Industry urges federal government to cost share on plan to upgrade
security at agri-business sites to protect Canadians and the nation's
WINNIPEG, May 29 /CNW/ - Agri-retailers are the primary suppliers to
Canadian farmers of important agricultural products that are essential for
modern crop production. Unfortunately, in the wrong hands, some of these
products can be used for harmful and destructive purposes. Agricultural
fertilizers and chemicals have been misappropriated by terrorists and
criminals who seek to use them as weapons or for illicit drug production.
Consequently, Agri-retailers who undertake the marketing and stewardship of
crop inputs are at a high risk of being targeted by these sinister elements
and urgently call on the federal government to assist them with securing
agricultural facilities in the interest of public safety and the protection of
our nation's food supply.
"Canadian agri-retailers are prepared to do their part but should not be
expected to shoulder the entire burden of shielding the sector from terrorist
penetration," said David MacKay, Executive Director of the Canadian
Association of Agri-Retailers (CAAR). "Public safety is a primary
responsibility of the federal government and we need their help to secure the
products that are critical to Canada's agricultural economy."
MacKay also points to the fact that their U.S. retail counterparts
already benefit from access to enhanced tax credits and grants for security
upgrades at agri-business facilities including perimeter fencing, computer
access controls, video surveillance and security lighting. "Agriculture is a
global market and Canadian producers now find themselves at a competitive
disadvantage because they must pick up the tab for security costs that have
nothing to do with crop production."
Echoing the concern, Canadian farmers also support the call for a
government sponsored security protocol for crop inputs. "Forcing the
agri-retail sector to bear the incremental costs of security upgrades will
result in upward pressure on input prices which inevitably must be paid for at
the farm gate - something that will not sit well with grain, pulse and oilseed
farmers," said Richard Phillips, Executive Director of Grain Growers of Canada
(GGC). "Our government needs to help protect Canada's investment in
agriculture by ensuring we remain globally competitive."
CAAR's proposition to partner with government on a comprehensive security
protocol has won tremendous support among individual Members of Parliament
including formal recommendations by a House and Senate Standing Committee but
have yet to receive the blessing of the Prime Minister or his Cabinet.
A cursory review of previous federal initiatives reveals ample precedence
for government investment in security infrastructure for key industries
including the Marine Security Contribution Program for Canadian ports and the
recently earmarked $350 Million to boost security at major airports.
"When it comes to security, you have to be careful that you don't lock
the doors while leaving the windows open. And with the U.S. securing its
agri-retail facilities, Canada may be exposed as the weak link in terms of
implementing common-sense anti-terrorist measures," explains MacKay. "By
regulation or best practice, there is a cost to protecting our citizens and
our food supply. Government has a stake in that objective and should therefore
share in the investment. For the sake of all Canadians, we can not afford to
ignore this issue."
CAAR is a not-for-profit industry association serving approximately 1000
agri-retail members across Canada and acts as the voice of the sector which is
responsible for marketing nearly $ 10 Billion in crop inputs, equipment and
services to Canadian farmers. The CAAR office is located in Winnipeg,
For further information:
For further information: Media Contacts: David MacKay, Executive
Director, Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers (CAAR), Ph. (204) 955-3714,
e-mail: email@example.com, website: www.caar.org; Richard Phillips, Executive
Director, Grain Growers of Canada (GGC), Ph. (613) 233-9954, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.ggc-pgc.ca