By Todd Lewis, President
Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan
This harvest, as Saskatchewan producers are trying to get their crops in the bin, federal election candidates are knocking on doors and campaigning for our votes on Oct. 21.
Our members have prepared a list of proposals to support our industry for the federal political parties. If you have time to speak to your local federal election candidates, this is an excellent opportunity to raise these issues affecting Saskatchewan agriculture.
Reinvest in Agricultural Risk Management
A recent APAS estimate of AgriStability coverage for price-risk shows that a farm with average yields, prices and expenses over the past 5 years would not get coverage even if the price of canola fell to $7.16 per bushel. This is well below the cost of production.
APAS wants to see real commitments to fix AgriStability:
• Remove AgriStability coverage limits based on previous allowable expenses .
• Restore AgriStability coverage to 85% of a producer’s historical margin.
• Make AgriStability payments to farmers faster and more predictable.
Protecting producers from trade damage
Our businesses depend on access to global markets and trade wars have caused serious income problems for Saskatchewan farmers. Other governments are stepping in to protect their domestic farmers from trade injury. APAS wants to see commitments to create a new “Trade Damage Support Program:”
• Federally funded program to compensate farmers for lost export sales due to trade disputes.
• Support offered for the duration of trade disputes, or until Canada’s existing risk management programs are changed to provide coverage for trade-related income drops.
Improving rail infrastructure and performance
We depend on an efficient and reliable transportation network to move exports to global markets. The average time a grain ship waits in port has more than doubled from 4.3 days 20 years ago to 10 days. APAS wants a commitment from the federal parties to improve transportation for our exports:
• Investment into rail infrastructure programs to increase export capacity at a rate that meets production trends.
• Improve federal regulations for better enforcement of service agreements between railways, grain companies, and producers.
• Improve the transparency and oversight of overall rail network performance.
• Investment in shortline rail development.
Fighting climate change through recognition and resilience
A carbon tax only increases producers’ costs without addressing the problem. Saskatchewan’s cropland, forage and grasslands are part of the solution to climate change by storing millions of tonnes of carbon. APAS wants a commitment to a federal carbon offset program that:
• Provides meaningful recognition of current agricultural activities that offset carbon emissions.
• Financial support to maintain existing carbon sinks such as wetlands, trees and grasslands.
• Provides fair compensation to producers for voluntary sequestration or emission reductions.
APAS supports the development of a national fuel mandate to allow 10 percent ethanol content in gasoline and 5 percent biodiesel.
Improving rural quality of life
Rural Saskatchewan faces significant labour and infrastructure challenges. We need to ensure that rural areas have the necessary services and infrastructure to attract and retain people and investment. APAS calls for commitments to:
• Increase federal investment into rural internet and cellular coverage, with clear timelines
• Change the Income Tax Act to allow intergenerational transfers of farms and reduce the tax burden on retiring producers.
• Make it easier for beginning farmers to access federal capital programs like the Advance Payments Program and the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act.
I wish everyone clear skies and a safe and productive harvest season.