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If you ate today, thank a farmer. Or as someone from Nova Scotia might say, thank those who get seafood to your table.
Over much of our history, Canada has been a global leader in the agri-business in the same way we have led in forestry, mining and energy. But over the past five years the Canadian agri-business has flatlined. Justin Trudeau’s government has failed to support the sector by neglecting market opportunities, failing to act when transportation infrastructure has been shuttered, and by leaving impediments to growth in place.
I will proudly champion Canadian agriculture products at home and around the world. I will stand up for our quality food products that help to deliver pay cheques to over 300,000 workers across the country.
We can begin by removing the obstacles that have hampered the agri-food industry such as grain backlogs, rail strikes, illegal blockades, punitive tax policies, export limitations and regulations that are based on politics rather than science.
Farmers and ranchers are instinctive conservationists. They should not be punished with a crippling carbon tax. Indeed, farmers deserve credit for how they have reduced carbon emissions and fuel consumption through modern practices. The industry is not just net-zero carbon emissions industry but is a net minus 30 million tonnes per year because of carbon sequestration effects of farming and the carbon sink of our grasslands. We can go further, which is why I propose new investments in technology to help agri-businesses maximize the potential of agricultural land to sequester carbon. I also recognize the need to modernize our invasive species strategy to protect farmland and aquatic health.
Over the past five years, the growth of Canada’s world-class agricultural products in export markets has stagnated. According to Statistics Canada net farm income dropped by 45 per cent in 2018, the largest reduction in 12 years. Rail strikes, illegal blockades and inaction on critical infrastructure has eroded the trust of trading partners who do not see Canada as a reliable supplier. I will end the blockades and lead Team Canada trade missions to regain lost export markets. I will also work to ensure that the USMCA does not prohibit trade growth for Canadian dairy products.
To protect our supply chain, we need to streamline regulations and put an efficient and reliable transportation infrastructure in place. Ensuring a secure food supply also means protecting Canada’s supply management system including dairy, eggs, chicken and turkey. I will also support growth in value-added processing capacity within Canada.
Coming from a rural community, I know that the family farm is an integral part of community life and local prosperity. To support the next generation of farmers a Conservative government I lead will lower the tax burden and provide supports to assist with the high cost of entry into agriculture. This includes increasing the Capital Gains Exemption on the transfer of farms between generations and raising the capital thresholds to farmers to give better access to the small business deduction. I will also enhance the young farmer program offered by Farm Credit Canada program with more low-interest loans to encourage the inter-generational transfers of family farms as well as assist new young entrants as agriculture produces.
Canadians have come to realize during the COVID crisis that securing our food supply chain is essential. And Canadians want to support fresh, local products just as the world needs our food that meets the highest international standards.
I stand with our farm families because when they are successful, Canada is successful.