Tough issues face farmers, says agriculture lobbyist

Dustin Gill
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The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan held its Fall district meeting at the Heritage Inn in Moose Jaw on Wednesday where members discussed, among other things, changes to government policies.

Among other APAS personnel, general manager Nial Kuyek was in attendance as well as municipal representatives for districts one and two, which are comprised of southwest and south central Saskatchewan.

“This morning we’ve had a session from Excel Grains, which is the national body which has been set up to establish on-farm food safety in the grains and oil seed sector. We’re really approaching it as an opportunity for farmers to capture niche markets,” said Kuyek. Delivering the on-farm food safety initiative for grains presentation was Excel Grains national manager Janis Arnold.

“I think the two major policy items will be the business risk management changes and the community pasture divestitures,” said Kuyek. “We were looking for improvements in farm safety nets for Canadian farmers, and the federal-provincial territorial agreement really lessens the effectiveness of the programs.

“The federal government announced in the budget that (it) will no longer manage the federal pastures; that those will be given back to the provinces to run and the province has decided to put them up for sale. We have some concerns about where it’s going and were going to be discussing our policy position on that,” said Kuyek.

In regards to farmer risk management and the Growing Forward Too program, Kuyek said, “They’ve reduced the triggering level of agri-stability from 85 per cent to 70 per cent; that’s going to save the federal and provincial governments $400 million a year over the next 5 years, but its going to be done on the backs of farmers.” Kuyek said this means that as opposed to farmers having an 85 per cent guarantee on income stability, they now have only a 70 per cent guarantee, which he said is going to cost Saskatchewan farmers. “They’ve also cut Agri-Invest. That, too, was a very popular program and is going to mean less money in our farmers’ pockets,” he said.

“Farmers are busy over the summer and over the fall harvesting and earning their living — now they’re beginning to understand that some changes to safety nets programs have been made that are going to negatively impact them,” said Kuyek. “It’s a move to lessen government support for agriculture, no matter who the operator is.”

For more on this story check out Thursday's issue of the Times-Herald

Organizations: Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, Heritage Inn, Times-Herald

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw

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