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Good things for ag in federal budget, Conservative ag critic says

Good things for ag in federal budget, Conservative ag critic says

Some items, however, miss the mark, John Barlow says

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Some of the Liberal government’s ag commitments in the federal budget are good, the Conservative ag critic says.

The federal government is promising, for example, to spend millions of dollars to support the dairy sector, or to establish the Canada Water Security Agency in Winnipeg, Man.

One area of funding John Barlow is pleased with is the government’s commitment to create a vaccine bank.

The Liberals promised to invest $57.5 million over five years to create a Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank and develop emergency response plans.

“That was something that was pretty critical to have in this budget,” Barlow, the Conservative MP for Foothills in Alberta, told Farms.com. “We know what we’ve seen with avian flu and the potential for African swine fever, so we need to be prepared for that.”

One item the Conservatives pushed for is a cut to the carbon tax, which increased from $50 per tonne to $65 per tonne on April 1.

Farmers are continuously seeing their input costs rise, and carbon tax relief could have gone a long way to support producers, Barlow said.

“Last year’s harvest was the most expensive in Canadian history,” he said. “And the prices of inputs are only going to get higher. That also means the end user and the consumer are also going to pay more for a farmer’s products.”

Carbon tax relief for farmers may be coming.

On March 29, Conservative MP Ben Lobb’s (Huron-Bruce) bill, C-234, which would exempt on-farm fuels like propane and natural gas from the carbon tax, passed its third reading in the House of Commons and will move to the senate.

This piece of legislation supports farmers who need these fuels to dry grain or heat barns, Barlow said.

“This is such a huge win for Canadian farm families,” Barlow said. “This bill received support from all of the opposition parties and a few Liberals as well. It’s a game-changer in terms of affordability and we’re hopeful that before we rise this spring, farmers won’t be paying the carbon tax.”

Another area of the federal budget the Conservatives are concerned with is the On-Farm Climate Action Fund.

The budget calls for $34.1 million over three years for farmers in Eastern Canada paying tariffs on fertilizer imported from Russia.

How it’s phrased in the budget document is worrisome, Barlow said.

“The wording in that was concerning because it was saying the goal of this is to reduce the need for fertilizer,” Barlow said.

The Conservatives also wanted to see funding for the Port of Vancouver.

When rain hits the port, loading and unloading cargo becomes inefficient, Barlow said.

“We hope those things will be addressed,” he said. “There’s some issues with the shoremen’s union asking for specific things with tarps that they roll out in the rain. But that can take hours so they usually wait until the rain stops, so it’s really inefficient and that’s how you get a backlog of containers needing to be loaded or unloaded.”

The federal budget also included items on right to repair.

The government plans to launch consultations this summer surrounding this topic.

Barlow is also pleased with this development.

“It’s a recognition from the Liberal government of some of the private members’ bills being put forward by our colleagues,” he said. “Farmers want more control of their data, and this is a good recognition from the Liberals that (Conservatives) are in contact with our stakeholders.”

Farms.com has contacted Alistair MacGregor, the ag critic for the federal NDP, for reaction to the federal budget.


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