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Op-ed: Growing our Role on the World State: The Importance of Canadian Agriculture Globally

Canadian agriculture is poised to provide a solution to global food insecurity, but punitive government tax and regulatory policies are preventing our farmers from providing relief.

We should be incredibly proud in Canada as our farm and ranch families are world leaders in sustainability and efficiency and we produce what the world needs, sustainable and reliable agriculture, and agri-food products.

However, it is imperative we cultivate the correct path forward.

In Europe, farmers are demanding governments backdown from activist, ideological policies which are not only putting the livelihoods of farmers at risk, but also putting Europe’s ability to feed itself in jeopardy. Not making science-based decisions has resulted in farmers across Europe struggling to be environmentally sustainable and economically viable.

Rather than learn from the lessons decimating European food production, the current Liberal government is eagerly following the same misguided and dangerous path.

Rather than recognize the innovative practices and stewardship of Canada’s food producers, the Liberal-NDP coalition is punishing Canadian agriculture with punitive taxes and regulations which are making our farm families uncompetitive and financially unstable.

Farmers cannot produce sustainable food while being ground down with higher carbon taxes, interest rates, and input costs and smothering unscientific regulatory burdens like fertilizer reductions, front-of-pack labelling and bans on vital tools like crop protection and plastic packaging. 

Food inflation continues to skyrocket and families are struggling to put food on the table – not just in Canada, but around the world as food insecurity and affordability grip the globe.  Now is the time to foster growth in our Canadian agriculture and unleash its potential so farmers can flourish and provide a solution to food insecurity and affordability.

Instead, the current Liberal government is taking Canadian agriculture backwards. According to Farm Credit Canada growth in Canadian agriculture has fallen by 50 per cent over the last decade due to government intervention costing Canadian producers $30 billion in revenue.

Intervention from a Liberal government which is ignoring the fact our nation sets the world standard in sustainability, efficiency and innovation.

Canada is the fifth largest exporter of agricultural and agri-food products in the world, exporting 80% of our products to feed the world yet we are only responsible for 1.6% of global emissions.

Let’s put this in perspective. On average, 28 per cent of global emissions come from agriculture. In contrast, in Canada our emissions from agriculture are two thirds lower than our global competitors at just eight per cent. So, eight per cent of 1.6 per cent of total global emissions in Canada are a result of agriculture. Incredible.

There is more, a recent study by the Global Institute for Food Security demonstrated Saskatchewan’s carbon footprint to produce one tonne of canola is 67 percent lower than our global competitors. Additionally, a tonne of Canadian wheat can travel the world 3.5 times before it has the same carbon footprint as wheat grown in Europe.

Put another way we have reduced carbon emissions in Canadian food production by 80 billion tonnes and reduced diesel fuel usage by 200,000 litres per year. Farmers have accomplished this not through government intervention and carbon taxes, but by embracing innovation such as precision agriculture, zero-tillage and 4R nutrient stewardship because it was the right thing to do.

This is an incredibly impressive achievement for which our food producers should be lauded. However, instead of being proudly held up as a gold standard our competitors should be encouraged to meet, Canadian farmers are being punished with a 23 per cent hike in the carbon tax on April 1, and with the GST charged on top of that tax.

This does not makes sense when we are one of only a handful of countries with the capability to help address the number one issue on the planet, being food security. To reach our potential and to play a meaningful role globally, Canada must change its path to one based on common sense, where policy is based on science and innovation not activism and ideology.

We must educate Canadians about where our food comes from, our excellent record in reducing emissions and growing our economy. We must have leadership and a federal government who listens to our farmers, ranchers and food processors and who sees agriculture for what it has truly proven to be – an integral part of the solution rather than the problem.

Again, we are at a crossroads and if we choose a path based on science, data and competitive tax and regulatory regime Canada will play a pivotal role in producing what the world needs, an abundance of quality, sustainable and affordable food.

If we choose the wrong path? No farmers, no food.