Pulse Beat Individual Articles

Sharp and Focused on Being Where Farmers Need Us to Be

June 2021
Erin Gowriluk, Executive Director, Grain Growers of Canada

MUCH LIKE FARMING, the agriculture advocacy world is one that changes with the seasons and can force you to be put your best-laid plans by the wayside.

For 2021, this has been the case, with several files where we have been asked to represent our sector while also contributing to some long-standing consultations, where the voice of grain farmers is desperately needed.

POLICY PRIORITIES

On the policy front, we have been at the ready with several committee appearances and urgent government consultations on files that our members have a direct stake in. As your voice in Ottawa, Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) continues to be seen as an informed advisor and has been invited to appear before various committees to provide the grain farmers’ perspective.

On March 8, GGC Chair Andre Harpe and I appeared before the Standing Committee on International Trade for their study on the modernization of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Our message focused on the importance of trade, the need for a rules-based trade system, a functioning dispute settlement system, and a revitalization of the WTO negotiating function.

The following day, Andre Harpe and GGC Policy and Government Relations Manager Branden Leslie appeared before the Standing Committee on Finance for the review of MP Larry Maguire’s Bill C-208. We highlighted our support for the legislation and the value it would have for incorporated family farms that are seeking to pass the farm on to a family member.

In April, GGC Director (and Manitoba Crop Alliance representative on GGC’s Board), Jonothan Hodson, and I appeared before the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in support of MP Phillip Lawrence’s Bill C-206. This bill would see natural gas and propane used for drying grain exempt from the carbon tax. It has received support from the Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois, NDP, the Green Party and several independent MPs — along with Liberal MP Francis Drouin. There is clear support and recognition (even by parties who support a carbon tax) that farmers have no choice but to rely on fossil fuels to dry their grain.

We have provided written submissions to the federal government on a few pertinent items, including the proposed Clean Fuel Regulations, suggestions on how Canada Water Agency can best value our natural and physical water infrastructure, and what the Canadian Food Inspection Agency can do to foster innovation. All these submissions can be accessed via our member app, and we encourage you to look through them to stay up to date on these important policy files.

The Canada Grain Act review has also been top of mind, and we have commissioned a members’ working group to prepare a submission to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. As part of this review, we have prioritized farmers’ interests while ensuring that the Act is ‘future proofed’ to serve our sector for years to come. The submission will be coupled with some targeted advocacy with legislators and policymakers to ensure we maintain momentum on this file and get these changes across the finish line.

RESPONDING TO THE CARBON TAX

As we move forward with pushing MP Phillip Lawrence’s Bill C-206, we have also leveraged our national voice as part of the brand- new Agriculture Carbon Alliance (ACA). This national coalition of industry-wide farm organizations was established to ensure that the sustainable practices of Canadian farmers are recognized through a policy environment that maintains their competitiveness, supports their livelihoods and leverages their critical role as stewards of the land.

Through the ACA, we will work proactively on behalf of Canadian agriculture to advocate for constructive and evidence-based policies regarding carbon pricing, offsets, retrofit funding and related environmental policies. The alliance will also function as a resource for the federal government and, in particular, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) regarding solutions-oriented strategies to ensure the industry remains competitive, both at home and around the world.

STAY IN TOUCH

If you have not had the chance to listen, now is a great time to download and catch up on the latest episodes of our podcast, Fireside Chats with Erin. I have been very privileged to sit down with amazing guests and agriculture influencers, the latest of whom is Robynne Anderson of Emerging Ag. If you haven’t already, you can access these conversations on our YouTube page or wherever you source your favourite podcasts.

Until next time.