canada’s largest trading partner, the U.S.
Listen/watch the discussion below with Shaun Haney:
This week, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture elected Keith Currie to a fourth term as leader of the general farm organization. Currie has a reputation for building relationships inside and…
This week, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture elected Keith Currie to a fourth term as leader of the general farm organization.
Currie has a reputation for building relationships inside and outside the organization and helping change the culture of the farm lobby group. But there’s more work to do. In this interview with RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin, Currie discusses his priorities for 2020 — from continuing the push for rural internet access and enhancing mental health support for farmers, to tackling the sector’s labour challenges.
There’s also the hardships that ongoing trade disputes between China and the U.S. impose on Canadian farmers. Fresh off a federal election that now sees the minority governing Liberal party wooing other party support with program spending promises, many farmers wonder whether a Canadian version of the U.S. Market Facilitation Program is possible — it has paid out $28 billion to U.S. farmers to help offset the trade war impact.
Currie believes rural Canada certainly sent a message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on October 21 and now it’s up to farm leaders to lobby hard for the assistance farmers require. “A cheque in the mail would be nice, but we do need to have the right Business Risk Management programs in place for the long term,” says Currie. (Story continues after the interview.)
On the provincial front, opposition parties have been quick to point fingers at Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government for cutting support for agriculture programs. Currie, however, is reserving judgement on the full impact of spending cuts until there’s full budget accounting. Many times, money moves to and from different government departments based on the responsibility for programs and how they are implemented, he notes.
Currie also says he intends to again extend an invitation to the Grain Farmers of Ontario to rejoin OFA. In recent years, the two farm organizations have walked different paths in their efforts to lobby government and Currie does believe a unified voice would be more effective. Whether the two groups form an official alliance remains to be seen, but Currie does see opportunities to work together. He cites recent discussions with GFO on changes to Bill 132 and the Pesticide Act as examples of shared interest and ongoing collaboration.
Grain Farmers of Ontario want the federal government to be more proactive in bringing the CN Rail and teamsters union dispute to an end before it impacts agriculture. It would…
Grain Farmers of Ontario want the federal government to be more proactive in bringing the CN Rail and teamsters union dispute to an end before it impacts agriculture. It would seem that’s already happening, however, as at least one farmer in the eastern region of Ontario has already reported that they’ve been told that propane is being rationed for grain drying: home owners who use the fuel for heat will get first priority.
Ontario grain farmers rely on the rail system to transport propane used on farms to dry grain, such as corn. This harvest has already been a challenging one, and corn is coming off fields at higher than average moistures.
GFO says that with the current CN strike action, suppliers are no longer delivering propane for grain dryers. The strike comes at a time when Ontario farmers are dealing with one of the most difficult harvests they have seen in decades. A very wet harvest season with early snow and cold means that farmers are even more reliant on propane-powered grain dryers to condition the crop and get it to market, according to the GFO.
Grain Farmers of Ontario urges the government to explore all other options for propane delivery quickly.
Members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) walked off the job Tuesday, November 19, to begin a strike protesting what the union calls unsafe working conditions. Negotiations between CN…
Members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) walked off the job Tuesday, November 19, to begin a strike protesting what the union calls unsafe working conditions. Negotiations between CN Rain and the union have been on-going for the past seven months with federal mediators being used in the past five months.
The 72-hour strike notice was given to CN this past weekend, as the union claims work conditions are unsafe, and that improvements need to be made regarding health benefits and time-off requests. Wages are not part of the negotiation, the union says.
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour says both herself and the Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, urge both parties to continue their negotiations.
“The Government of Canada understands the importance of the rail industry and its workers to the Canadian economy. While we are concerned about the impact of a work stoppage on Canadians, we remain hopeful they will reach an agreement. The Government of Canada supports and has faith in the collective bargaining process. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has been working closely with the parties since June and remains available to assist them. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
Since the news broke roughly four days ago, commodity groups have expressed the importance of getting the contracts agreed upon sooner than later, as it will be added pressure to producers already facing numerous challenges this year.
“Prairie farmers do not get paid unless we can ship our products to port,” says Todd Lewis, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. “We have experienced a tremendously difficult production season on top of falling commodity prices due to trade issues in our major markets. Any additional factor which threatens our cash flow presents a grave risk to our operations.”
Lewis added this delay would disrupt the remainder of the winter shipping season when grain shipments typically already face delays due to weather.
Urgency is also being demanded by the Grain Growers of Canada (GGC), with their chair calling it an already terrible time for the agriculture sector. According to a news release, with more than 90 per cent of grain is moved by rail, the inability to get grain to market has a significant impact on hard working farm families. If grain doesn’t move, farmers don’t get paid.
“Grain farmers from coast to coast are experiencing one of the most challenging harvests in recent memory and international trade disputes have closed some of our most reliable markets. Any delay in shipping will damage our access to hard-won markets that we must cultivate to survive,” says Jeff Neilson, GGC chair.
Talks with both the TCRC and CN continue in Montreal.