2016

NFU Comments on Ontario Compliance Offset Credits Regulatory Proposal 

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is in favour of effective government action to massively and urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers are on the front lines of climate change, as our livelihoods depend on a stable climate. In recent years, farmers in Ontario and across Canada have experienced difficulties and losses due to prolonged periods of drought, untimely frosts, excessive rainfall, and intense storms, as well as from increased disease and insect pressure related to unusual weather conditions. We are also aware that many of our current farming practices, technologies and the structure of our markets result in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) that are higher than necessary to produce the food that our customers need. In short, we have both the desire and the ability to contribute to climate change solutions. Read full submission.

NFU-NB Submission to Ag Committee on the Next Agriculture Policy Framework

We appreciate the opportunity to appear before the committee today.  At the provincial level, the NFU-NB consulted with our Minister of Agriculture before the Calgary meeting in July.  Federally, our national organization has provided input at various stages of this consultation process.  Given that the Calgary Statement is the most recent public document informing the Next Agricultural Policy Framework, our presentation today will be focused on a pillar that we believe is missing - New Farmers – as well as concrete suggestions to improve the Business Risk Management programs and, in particular, Agri-Stability. Read the full brief  Version français

 

 

NFU brief to Agriculture Committee on the Next Agricultural Policy Framework

 
The National Farmers Union (NFU) presented a brief regarding one of the areas within the National Policy Framework (NPF) that is under consideration—specifically the area of “social license” or “public trust”.
 
A document called the Calgary Statement, produced in July of 2016, includes the following statement:

The NPF will continue to encourage and support collaborative sector efforts to enhance public trust by: 

  • Examining how government programming can help reinforce confidence and public trust in the sector; ...
  • Sharing the story of the importance of the sector and the modern, responsible and sustainable practices it uses.”
The NFU recommends that the Government of Canada be extremely cautious when interpreting these phrases, and even more cautious if considering spending taxpayer dollars in such efforts.  The NFU’s position is that it is better to build confidence and public trust by requiring more independent and government testing of products in order to provide real transparency: proper regulation is desirable and necessary. Read the full brief  Version français
 

National Farmers Union submission to International Trade Committee on CETA Implementation Act (C-30)

The NFU urges the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade Committee to recommend that Members of Parliament vote against Bill C-30 for the following reasons:
  • CETA is unnecessary for trade: Canada has always traded with Europe, there are few tariffs, and there are established institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) already exist to manage tariffs and govern trade disputes.
  • CETA creates an extensive regime of rules and restrictions that severely impair the autonomy of Canada’s current and future democratically elected federal, provincial and municipal governments, while creating new powers and opportunities for multinational corporations to impose their priorities. CETA essentially imposes a new undemocratic constitution that protects the interests of global corporations and their shareholders.
  • CETA’s rules accelerate the concentration of economic power into the hands of ever fewer and larger global corporations at the expense of smaller Canadian businesses, including farmers and other small and medium-sized companies. Concentrated economic power exacerbates the imbalance of political power, as the largest corporations have capacity to lobby most aggressively to obtain laws and regulations for their own benefit. They also use their growing market power to offload costs and extract an ever greater share of the wealth produced by Canadians. (continued...) Read the full brief

 

National Farmers Union submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance Pre-Budget Consultations in Advance of the 2017 Budget

On October 17, 2016 the NFU presented our priorities for the 2017 federal budget at a Finance Committee hearing in Fredericton, NB. The key points in our submission are summarized below. Read the full brief

  •     Rebuild agriculture research capacity and add new capacity to address climate change
  •     Prioritize public interest agriculture research
  •     Return the Port of Churchill to public ownership
  •     Restore Canadian Grain Commission’s funding to pre-2012 level
  •     Implement a Producer Car Receiver under the CGC’s authority
  •     Reduce demand for safety-net payments by championing orderly marketing institutions
  •     Assist young farmers to become next generation of family farmers
  •     Improved quality of life in rural communities
  •     Reopen all prison farms and restore funding to prison farm programs
  •     Establish a national extension program to promote adoption of climate-friendly practices

Version français

National Farmers Union, (Prince Edward Island) Presentation to the House of Commons’ International Trade Committee Public Consultation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)

The National Farmers Union (NFU) opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and recommends it not be ratified by Canada. Our comments will focus on the damage the TPP would do to Canada’s Supply Management system, particularly for dairy; the harm its procurement rules would do to local food system development; its lack of benefit to other aspects of agriculture; and the unacceptable restriction on the sovereignty of democratically-elected governments that would result from the TPP’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism. Read the full brief.

NFU Submission to Health Canada Regulation of Veterinary Drugs — Antimicrobial Resistance

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is pleased to provide input on the proposed amendments to the Food and Drug Regulation regarding Veterinary Drugs — Antimicrobial Resistance. We will focus our comments on two aspects of the proposed regulatory amendment: the measures to restrict the own use importation of unauthorized veterinary drugs; and the measures to require manufacturers, importers and compounders of veterinary antimicrobials to provide sales volume information by species. We support these changes, which promote human health, food safety and transparency. The NFU recognizes the importance of antimicrobials for both human and veterinary use and the need to prevent the evolution of resistant disease-causing microbes that occurs when these drugs are improperly used. Read the full brief.

