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As you read this, Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) staff are back on Parliament Hill, in person, talking to politicians about the issues that matter most to our farmer members. We have been through a harvest, an election and the possible appointment of a new agriculture minister, so there will be no rest as we head into an important winter for our sector and our country.

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As Canada’s two national rail companies—Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and Canadian National Railway (CN)—competed to purchase American rail line Kansas City Southern (KCS), Canada’s agriculture sector stood to benefit from the deal.

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The Canadian government has made a substantial commitment to the achievement of its 2030 carbon emission reductions target. In a July submission to the United Nations, the country formally committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by between 40 and 50 per cent below 2005 levels. This will support the creation of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050. Part of a global push, it is a goal shared by more than 120 countries. In June, it became the nation’s first emissions reduction target to be enshrined in law within the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act.

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Farmers across Canada are encouraged to hit the books and go back to school this off-season with MNP and Farm Management Canada. The two organizations have teamed up to help farmers increase their financial literacy by offering free online courses designed to explain important concepts specific to agriculture.

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At first glance, the farmer’s role in helping Canada reach its ambitious goal of net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 appears simple: lower emissions and adopt technology and alternative management practices that boost soil carbon sequestration. Many believe addressing the carbon equation offers economic advantages, too. Farmers who cut back on inputs subject to the carbon tax save money, and those who adopt so-called regenerative practices may participate in the growing carbon economy by collecting and selling carbon credits. While this sounds straightforward, it is anything but.

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The announcement this June of the launch of free trade negotiations between Canada and Indonesia has put a spotlight on the Asian market. For Canadian wheat farmers and exporters, the prospect of greater trade with Indonesia is worth close attention.

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There are two variables that dictate prices and are out of farmers’ control. First, governments everywhere have long meddled with agriculture and trade policy. The net impact has been to create enormous externalities—barriers that inhibit the laws of supply and demand from dictating prices. Canada, a large net exporter, has often struggled for market access and suffered diminished competitiveness against subsidized farmers. Countries such as China, India and the U.S. as well as the EU continue to restrict market access and some also offer farmer supports that distort the market. There is no indication this will fade.

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These have been difficult times for the global brewing industry. While estimates vary, as the smoke clears, it appears world beer production was down between eight and 10 per cent in 2020, less than some early dire predictions of up to 14 per cent. Certain regions were particularly hard hit, such as Africa, Asia and Europe with output drops of 10 to 15 per cent. North and South America fared better with production down by two to five per cent. In China, the world’s largest brewer, production is estimated to have fallen by eight to 10 per cent, or 30 to 35 million hectolitres. To put this in perspective, Canada’s annual beer production is around 20 million hectolitres. In Japan, beer sales reportedly dropped nine per cent, while in Vietnam, which has a large population and strong beer culture, output is estimated to have fallen by a substantial 14 per cent.

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