Kenney Government repeals controversial Agriculture bill introduced by former NDP government
From the Province of Alberta
Promise made, promise kept: Repeal Bill 6
The Farm Freedom and Safety Act has been introduced to bring forward changes to support the unique nature of the farm and ranch business.
The proposed legislation fulfils the government’s commitment to consult with farmers and ranchers to build farm workplace legislation that works for them. The government is committed to restoring balance, fairness and common sense to the regulation of Alberta’s agriculture sector by repealing and replacing the previous government’s failed Bill 6 legislation.
“We promised Albertans we would consult first and legislate second – and that’s exactly what we did. We’ve taken this feedback and built common-sense farm workplace legislation that works for people, not against them.”
“Farmers asked for these changes to give us the flexibility to run our businesses and build a program collectively that works for everybody. This government has really listened to and responded to our concerns. Modern farms are highly safety-conscious operations and we take care of our farm workers like they are family.”
“In terms of the overall shape of the industry, consultation has been a critical feature of the new government for Bill 6 and the Farm Freedom and Safety Act. We didn’t have that under the previous government in 2015 when those changes were rolled out. We are very encouraged and optimistic about the future shape of farm safety legislation in Alberta.”
“The greenhouse industry is very thankful to the Government of Alberta and, in particular, to Minister Dreeshen for his support in recognizing greenhouses as farms. Being excluded from the definition of farms under the Employment Standards Code was a huge challenge for our industry and we are grateful that this has been rectified in the Farm Freedom and Safety Act.”
Grassroots conversations, industry meetings, engagement sessions and an online survey were just some of the ways Alberta’s farmers and ranchers gave their input on practical farm workplace rules.
- From July 25 to Aug. 30, 25 engagement sessions on farm workplace legislation were held across the province.
- The public survey ran from July 12 to Aug. 31, with more than 1,200 completed submissions.
The new legislation addresses employment standards, workers’ compensation, occupational health and safety, labour relations laws and how they apply on farms and ranches.
Farm Freedom and Safety Act highlights
- Allows employers to have choice when it comes to workplace insurance.
- Protects family farms from legislated and regulatory cost increases.
- Ensures basic safety standards on all farms.
- Recognizes that a farm is unlike other businesses, and that farmers and ranchers require flexibility in meeting labour and employment standards.
- Delivers on government’s commitment to repeal the damaging policies of the previous government to ensure sustainable farms and help get Albertans back to work. Reinstates the farm and ranch sector exemption from the Labour Relations Code.
- Includes nursery, greenhouse, mushroom and sod operations in the farm and ranch employment standards exemptions.
- Minimizes red tape and reduces the regulatory burden on farmers and ranchers.
UFA announces Farm & Ranch Supply story in Gasoline Alley along with historic $28 million patronage membership dividend
UFA Announces $28 Million Patronage Dividend
UFA shared big news today announcing a historic patronage dividend of $28 million back to its membership and fully opening two new locations in Saskatchewan!
One of the primary benefits to being a co-operative member is patronage, and this year’s patronage dividend is truly significant. We have expanded our patronage program to reward our membership by paying on more categories of purchases. More products our members use daily on their farm, ranch, or for their business now earn them patronage rewards. We are proud to grow and deliver patronage consistently. At UFA, members can count on their co-operative and on patronage.
Scott Bolton, President and CEO, UFA
We believe good business is rooted in investing in good relationships and consistently rewarding our membership with a growing patronage dividend demonstrates our commitment. We take great pride in our patronage program. As owners of UFA, our success is truly our members’ reward.
Kevin Hoppins, Board Chair, UFA.
In addition to the $28 million patronage announcement, UFA shared that it officially opened its doors in Weyburn and Yorkton. These sites are part of the expansion of UFA’s petroleum business into key markets in central and eastern Saskatchewan.
We believe in the value of giving our members and customers choice. People living in or nearby these communities now have another option of where to spend their hard-earned dollars. Expanding our network is part of a concerted strategy to grow from an Alberta-focused fuel and agribusiness co-operative to a western-Canadian leader.
Scott Bolton, President and CEO, UFA
Meet the Weyburn and Yorkton Petroleum Agents
Features of the new UFA petroleum locations:
Gasoline and Clear and Dyed Diesel
DEF at the pump and UFA, Shell and Chevron branded lubricant products
High-speed pumps and wide lanes
State-of-the-art warehouse and office
Dieselex® Gold. UFA is pleased to offer its exclusive diesel offering to Saskatchewan. This top-tier premium product is engineered to enhance fuel efficiency, reduce maintenance, and increase power.
UFA is the exclusive distributor of Dieselex® Gold
UFA also announced Dunmore and Saskatoon as the next locations in UFA’s expansion strategy
UFA is committed to investing in our network and bringing our unique product selection to new locations throughout Western Canada. The regions around Dunmore, Alberta, and Weyburn, Yorkton and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and the other markets selected for additional locations are key marketsin Western Canada’s agribusiness and industrial economy. The expansion project will provide significant investment throughout Western Canada and UFA looks forward to serving the local communities where the new petroleum sites will be located. Along with looking at new investment opportunities, we believe it is essential to give back to rural communities we serve, ensuring they thrive well into the future.
