Manitoba farmers feel left out on farm policy tour

CNS Canada –– Manitoba has been dropped from an upcoming consulting tour meant to lay the foundation for Canada’s next agricultural policy funding framework.

That will limit the province’s producers, the head of an industry group says.

The House of Commons’ standing committee on agriculture and agri-food is holding a consulting tour to hear from industry participants about the upcoming agriculture funding framework, Growing Forward 3. The tour will include eastern and western legs.

Consultations in Prairie provinces had been set to start the first week of October. The western portion of the tour has been pushed back to November, and Winnipeg has been dropped, while a stop in Saskatchewan has been added, according to minutes on the Parliament of Canada website.

“We don’t get the ability to have that conversation now in Manitoba,” said Dan Mazier, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP).

Manitoba’s producers will not be able to explain what does and doesn’t work in the province, he said.

“Every province has a different take on these programs,” Mazier said. “It’s not really a good step or process from a government that’s saying they want to work with Canadians.

“Look at the impact that agriculture has Manitoba.”

The agriculture industry employs an estimated one in 10 people in the province, according to statistics from the Manitoba agriculture department.

However, a federal agriculture department official noted producers from across Canada are able to voice their concerns online, and extensive consultations are ongoing.

Canadian farmers are able to submit feedback through a consultation questionnaire and via email or social media, with addresses found on Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s website.

The online questionnaire focuses on the Calgary Statement, issued in July by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers, outlining what’s seen as the priority areas for the next funding framework.

The current agricultural framework, Growing Forward 2, will expire in 2018.

The tour will also not stop in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland.

Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @jade_markus on Twitter.

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