Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor, the federal NDP’s Agriculture and Agri-food critic, is the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s 2020 Produce Champion.
The Produce Champion award is given annually to at least one MP or senator who has been supportive of the produce industry and effective at bringing industry issues to the forefront on Parliament Hill.
“Since his election in 2015, Alistair MacGregor has consistently shown incredible support for the Canadian fresh fruit and vegetable industry,” CPMA president Ron Lemaire said in a press release. “We are truly grateful for his engagement, and particularly for his advocacy on a range of issues, including the need for a financial protection mechanism for produce sellers, which continues to be a key priority for our members.”
Following the announcement of the award, MacGregor talked about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on agriculture in Canada.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the precariousness of our food supply chain, creating unprecedented economic challenges for food industries around the world,” he said. “The fresh produce sector has not been immune to these challenges.”
MacGregor noted that the CPMA has recently released a report on the produce industry’s post-COVID recovery plan, which contains 24 recommendations to the federal government about how it can support the sector. MacGregor supports the establishment of a trust similar to the U.S. Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act, which has been a longstanding commitment from the NDP.
“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,” MacGregor said.
“The NDP stands with our 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; contingencies should be in place long before that happens.”
The federal government has a responsibility to ensure financial security for farmers before crippling economic harm occurs, MacGregor added.
“Many fresh fruit and vegetable growers are struggling to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “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.”