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The government needs to listen to farmers

Dear Editor,
We stand at the beginning of another new year. As every farmer knows, next year is always a good time. It is a time of perfect weather and bumper crops, high commodity prices and good markets. The future is a place of hope.
At the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), we are already working hard to help Canadian producers realize their hope. There are many challenges in front of us in 2003.
Last year Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) began development of its long-term Agriculture Policy Framework (APF). CFA supported the project, as we have long called for just such a long-term approach. However, although there has been definite progress, we are concerned the government is not adequately heeding producers‚ wishes. Beginning now CFA is making a lot of noise, and we are not going to stop until the government listens.
Of real concern is the future of our safety nets programs. The government has imposed a deadline of March 31 for the creation of new „business risk management‰ programs. The clock is ticking. CFA is concerned that, to date, industry suggestions have not been included in the structure of government program proposals. These programs must be designed to meet the real needs of producers. CFA will remain engaged with the government in the process this year to ensure that goal is achieved.
The CFA will continue to build on last year‚s work in the international trade arena. In 2002 CFA was active with numerous trade organizations and negotiations. We supported Minister Vanclief when he stood firm on supporting domestic orderly marketing systems in the Cairns group Ministers‚ discussions. We refused to sign on to the Cairns farm leaders‚ statement which proposed measures that would have forced Canada to eliminate fundamental programs such as crop insurance, the National Income Stabilization Account (NISA) as well as orderly marketing structures. CFA participated in WTO negotiations in Doha, Qatar. In Geneva CFA met with farm leaders representing a broad range of national farm organizations to help generate support for Canada‚s trade objectives.
This year CFA, with partners from across the agri-food industry, will move forward with Growing Canada. This project aims to raise awareness of Canadian agriculture with the general public, to promote good news stories about the industry.
These are no small objectives, but we have confidence. CFA is a farmers‚ organization and so we share farmers‚ optimism about every new year. This will be a year of good agriculture policy and international trade successes. Together we will make it happen. Together we will turn the bright future into a bright today.
Bob Friesen, President
Canadian Federation of Agriculture
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