I am from a farm family in Eastern Ontario and now operate an organic farm service and supply business. Since I do not farm currently, I opted for an associate membership in the NFU a few years ago. In the Ontario election of October 2003, I was a Green Party candidate with an agriculture platform. I am running again in the upcoming federal election. The Green Party of Canada named me to the position of Agriculture Advocate. I work actively to bring sustainable agriculture issues to public forums in the electoral process.
I read with interest the resolutions passed at the NFUâ€™s 34th annual convention in November 2003. The obvious purpose of the NFUâ€™s resolutions is to present policies and action plans to political parties for the betterment of agriculture and farmers. The purpose of this letter is to state the Green Partyâ€™s position relative to those resolutions.
- Not allow the commercialization of genetically modified wheat.
- Work to progressively remove other genetically modified crops and animals from Canadian agriculture, with allowances for species of pharmaceutical value.
- Re-instate the role of the Bank of Canada in financing public works and holding a significant portion of the national debt for the benefit of Canadians.
- Conduct thorough and open research into the true causes and transmission of BSE including potential environmental and agro-chemical causes.
- Impose a moratorium on the feeding of animal by-products to other animals destined for consumption, pending the results of the BSE research.
- Investigate and correct improper pricing practices that have created a large gap between the farm-gate and the retail price of beef.
- Impose a moratorium on beef imports in order to absorb the Canadian production of beef that otherwise found foreign markets.
- Design and implement, in collaboration with the farm associations, a Canadian supply management system to match domestic production, consumption, imports and exports, with fair and profitable beef prices.
- Implement urgent strategies to avoid an imminent oversupply of beef caused by the current retention of cull cows, such as a cull cow slaughter program and a young animal marketing program.
- Implement a support program for other farmers with ruminant species affected by the BSE crises.
- Change those fiscal practices and structures that currently facilitate corporate concentration in all sectors of the Canadian economy.
- Implement full cost accounting to favour local economies. Corporate concentration relies on economies of scale by externalizing costs such as transportation infrastructure, pollution, and waste disposal. Full cost accounting will internalize those costs with levies and consumption taxes and create a level playing field between businesses of all sizes.
- Implement training, incentives, and appropriate regulations that support local economies and small businesses such as small abattoirs, family farms, local food processors.
- Recognize and prioritize the crises in the rising age of farmers and the imminent retirement of a large number of farmers.
- Create a long term program to recruit and support new farmers including a registry of soon-to-retire farmers and apprenticeship programs.
- Implement a registered family farm transfer fund to facilitate inter-generational farm transfers.
- Improve the national quota and supply management systems to reduce or even remove the monetary value of quota, facilitate the entry of young and new farmers, promote farm diversification and support the small farm.
- Make allowances in the quota system for seasonal poultry production, rare breeds, organic and pasture production, and birds over 5 lbs.
- Retain portions of dairy quota sales for a provincial pool in order to support beginning dairy farmers of modest size.
- Foster direct marketing and supply management systems across most commodities to improve the farmersâ€™ bargaining power and provide family farms with a fair share of the consumer food dollar.
- Establish a sustainable farm action plan that will implement the precautionary principal and support organic and environmentally-friendly production methods.
- Re-align Canadaâ€™s agricultural research, education and policies in support of public resources versus corporate benefits, including maintaining public grain varieties, improving plant breeding Canadaâ€™s agronomic characteristics, and controlling seed costs for farmers.
- Ensure that the rights, working conditions and compensation of migrant workers are equivalent to those of Canadian residents.
Agriculture Advocate - The Green Party of Canada
PO Box 39, Berwick Ont K0C 1G0
work: 613-984-0480 / home: 613-984-0489