The Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) reacted positively to several measures announced in the 2022 federal budget, which was tabled on April 7.
“Public investment in agriculture must be consistent with its scope and strategic importance in the Canadian economy. In this regard, the 2022 budget includes several interesting measures that will be welcomed by Quebec and Canadian farmers,” said Martin Caron, general president of the UPA, in a press release.
During the pre-budget consultations, the UPA insisted on a number of urgent needs, including an increase in the overall budget for the agricultural sector, the improvement and adaptation of all business risk management programs, and major investments in agri-environment programs. Additional support for agricultural research, organic farming, and taxation was also identified as a pressing need.
The budget meets some of these demands, especially regarding the environment. It includes significant investments in the Clean Technology in Agriculture program as the Farm Climate Action Fund of the Farm Climate Solutions program. The government will work with the provinces to create a program to support carbon sequestration and adaptation, which will also address other environmental co-benefits for farming. As well, it will fund secondary research in the development of technologies and crop varieties that will enable carbon-neutral agriculture.
Investments were also announced that will make it easier for producers to employ temporary foreign workers (TFWs). The government plans to implement a trusted employer model over the next three years that reduces red tape for those who rehire TFWs, and who meet the highest standards for working conditions, protections, and compensation in high-demand fields. Funds were announced for the implementation of a new foreign labour program for agriculture and fish processing, tailored to the specific needs of these employers and workers. The government will also work to increase the processing capacity of employer applications.
Regarding taxation, a consultation process was announced on facilitating intergenerational transfers of business, most notably in the agricultural sector.
The UPA and the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) also reacted positively to the establishment of a timetable for announcing full and fair compensation to supply-managed producers, to mitigate the impacts of concessions made in signing the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement. The DFC was critical of the lack of details of the compensation, however, insisting that “Dairy farming requires predictability, namely for investing in innovation initiatives and sustainability.”