Don Smith, Vice President, Petroleum and Innovation, UFA.
Weyburn UFA Petroleum Agency
11 states consider ‘right to repair’ for farming equipment
By Jesse Bedayn in Denver
DENVER (AP) — On Colorado’s northeastern plains, where the pencil-straight horizon divides golden fields and blue sky, a farmer named Danny Wood scrambles to plant and harvest proso millet, dryland corn and winter wheat in short, seasonal windows. That is until his high-tech Steiger 370 tractor conks out.
The tractor’s manufacturer doesn’t allow Wood to make certain fixes himself, and last spring his fertilizing operations were stalled for three days before the servicer arrived to add a few lines of missing computer code for $950.
“That’s where they have us over the barrel, it’s more like we are renting it than buying it,” said Wood, who spent $300,000 on the used tractor.
Wood’s plight, echoed by farmers across the country, has pushed lawmakers in Colorado and 10 other states to introduce bills that would force manufacturers to provide the tools, software, parts and manuals needed for farmers to do their own repairs — thereby avoiding steep labor costs and delays that imperil profits.
“The manufacturers and the dealers have a monopoly on that repair market because it’s lucrative,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, a Democrat and one of the bill’s sponsors. “(Farmers) just want to get their machine going again.”
In Colorado, the legislation is largely being pushed by Democrats while their Republican colleagues find themselves stuck in a tough spot: torn between right-leaning farming constituents asking to be able to repair their own machines and the manufacturing businesses that oppose the idea.
The manufacturers argue that changing the current practice with this type of legislation would force companies to expose trade secrets. They also say it would make it easier for farmers to tinker with the software and illegally crank up the horsepower and bypass the emissions controller — risking operators’ safety and the environment.
Similar arguments around intellectual property have been leveled against the broader campaign called ‘right to repair,’ which has picked up steam across the country — crusading for the right to fix everything from iPhones to hospital ventilatorsduring the pandemic.
In 2011, Congress passed a law ensuring that car owners and independent mechanics — not just authorized dealerships — had access to the necessary tools and information to fix problems.
Ten years later, the Federal Trade Commission pledged to beef up its right to repair enforcement at the direction of President Joe Biden. And just last year, Titone sponsored and passed Colorado’s first right to repair law, empowering people who use wheelchairs with the tools and information to fix them.
For the right to repair farm equipment — from thin tractors used between grape vines to behemoth combines for harvesting grain that can cost over half a million dollars — Colorado is joined by 10 states including Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas and Vermont.
Many of the bills are finding bipartisan support, said Nathan Proctor, who leads Public Interest Research Group’s national right to repair campaign. But in Colorado’s House committee on agriculture, Democrats pushed the bill forward in a 9-4 vote along party lines, with Republicans in opposition even though the bill’s second sponsor is Republican Rep. Ron Weinberg.
“That’s really surprising, and that upset me,” said the Republican Wood.
Wood’s tractor, which flies an American flag reading “Farmers First,” isn’t his only machine to break down. His grain harvesting combine was dropping into idle, but the servicer took five days to arrive on Wood’s farm — a setback that could mean a hail storm decimates a wheat field or the soil temperature moves beyond the Goldilocks zone for planting.
“Our crop is ready to harvest and we can’t wait five days, but there was nothing else to do,” said Wood. “When it’s broke down you just sit there and wait and that’s not acceptable. You can be losing $85,000 a day.”
Rep. Richard Holtorf, the Republican who represents Wood’s district and is a farmer himself, said he’s being pulled between his constituents and the dealerships in his district covering the largely rural northeast corner of the state. He voted against the measure because he believes it will financially impact local dealerships in rural areas and could jeopardize trade secrets.
“I do sympathize with my farmers,” said Holtorf, but he added, “I don’t think it’s the role of government to be forcing the sale of their intellectual property.”
At the packed hearing last week that spilled into a second room in Colorado’s Capitol, the core concerns raised in testimony were farmers illegally slipping around the emissions control and cranking up the horsepower.
“I know growers, if they can change horsepower and they can change emissions they are going to do it,” said Russ Ball, sales manager at 21st Century Equipment, a John Deere dealership in Western states.
The bill’s proponents acknowledged that the legislation could make it easier for operators to modify horsepower and emissions controls, but argued that farmers are already able to tinker with their machines and doing so would remain illegal.
This January, the Farm Bureau and the farm equipment manufacturer John Deere did sign a memorandum of understanding — a right to repair agreement made in the free market and without government intervention. The agreement stipulates that John Deere will share some parts, diagnostic and repair codes, and manuals to allow farmers to do their own fixes.
The Colorado bill’s detractors laud that agreement as a strong middle ground while Titone said it wasn’t enough, evidenced by six of Colorado’s biggest farmworker associations that support the bill.
Proctor, who is tracking 20 right to repair proposals in a number of industries across the country, said the memorandum of understanding has fallen far short.
“Farmers are saying no,” Proctor said. “We want the real thing.”
Jesse Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
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