The recent budget by the Harper government is another example of politics by illusion and deception.
The Conservative Party ably argued against the CAIS program because it fails to support our farmers against long term trade injury. They promised to replace it and to get support payments to farmers quickly, in time for the 2006 planting season.
In this recent budget, the Conservative government allocated a $500M top-up support for CAIS and only $1B in additional revenue support. Farmers expected a spring payment and believed conservative candidates that one would be forthcoming.
The House agriculture committee chair Ritz has indicated that there will be no spring payment. Money will go out via CAIS and that will be likely in the fall. The method of calculating the support for each farmer is based on the inventory evaluation change dating back to 2003. All this is a complete about-face by the Harper government.
Beef and hog producers will receive some support; however, a substantial amount will end up in the hands of Cargill and Lakeside feedlots thus starving the family farms. Grain and oilseed producers will see very little money. This is a complete betrayal of the farming community by this government while they use the inherited surplus of $13 billion to hand out tax breaks for Canada’s wealthiest.
The Liberal Party understands the needs of Canadian Farmers. The 2004 combined provincial and federal Liberal financial support to farmers came to about $4.3B. In 2005, the federal Liberal farm support was $1.755B. Liberal MPs Easter and Goodale pegged the immediate need for spring planting at $1.6B.
The Liberal Party is also prepared to deal with the root causes of the farm income crisis, a worldwide crisis affecting all commodities and all farmers. The report published by the Honourable Wayne Easter, former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, identified corporate concentration in the farm input and the farm marketing sectors as the leading culprit. The report outlines a wide range of actions to reduce unfair corporate control, develop local markets for farmers, provide farmers with more negotiating power in the market, and give farmers a fair share of the consumer food dollar.