Election 2015 – Talking About Agriculture

During this federal election campaign, voters have the opportunity to speak with local federal election candidates about agriculture, farming and food. The National Farmers Union advocates on key policy issues from the perspective of family farmers. Our positions are put forward by grassroots members and adopted through a democratic process of debate and voting at national conventions. The following short summaries of critical issues are resources for your conversations with candidates.

For more detailed information, and information on additional topics, please see the rest of our website.The easiest way to do this is by typing your keyword into the “search” tool in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

We have also compiled election-related resources from other organizations that you may find useful.

1. Grain Prices and Transportation

The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) sold wheat, durum (pasta wheat) and barley for export and for human consumption within Canada on behalf of farmers, returning all proceeds less operating costs. It supplied Canadian millers and food processors, fairly and reliably.

When the “Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act” became law, it immediately dismissed the eight farmer-elected CWB directors, ended the single desk authority of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) on August 1, 2012, and compelled the government-appointed directors to privatize or liquidate the CWB’s assets by 2017. This spring the federal government gave the CWB to G3, a partnership of the multinational grain company, Bunge and the Saudi Arabian agriculture investment company SALIC, in return for a promise that the new owners would invest $250 million in the company. READ MORE …

2. Trade Agreements – CETA and the TPP

Canada has signed 12 international trade agreements, concludedc but not signed, two and entered negotiations for nine more. The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) are multilateral (involve several countries) and extensive, dealing with most areas of the economy. These agreements are all negotiated in secret, with the details made public only after they are finalized. CETA has not yet been ratified, and TPP is still under negotiation.

While called trade agreements, these pacts are designed to limit the authority of national governments over their own economies and expand the scope and power of multinational corporations. Agriculture is always contentious in these negotiations, as many countries believe it is essential to ensure that their farmers can produce the food to feed their own populations. Often food carries important cultural values as well. The NFU is a member of La Via Campesina (LVC), the international organization of small farmers. In the early 1990s, LVC stood opposed to World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations around agriculture, called for the exemption of agriculture and food from talks, and proposed instead its new concept “Food Soveriegnty” as the proper guiding principle. Today, Food Sovereignty has been embraced around the world, including by the NFU. READ MORE …

3. Supply Management

Canada’s supply management system is an important institution that puts food sovereignty into action. Supply management ensures that Canadian consumers can get the chicken, turkey, eggs, milk and dairy products they require and that these are produced in Canada, avoiding shortages and waste due to excess production; that the farmers producing these commodities receive a fair price that covers their cost of production when they sell to dairy processors; and that Canada’s market is not destabilized by unregulated imports. Supply management is an institution that has made it possible for many small, diversified mixed family farms to remain viable during the continuing farm income crisis in Canada, without the need for government subsidy payments. It also provides predictable supplies of high-quality product to Canada’s food processing and retail sectors, which provides operational efficiency and reduces capital costs.

Today supply management, particularly for dairy, is faced with challenges from within and outside of Canada. Countries that produce surplus milk are pressuring Canada to allow them to sell into our market in an attempt to compensate for their product’s unsustainably low prices by increasing the volume sold. Within Canada, other industries (such as oil and gas) are urging Canada to use supply management as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations to gain concessions for their industries. READ MORE …