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We have faced big challenges in 2001

Dear Editor,
The year 2001 is drawing to a close and I can say with certainty it is a year that will stick in the memory of Canadian agricultural producers. Over the past 12 months our sector has faced big challenges, taken important first steps and laid strong foundations.
2001 was a year of hardships. The drought hit producers from coast to coast, and we will continue to feel its aftershocks for a long time to come. The grains and oilseeds sector endured, and continues to endure, an income crisis caused by rising input costs and high foreign subsidies.
2001 was a year of challenges. Legislation, such as Bill C-5 (the Species at Risk Act) and Bill C-15b (concerning cruelty to animals), has forced our industry to fight harder than ever in the federal arena to protect the interests of Canadian producers.
2001 was a year of successes. The combined efforts of our industry convinced MPs to reject Bill C-287 the private members‚ bill on mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods which would have had a serious negative impact on our sector. Canadian negotiators in Doha helped launch a new round of trade talks. The language of the agreement leaves our negotiators room to aggressively open new export markets, while protecting our vital domestic policy tools. Just this month, the Appellate Body of the WTO handed our dairy producers a victory, overturning the U.S.-New Zealand challenge to our supply management system. The federal budget made a firm commitment to financially support a long-term approach to agriculture.
And finally, 2001 was a year of vision, of important first steps. The CFA developed A Roadmap for Agriculture our vision for moving Canadian agriculture beyond crisis management to a long-term approach. This summer industry met with federal and provincial governments at the CFA tripartite roundtable in Winnipeg to discuss long-term planning, and the federal and provincial agriculture ministers agreed in Whitehorse to develop an action plan for agriculture policy.
There is indeed much to see if we look back. But as we stand at the edge of a new year, back is not the direction this industry is looking. We look now to the future. We look forward to the challenges and innovations to come. We look forward to working with governments to achieve both our short- and long-term goals. We look forward to bringing Canadians good news about our agri-food sector. Canadian agriculture can take great pride in the contributions it has made to this country, in the accomplishments that our industry has achieved in the past. But we can take more pride in the greater contributions and achievements that lie ahead of us.
On behalf of myself, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and the 200,000 farmers and farmer families the CFA represents, I wish you a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year. Look to the road before you, for it is full of promise.
Bob Friesen,
President Canadian Federation of Agriculture