Views, Considerations & Unknowns for 2024

With 2024 upon us, the agriculture trade show and seminar season is now in full swing.

By Mitch Rezansoff, Executive Director

With 2024 upon us, the agriculture trade show and seminar season is now in full swing. Per the course, temperatures drop below -20ºC with windchill values >35ºC. It’s an annual occurrence that is accepted by the agriculture communities. Not that we can do anything about it. These tradeshows and seminars provide an opportunity to update, communicate, and strengthen business and social relationships. Agriculture is an industry that remains steadfast on the value of personal relationships and handshake commitments. As one of the high-risk reward actions throughout the year, attending trade shows and seminars also provides opportunities to understand all the national and international influences on Canadian agriculture’s success. This leads me to consider the impact of global actions, trade, and imports and exports.

Seabound logistics disruptions are expanding within the Middle East due to Gaza, Israel, and Yemen region hostilities. In December, global shipping giants MSC, Hapag-Lloyd, CMA CGM Group, Maersk Line Evergreen, and OOCL announced rerouting, temporarily suspending, pausing, or outright stopping shipping through the Red Sea region. Another round of seaway logistics disruption begins. What is the long-term effect on container and bulk vessel availability? Have they increased freight and insurance costs? What is the downstream impact on the country of origin’s production, export logistics, and input costs?

Is it time for a hard pushback on Canadian green ideology, coupled with carbon taxes penalizing agriculture production in Canada? The mandates of the European Union and Commission—New Green Deal and Field to Fork—have hit a boiling point in the new year. It started in Holland and France with protests and the election of pro-agriculture parties in response to legislation(s) that burdened farmers with additional costs, essentially forcing operations to collapse. Germany’s Net Zero agenda, accompanied by crippling diesel tax hikes, has resulted in tens of thousands of German farmers with tractors congregating in protest in Berlin. Farmers from other EU countries are chipping in. It is reported that at least a hundred tractors and trucks from Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Holland joined in protests over the weekend. The sounds, sense of community, and regional support are similar to a truck convoy protest in Ottawa. Restrictions, mandatory vaccines, and preventing a valued group of logistics providers from earning a living were the main reasons for the protest. EU farmers have similar issues. Ideology dating protection practices. Burdening taxes. They are limiting who can and cannot earn a living through agriculture.

Finally, let’s focus on Canada. Similar issues arise with ideology. Will Canada have any impact at all by reducing greenhouse emissions? Manmade contributions to greenhouse gases remain up for debate.

Attempts to remove the carbon tax burden on production agriculture have been throttled. Nitrogen fertilizer emissions have become a new contentious point. The question remains: are there viable alternative solutions for farmers? Is the carbon tax a revenue generator for failed federal policies? Or is this a means to cap Canadian agriculture production similar to what is experienced within the oil and gas industry? The federal government promotes investments in alternative nutrient sources and uses while subsidizing soil testing. The argument remains: is this the most efficient use of tax dollars, or are there more legacy research and solutions that increase productivity, return on investment, yield stable characteristics, and are recognized as contributing to environmental stewardship? I refuse to use the term sustainability. It has become another catchall virtual signalling term. Canadian agriculture will adjust accordingly, yet stand firm where needed. The greatest challenge facing Canadian agriculture is not international; it is federal environmental policies that need more business outcomes.

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