Wednesday October 28, 2020 | COWICHAN VALLEY & OTTAWA
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends
Today NDP’s Agriculture and Agri-food Critic, Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) was named the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s (CPMA) 2020 Produce Champion. He says he is honoured to accept that recognition.
The MP, now in his second term, looks forward to continuing to advocate for all fresh fruit and vegetable farmers in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the precariousness of our food supply chain, creating unprecedented economic challenges for food industries around the world. The fresh produce sector has not been immune to these challenges.”
Recommendations to support the fresh produce sector:
“The Canadian Produce Marketing Association recently released a report on the produce industry’s post-COVID-19 recovery plan, containing 24 recommendations to the Government of Canada detailing ways the government can be supporting the sector.” The recommendations include labour and employment incentives, financial protection, operational changes, infrastructure, and sustainability.
“I want to express my complete support for the establishment of a statutory deemed trust, similar to the US Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). This has been a long-standing commitment from the NDP.”
The business of agriculture:
In the previous Parliament, both the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, and the Standing Committee on Finance, produced separate but complimentary reports with recommendations to the Liberal government concerning the establishment of a PACA-like deemed trust for Canada.
“Both calls were left unanswered by this government,” says MacGregor, saying that the NDP stands with produce growers and calls on the Liberal government to act without further delay.
“Waiting until mass bankruptcies in export markets resulting from wide-spread business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic is not a sensible approach to good public policy,” said MacGregor. He feels that contingencies should be sensibly in place long before that happens.
“The Government of Canada has a responsibility to our farmers to ensure financial security mechanisms in the form of a statutory deemed trust are put in place before crippling economic harm occurs – not waiting until after it’s too late,” he said in today’s statement.
MacGregor’s Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding includes a strong local food-growing sector. He often campaigns at the local Duncan Farmers Market. He and his wife and children live on a working farm in the area.
“Many fresh fruit and vegetable growers are struggling to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, and without the creation of a deemed trust for Canada built into the government’s COVID-19 recovery plan, the Canadian producer sector are turning the next corner in this global pandemic without the hope on the horizon they should expect from our government.”
Provincially, both the BC NDP and BC Green party leaders emphasized food security during their election campaigns in September and October 2020 — brought to the fore by the food supply interruptions already seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.