During the last three and a half decades, a lot has changed in Canadian agriculture. The ‘90s saw NAFTA come into force and a transition to zero-till farming. The last decade saw Canada’s canola crushing output nearly triple and the introduction of new technologies, like precision agriculture, that are changing the way Canadians farm.
Through it all, one thing has never changed: Canadian Canola Growers Association’s (CCGA) vision of Helping Farmers Succeed. It’s the reason canola farmers trust CCGA to provide leadership on moving important agriculture policy issues forward. It’s also why every year more than 10,000 farmers across Western Canada look to CCGA to support their grain marketing and farm financing plans through the organization’s administration of the Advance Payments Program. The Advance Payments Program is a federal program, delivered and administered by CCGA. Under the program, the Government of Canada provides the loan guarantee, funds the interest-free portion of advances and helps to make low interest rates on the remainder for Canadian producers.
Financing Options for Farmers
“We’re constantly striving to deliver a better cash advance program… and making the program more accessible for those who use it.”
The CCGA story started in 1984, when a group of canola farmers from Western Canada came together to give farmers access to the same financing program that had been available on cereal grains for many years. At the time, canola was an expanding crop and having access to a cash advance meant that farmers had more flexibility to market their canola, while having access to cash flow before the crop was sold.
Over time, the program offered by CCGA has expanded to include over 50 commodities, providing farmers with peace of mind and allowing them the time they need to execute their marketing plans most effectively.
“Our team is committed to improving the advance experience for farmers,” says Rick White, chief executive officer at CCGA. “We’re constantly striving to deliver a better cash advance program, including improving our phone and online services, as well as streamlining the application process and making the program more accessible for those who use it.”
A strong voice on policy issues
Building core expertise in agricultural policy areas, such as transportation, trade, business risk management and sustainability, has been critical to bringing a credible voice for canola farmers to policy conversations in Canada and abroad.
“When CCGA began working in ag policy, we wanted to enter the space and build relationships with government and heads of industry,” says White. “Our goal was to become a trusted resource and a trusted partner for both farmers and legislators.”
“Without good policy, investments in agronomy and research may be limited by policy barriers that impede our ability to use new technologies, manage farm risk, or even efficiently transport our grain.”
The experience and expertise that CCGA has cultivated in these areas, coupled with a grassroots farmer voice at the CCGA board, has helped the organization affect policy and legislative changes for the benefit of farmers.
“It’s about reflecting the views of the people we represent and very responsibly using our voice to ensure that industry and government leaders are considering the challenges farmers face, as well as the economic environment they operate in,” says White.
Affecting real change
Bernie McClean, a farmer from Saskatchewan and president of CCGA, has experienced first-hand how working in policy development and advocacy impacts farm operations.
“The policy work of CCGA has a real and lasting effect on our farms,” says McClean. “Without good policy, investments in agronomy and research may be limited by policy barriers that impede our ability to use new technologies, manage farm risk, or even efficiently transport our grain.”
Building the voice of canola farmers is a journey that continues today. Over the past 35 years, CCGA has effectively brought the farmer voice to policy conversations on rail transportation, renewable fuels, crop inputs, farm sustainability, and trade, among many others.