Election issues are paramount – climate, trade and the Internet are central to farmers

Major federal policies promise to review programs that farmers can rely on and improve rural broadband, but sometimes the details are scarce.

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Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post are embroiled in some of the most pressing issues affecting Saskatchewan voters during the federal election campaign. Today we look at agriculture.


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Why is it important?

Agriculture directly employs 30,000 people in Saskatchewan, the largest share of any district in the country. Those projects support thousands of people in rural communities, and help provide value-added processing in larger centers.

Last year, Saskatchewan produced about half a million metric tons of crops. Last year, the province exported $ 16.9 billion worth of agricultural products. For some crops, such as canola or canary seed, Saskatchewan dominates world markets.

Agricultural power is shared between state and federal governments. Policy issues such as land use are set by the state and Ottawa controls rail transport and exports. Both levels of government fund important disaster management programs, such as crop insurance.

A farmer mixes canary seeds near Gray, Saskatchewan, on September 3, 2021.
A farmer mixes canary seeds near Gray, Saskatchewan, on September 3, 2021. Photo by Brandon Hard /Regina Leader-Post

What do farmers want?

The Saskatchewan Association of Agricultural Producers (ASAS) is calling for increased support for farmers, including improving disaster management programs.

APAS President Todd Lewis wants to raise funding for federal government-sponsored research, sustainability and market development programs. It wants to see adequate investment in repairing the aggregation program, which protects farmers from margins due to severe market failures or product losses.

He says the current program is unpredictable and will not pay off quickly enough. Most farmers are not even using it. “Manufacturers are voting on foot,” he said.


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Good internet access and better cell coverage are also key issues for Louis. Its combination can be contacted directly to the seller to investigate problems online. But only if it has a service. Otherwise it’s a $ 600 service call. Not surprisingly, ASS is taking steps to address the “digital division” that rural Canada is lagging behind. That means a timeline to achieve price and service equity.

Louis says the problem is not money – Ottawa has already made huge sums of money – but bureaucratic barriers that prevent that money from flowing into projects. In rural Canada, it was decided to select a department or agency to improve coverage.

APAS is also counting on the federal government to ensure access to foreign markets, including enforcing rail transport standards and assessing rail costs.

And farmers’ grievances over carbon pricing will not go away, pushing APS to free up all fuels used to produce or operate their crops, including railways. The current federal back-up will only exempt farm fuel use. According to Lewis, Ottawa needs to do more to identify sustainable agricultural practices.

Farmers have similar priorities, including improvements to disaster management programs and recognition of their carbon footprint and environmental stewardship. Chad McPherson, president of the Saskatchewan Stock Exchange, is looking for faster rural internet, better market access and more processing capacity, as well as investments in research and innovation.


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On September 3, 2021, Todd Lewis, president of the Saskatchewan Agricultural Producers Association, stood for a gathering near Gray, Saskatchewan.
On September 3, 2021, Todd Lewis, president of the Saskatchewan Agricultural Producers’ Association, stood at a gathering near Gray, Saskatchewan. Photo by Brandon Hard /Regina Leader-Post

What are the parties offering?

All three parties are prioritizing improvements to rural broadband, but are divided on the level of their agricultural policy and focus.

The Conservative Forum is still very detailed on agriculture. He promised to open new markets abroad and establish regulations with the United States on trade policy. He also promised to alleviate the “chronic labor shortage” by ensuring that international agricultural workers enter Canada.

The party also pledged to improve trade risk management programs, host a future conference on aggregation, and ensure a predictable safety net for farmers. The Canadian Grain Law and the Canadian Grain Commission, which regulates grain standards and controls grain management, promises to “update” it.

Conservatives have vowed to stop what they call “unfair tax treatment” that imposes a high tax on family farm sales compared to a foreigner.

Liberal and NDP forums are less vague, and often include agricultural policy on climate or food security.

NDP pledges “Canadian food strategy” to invest in agricultural communities and support young and new farmers. The party aims to work with farmers to support sustainable agriculture and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He wants to support “local food systems” and connect farmers to “local food centers”.


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Lewis said roofing and market gardens are all good and good, but it does little for large export-oriented farmers in Western Canada.

Liberals plan to triple funding funding for clean technology on farms and support management practices that reduce emissions or carbon emissions. They also want to work with farmers to modernize disaster management programs to “fully integrate climate risk management, environmental practices and climate preparedness.”

MacParis, who reviewed the relevant components of the platform, said he was pleased to see all parties talking about risk management, although climate liberalism and NDP agriculture are often viewed through the lens of other issues.

“Because the focus is on the climate, I want to see support in working with agriculture to achieve those goals,” he said. I think we can produce results by working with people on the ground.

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