National | Letters

Federal Election 2021: Ag Platforms of the Major Parties

The following is an overview of party platforms pertaining to agriculture, as of August 31, 2021, for the four largest national parties (in alphabetical order).

Conservative Party

The Conservatives have a detailed agricultural platform. The Party’s 83-page Canada’s Recovery Plan promises, in part, to:

  • Respect and defend supply management … and ensure that farming families are engaged in any trade negotiations or programs impacting the sector and that the Minister of Agriculture is at the table for those negotiations. …
  • Within our first 100 days in office, finalize compensation program for supply managed processors under CPTPP and CETA and negotiate a compensation package for farmer and processors impacted by CUSMA.
  • Work with the US Administration to remove the CUSMA limits on Canadian exports of powdered milk to third-party countries and establish reciprocal norms to ensure that our quality standards are respected.
  • Work with the provinces to adopt a grocery supply code to deal with retailers’ abusive pricing and contracting practices against farmers, producers, and processors. …
  • Protect family farms by ending unfair tax treatment … [to] ensure that the sale of a family farm to a family member is not taxed at a higher rate than a sale to a stranger.
  • Improve payment security for farmers and food processors by creating a statutory deemed trust for suppliers of perishable produce in bankruptcy….
  • Ensure our farm safety net programs are predictable, bankable, and manageable.
  • Implement a plan to tackle rural crime and ensure that farm families feel safe.
  • Amend existing laws to allow livestock owners to use local abattoirs, reducing both stress to the animals and the production of [GHG] emissions resulting from transportation … and make permanent the temporary measures that [enabled] collaboration across provinces to use their provincial abattoirs for products that would move across provincial borders.
  • Protect our food supply by implementing a food security strategy including redirecting some federal agricultural research funding to partnering with the private sector to develop methods to grow more crops in Canada year-round in greenhouses. …
  • Reform Business Risk Management programs, particularly AgriInvest and AgriRecovery.
  • Bring agricultural stakeholders together for a summit-like meeting with the Minister of Agriculture to develop a way forward on insurance programs like AgriStability.
  • Modernize the Canada Grain Act and Canadian Grain Commission. … [to] align with modern agricultural practices, global market requirements, and the needs of our farmers. …
  • Implement an Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Strategy [to] … support farmers and food processors [to] … make sure they have access to the workers they need. …
  • Extend “right to repair” to farm vehicles….

Green Party

The Green Party website appears to contain little regarding agricultural policy for the 2021 election. When contacted, a Party official pointed to their Vision Green 2020 document as containing their ag platform. That document promises, in part, to develop a National Agricultural and Food Policy that will:

  • Improve food safety and boost nutritional health by:
    • Amending the [CFIA] mandate to remove any obligation to promote Canadian agri-business, ensuring the focus is on … food safety only, with enhanced resources for inspection and monitoring;
    • Eliminating conflict of interest by removing … agri-business representatives from federal food policy advisory bodies;
    • Acting to label sodium, sugar, and trans fats on food products; [regulate] the amount of trans fats in our food supply; … [and place a] levy on sugary drinks…;
    • Ensuring the quality and wholesomeness of food by strengthening the monitoring of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth hormones, non-therapeutic antibiotics, and insecticides in food …, with the goal of an orderly reduction in detectable residues of these substances until they reach undetectable limits; …
    • Improving and strengthening the Canadian Organic Standard [and] providing transitional assistance for those switching to certified organic farming practices; …
  • Provide food security by:
    • Moving towards regional food self-sufficiency across Canada, as we begin the shift to organic agriculture as the dominant model of production;
    • Supporting the ‘200-kilometre diet’ and locally grown food through expansion of farmers’ markets … [and] promoting rooftop gardens, cultivation of green urban space for agriculture, … and community gardens;
    • Protecting the right of farmers to save their own seed [and] promoting heritage seed banks and seed exchange programs.
  • Reduce corporate control of the food supply by:
    • Reforming agriculture regulations to challenge corporate concentration;
    • Ensuring that farm support payments are farm-based (not production-based) to encourage more farms and more farmers; …
  • Support local food markets by:
    • Enabling local areas without industrial-scale agriculture to develop area-specific food safety regulations meeting national standards …;
    • Assisting in re-establishing the architecture of local food production in canneries, slaughterhouses, and other value-added food processing;
    • Encouraging and supporting the consumption of locally-grown food by promoting adequate shelf space in grocery chains for products from local farms and … processors.
  • Improve agricultural research by:
    • Ensuring that new plant cultivars and animal breeds remain in the public domain;
    • Shifting government-supported research away from biotechnology and energy-intensive farming and towards organic food production; …
    • Preventing the patenting of life forms; …
  • Ensure fair trade by:
    • Ensuring that supply management systems provide stable domestic markets [and] incomes [but also] permit unregulated production by smaller … farms that sell to local market[s];
    • Reviewing the impacts of abolishing the Canadian Wheat Board and considering the re-establishment of a coordinating mechanism to organize the efficient shipment of … grains; …
  • Stop the loss of agricultural land to development by:
    • …negotiated agreements with the provinces to [preserve] prime agricultural land;
    • Reinstating the Canada Land Inventory program…;
    • Providing sufficient fiscal incentives to other levels of government … to preserve farmlands under their jurisdictions.
  • Support environmental stewardship by: …
    • Restoring the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation [Administration] and its conservation measures;
    • Working with provinces to ensure that all livestock waste is recycled safely and contamination by agricultural run-off is avoided;
    • Introducing cost-shared programs to help farmers protect wildlife habitat areas and marginal lands, … and retain and improve soil quality;
    • Creating a national Environmental Farm Plan Program….
  • Assist farmers in climate change adaptation by:
    • Encouraging farming methods that increase carbon sequestration…;
    • Establishing GHG emission targets for all components of the agri-food system…;
    • Restructuring Canada’s Business Risk Management Programs to help farmers cope with climate risk, especially in disaster assistance.

