The Resiliency of Canadian Ag Production

It has been three long years since I last attended an indoor farm show. Yesterday, I travelled to Brandon, Manitoba for the opening day of 2023 Manitoba Ag Days.

This is the first year of admittance fees. Overall, the concept was running smoothly, and the lineup and wait times were not too cumbersome. A few lessons and a takeaway for next year’s show: proactively encourage pre-buying tickets. Find a means to seamlessly purchase tickets at the complex entrances instead of walking across the parking lot to a separate complex and then walking across the parking lot a second time. Luckily, it was a sunny and balmy winter day.

I look forward to farm shows for one reason. The positivity of farm families interacting with manufacturers and service providers. As in the past, I was not disappointed. Canadian agriculture production is in good hands despite what political pundits or special interest groups domestic and abroad may advocate.

There was much discussion on pending Canadian agriculture policy relating to Clean Fuel Standard and Carbon Taxes, Modernization of the Pest Management Review Agency (PMRA), and the Synthetic Fertilizer Emissions Reduction mandate. All have positive and negative arguments. Many farmers I spoke to felt left out of Canadian Ag Policy review, updates, and strategic mandates. Frustrated with the lack of transparency regarding who is leading, how we got here, and what change is required. Once again, when did the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada become the lead of PMRA, CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency), and AAFC (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)?

One Manitoba AgDays presenter providing geopolitical perspectives of global food production asked why Canada is not listening to market signals of potential energy, critical rare earth, and essential minerals, steel, and grain (wheat) shortages in the next 24 months. Now is not a good time to advocate fertilizer reductions with the potential to reduce production.

He also conveyed how non-war geo-political developments impact global trade, production capacity, and capital markets through an aging and retiring global workforce. The trend is to return manufacturing of intermediary and whole goods to high-consuming countries. A hard evaluation of the security, stability, human rights record, and reliability of offshore providers continues. Offshore globalization of production and manufacturing is evolving and countries providing the capital investment and proprietary rights of technologies, designs and patents are the new location.

Healthy, low environmental impact, and sustainable agricultural production, we can all agree, is the end goal. How we achieve it separates each stakeholder and position. Canadian agriculture since its inception has evolved and continues daily. Science-based investments, models, testing, and confirming drives agriculture today and tomorrow. Public opinion induced by special interest groups is not science. Attempts to return to the agriculture production management practices of 200, 100, or 50 years ago are not a thoroughfare solution to address domestic or international environmental stainability goals. It all reminds me of medievalism vs modernism. Where do you want to be as a society or an agriculture-exporting nation five years from now?

The quality of life on family farms has significantly improved. This is demonstrated by the return of sons, daughters, and grandchildren to careers within farm businesses.

The 2023 CAAR Conference – Challenges and Opportunities Ahead – covers many of the issues identified in detail. Canadian Agriculture is well-positioned to meet dynamic global demands. We will see crop production plan shifts and the ubiquitous adoption of new technologies. What is critical is the alignment of short- and long-term domestic agriculture policy with global opportunities. It is extremely difficult to impose policies or mandates on the agriculture industry. Each must work in sync for the betterment of Canadian consumers and the quality of exports. Without a common understanding and objective, the status quo is the end result.

The 2023 CAAR conference is open to all CAAR members and non-members. Ag retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, logistics, construction, personal protection, crop inputs, consultants, and regulators. I look forward to seeing you in Edmonton and sharing insights into how we continually improve this critical industry.

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