NFU Submission to Transport Canada consultation on the Future of Transportation in Canada and the Canada Transportation Act Review Report

The National Farmers Union's remarks focus on the directions, priorities and actions needed to ensure Canada’s railway system will be able to efficiently deliver agriculture products to domestic and export markets in a fair and equitable manner. It is important to recognize that farmers do not have the status of shippers under the Canadian Transportation Act. When farmers deliver to a grain company’s elevator, their control over, and interest in the grain ends. The grain company – not the farmer -- is the shipper for the purposes of the Act. Rights, benefits, penalties and obligations of shippers do not apply to individual farmers who sell to grain companies. However, companies are able to pass their transportation costs on to farmers by subtracting freight costs from the price offered for grain. Since farmers ultimately bear the cost of transportation, freight rate regulation is in the interest of farmers. Read the full brief

NFU Submission to CGC re Licensing Producer Railway Car Loading Facilities

The National Farmers Union (NFU) does not support licensing of producer car loading facilities. The CGC’s concerns about risks to the quality standards of Canada’s grain associated with producer car sites can be dealt with by improving allocation and spotting of producer cars, reinstating inward inspection and adjusting the conditions for license exemption. Licensing is not necessary. It would introduce confusion regarding producer payment protection as well as costs that could lead to the loss of some producer car loading sites, which would be against the interests of producers and thus contrary to the CGC’s mandate. We further recommend the establishment of a new Producer Car Receiver under the Canada Grain Act. Read the full brief.

NFU Submission to Health Canada regarding proposed regulations to permit irradiation of ground beef

The NFU urges Health Canada to reject the proposed amendment to the Food and Drug Act regulations that would permit irradiated fresh and frozen ground beef to be sold in Canada. Our submission outlines the negative impacts such a regulation would have for farmers and consumers. The NFU asks Health Canada to instead focus on improving the meat inspection system and promoting appropriate and effective regulations that will support a diversified, regional food processing strategy. These actions would increase Canadians’ confidence in meat packers to provide them with clean, wholesome ground beef produced by Canadian farmers. Read the full brief.

Strengthening Supply Management: Defending Canadian control of our market space and advancing food sovereignty

Supply management is a unique Canadian institution that provides stability in five perishable food sectors by controlling the amount produced, preventing shortages, and keeping under-priced imports from being dumped into our market. As a result, Canada does not experience wide fluctuations in supply and prices – nor the need for massive government subsidies to farmers -- that are common in other countries. However, this system is under attack in international trade agreement negotiations, including the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Global agribusiness corporations see opportunities to increase their profits by forcing the Canadian market to accept underpriced commodities from other jurisdictions, thereby driving down prices paid to our farmers. Within Canada there are critiques of the how the supply management system operates. Barriers to entry by young farmers and lack of opportunities to serve niche markets are frequently stated as concerns. Read full brief

Rebuilding Canada’s agricultural institutions in the public interest for sustainable, prosperous family farms: NFU Submission to Federal Pre-Budget Consultation, February 2016
 
The House of Commons Finance Committee invited the National Farmers Union to appear as a witness in its pre-budget consultation process.  NFU President, Jan Slomp, made the presentation and submitted our brief on February 17. You can read the transcript and view the video of the session online .
 
Under the previous government, agricultural institutions beneficial to farmers lost funding and were re-aligned to provide agribusiness corporations with more power to extract wealth from farmers and rural communities. The loss of public investment in public interest initiatives is felt keenly in rural areas. The decline of social and physical infrastructure amplifies hardships experienced by family farmers whose financial risks are increasing while their communities’ social fabric is weakening.

Canada needs a new suite of agriculture policies – and the budget to support them -- that make it a priority to keep farmers on the land, bring new and young farmers into farming, reinvest in public research and rebuild farmer-controlled marketing institutions. Otherwise, we will continue to see declining farm numbers, aging farmers, a shift to corporate farming, mounting debt, rural depopulation and stagnant net farm income. Read the full brief.
 

Rebâtir les institutions agricoles du Canada dans l’intérêt du public pour favoriser le caractère durable et prospère des fermes familiales : présentation de l’UNF pour les consultations prébudgétaires du gouvernement fédéral
Février 2016
 
Sous le précédent gouvernement, les institutions agricoles visant à appuyer les agriculteurs ont perdu du financement et leur mandat a été revu pour offrir aux sociétés agro-industrielles plus de pouvoirs afin de retirer plus de richesses des agriculteurs et des communautés rurales. La perte d’investissement public pour des initiatives d’intérêt public se fait particulièrement sentir dans les régions rurales. Le déclin de l’infrastructure sociale et physique amplifie les difficultés éprouvées par les fermes familiales, et celles-ci sont confrontées à des risques financiers accrus, tandis que le tissu social des communautés est en train de s’affaiblir.
Le Canada a besoin de nouvelles politiques agricoles – et de financement pour appuyer ces politiques – pour s’assurer que les agriculteurs continuent de travailler sur leurs terres, pour inciter de nouveaux et de jeunes agriculteurs à travailler dans le secteur agricole, pour réinvestir dans la recherche publique et pour rebâtir des institutions agricoles gérées par des agriculteurs. Autrement, nous continuerons d’assister au déclin du nombre de fermes, au vieillissement des agriculteurs, au passage vers une agriculture industrielle, à une augmentation de l’endettement, à la dépopulation rurale et à une stagnation des revenus agricoles nets. Lire le mémoire complet
 
 
NFU comments on the Special Review of atrazine: Proposed Decision for Consultation. Re-evaluation Note REV2015-11

The NFU calls for the precautionary principle to be applied in the regulation of farm chemicals to protect the long-term productivity of the soil and the safety and purity of the water supply. The Pest Control Products Act, Section 20, empowers the Minister to amend or rescind the registration of a pesticide based on the precautionary principle. The Act’s definition of the precautionary principle is: “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent adverse health impact or environmental degradation.”

The Discussion Document for this special review reveals that in the European Union, the maximum acceptable concentration for atrazine in groundwater is .1 parts per billion and the Canadian drinking water standard is 5 parts per billion. There is no standard for Canadian groundwater, however the Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines environmental aquatic benchmark of concern for atrazine is 1.8 parts per billion. Read full brief submitted Feb.12, 2016