Agriculture initiatives in the 2019 Federal Budget
The federal government unveiled its 2019 budget on March 26, including several announcements that are notable for the agriculture sector.
Some of the announcements that are of particular importance to the agriculture sector include the development of a National Food Policy. This policy will focus on tackling food waste, improving community access to healthy food and will shine a spotlight on Canadian food both at home and abroad.
In a release, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) said the organization has been calling for this initiative since 2011 and looks forward to working with key departments and industry stakeholders to ensure this policy helps leverage the sector’s economic potential and meet ambitious growth targets set for agri-food exports and domestic sales.
One important initiative within the National Food Policy is a three year agricultural immigration pilot, which is an addition to the recently announced rural immigration pilot. Further details are still expected for this announcement, but the CFA states “programs like this are critical in helping alleviate critical labour shortages while creating a skilled agricultural workforce for the future in Canada.”
Another initiative is the call for small business deduction relief for farmers and fishers selling to affiliated corporations. These deductions will ensure farmers and fishers regain access to their small business deduction, enabling producers unduly affected by changes announced in 2016 to invest in their businesses.
On a related note, the commitment of $5 – 6 billion to provide high-speed internet to 100 per cent of Canada by 2030 is important for many of those in the agriculture industry working in rural Canada where internet speed and access has been lagging behind its urban counterparts. “[This commitment] is vital for farmers to be able to conduct simple day to day e-commerce as well as embrace cutting-edge precision agriculture technology. High speed internet is essential in the development of rural Canada in general,” CFA said.
The 2019 Budget also included $65 million – the equivalent of five new medically-equipped helicopters – toward STARS Ambulance’s fleet renewal project. STARS is a non-profit organization that operates helicopter emergency medical services in Western Canada.
Finally, the 2019 budget also included a push for regulatory modernization. The push will see regulatory roadmaps developed that streamline processes across organizations such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Transport Canada and Health Canada. “In pursuing regulatory roadmaps that create a more responsive, adaptive, and user-friendly regulatory system, Canadian producers look forward to modernization efforts aimed at enabling more timely access to innovative products and reduced costs associated with unnecessary regulatory burden,” CFA stated.