The Growing Forward 2 Agricultural Program is about change. Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz met with representatives from the agriculture industry recently in Fredericton to discuss the Growing Forward 2 Program to be implemented April 2013. National Farmers Union in New Brunswick (NFU in NB) President, Jean-Eudes Chiasson, came away from the meeting with mixed feelings.
“Mr. Ritz says everything is on the table,” explains Chiasson. “This is good. It gives us an opportunity to help shape the programs, because so far Growing Forward has not worked for Atlantic Canada. We lost our hog industry and much of our beef. It doesn’t work for the small farmers and in Atlantic Canada we are largely small farmers.”
Ritz explained to the group of agricultural leaders that there are no industrialized countries that invest as high a percentage as Canada in agricultural risk management programs, stating that 90% of the amount the federal government puts towards agriculture goes towards revenue protection, leaving just 10% to for non-business risk programs. “Maybe this is true,” counters Chiasson, “but other countries, like the U.S. and the EU put a lot of money into the non-business side of things. They invest in innovative technologies that can help the farmers help themselves.”
The NFU in NB feel is that the purpose of Growing Forward 2 should be to better accommodate farmers. Current policies include removing caps and making it easier for large farms to get all the compensation. Current policies include entering into further trade deals that place producers at risk from international price fluctuations as a result of increased export markets. Current policies include a lack of careful planning for the impacts of climate change. The National Farmers Union in NB says this is no way to accommodate farmers in New Brunswick and across Canada.
Jean-Eudes Chiasson, NFU in NB President (506) 775-6033
Melanie Jellett, NFU in NB Executive Director (506) 538-1189