Nova Scotia farmers unhappy with funding program
Federation of Agriculture displeased with roll out of Canadian Agricultural Partnership programs
A rift has developed between Nova Scotia farmers and the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture.
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership was announced earlier this week. It's a five year, $3 billion cost-shared plan with provinces and territories. Some $37 million was targeted for programs to assist the agricultural industry in Nova Scotia.
"When that was released we noticed that there were some parts that were missing that should be there," said Victor Oulton, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. "There were also some other things there that we really weren't totally happy with."
$37 million for Nova Scotia farmers
The federation represents more than 2,500 farm families. Oulton says there are major flaws in the eligibility for the partnerships programs.
The most obvious change is the increase of farm revenue minimum from $10,000 to $30,000.
"There would have been a very large percentage of our membership that would have been left out altogether," said Oulton. "If you were under $30,000, the way the cap agreement would be rolled out now, there is nothing available there for you."
Two days after the funding announcement, the federation posted on their website a report titled: Small Farms Abandoned. The post said the new programs are limiting, at best.
"I was surprised, because we have been consulting with them all the way along," said Keith Colwell, the agriculture minister. "I was really surprised the way they did it."
The day after the federation's post went online, they received notice from the province that the cost-shared programs under the new agreement will be suspended for 30 days.
Everything on hold
"We decided we better put a hold on everything. We've had five programs out and they've been stopped for 30 days now so we can clearly understand what farmers' concerns are," said Colwell. "We will try to deal with every concern we have as long as it fits within the framework of the federal-provincial agreement."
The new federal-provincial partnership is meant to assist with many agricultural tasks, including soil and water sustainability.
Oulton says other programs will indirectly hamper growth in many sectors, including the beef industry in Nova Scotia.
"If you want to export products there is a section in there for that, but anybody processing meat under the provincial meat inspection program, they wouldn't qualify," said Oulton. "It kind of leaves the beef and sheep industry out of the picture, unless you want to upgrade and export."
The federation will meet with the agriculture minister on May 1 and they will try to smooth out their differences. Oulton said his group will provide details about their concerns in writing to Colwell ahead of their face to face meeting.