13, 2004: Here's a list of resolutions to remember
in this New Year:
- Include the sustainability principle in the Canadian
vision for agriculture;
- Increase investment in agricultural programs with environmental
- Increase incentives for the research, construction and
expansion of the bio-fuels sector;
- Establish a national network of development agencies
to ensure rural economic growth;
- Recognize the unique needs of different rural communities
for infrastructure spending purposes;
- Eliminate impediments to farmer-owned enterprises in
- Assist farmers to identify and develop production, processing
and market opportunities for specialty, niche and ethnic
foods at home and abroad;
- Recognize in federal programs the role of small and medium-sized
farms in providing agricultural products, environmental
and aesthetic benefits and vitality to rural communities;
- Support the intergenerational transfer of farms by changing
tax laws that make transfers difficult; and
- Undertake to do systematic five-year reviews of agricultural
policies, programs and funding to keep abreast of rapidly
This is a great list for making Canadian agriculture stronger,
more vital, interesting and future oriented. Imagine the language
of sustainability in all federal programs and policies. More
investment in agricultural programs that result in environmental
benefits would be guaranteed to follow.
Imagine a network of agencies dedicated to rural development.
Imagine the result: many economic opportunities that complement,
rather than depend on, agricultural development. Rural infrastructure
development could throw off its parroting as "urban knock-off"
and refocus on the uniqueness of our countryside.
Imagine the new jobs and economic spin-off from an import
replacement program for the billions now spent by Canadian's
on food imports. Imagine a rewrite of federal programs - programs
that work for small and medium-sized family farms - the farms
that deliver the multi-benefits of quality food, viable rural
communities, aesthetic benefits and environmental enhancements.
Farm safety nets would be linked to real and valuable services
delivered for society - not linked to averages of free-falling
farm gate prices at the mercy of subsidized international
production and a rising Canadian dollar.
This is a great list of resolutions. It champions sustainability,
builds on the synergies between agriculture and the countryside
and honours the contribution of the family farm. But, wait!
I've borrowed this list! These recommendations for Canadian
agriculture appear in a document written in October 2002,
"Securing Agriculture's Future: Invest Today -- Prosper
Tomorrow." The writers were a dozen Liberal members of
Parliament structured as the Prime Minister's Caucus Task
Force on Future Opportunities in Farming. The Task Force's
chair was none other than Bob Speller, now our federal Minister
of Agriculture. In 2004, let's help Bob Speller remember his
resolutions for agriculture.
"Securing Agriculture's Future: Invest Today Prosper
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