Calkins doesn’t walk his talk on farmers

Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins likes to say he and the Conservative party support our farmers. The facts say otherwise.

Dear Editor:

Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins likes to say he and the Conservative party support our farmers. The facts say otherwise.

This month, a new Conservative federal-provincial agricultural agreement goes into effect setting the course for farming in Canada for the next five years, marking an unprecedented attack on programs designed to help farmers manage their risk — backstops necessary to farmers in tough times.

Among the shocking cuts to the business risk management (BRM) suite are cuts to AgriInvest, which helps cover income declines and provides funds to mitigate risks and invest in the farm, slashing its funding by 33 per cent.

More surprisingly, they also take a huge chunk out of AgriStability, which helps cover declines in producers’ average income from previous years, hacking off as much as $411 million a year, for a total cut of more than $2 billion over the five-year program.

With these cuts, the Conservatives are leaving producers more vulnerable when bad times hit — and doing so despite clearly hearing from farmers how valuable these programs are.

Instead of cutting red tape — they cut all the reasonable assistance farmers rely on in times of need.

These cuts to BRM come on the heels of short-sighted plans to eliminate the Agroforestry Development Centre in Indian Head and the PFRA’s Community Pasture program — which both provide essential public services for producers that don’t have viable private business models — as well as reckless cuts to food inspection, which leaves the door open to another XL Foods-like crisis.

The next time you hear Mr. Calkins boast about his support for farmers, you might want to ask him about that record.

MP Frank Valeriote,

Liberal agriculture critic

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