Evidence of meeting #18 for Agriculture and Agri-Food in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was producers.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Léopold Bourgeois  President, New Brunswick Agricultural Insurance Commission, Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick
Andre Harpe  Director, Grain Growers of Canada
Erin Gowriluk  Executive Director, Grain Growers of Canada
Peter Slade  Assistant Professor and Canadian Canola Growers Chair in Agricultural Policy, University of Saskatchewan, As an Individual

5:55 p.m.

Director, Grain Growers of Canada

Andre Harpe

I think I indicated in my opening remarks that our family has owned this farm for close to 100 years.

First of all, producers are stewards of the land. We make our living off of this land, so we are already protecting it to the best ability we can. If we wreck the land, we can no longer make money off of it or live off of it.

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

So my understanding is that your industry could find that option worthwhile. It would like to have more upstream support.

5:55 p.m.

Director, Grain Growers of Canada

Andre Harpe

Yes, very possibly, but what I'm saying is that it goes back to being stewards of the land. We're trying to be as environmentally friendly as we can. We've been incorporating changes throughout the years. In the time that I've been farming, we have gone from working the land several times a year to basically not working it anymore.

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Rest assured, Mr. Harpe, all committee members are aware of that. I was just giving an example of the type of support that could be provided upstream.

I will take the time I have left to put a question to Mr. Slade. It's unfortunate, as I would have liked to hear you speak for much longer. I really liked your idea of insured income.

I would start by putting the same question to you that I have put to the other guests: among your potential solutions, have you considered more upstream support?

5:55 p.m.

Assistant Professor and Canadian Canola Growers Chair in Agricultural Policy, University of Saskatchewan, As an Individual

Peter Slade

A lot of what we're hearing from farmers on those types of solutions is that they want to be paid for things they are already doing. As Mr. Harpe said, over the past decade, farmers have been capturing a lot of carbon in soil. Their farming practices are trying to preserve the land. Certainly what we're hearing from farmers is that since they're doing all this good stuff, we should be paying them for that because they are capturing a lot of carbon.

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. Slade. Unfortunately, we're out of time.

Thank you, Mr. Perron.

Go ahead, Mr. MacGregor, for six minutes. Are you here?

6 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

He locked himself out.

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

He was here a little while ago.

Go ahead, Mr. Barlow.

6 p.m.

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

We'd be happy to take his time if he doesn't want it.

June 17th, 2020 / 6 p.m.

Liberal

Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

I was going to suggest the same thing, Mr. Chair. Let's just keep moving on, perhaps, with the next round.

6 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

The speaking time should be shared by all the parties in attendance, which would have two minutes each.

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Why don't we each ask a question. We might as well make use of this time.

Go ahead, Mr. Barlow, ask a short question with a short answer. We'll go around.

6 p.m.

Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Foothills, AB

I'll let Mr. Lehoux go.

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Mr. Lehoux.

6 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Lehoux Conservative Beauce, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. My question is for Mr. Bourgeois.

My colleagues have brought this issue up a few times, but you hesitated when it came to certain aspects of AgriInvestment. It was said that the program should perhaps be revised to simplify it, and that it may be preferable for there to be only one program.

Do you feel that the overhaul could be the best targeted within AgriInvestment and that many programs could be simplified significantly which are currently very complicated?

6 p.m.

President, New Brunswick Agricultural Insurance Commission, Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick

Léopold Bourgeois

I think so. That is sort of what we have said in answering other questions. I have always thought that this was the simplest and the most profitable program. Of course, the percentage would have to be higher than 1%. That would help us gather funding pretty quickly to protect ourselves.

6 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Lehoux Conservative Beauce, QC

Have you already thought about what the percentage should be? Would it be a matter of 3%, 4% or 8%? Have you already thought about that?

6 p.m.

President, New Brunswick Agricultural Insurance Commission, Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick

Léopold Bourgeois

Anything would be good, but 3% or 4% would be practically the required minimum to gather funding quickly enough to protect ourselves.

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. Lehoux and Mr. Bourgeois.

Mr. Blois, did you want to ask a question?

6 p.m.

Liberal

Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have a long list of questions in front of me. I'm not going to get to all of them. Perhaps I could quickly ask them and they could either get addressed, or maybe I could follow up with each of the witnesses.

To the Grain Growers of Canada, thank you so much for your presentation. Ms. Gowriluk, I really liked your example. It was very helpful. In Nova Scotia, I've spoken to many of our producers. Our Olympic averages are down in the five-year threshold. I assume that's the same for you. Maybe that's a question you could answer at some point. I would also be interested in hearing your perspective on revenues versus decline as what was suggested by Mr. Slade.

Mr. Bourgeois, you mentioned enrolment and BRM. It seems like it had been at 48% and then 24%. Can you speak to that program, beyond that one commodity group?

Lastly, Mr. Slade, you mentioned $300 million of an annual increase to get us back up to 85% reference margin. Is that going to be higher as a result of this year, because of all the uncertainty as a result of COVID?

Back to your point, it may be more complex with AgriStability. Are we better off to go with enhanced crop insurance and actually enhance the amount of crops that are covered, and then double down on AgriInvest as a simpler way to support farmers?

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

We do not have a lot of time, so could you try to answer that in 30 seconds?

Go ahead, Mr. Bourgeois.

6:05 p.m.

President, New Brunswick Agricultural Insurance Commission, Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick

Léopold Bourgeois

I'll let Mr. Slade because there's more.... I think my statistics were misunderstood a bit, but they are in the same direction. I'm good.

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Mr. Slade.

6:05 p.m.

Assistant Professor and Canadian Canola Growers Chair in Agricultural Policy, University of Saskatchewan, As an Individual

Peter Slade

I was trying to tackle whether we would want to boost crop insurance as opposed to do anything with AgriStability. As a farmer, I would be a little wary if there was no program protecting me against price risk at all.

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Could Mr. Slade get closer to the microphone? The interpretation is not working.