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CFA says stronger signal needed for ag investment

March 24, 2011  By Canadian Federation of Agriculture

March 23, 2011, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture
(CFA) sees both positive and negative aspects in the federal budget
tabled recently.

March 23, 2011, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) sees both positive and negative aspects in the federal budget tabled recently.

There are some helpful investment initiatives for the agricultural sector, but Canadian farmers are disappointed there was not a stronger signal from the federal government recognizing agriculture as an investment priority, properly reflecting the value the sector contributes to the country’s economy.

In pre-budget consultations, the CFA asked that no additional cuts be made to research and innovation for the agricultural sector. The budget outlines $50 million for an Agricultural Innovation Initiative over two years. It is positive that some money is being put back into agricultural research, however, it does not compensate for the neglect agricultural research has received over the past several years.

“While fiscal restraint is necessary in this time of significant deficits, the CFA reiterates that the budget should not be balanced on the backs of farmers,” said CFA president Ron Bonnett. “AAFC has seen their total funding cut 42 per cent from an average of $4.5 billion between 2004-2008 to $2.57 billion for 2011-2012. If even a fraction of this savings was reinvested into agricultural research and innovation – as has been suggested by numerous groups, including the CFA – Canadian agriculture would be well situated for another 20 years of growth. However, like any farmer knows, growth must be nurtured, and the CFA strongly encourages the federal government to make a lasting commitment to agricultural research in future budgets,” added Bonnett.

The budget contains some positive tax measures that could help farmers. The hiring credit for small business would be welcome news for farm operations that are looking to expand. Similarly, the limited Employment Insurance rate increase will provide greater incentive for farmers to hire additional employees. For rural farmers who help their community as a volunteer firefighter, Budget 2011 includes a beneficial tax credit.

The CFA is pleased to see $100 million committed to food safety over 5 years to improve the detection of food borne illnesses, further ensuring the high-quality, safe reputation that Canadian food has worldwide.

The CFA is disappointed a Cooperative Investment Plan was not included. Applied across the country, it is estimated a national CIP would cost the Canadian government approximately $18-$20 million per year and in successive years, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural cooperative investment for Canadian communities.

The CFA and its members remain committed to working with the government on the budget announcement details in the coming months in order to rectify these and any other outstanding issues not addressed in the 2011 Budget.

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