Mr. Chairman, members and guests, my name is Candace Roberts. I'm a chartered professional accountant at Catalyst in Calgary. I work with many primary agricultural producers.
In addition, I'm a fourth generation farmer in east-central Alberta. I am also in the 2019-20 AdvancingAg Future Leaders program with Alberta Wheat and Alberta Barley.
Farmers face many challenges, many of which are beyond their control at the farm level, including weather, trade, getting products to market—particularly the last number of months with the rail strike and then blockades—and global commodity prices, which are affected by supply and demand. In addition, consumer perception is impacting our farmers.
Other factors that can be controlled and are impacting farmers are transitioning to the next generation, managing debt, rising input costs and land values, and the mental health of our farmers, among other challenges.
It's important that we have business risk management tools in place to support our farmers who feed our nation. Farmers need increased levels of support. These programs need to be able to provide benefit or future benefit to operations, or a perception of benefit. The programs need to be improved so that they are bankable and predictable. Calculation needs to be transparent and easily understood by our producers.
Supports must be timely. We need to reduce the lag time between the disaster and the financial support. We need to be responsive to producers' needs and reduce the administrative burden of our producers. Is there a better, simpler way of administering the programs and supporting our farmers?
The business risk management programs should consider the various farm types and take into consideration grain and livestock, or a variation, etc. The stage of a farmer's farming career should also be looked at when considering these business risk management programs.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.