Letters to the editor – September 27, 2018

Funds will target tangible benefits

Re: Surplus Investment Framework

On Aug. 1, 2018, the Canadian Grain Commission announced the Surplus Investment Framework, which will invest $90 million in safeguards for producers, grain quality assurance, and grain quality science and innovation. These funds will be targeted on initiatives that will provide tangible benefits across the grain value chain, now and into the future.

Some in the grain sector have raised concerns that the decision to make these investments, rather than provide fee reductions through grain companies, implies the CGC believes the grain industry is not competitive. This is not the case.

While the CGC views strategic investments as the best approach for using the surplus, this is not based on a presumption that the grain industry does not compete for farmers’ grain. On the contrary, the CGC recognizes and appreciates the efforts made by Canada’s grain companies to build and maintain strong relationships with producers and to put in place competitive infrastructures across the country.

Our objective in designing the Surplus Investment Framework was to deliver clear benefits to the sector as a whole, including producers, through transparent and measurable initiatives.

Our work to develop these initiatives will be guided by the same objective, and done in close consultation with the grain sector. We look forward to hearing from our stakeholders to ensure initiatives meet their needs.

The CGC is committed to impartiality and fairness in carrying out our mandate. We are open to ideas and feedback from all members of the grain value chain, and we will work to ensure decisions are based on sound analysis and broad consultation.

Patti Miller
Chief Commissioner
Canadian Grain Commission

Livestock farmers not immune to trade wars

As politicians on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border shout to either protest or protect the future of supply management, Ontario’s livestock farmers not protected by quotas are sounding the alarm.

We are the ones already paying a heavy price for President Donald Trump’s global trade wars.

Lost in the media coverage and political decision-making surrounding NAFTA trade negotiations is the fact that Ontario’s pork, beef and veal farmers are in the midst of a growing crisis. While not a direct target, Ontario’s livestock farmers are collateral damage in Trump’s trade wars.

Trump’s trade wars threaten the livelihood of our livestock farmers, particularly:

• The disruption of U.S. beef and pork exports to China and Mexico caused by escalating tariffs;

• The enormous drop in North American livestock prices caused by that disruption; and,

• Trump’s decision to grant American farmers a massive US$12-billion aid package, which puts our farmers at a substantial disadvantage as they try to compete on both sides of the border.

Financial losses are adding up for local farmers. Over a six-week period, Ontario pork farmers alone have suffered weekly losses in the millions of dollars.

The numbers for Ontario’s beef farmers are equally staggering and Ontario’s veal farmers are not far behind.

Simple math tells you that Ontario’s livestock farmers will be hard-pressed to continue to supply locally grown food to Ontarians, when they are losing over $40 per hog and more than $300 per head of cattle sold.

Very soon Ontario livestock farmers will be forced to decide whether they are willing to hold out for an end to these political storms or if they will need to walk away from the family farm for good.

Sadly, even if a new NAFTA deal is signed today, the damage has already been done. Weeks of losses have created a fiscal hole so large that many of our farmers will not be able to get out of it without huge sacrifice.

Our challenges won’t end there. A NAFTA deal also does not solve the turmoil brought on by the U.S.-China trade dispute and the uneven playing field created when Trump handed our American competitors billions of dollars in aid.

We will be sharing these concerns directly with Premier Ford and Minister Hardeman. We will call on both the provincial and the federal governments to work with us on an urgent basis to help Ontario’s livestock farmers, who are trying to survive this growing crisis.

Eric Schwindt,
Chair, Ontario Pork

Joe Hill,
President, Beef Farmers of Ontario

Tom Kroesbergen,
Chair, Veal Farmers of Ontario

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