VANCOUVER AND REGINA—This season’s significant drought and extreme heat have placed serious pressure on farmers in many parts of Canada, especially Ontario, highlighting ongoing problems in lagging federal agricultural emergency assistance programs, Liberals said today.
“Farmers in several provinces across Canada are suffering from the effects of extreme drought, with over 40% of agricultural land in Ontario feeling the effects,” said Liberal Agriculture and Agri-Food critic Frank Valeriote. “These extreme conditions create great uncertainty for the agricultural sector, but the Conservatives have consistently ignored calls to streamline programs that would ensure timely, predictable support for Canada’s farmers. In fact, the only thing we have heard from them on the issue of income support is their plan to cut these programs by $2 billion over the next year.”
The drought is affecting a range of agricultural crops, but also has made livestock feed more expensive. Many farmers have said they expect their crop yield to fall significantly, with some experiencing loses as high as 50% from normal. Producers are concerned about meeting their contractual obligations under the agreements they negotiated in the winter, and the rising cost of feed for livestock.
“In such times of need, Canadian farmers should be able to look to their government for timely support,” said Liberal Deputy Leader Ralph Goodale. “Liberals have voiced several specific improvements the Conservative government must make in order to address Canadian farmers touched by current extreme circumstances. The government should immediately initiate disaster assistance programs for Canadian farmers affected by the ongoing drought, re-affirm commitments to growing risk management support programs and lastly, activate the Livestock Tax Deferral Program to allow farmers forced to sell their herd due to drought and similar conditions, to defer livestock sale proceeds to the following tax year.”