A list of complex issues
OFA Commentary #3209
A list of complex issues
By Bette Jean Crews, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
[August 10, 2009] - Canadian farmers have a long list of complex issues standing between them and success -- including what the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is dealing with for its membership.
The list of national issues was explored recently when the Canadian Federation of Agriculture held its semi-annual meeting in British Columbia. Working on Ontario’s issues seems daunting, but when you factor in what farmers across the country face daily, one could easily become overwhelmed.
At OFA, we’re not about to let that happen. We have a dedicated staff of researchers; our executive wants to find solutions to the problems farmers face; and our Board of Directors is prepared to spend as much time as necessary developing answers to the issues. Ontario’s issues were delivered by OFA executive and gained momentum when shared with other provinces. We are not alone.
The ongoing crisis in the pork and beef sectors was a common theme from delegates from all federations across Canada. Everyone said that existing Business Risk Management programs were not addressing the needs of the sectors.
Delegates to the CFA meeting approved a resolution to the Federal Government proposing solutions to the pork and beef issues, along with the drought on the Prairies, flooding in Manitoba, Country of Origin Labeling, and lingering issues from the BSE crisis.
CFA’s Trade Committee updated the meeting on Country of Origin Labeling issues facing the Canadian Pork Council. A resolution to CFA earlier this year called on the national organization to investigate and document the injury being inflicted on Canada’s livestock industry by the labeling regulations from the United States.
CFA had highlighted those concerns in a presentation to the House Standing Committee on Agriculture, and on May 7 the Government of Canada formally re-launched a trade challenge over the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling issue. We now know that Mexico has joined that challenge, and it looks like a ruling from the dispute panel will be handed down soon.
CFA’s Food Safety Committee updated the meeting on a number of fronts surrounding that issue. Traceability continues to be a concern for our producers. While AgriFlex gives responsibility for food safety and traceability programs to the provinces, CFA wants to ensure national oversight exists.
It is proposed that food safety programs designed by provinces can work together and be linked to the national system; that all provinces have access to enough funding to ensure farmers can take advantage of AgriFlex funding; that provinces are not forced to duplicate work done in other provinces, but can take advantage of work already done somewhere in Canada, perhaps building on that work.
CFA wants to ensure regulations are in place to protect producers from frivolous legal actions by consumers. The Food Safety Committee recommended that a task team be set up to draft a policy position on this matter for CFA to take to the federal government. Delegates to the meeting agreed there is a need to increase awareness of food safety progress being made in other countries – areas such as the U.S., European Union, and China.
The CFA Environment Committee recommended a stronger lobby to the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency for access to generic products and the regulations around that topic. That committee is also examining the relationship between the environment and the economy, water quality and quantity, and greenhouse gases.
We know there have to be solutions to these concerns, but we also know our governments will have to work with us to find and implement those solutions.
Posted on 10 Aug 2009