The NFU District Convention was held on March 19 at North Milton. And what a day it was! The hall was filled to the brim. The agenda was just as full, with presentations on lands protection, water extraction, impacts of trade agreements on the dairy industry and an update on land holdings data from IRAC.
As to be expected, District Directors Doug Campbell’s report to the convention was powerful – read the whole thing here.
The following resolutions were passed, calling on government to: – enforce the Lands Protection Act, to reflect spirit and intent and to close the loopholes in the Act. – address the depletion of soil organic matter by enforcing the Crop Rotation Act, and to require that hay or cover crops be planted in one year of the rotation – find sustainable alternatives to neonicotinoid insecticides as well as other synthetic pesticides – including integrated pest management supports/services, and incentives and supports for farmers to transition to more regenerative and organic methods of production.
Green, Progressive Conservative and New Democratic Party leaders were all present and given an opportunity to speak. – Joe Byrne expressed the NDP-PEI’s solidarity with NFU, noting that their party policy on ands protection and the role of the family farm has been greatly influenced by listening to the NFU. – Dennis King apologized for missing the forum the NFU had organized for PC leadership candidates and noted that Kevin Arsenault would be advising the party on land issues. – Peter Bevan-Baker announced that the Green Party would be calling for a review of the Lands Protection Act and thanked the NFU for yet another informative convention.
Doug Thompson of the Dairy Farmers of PEI spoke about international trade deals and their impact on the dairy industry. The collective impact of agreements that have opened up the dairy market to imports, starting with the WTO and including the CETA, CP-TPP and the USMCA, by 2024, 18% of dairy products will be imported. Under the CETA ~ 150 farms were lost, under the CP TPP, ~ 355 and under the USMCA, ~400 dairy farms were lost. Doug noted that since dairy is the last regulated commodity, it’s a target in these agreements, which typically ignore the advantages the industry has in other countries. Compensation packages tend to benefit big producers, mainly. A question was raised about imported US milk and bovine growth hormone, banned in Canada.
Jean-Paul Arsenault has been retired for a few years but was employed by the PEI government and was involved in the Carver Commission, the Roundtable on the Land. He spoke as a non-farmer reflecting on land and land ownership. He pointed out that many of the Carver Commission Recommendations have not been acted on, despite the direction to do so in the mandate letter to the Minister of Communities, Land and the Environment. He gave examples of recommendations that have so far been ignored: – Establishment of a farmland trust – Agriculture policy to match limits in the Lands Protection Act – Establishment of an advisory group for Lands Protection Act
Jean-Paul gave examples of questions that had been raised during the Horace Carver Commission that have not been addressed adequately (or at all): – Crop Rotation Act non-compliance – Decline in soil quality – Concerns about qater quality and quantity – Farm consolidation weakening rural communities – Farm size – does it relate to profitability? (He could find no evidence.)
He also suggested some questions for Minister Brown: – Why is the Minister of Education responsible for the Lands Protection Act? – Where does the authority come from to order IRAC to disclose ownership details? – Why does PEI agricultural policy ignore land ownership? – Should non-residents be allowed to purchase large tracts of land? – Why were so many of the HC recommendations ignored?