Lyle Stewart weighs in
Lyle Stewart is positive about — though unsurprised by — the details of the 2014 federal budget.
© Justin Crann
Lyle Stewart, Saskatchewan's Minister of Agriculture
"There weren't too many surprises in it … but there are a couple of things happening that were confirmed by the budget," he told the Times-Herald Wednesday.
Stewart highlighted some of the programs he said would be good for Saskatchewan producers.
At the top of his list was the new Western Livestock Price Insurance Program (WLPIP), which will extend agriculture insurance to cattle and hog producers in Western Canada.
"We've been working with the federal government on that for over a year. We were already aware it was coming," Stewart said. "Nonetheless, it's a very good program and we appreciate their partnership in it."
The program will allow producers to purchase insurance that will pay them if the price of cattle or hog products declines below the insured value.
A free trade agreement with the European Union is also seen as a step forward for Saskatchewan producers, Stewart said.
The third program — which "is a little bit of a surprise and has some potential," according to Stewart — is the $305 million over five years earmarked for expanding internet speed and access to 280,000 homes in rural and remote Canadian regions.
"It depends on what regions they're talking about," he said. "I don't know that $305 million is enough to make a huge difference across the country, but in any event, the program is set in the right direction."
Overall, Stewart said, "the budget sounded like it had a lot of Central Canada bias to it," but he isn't taking it personally.
"In the reality of the political world, that's where the people and the votes are," he said. "I guess we shouldn't be too surprised by that."