Pulling together and magnifying ag's asks for the next government

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The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) has put forward its priority list for the upcoming federal election.

There are a few unique items on the list, though some items are in common with other platforms, including the push for more funding for the next policy framework.

With only a 35-day election campaign, there’s not a lot of time for each party to iterate their stance on the issues, save for the agriculture leaders debate, tentatively scheduled for September 9, 2021 (stay tuned for more on that).

“It’s tough to think of how much ground we’re going to get to cover, and agriculture always struggles to get the airtime that we should considering how significant we are for the economy and the environment, and the population at large,” says Mary Robinson, president of the CFA.

Robinson thinks there’s been tremendous coordination between farm organizations to promote agriculture’s needs, and she hopes that candidates will latch onto the messaging. “We’ve seen so much pulling together, and I think it’s really magnifying our voice and hopefully really getting out message across,” she says.

Over the past couple of elections, the ag industry has tended to glaze over climate change, but this election is a chance to show the role that agriculture plays in being a solution, for all Canadians who are concerned about climate change.

“We know that we’ve seen some pretty tight margins in the last number of years in agriculture, and we know that we need to see that level of investment increase, or the reward increase, for what producers bring to the table, as far as ecological goods and services,” says Robinson.

CFA has framed agriculture as a solution to climate change before back in 2019, highlighting the ways ag contributes to mitigating climate change through the “Producing Prosperity in Canada” campaign — one of the main pillars being environmental stewardship.

A topic that other groups haven’t brought up is infrastructure — deficits in transportation, broadband access, and skills development, are challenges that hinder farmers’ ability to fully harness cutting edge technologies and access new markets, says the organization.

Robinson says that apart from the obvious challenges with labour, there’s been a lack of upgrades to labs, classrooms, research equipment, and “all that is really vital in training our future high-skilled agri-workforce, and it really puts us at such a competitive disadvantage internationally.”

Furthermore, broadband is not only required for day-to-day operations, but is also required for lifestyle, says Robinson, and without it, creates a barrier to entice people into the industry.

Listen to the full conversation between Robinson and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney, below:

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