All Canadians feel the impact of rising costs at the grocery store and gas pump, but rising input costs and operational expenses are exacting a heavy toll on farmers and even driving younger farmers out of the sector. This is why Bill C-234 is crucial. The Bill is now before the Senate with second reading complete. If passed, it will extend the existing farm fuel exemption to the federal carbon tax to include natural gas and propane.
Insect pests such as grasshoppers and flea beetles pose a significant perennial threat to western Canadian farmers. Once again, this year, they threatened to wreak havoc on Prairie grains, oilseeds and pulse crops. And one of the most effective pest management tools, lambda-cyhalothrin (branded as Matador and Silencer) was not much help, as it has become the latest victim of a federal bureaucracy that is in many ways out of touch with agriculture.
Have you heard the story of the poor old farmer who lost his horse? All his neighbours came to him and said, “Well, that’s too bad.” The farmer said, “We’ll see.” The next day, the horse returned, bringing another horse with him. The neighbours proclaimed, “What good fortune!” to which the farmer replied, “We’ll see.” The next day, while taming the horse, the farmer’s son fell and broke his back. Again, the neighbours came to the farmer and said, “Well, that’s too bad,” and again, the farmer replied, “We’ll see.” Shortly thereafter, a conscription officer came to collect all the able-bodied young men in the area but rejected the farmer’s son due to his injury. Again, the neighbours came to the farmer and said, “What good fortune!” and again, the farmer said, “We’ll see.”
In a recent interview, Simon Sinek, author of The Infinite Game, discussed trust and how it can be a powerful tool when working as a team toward a shared goal. What stood out about his message when I considered my work as the leader of a farmer advocacy association is that it takes empathy and perspective to build trust. You cannot expect someone to trust you if you don’t understand their point of view.
Unfortunately, the conversation on climate change policy in Canada is being led by groups that represent a small minority of farmers. While not ideal, this is a natural consequence of the fact the federal government is more ideologically aligned with groups supportive of its 2050 net-zero CO2 emissions agenda. Secondly, and more importantly, these groups, such as Farmers for Climate Solutions, have provided the political cover necessary by providing detailed, data-driven solutions for the government to embrace. The problem being, this data is not representative of the majority of Canadian grain farmers.
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.
Undoubtedly, one of the most prominent success stories is the advancements of plant breeding innovation within our very own, world-leading research sector. It is truly an amazing time to observe plant breeders safely and relatively quickly create new crop varieties that meet the health, safety and functional needs of end-users but are also adapted to specific geographical environments.