Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture

COVID-19 Update: March 23

Dear Members,

A new week is upon us and I come to you with more updates related to COVID-19.

On Friday evening, the Government of Canada made an official announcement regarding Temporary Foreign Workers entering the country during the border closure.

Some of the key pieces from this announcement are:

  • Exemptions to the air travel restrictions will apply to foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home.
  • Travel by these individuals will be considered essential travel for land border restrictions.
  • The exemptions include: seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers (full list can be seen in the press release)
  • A temporary modification is being made to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food processing employers, as the required 2-week recruitment period will be waived for the next 6 months.
  • An increase to the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 1 to 2 years.
  • In addition to health screening protocols before travel, all individuals entering from abroad must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.

If you would like to read the full press release, click here.

Another announcement of interest, the Government of Canada has announced a $5 billion boost to Farm Credit Canada’s lending capacity. The initial focus of this funding will be assisting the industry in addressing cash flow challenges. To read the news release from FCC, click here.

We continue to have regular calls with Minister Colwell and Kody Blois. These calls are an opportunity to advocate on behalf of our members on the following items:

  • Financial program supports for payment deferrals without interest and without penalties
  • Availability of labour for farms; including opportunities for incentive programs
  • That agriculture related workers be deemed essential service

This week we also sent letters to Minister Colwell and Minister Bibeau. Minister Colwell received letters regarding risk management plans for TFWs upon arrival to Nova Scotia, considering TFWs to be covered by MSI and financial program supports. Minister Bibeau received a letter regarding financial programs including Advanced Payment Programs and BRMS.

We will continue to update you as new information becomes available.

A note about the NSFA office:
In an effort to practice social distancing to ensure the health of Nova Scotians, the NSFA staff will be working remotely as of today and can be reached by email or by phone. The physical NSFA office will be closed for the foreseeable future. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Take care,

Victor Oulton
President
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture



COVID-19 Update: March 20

Hello Members,

I come to you with a couple of updates regarding COVID-19 and the agriculture industry.

Yesterday, CFA President, Mary Robinson spoke with Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau. Minister Bibeau assured Mary that she understands the important role that TFWs play in ensuring food security in Canada and wanted to put Canadian producers’ minds at ease that details around allowing workers in will be announced shortly. We will update you on these details once they are released.

Today during the Nova Scotia government’s press conference, Premier Stephen McNeil announced that Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board loan payments will be deferred until June 30, 2020.

Minister of Business, Geoff MacLellan announced an addition $15 million for internet providers to speed up completion of projects in order to help businesses that are operating from home.

We would like to thank the municipal, provincial and federal government for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you click here, you can see a comprehensive list of actions we have taken this week.

Yours in agriculture,

Victor Oulton
President
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture



COVID-19 Update: March 19

Dear Members,

You may have seen articles floating around social media in the last 24 hours regarding temporary foreign workers and Canada’s border closure. Unfortunately, the information being circulated via media on announcements allowing temporary foreign workers to enter Canada is not valid. We have confirmed this with CFA.

CFA and agriculture industry partners have been working tirelessly to develop a strategy for consideration and remain cautiously optimistic.

Today during our daily call with Minister Colwell and MP Kody Blois we discussed the following topics:

  • Importance of career promotion of agriculture
  • Requested formal communication be posted that meat inspectors are considered to be essential service
  • Discussed opportunities to provide some financial relief through Farm Loan Board, Farm Credit Canada and Chartered Banks in the form of interest free deferrals and access to lines of credit to support cashflow
  • Requested further consideration be given to AgriStability being increased to 85%
  • Requested consideration be given to increase the interest free amount of APP for all commodities and allow payment deferrals without penalty

We are committed to doing the best we can for our members and will continue to update you on the efforts being made across the agriculture industry in the wake of COVID-19.

Look after yourselves and each other,

Victor Oulton
President
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture



COVID-19 Update: March 18

Hello members,

We continue to receive regular updates from CFA in regards to COVID-19s impact on the agriculture industry in Canada.

Today we held a conference call with the Honourable Minister Colwell, Kody Blois, Member of Parliament for Kings – Hants, Member of Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, as well as NSFA Council Executives and staff. This call was used to update the group on COVID-19 in Canada and discuss how we are committed to working together as a group through these difficult times. We will continue to have these calls once a day, every day, for the remainder of the week. We will reassess the frequency of these calls next week. The focus of our calls is currently mostly related to the challenges with foreign workers.

In addition to labour, we have been assured that concerns related to meat inspector availability have been addressed and precautions will be taken to ensure health and safety, while ensuring continuity of service.

Below you will find our survey regarding the impact COVID-19 is having on farm labour. If you access either the Temporary Foreign Worker program or the Seasonal Agricultural Worker program, I encourage you to take the time to fill out this survey. This survey will ensure we are able to better report the impact this border closure is having on farms in Nova Scotia.

