Ottawa boosting funding for food price increase investigations

FVGC urge collaboration with the agriculture sector

Ottawa-The federal government is tripling funding to consumer advocacy groups so they can investigate and reveal price inflation and harmful business practices that lead to higher food costs, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has announced.

The funding for Canada’s Contributions Program for Non-profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations will rise to $5 million per year to enable the groups to undertake new projects and produce high-quality, independent, and timely research, Champagne said.

He said shrinkflation and skimpflation in the grocery sector, as well as other forms of corporate greed, have increased the prices Canadians pay for everyday goods.

The government is working to make groceries and other essentials more affordable and support those who need it most.

Under the new funding, The Public Interest Advocacy Centre will investigate food pricing policy and regulatory challenges, such as shrinkflation and grocery pricing, and competition concerns while the Union des consumateurs (Consumers Union) will bring together 100 experts from across Canada to discuss solutions to the most pressing challenges Canadian consumers are facing.

Food Secure Canada will investigate retail practices that negatively impact consumers, such as shrinkflation and skimpflation in the grocery sector and Option Consumateurs will conduct research to help consumers identify and protect themselves from potentially unfavorable sales practices.

Equiterre will highlight innovative solutions that provide consumers access to affordable, healthy, and sustainable food while The Consumers Council of Canada will conduct research on food fraud, per unit pricing, price scanner accuracy, and shrinkflation and skimpflation.

Marcus Jansen, Vice-President of the Fruit and Vegetable Growers of Canada (FVGC) said the advocacy groups must collaborate with the agricultural sector s essential to address the root causes of escalating food prices effectively.

The increased production costs and financial strains from government policies faced by Canadian fruit and vegetable growers significantly contribute to the cost of groceries. Jansen urged the government to consider the impact of these policies, such as carbon pricing and a lack of investment in agricultural sector climate funding, on fruit and vegetable growers and the prices consumers pay for their groceries.

The government has several ways to help producers including supporting a bill to exempt farmers from the carbon tax on propane and natural gas used in grain drying and farm building heating and cooling.

The government also needs to involve growers and agricultural experts in policy-making processes to ensure regulations are practical, reflect modern agricultural realities, and contribute to stable food prices, he said.

It should also reconsider plans to phase out the use of plastic in the packaging of food products and remove fertilizer tariffs. That would “lower input costs for growers, thereby promoting sustainability and preventing hikes in consumer prices.”

It should also support swift passage of Bill C-280 to create a deemed trust to provide financial protection for growers and implementation the Grocery Code of Conduct to foster fair trade relationships between Canadian farms and consumers and ensuring compliance with mandatory standards across the supply chain.

While the government wants to make groceries more affordable, it also needs to address “the underlying issues within the agricultural sector and government policies that contribute to high food prices. Collaboration between the government and the agricultural sector is crucial in creating a sustainable solution that benefits all Canadians,” he said.

This news report was prepared for National Newswatch.

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