Liberal Party

The Liberal’s 86-page election platform, Forward. For Everyone, builds upon programs announced by the government in recent months, but not yet implemented, and highlights “key actions” put into effect since 2015. It promises, in part, to:

  • Work with supply-managed sectors to determine compensation within the first year of a new mandate.
  • Develop a sector-specific Agricultural Labour Strategy with employers and unions to address persistent labour shortages.
  • Triple funding for cleantech on farms, including for renewable energy, precision agriculture, and energy efficiency, to $250 million in 2022-23.
  • Create a new No-Waste Food Fund to help build a circular food economy, including
    • Commercializing and adopting ways to eliminate, reduce, or repurpose food waste;
    • Partnering with, and support, community-based food security organizations to make sure all Canadians have access to healthy food.
  • Develop a National School Food Policy and work towards a national school nutritious meal program with a $1 billion-dollar investment over five years.
  • Work to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 … and [achieve] a full recovery for nature by 2050.
  • Restore and enhance more wetlands, grasslands, and peatlands, to capture and store carbon.
  • Recognize the “right to a healthy environment” for the first time in federal law.
  • Reduce pesticide risks by:
    • Strengthening the Pest Control Products Act to better protect our health, wildlife, and the environment;
    • Aligning with … approaches to transparency when reassessing pesticides already on the market and increasing opportunities for independent scientists to have input into the decision-making process;
    • Investing in … [research] … on water and soil monitoring and on the cumulative effects of multiple pesticides on health and the environment;
    • Ensuring that the impacts of pesticides on wildlife are fully considered, and supporting food producers who choose alternative pest management approaches that reduce the need for chemical pesticides.
  • Work with provinces, territories, and farmers— including Indigenous and young farmers—to update business risk management agriculture programs to fully integrate climate risk management, environmental practices, and climate readiness.
  • Increase support to farmers to develop and adopt agricultural management practices to reduce emissions, store carbon in healthy soil, and enhance resiliency.
    • This program, the On-Farm Climate Action Fund, would give $200 million to farmers over three years to support adoption of improved grazing management (incl. agronomist support for grazing management plans and funding for cross fencing and water infrastructure), cover cropping (incl. education and support and per-acre payments), and nitrogen fertilizer efficiency (incl. agronomic support, nutrient management plans, equipment modifications, and soil sampling), and was announced as part of a suite of programs in Budget 2021

Other programs announced in Budget 2021 included:

  • $50 million to help farmers buy more efficient grain dryers.
  • $60 million over the next two years to protect wetlands and trees on farms, perhaps through a reverse-auction program.
  • $10 million over the next two years to reduce emissions from on-farm fuel use.

In other platform documents, the Liberals promise to:

In addition, the Liberal government continues to offer to increase AgriStability support from 70 to 80 percent (though Prairie provincial governments have not yet agreed to pay their share of funding). And the Liberal government had indicated that it may provide rebates for carbon taxes paid on propane (and possibly natural gas) used for grain drying (and possibly other on-farm uses).

New Democratic Party

The NDP’s 2021 election platform, Ready for Better, promises, in part:

  • A Canadian Food Strategy that will take a whole-of-government approach to address regional needs and priorities by investing in our agricultural communities, supporting young and new farmers and taking steps to ensure that rural livelihoods are good and sustainable.
  • A payment-protection program for produce growers and … immediate steps to restore protection for growers selling to the United States under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.
  • To work with Canadian farmers to promote sustainable land-management techniques and methods to reduce GHG emissions[,] … to help them access low carbon tools and technology, and [to] adapt to climate-induced weather changes and other impacts of the climate crisis….
  • To connect Canadians to farmers with initiatives like local food hubs, community supported agriculture, and networks to increase the amount of food that is sold, processed and consumed in local and regional markets.
  • To fully protect supply management and ensure reciprocity in all trade negotiations….
  • To develop a national food waste strategy to reduce the huge amounts of food that currently go to waste in Canada.
  • To partner with farmers and communities to support biodiversity and … protect pollinator health.
  • Food labelling and traceability, so that Canadians can be confident in what they’re purchasing to put on their family’s plate.
  • To support Indigenous food sovereignty, working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to expand access to healthy food, including traditional and country foods….
  • To invest in rural communities …, improve access to in-person services in Northern and rural communities …; work with Canada Post to develop a model of postal banking …, create an affordable public transit service that connects rural areas …, [and] deliver high-speed rural broadband to all communities … without delay….