Thursday, 23 July 2015 10:29

Agriculture that much more difficult with current gov’t

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Droughts don’t always have to break records to cause a lot of damage.  And droughts do happen periodically in the Canadian prairies--often enough that a great deal of time has been spent by governments and farm organizations in trying to develop safety net programs that can soften the financial blow to farmers.
There has not been a perfect safety net developed yet, but the margin-based Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program, developed in the 1990s, did provide a lot of assistance to farmers.  A farmer that suffered a one or two year income decline due to weather could expect a payment that was based on previous yearly margins.
When the Conservatives came to power as a minority government in 2006 the name of the program was changed to Agristability, but the basics of the program remained much the same.
However, after the Conservatives formed a majority government in 2011, David Anderson and other Conservative MPs decided to  greatly reduce the possible benefits available to farmers enrolled in AgriStability.
Without any consultation whatsoever with farm groups or provincial governments, in September of 2012 the Conservative government announced that their new AgriStability program would lower the threshold for triggering a payment, and also in most cases lower the target margin as well. 
By only covering a portion of the money spent on expenses like fuel, seed, fertilizer and chemical, the Conservatives pulled the rug out from under farmers when they will need it the most.
These negative policy changes will hurt farmers, machinery dealerships, restaurants and other businesses of all kinds that rely on farmer spending.
Government needs to support farmers by investing in research, innovation and market development, but not at the expense of cuts to programs like AgriStability which support farmers in challenging times when they need it the most.
Trevor Peterson
Federal NDP Candidate: Cypress Hills-Grasslands

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