Friday, September 10, 2021

CFA drives election platforms

 Once again it is the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s policy positions that are driving the federal campaign for farmers’ votes.

That’s why the party platforms for agriculture are so similar. And it's been that way for at least 80 years.

But the CFA has done farmers a great disservice over the years.

It has emphasized subsidies and supply management.

That has been responsible, in no small part, for the long-term decline in federal agricultural research, especially basic research which is the foundation for progress.

Sixty-five years ago Agriculture Canada had about 1,000 scientists working in research stations across Canada.

It was the nation’s largest research organization and it was staffed by dedicated, knowledgeable professionals.

They also collaborated closely with universities and provincial-government research and extension services.

Today the research agenda is dominated by multi-national corporations that patent every advance they can to garner more power, control and profit. Their greedy interests come ahead of farming families.

Why, pray tell, are advances in medicine and agriculture patented? Why is the research done by self-serving corporations instead of by the people's institutions?

This situation has left Canadian agriculture in a precarious position.

All those billions in subsidies have not helped Canadian farmers to become more resilient, innovative, independent or profitable. It's even worse south of the border where the presidents have had no clue about progressive farm policies.

It is farmers' own entrepreneurial initiatives that have served the public's interests, but unfortunately that has not been enough to maintain Canada as one of the leading agricultural nations in the world.

What has supply management done to advance genetics or management? It’s either corporations or individual entrepreneurs who are making the significant advances.

The marketing boards claim they have been leaders in ushering in animal welfare, food safety and quality, but in point of fact, Canada lags other nations, especially European nations.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has been timid in pushing agriculture’s potential to reduce greenhouse gasses and climate warming.

For example, it’s well known that cover crops improve soil quality and sequester carbon, and because the CFA has failed to call for a federal-government program to offer farmers about $50 an acre to incorporate cover crops into their crops management, that’s not in any party’s platform.

But all of the major parties are willing to offer billions in subsidies to reduce the carbon emitted by other sectors of the economy, much of the money recycled from carbon taxes.

And that's to reduce carbon emissions, not to sequester carbon as farmers can do.

So if you’re not thrilled by the farm policy platforms of the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democratic Party or the Greens, complain about the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, not the politicians.

And tell your local candidates that it's government-run research without patents that holds far more potential for a better future than a re-jigged Business Risk Management program.