At the end of November, CAAR Executive Director Mitch Rezansoff, was part of a panel at the US ARA Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida, with the theme “hot issues and trends in international markets.”
Margy Eckelkamp from Farm Journal’s the Scoop was the moderator for the panel discussion. During the session, Rezansoff was asked to sum up the number one challenge that Canadian ag retail members are facing today. Rezansoff said the number one challenge is the environment, environment and urban creep.
The panel representative from Argentina, Luis Mogni, agreed with Mitch about Urban creep, and said it is an issue in his country as well.
When asked about regulatory burden in Canada, Rezansoff spoke to the fact that in 2021 Canada was going through a process of reevaluating glyphosate, and this was dealing with MRLs, and the Canadian government then shut down that process and called an election. The government, with a new mandate, was intent on pulling back the Pesticide Regulation Act, making a decision whether to completely modernize it or just to update it. As part of “that process it became very apparent we started to see some EU (European Union) creep in some of the language of some of the government people,” explained Rezansoff.
Rezansoff expanded that EU policies creeping in to the Canadian pesticide act, were happening at the same time as proposed fertilizer changes, where a goal was set by the government to reduce fertilizer greenhouse gas emissions, as applied at farm gate, by 30%.
He explained that the regulatory proposals can often overburden the farmer or the retailer. “In fact, it's in some cases, the proposals are not even attainable, and farmers have pushed back hard.”
The panel representative from Brazil, Mateus Consoli, reported that a struggle for the industry in his country was margins and profitability. In 2004, he said the gross margin of the average retailer was about 25%. But he said nowadays retailers are struggling to make have 15% gross margin, which leaves them with a net profit of around 3%.
Later, Rezansoff shared some thought about the passion for ag retailing that CAAR members feel. He has asked his members "Why do you love ag retailing?” and they answer “It's the people in my community and they rely on me. I am the employer for that region and so I can provide full -time employment. I can employ my customers’ teenagers. That is hugely rewarding to ag retailing. And it's something we shouldn't diminish, that the ag retailer responsibility in supporting the community is right up there with other industries.”
Rezansoff emphasized that is why the work of CAAR and the other retailers on the panel is so important, “our associations are working so that farmers’ shoulders aren't overly burdened with regulations.”
The panelists were all encouraged to have a more global approach to some industry issues by ARA President & CEO Daren Coppock because each of the groups has to support farmers, help them to produce the products that the end customer wants to eat.
Coppock concluded the panel discussion by saying, I think a great takeaway from this is that “It's a small world”, but he promised not to sing the theme song of the very popular Disney ride.
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