KFA Reacts To Latest Federal Budget

BlackburnNews.com file photo by Simon Crouch.

Agriculture is mentioned 14 times and the word “farmer” is used three times, in the Trudeau government’s second budget.

“Farmers like to be mentioned in the budget, but always in a good way,” says Harry Lawson, vice president of the Kent Federation of Agriculture (KFA).

He says there’s lots in the latest budget for the farming community, including $2-billion to support rural infrastructure for roads and bridges, and money to bring high-speed, broadband Internet access to rural Canada. Lawson just hopes some of that funding trickles down locally.

“[Both] are pretty timely topics for our municipality,” he says.

This week’s federal budget also sets a target to boost agriculture exports to at least $75-billion a year by 2025. While the feds are eyeing growth in Canada’s agri-food exports, the budget doesn’t specify how they plan to reach that $75-billion target.

“What we need is value-added, to process more of — locally, vegetables — and package to add the value to the exports,” says Lawson. “So we’re hoping it brings more local business and innovation into Chatham-Kent.”

Lawson adds the KFA would have liked to have seen funding for a new agricultural policy framework, set to launch in April of 2018 and being developed by both senior levels of government now.

“The funding has been reduced to those programs… so the program is there, but the money is not,” says Lawson of farm safety nets. “And the triggers for those, you have to be pretty well broke before you’re ever going to get money out of some of those programs, like AgriStability.”

Other highlights in the budget for Lawson are $10.1-billion for trade corridors to invest in gateways and ports, and a $70-million investment over six years to advance agricultural science and innovation

“Farmers are innovators, so that’s what we’re looking for,” he says.