Budget fails to address farmers’ priorities
OTTAWA – New Democrat Agriculture Critic Alex Atamanenko (BC Southern Interior), says he’s disappointed but not surprised that the Conservatives failed to make agriculture a priority in yesterday’s budget.
“Those of us who have to work with Conservatives and their antics at the Standing Committee on Agriculture can tell you that this government isn’t interested in acting on the real concerns facing farmers in a future filled with uncertainties,” said Atamanenko. “Nothing in this budget will take the country even one step closer to having the comprehensive national food strategy that most farm organizations and civil society groups are calling for.”
According to Atamanenko the Conservatives remains oblivious to the fact that, for many food growers, income stabilization programs are still failing to be bankable and responsive.
“I know farmers will be disappointed that, once again, the federal government is refusing to include Business Risk Management as an eligible component of the Agri-Flex program,” said Atamanenko. “It is also abundantly clear that the much needed costing review of railway charges that are gouging farmers is never going to happen under a Conservative government.”
Atamanenko says he would have liked to see much more in the budget to nurture the local food movement that is gaining in strength as Canadians try to do more to support farmers and eat healthier food. “There is nothing in the budget to address the dire situation facing Okanagan fruit growers in BC who have lost so much money due to the yearly dumping into our markets at harvest time by the US and China as a result of trade agreements.
“All in all, what is clearly indicated in this budget is that Conservatives are determined to stay the course with the same failed policies and lack of vision that will ensure the number of family farms in Canada will continue to decline,” concluded Atamanenko.