The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has issued a press release outlining concerns that they would like to see reflected in federal party policy platforms.
One thing I would like to see the CFA emphasize more is a commitment to fostering effective, dynamic, and competitive markets throughout the agriculture value chain as a core principle around which all other policies are developed. To me, a healthy agricultural sector is one that enables a diversity of production techniques and business models to flourish.
While I tend to be a neutral party to the Canadian Wheat Board subject, I do have reservations regarding how Board members are currently selections and CFA’s proposed alternative. As a small livestock and forage producer, I value my marketing freedom to pick and chose how I want to sell my production. I have found that there are many ways to differentiate a product beyond price and technical attributes that a single marketing enterprise cannot handle effectively. While majority rules is a nice mantra, it does not fit within my world view of how effective product differentiation and niche marketing can work most effectively.
In terms of fostering effective, dynamic, and competitive markets, I would like to see more use of market signals, including effective price discovery systems, to guide investment and production decisions. This concern applies both to business risk management systems and ecological goods and services. I believe that these elements of farm policy should be formulated within an over arching principle that a health ag sector and value chain will feature a vibrant diversity of production methods, operating techniques, and business models. The market should chose the winners and losers, not government programs and policies.
Overall, I am not certain I want federal parties to make agriculture a policy priority in the campaign. Like Ronald Regan, the words “I am from government and I am here to help” sends a chill down my spine.