GFO wonders if politicians are no longer concerned about global food shortages
Farmers Forum staff
GUELPH — The need for maximized food production appears to be missing as Canada’s politicians hammer out the details of a new five-year agriculture policy framework, a concern raised by the Grain Farmers of Ontario.
The latest impending funding framework deal between the provincial, federal and territorial ag ministers is dubbed the “Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership.” Controversially, it may incorporate some effort to reduce nitrogen fertilizer usage.
“The world has changed drastically since the last time that group met and this agreement does not reflect the new realities facing Canada, the world and farmers. We are concerned that there is no priority on helping to mitigate global food shortages,” GFO Chair Brendan Byrne said July 26.
“Ontario grain farming has always struck a delicate balance between providing the most food we can for the world and having minimal impact on the earth itself in order to ensure future generations will be able to produce food. That balance is missing in the communications we have seen around the federal-provincial-territorial meeting and the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership,” Byrne said.
He pointed out that ensuring the competitiveness of Canadian agriculture remains as important as ever amid global food shortages.
GFO is calling on the framework negotiators to:
- Ensure Farm productivity and competitiveness are part of every decision as the final agreement is struck
- Establish an approach to the fertilizer emission reduction targets that doesn’t result in reduction of yield and consequently lower food production and an increased cost of growing food in Canada
- Refund farmers for the impact of fertilizer tariffs and make sure farmers in Ontario have access to affordable fertilizer in the short-term, while making longer term investments to diversify fertilizer supply
- Conduct an impact assessment prior to adopting cross compliance with any of the Business Risk Management programming. Environmental objectives need to be funded separately to ensure that the primary objective to grow abundant and healthy food on farms is not short-changed
- Increase funding to the Ontario Risk Management Program so that grain farmers have the security they need to invest in their farms when the cost of production increases beyond the commodity price. This is essential as the changes announced to AgriStability do not provide any insurance for grain farmers
GFO is also emphasizing the environmental achievements of Ontario grain farmers to date. In the last 30 years, those growers have:
- Reduced their climate impact by 45 per cent (corn production)
- Reduced climate impact by 36 per cent (wheat production)
- Increased land use efficiency by 39 per cent (corn production)
- Increased land efficiency by 37 per cent (wheat production)
- Reduced energy use by 43 per cent (corn production)
- Reduced energy use by 37 per cent (wheat production)