Mr. Chair, there are simple things that can be done, including speeding up the processing of visa applications for foreign workers, automatically renewing the permits of workers who are already here and giving them an open permit so that they can work anywhere, and introduce a financial incentive to encourage workers to work on farms. That's what we've been talking about today in our proposal; we talked about it in the press briefing this morning.
There isn't just a sense of urgency in the fields and on our land, but also of distress. People need reassurance. We seem to forget that agricultural entrepreneurs—that's how I describe them—are the ones who are assessing the risks as we speak. If they let their vegetables rot in the field, they have no guarantee that someone will support them. If they have to let their vegetables rot in the field because they don't have the labour to harvest them, they have no guarantee that someone will support them.
We need a formal commitment. I'm not the only one saying there's an agricultural emergency: everyone says so. Dr. Charlebois of Dalhousie University says that we're losing 5% to 7% of our farms every year. Imagine the loss in the time of COVID-19. We're going to wake up in the fall, and there will be a shortfall in the markets and inflation. The time to act is now.