A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS
BY MADELEINE BAERG • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is comprised of more than 450 regional chambers. The national organization and these local chapters advocate and provide networking opportunities for companies across the business spectrum, including those in agriculture and agri-food.
Last year, seeing the increasing need for collaborative leadership across the agriculture industry, Chamber members created its Food Supply Council. This cross-sector coalition of agribusinesses, associations and transportation companies strives to provide leadership that will advance Canadian agriculture and solve key industry challenges. Housed within the Chamber’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee, this group is currently co-chaired by Catherine King, vice-president of communications and stakeholder relations with Fertilizer Canada, and Nicole McAuley, head of communications and public affairs for BASF Canada.
“People increasingly understand farming isn’t [exclusively] about farmers; it’s about everybody,” said Liam MacDonald, a policy advisor who leads the Agri-Food Committee. “Whether we’re talking agriculture, natural resources, transportation or even security and defence, the three Fs—fuel, fertilizer and food—cut across all sectors. We can’t afford just to operate in our own little boxes; we need to come together as an economy at a local and federal level, otherwise we’re missing out on tremendous opportunity.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have underscored the critical importance of global supply chains to agricultural trade and food security. The two disasters highlight the need for Canada to help meet and, yes, benefit from, changing global needs for agricultural products.
“Given the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, it’s more critical than ever Canada steps up and provides the food and agricultural products the world needs,” said MacDonald. “Now is an opportunity to achieve what Canada has talked about for years, which is meeting economic export targets and domestic production targets. As we focus on issues like Ukraine, the conversation is about how Canada can take advantage of the opportunities afforded by current global realities. How can we be an economic leader and, on the sustainability side, how can we promote the environmental stewardship of the [agriculture] sector?”
Announced in late November, the federal Indo-Pacific Strategy announcement will see Canada invest billions of dollars in economic opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region to decrease trade reliance on China. It is an example of an outcome due, in part, to advocacy efforts carried out by the Chamber’s Food Supply Council, said MacDonald.
Additional Chamber efforts include promotion of the resolution of the COVID-19 Canada-U.S. border blockades in early 2022. It also advocated for a swift end to labour actions at the Port of Montreal in April 2021 and supported the early growth of the legal cannabis industry.
The Chamber is advocating to ensure Canadian farmers have the time they need to reach nitrogen emission targets, added MacDonald. “Farmers are expected to scale up production but also to reduce emissions. There have been a lot of issues with putting the two together. With a bit longer runway in terms of emissions targets, Canada can reach its objectives,” said MacDonald. “It’s incredible what can be achieved when people stand together.”