With the longest federal election campaign in Canadian history, you can’t say there hasn’t been time to discuss farm issues.
But other than a few photo ops on farms, agriculture rarely gets a mention on the hustings.
And, in a way, that’s OK with farm leaders in this province.
Alberta Farmer reporter Jennifer Blair spoke to officials from seven major commodity groups and while their priorities differ, there was a common theme: They’re looking for action, not words and promises.
Many of their action items reflect the fact that today’s farmers have a global outlook.
“At the end of the day, we only have 30 million people in this country, and we can only consume so much. We are an export country,” said Lee Markert, chair of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission.
“We have the land base and resources to provide for the rest of the world, and we really require these customers from around the world to make ourselves sustainable.”
Along with election stories, our latest issue of Alberta Farmer also has a quiz on some of the buyers of the record $9.7 billion of agri-food products exported by the province last year. And as the graphic at the top of this page shows, there is rich potential in upping that value through processing.
“It’s to the point where we do a lot of value added here in Canada and move different types of products from the same commodity to the rest of the world,” said Markert.
“When you make those programs available, it can create a lot of growth within Canada and provide a lot of basis for value chains here.”
Value added is just one issue: Rail transport, labour issues, trade deals, and not sacrificing supply management in trade deals were also top items.
The bottom line is that whether the current government is re-elected or a new one takes its place, farm leaders will have a full list of priorities they want addressed by the next administration.