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Barlow Looks For Silver Lining Amidst COVID 19

Dealing with the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting every person coast to coast in Canada, along with the entire economy.

Foothills MP, and the Conservatives Agriculture Critic, John Barlow, says sometimes you have to look hard for the silver linings.

He says fuel and fertilizer prices are at their lowest levels in 30 years, will be a boon for producers with spring planting right around the corner.

"Yeah, the diesel they're using out in the field will be much lower than they've had in a long time. And I know when you see fuel and 67, 68 cents a litre, it's been a long time since we've seen anything like that."

Barlow says the black cloud on the horizon for farmers is the planned increase to the federal carbon tax scheduled for Wednesday, April 1.

He says that could take some of the shine off the lower input costs for producers.

"Exempting agriculture from the Carbon Tax would be a very easy win. Do not increase the carbon tax on April 1, which is what is being planned now. You know, take some of those steps that are easy wins. Certainly we're supportive of the initiatives they've (Liberals) have taken and I think there's room to move even further."

Thanks to slipping prices for crude, gas prices have fallen to around 68 cents a litre in Southern Alberta, with diesel under a dollar a litre for the first time in years.

Earlier this week, the Trudeau Liberals announced a $5 billion increase in lending capacity for farmers and other food producers earlier this week through Farm Credit Canada.

Barlow, says it's just the government making good on an old promise.

"The $5 Billion the announced as a increase to Farm Credit Canada was an election platform, promise by the Liberals in the 2019 election campaign. So, this is not an extraordinary measure to address an unprecedented financial crisis, not only in Agriculture, but across the country."

He says the program is still welcome, but he would have liked to have seen the Feds go farther."To see the extension of the deadline to make loan repayments as part of your advanced payment program into the Fall is a good step. We would have liked to have seen those extensions be interest free. Certainly what our producers don't need right now is more debt."

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