Most parties announce their campaign platforms

All three major parties support supply management but take different approaches to other issues. | WP illustration

Agriculture has had little to no exposure in the national campaign, but most parties do have plans for the sector.

The following summarizes the main agricultural planks in the Conservative, Liberal, Maverick, New Democrat and People’s Party platforms. The Green Party released its platform September 7, past the WP deadline for inclusion in the print version of this story.

Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservative agricultural platform is the most extensive, at least in terms of the document itself. Leader Erin O’Toole has retained the party’s support for and defence of supply-managed industries and promises that producers and the agriculture minister will be involved in any trade negotiations that would impact the dairy, poultry and egg sector.

The platform says that within a Conservative government’s first 100 days in office, supply-managed processors affected by trade agreements with the Pacific region and Europe would have a compensation package, as would farmers and processors affected by the new agreement with the United States and Mexico. The party also said it would work with the U.S. to remove limits on Canadian exports of powdered milk to third-party countries; these are currently limited by the trade agreement.

New markets for livestock, grain and oilseed producers, a grocery supply code to deal with retailer pricing, and ending unfair tax treatment of family farms are all on the list.

The platform promises to improve protection for producers and processors of perishable produce, standardize farm product regulations with trading partners and “ensure our farm safety net programs are predictable, bankable and manageable.” It calls for reform of AgriInvest and AgriRecovery and a summit on programs like AgriStability.

Other promises include tackling rural crime, amending laws to allow more local abattoir use, and implementing a food security strategy. A national strategy to deal with African swine fever, modernization of the Canada Grain Act and Canadian Grain Commission and implementation of an agri-food labour strategy are other planks. Right to repair would be extended.

On the subject of the environment, the Conservatives say they will “create a powerful incentive for agriculture and forestry sectors to protect the environment and sequester carbon by allowing for greater creation of land-based offset credits.”

They would introduce a renewable natural gas mandate requiring 15 percent renewable content in natural gas by 2030. Sources would include methane captured in organic sources such as farms.

The platform says a Conservative government would recognize and encourage emission-reducing practices such as low or no-till farming and 4R Nutrient Stewardship.

A national carbon offset market, incentives to preserve and enhance natural landscapes to help with climate mitigation and adaptation and further collaborative work on enhanced carbon sequestration round out the document.

Liberal Party of Canada

The party that established a national supply-managed system for dairy, eggs and poultry in the 1970s continues to support it.

The Justin Trudeau Liberal government that took office in 2015 is part-way through a compensation program for loss of market share due to trade agreements and the 2021 platform says a re-elected government would establish compensation for the new North American agreement within the first year.

“We stand fully behind our supply-managed sector, which supports our family farms and the vitality of our rural areas,” the platform says. “We are committed to full and fair compensation with respect to the new NAFTA.”

The Liberals have, since taking office in 2015, begun work on modernizing the Grain Act and the Canadian Grain Commission, establishing a national carbon offset program and developing a national food policy.

This campaign includes a pledge to reduce food waste through a No-Waste Food Fund.

“The fund will help all players along the food supply chain to commercialize and adopt ways to eliminate, reduce, or repurpose food waste. We will continue to partner with, and support, community-based food security organizations to make sure all Canadians have access to healthy food.”

The Liberals say they will triple funding for clean tech on farms, including for renewable energy, precision agriculture and energy efficiency.

And a Liberal government said it would work with all stakeholders “to update business risk management agriculture programs to fully integrate climate risk management, environmental practices and climate readiness.”

Farmers would get more support to develop and adopt practices to reduce emissions, sequester carbon and become more resilient. “Cover cropping, rotational grazing and nitrogen management are all part of a green farming plan for Canada.”

Maverick Party

The Maverick Party, formerly Wexit Canada, is running candidates from Manitoba west and is led by former MP Jay Hill. Hill was elected in 1993 as a Reform party member, then Canadian Alliance and finally Conservative. He retired in 2010 and became interim Maverick leader last fall.

The party platform is based largely on gaining more provincial autonomy but it also advocates for more research and development of cleaner fuels. It would abolish the carbon tax and says it doesn’t support “further economic impositions on Canadian citizens in a futile attempt to achieve the unrealistic expectations and goals agreed to by the Liberals under the Paris Climate Accord.”

The party supports removing interprovincial trade barriers, twinning railway lines from Manitoba to British Columbia for easier movement of goods, and twinning major highways through Western Canada.

New Democratic Party

“It’s time for a government that’s actually working on the side of Canadian farmers, producers and farm families,” says the NDP platform.

Similar to the Liberals and Conservatives, the NDP supports supply management and reciprocity in all trade negotiations.

The party, led by Jagmeet Singh, says it has a plan for a Canadian Food Strategy and it would address regional needs and priorities. Young and new farmers are a priority, as is assuring sustainable rural livelihoods.

The NDP included high-speed broadband and cellphone infrastructure in its agricultural platform, saying that farmers and rural communities must be connected to have successful businesses.

The party also promises payment protection for produce growers under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.

People’s Party of Canada

The party led by former Conservative cabinet minister Maxime Bernier would abolish supply management and the carbon tax.

Bernier has long advocated the end of supply management.

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