Delegates to the recent Wild Rose Agricultural Producers (WRA P) annual meeting in Edmonton took on the contentious farm workers’ rights issue, and voted to lobby the Alberta government to include agricultural workers under the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). The motion passed by one vote.
WRAP first vice-president Lynn Jacobson of Enchant said the concern is increasing about farmers’ liability if they do not have WCB coverage. “If it works like some say, it should be a good thing for workers and farmers,” said Jacobson.
“Also, with the next farm death, it could be legislated. I think agriculture is better off talking with WCB and helping to shape the plan for agriculture,” he said.
A related motion was withdrawn. It would have had WRAP work with the province to encourage farmers to take voluntary Occupational Health and Safety coverage either through the private or public sector, for themselves and their families and workers so coverage does not have to become legislated.
Lobbying the feds
Jacobson said WRAP will lobby Ottawa to shift its method of appointing its five directors to the board of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB). The other 10 directors are farmer-elected producers. JacobsonsaidWRA Pproposesa system which would require the federal government to submit a list of potential government directors to the board. From that list the producer directors could choose the government directors.
WRA Pwillalsoaskthefederal government to respond more quickly to CWB applications for increases to the initial prices. As sales progress and price prospects improve, the higher prices tend to be shared with participating producers during the crop year, ending with a final payment based on individual sales through that crop year. Too often, industry has complained that Ottawa has dragged its feet in getting the extra cash owed to farmers.
WRAP will also lobby the federal government to proceed with a full railway transportation costing review and schedule regular reviews to follow. It will also ask for penalties for railway non-performance that are not an eligible revenue cap expense when hauling Prairie grain to export market.
Open marketing would also change if WRAP wins acceptance of a standardized contract for open market grain purchase agreements, said Jacobson. It would also include deferred delivery contracts with grain companies, feedlots and grain processors in Alberta.
WRAP also wants more income protection for producers selling to companies licensed by the Canadian Grain Commission. It mostly wants the existing bonding programs for producer payment security maintained. If that can’t be done, it will seek insurance proposed and monitored by the commission for producer income security.
WRAP also supports the repeal of four bills that producers fear will erode landowner rights. The bills in the motion include 19, the Land Assembly Project Act, 36, the Land Stewardship Act, 50, the Electric Statutes Act, and 24, the Carbon Capture and Storage Statutes Act. Region 14 director Merv Craddock of Purple Springs asked that WRAP approach the province and demand repeal of the acts, or at the least rework them with the active participation of surface rights groups, farm organizations like WRAP and land owners.
Jacobson also won support for another Region 14 motion to lobby the province to allow micro-electric generators to sell electricity back into the power grid at the full commercial rate, and not to be limited by the single- site generation price cap.
In other motions, WRAP will ask the Western Grains Research Foundation to develop a wheat and barley breeding entity to enhance public plant breeding.