As the federal and provincial Agriculture Ministers convene in Saskatchewan for their annual summer meeting today, Liberal MPs are calling on these Ministers to work with the farming community to address the flooding crisis Western farmers are facing this growing season.
“The situation on the prairies is nothing short of a catastrophe,” said Liberal Agriculture Critic Wayne Easter. “Up to half of Saskatchewan’s farmland is either unseeded or potentially unfit for harvest. The federal government needs to be there for farmers in their time of need with relevant, meaningful assistance.”
“The current suite of agricultural programs created by the Harper government is clearly not responsive to the needs of farmers,” added Liberal House Leader and Wascana MP Ralph Goodale.
“We’ve committed to implementing a National Food Policy that works with farmers to build practical, predictable business risk management programs from the farm up, not Ottawa down. Had the Conservatives taken this approach, maybe we would have timely programs that work, instead of this mess of programs that don’t.”
Liberals are calling on the first ministers to work together with farmers to improve the agriculture programs, including the Agri-Stability Program, the Agri-Invest Program and the Agri-Recovery Program.
Mr. Goodale said a federal government that had no regrets about its G8/G20 billion-dollar boondoggle must come to the table prepared to help farmers in real need.
“They must respond generously to this crisis because the impact on farmers, agri-businesses and rural communities could be devastating,” said Mr. Goodale. “When BSE hit western Canadian beef producers in 2003, our government had a contingency reserve ready to address farmers’ needs. We consulted with farmers and we acted decisively, with federal investments of some $3 billion.”
“This government must seek the input of farmers, and quickly create a plan to address the devastation,” concluded Mr. Easter.
As part of the Liberal “Rural Canada Matters” initiative, a future Liberal government would wipe the slate clean and rebuild Canada’s farm policy in partnership with farmers. Liberals would create practical programs designed by farmers, for farmers, such as a responsive disaster program, improved crop insurance and a livestock market price insurance program that would help farmers meet their costs of production.