BROOKS, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - July 10, 2012) - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz sat down with farmers in southeastern Alberta today to get their input on agriculture policies and to let them know about the many ways the Harper Government is creating growth and economic prosperity. Member of Parliament LaVar Payne (Medicine Hat) hosted the roundtable discussion.
"Our government remains focused on creating jobs, growth, and long-term economic prosperity for all Canadians, and supporting the agriculture industry is vital to our plan," said Minister Ritz. "Through Economic Action Plan 2012, our government is providing targeted investments that help create new economic opportunities for our farm families and economic growth in our rural communities."
Minister Ritz highlighted the Harper Government initiatives that are helping farmers make their living from the marketplace, become more innovative, and better manage risk. These initiatives include:
- Delivering marketing freedom for western Canadian wheat and barley farmers, which includes support for a viable, voluntary Canadian Wheat Board;
- Successfully challenging the discriminatory U.S. country-of-origin labelling at the World Trade Organization;
- Scrapping the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry that unfairly targeted Canadian farmers and hunters;
- Ensuring that employment of temporary and foreign workers continues to support economic growth and helps create more opportunities for all Canadians;
- Opening, reopening, and expanding market access for Canadian farmers and producers, who last year exported agriculture products valued at more than $44 billion;
- Providing a $500-million loan program through Farm Credit Canada to ensure that young and beginning farmers can start or grow their businesses.
Building on industry's call for more market access, market development, and innovation, Minister Ritz and MP Payne used the opportunity to consult on the next suite of agriculture programming. Just as farmers review their business practices on a regular basis, the Harper Government is reviewing its programs to make sure they will help the sector become more competitive over the long term. As the outlook for the agricultural sector is positive, with many commodities currently experiencing record high incomes and showing strong growth prospects, the time is right to make sure that agricultural programs are having the greatest impact on the future.
The Government will continue to invest in science and innovation to keep Canadian farmers efficient and competitive, while providing predictable, stable, and bankable programs to help farmers weather disasters.
"Scrapping the long-gun registry and ending the old Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly are just a couple of examples of how our government is delivering results for southeastern Albertan farmers," said MP Payne. "Going forward, we will continue to listen to farmers to ensure that the next suite of agriculture programs focuses on innovation, market access, and regulatory reform that support a strong and sustainable future for Canadian agriculture."
This roundtable was part of ongoing consultations with farmers and agricultural stakeholders.