Take time to call and check in on your friends, family and neighbours.

Stay safe,

Victor Oulton
President
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture



COVID-19 Update: March 17

Hello members,

A lot has transpired in the last 24 hours and we are doing our best to stay on top of the situation. We are aware of the issues that are being faced especially by those who rely on temporary foreign workers for their production.

We are receiving regular updates from CFA on all matters related to COVID-19 that have an impact on the agriculture industry. This morning we held a conference call with our farm members of the Labour Committee and our Council Executives to discuss the industry implications of COVID-19 and the federal government’s announcement regarding the closure of the border to non-Canadian citizens or permanent residents. We have also been in touch with Minister Colwell and will continue to have open dialogue with government.

Below you will find a link to relevant resources, key messages and a draft letter for your local MP. I encourage you to download this letter, personalize it and send to your Member of Parliament.

Please keep your eye out for a COVID-19 Farm Labour Impact Survey that we will be distributing shortly.

We are all in this together,

Victor Oulton
President
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture



COVID-19 Update: March 16

Hello members,

As the COVID-19 pandemic is quickly evolving, we are keeping up-to-date on the impacts on farmers and are making efforts to support you through these challenging times.

We are in communication with CFA who have created a coronavirus resource webpage, which we would encourage you to view: https://www.cfa-fca.ca/resources/resources-on-covid-19/. An immediate concern relates to seasonal agricultural workers coming to Canada in the next few weeks. CFA is part of an ESDC Emergency Preparedness Committee focusing on what needs to be done to ensure farmers have access to predictable and timely farm labour for the upcoming planting season. We are receiving regular updates from CFA on this matter and will keep you updated as we are able.

We are working through other impacts of COVID-19 on our industry and would encourage you to contact the office if you have questions or concerns that you would like us to be aware of.

We will be connecting with our key stakeholders throughout the next couple of days so that we can ensure we are all working together to minimize the impact on our food system. We recognize media will be reaching out to industry at this time and we would encourage those contacted by media to direct them to our office and to work with our Communications staff on key messaging.

You will be receiving more frequent communication from us over the next bit as we want to ensure we are keeping you up-to-date on the impacts of COVID-19 and the efforts we are taking to support our farmers through this situation.

NSFA Office Update

In regards to NSFA office protocols, as of today, March 16th, all workshops, training, on-farm visits and in-person meetings are cancelled until April 3rd. We will be working to reschedule in-person meetings and other appointments to conference calls or video conferencing methods whenever possible. We will reassess the situation at a later date.

We ask that those planning to visit the office to consider a phone call or email as an alternative. Staff will be doing their best to practice social distancing within the office. Please keep in mind, if we are required to close the office for public health reasons, our staff have the ability to work remotely.

Take care,

Victor Oulton
President
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture



We’re hiring an AgSector Coordinator!

The AgSector Coordinator will be part of a dedicated team supporting the farm community, providing them with the resources they need to succeed, while advocating in their best interest. Working in a position that will support farms in becoming responsible employers of choice and working to support a skilled workforce. The AgSector Coordinator will be essential to coordinating programming to support human resources and skills training, while working with industry partners to recruit farmers and farm workers to our industry through career promotion, temporary foreign worker and immigration programs, as well as succession planning.

Click here to view the job description

Application deadline: Noon (12pm AST) February 14, 2020



Media Statement: Nova Scotia Farmers Relieved as CN Rail Strike Comes to an End

Truro, NS – Farmers across Nova Scotia can be pleased that a tentative agreement has been reached between CN Rail and Teamsters Canada.

“We are happy to hear that a tentative agreement has been reached. With the strike leading into its second week, farmers across Nova Scotia were beginning to feel the impact. Propane shortage, transportation challenges and complications receiving livestock feed ingredients, were some of the major implications at play,” said Victor Oulton, President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.

“This time of year, rail transportation is especially important to Nova Scotia’s Christmas tree farmers as they utilize the rail to ship their trees around the globe. We look forward to business resuming as usual at CN Rail tomorrow morning.”

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For more information contact:

Katherine Doyle
Communications Coordinator
Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture
Email: kdoyle@nsfa-fane.ca
Phone: (902) 893-2293

The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture represents the interests of over 2400 farm families in Nova Scotia. Founded in 1895 to provide Nova Scotia’s farm community with a single voice, the NSFA is the province’s only general farm organization.

 



Request for Proposal: Public Trust Strategy

The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture (NSFA) seeks proposals from consultants interested in designing and facilitating the development of a Public Trust Strategy for Nova Scotia agriculture. Proposals are to be submitted by November 29. If there are any questions regarding the RFP they must be asked by November 19 and will be answered by November 22. The estimated project timeline is November 2019 – February 2020.

Program Background

Public trust is a growing initiative and the NSFA believes it is essential to the sustainable future of our agriculture industry. The NSFA delivers Public Trust Programming with funding support from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-territorial-provincial initiative.

Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry is among the most respected in the world. In fact, Canada is well-known for its ability to produce food products in a responsible and sustainable manner. However, it is also known that consumers are increasingly concerned of the ethical and responsible manner in which their food is grown. According to the 2018 research by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) the overall impression of agriculture in Canada decreased from 61% to 55% in the last year, after a steady increase since 2006. This decline is driven by an increase in responses saying they don’t know enough to have an opinion.

The reality is that our population is continuing to out-migrate from rural regions into urbanized centres, which means consumers are further distanced from agriculture and where their food is grown. This is a huge concern for Nova Scotia farmers. In a recent member engagement consultation conducted by the NSFA, public trust ranked as the top issue farmers felt needed to be addressed. Farmers recognize consumers are disconnected from their food, public confidence is decreasing and that there is a need for quality standards for all food production.

Request for Proposal Document



What Makes a Standing Policy?

 

Careful consideration goes into developing NSFA’s Standing Policies. We must be able to convey the issues and the impact on farms or the industry to stakeholders and decision makers.  In order for NSFA executive and staff to track progress and identify if a policy recommendation can be marked complete, we must also know what a win looks like.

As mentioned above, knowing the stakeholders and decision makers is important when developing our messaging.  In some situations, a stronger effort can be made when we strategically align partnerships with other organizations.  In other cases, we are better off demonstrating how agriculture is unique and separate ourselves from others.  Regardless, we develop messaging and strategies to implement Standing Policies.

NSFA Executive Committee reviews standing policies every summer and identifies new priorities.  Members were also encouraged to provide input throughout the summer (July 2019 Farm Focus).  Our draft policies were passed by Council of Leaders at the September meeting and are now ready for review by membership.  You will find our draft paper online at nsfa-fane.ca/agm

Curious about our draft policies for the upcoming year?

Agricultural Land

Ensuring farmers have access to agricultural land is the primary objective behind this policy.  Actions on resources and strategies to keep agriculture land in production are driving the progress of this policy which is guided under the direction of the Agriculture Land Use Policy Committee.

Soil Health

Soil health is a new addition to the Standing Policies this year.  Farmers are already well aware of the importance of healthy soils; the purpose of this policy is to ensure healthy agriculture soils is a top priority with decision makers.  While the exact direction of the policy has yet to be determined, broad themes include lobbying for a comprehensive soil health improvement program, protection from top soil removal and strategies to mitigate against erosion.  NSFA has also heard from members regarding laboratory testing for soils.

Labour

NSFA’s labour policy has evolved over time.  Originally focusing on skills training for farm owners and employees, additions over time include addressing the labour gap with both domestic and foreign workers and clarifying regulations.  With the additions of the Labour Sector funding and progress made on a farm technician apprenticeship programs, the skills and information gap is starting to narrow.  A new commitment under the Labour Standing Policy this year is for NSFA to lobby for the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education to review the Labour Standings Code and the Minimum Wage Order with an agriculture lens to understand the full implications to agriculture.

Regulatory Alignment

It goes without saying that the regulatory burden farmers face adds time, money and often stress to any operation.  Consistent service delivery of inspectors throughout the province, clear interpretation of regulations and participation in opportunities to consult on changes as they apply to farm businesses are all elements for which NSFA will continue to lobby.

Transportation

Much like the Labour Standing Policy, Transportation is also heavily focused on addressing Agriculture’s uniqueness in using the roads.  With the passing of the Traffic Safety Act in the legislature and the following development of regulations, NSFA will ensure that Agriculture’s voice will be recognized in the development of the Traffic Safety Regulations.

Members will have an opportunity to provide feedback and vote on the Standing Policies at the NSFA AGM.  Those wishing to discuss the policies can feel free to contact the NSFA office.  These policies are also being presented at the County/Regional Federation AGMs throughout the fall months, keep an eye out for your local Federation’s Annual Meeting.  Also, be sure to watch for social media posts to like and share!

Standing policies are one tool that directs NSFA’s lobby efforts.  Resolutions brought forward by members and member organization to NSFA’s AGM and NSFA committee work also provide mechanisms for issues outside of standing policies to be addressed.   An annual report on the progress for the policies, resolutions and committees will be available in November ahead of our AGM which takes place on November 28th and 29th at the Best Western Glengarry in Truro.

Do these Standing Policies pique your interest? Is this the direction you would like to see the Federation take with our policy, lobbying and advocacy efforts? Be sure to attend our Annual Meeting where our members can have their say on NSFA policy, learn more about the draft policies for 2020 and learn more about challenges and triumphs for the agriculture industry in Nova Scotia.



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7 Atlantic Central Drive
East Mountain, N.S.
B6L 2Z2

Phone – 902-893-2293
Fax – 902-893-7063
E-mailinfo@nsfa-fane.ca