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Manitoba farm groups seem pleased with this week's Provincial budget

Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn says the budget highlights several key investments for the province's agriculture sector.

One of the announcements getting a lot of attention is the $100,000 increase in the Young Farmer's Rebate Program from $200,000 to $300,000.

He says with the increased costs producers are facing they felt it was an opportune time to provide some additional borrowing capacity for young producers.

Manitoba Pork's General Manager Cam Dahl is pleased with the move saying access to capital is a limiting factor for agriculture.

"A new hog barn, for example, will run in the range of $50 million. So access to capital is a key issue. It's good to see the initiative for young farmers, but we also need to look for some other creative ways of  giving producers access to capital so that they can invest in new infrastructure and growth."

He added that a key point for him with the budget was the statement in the budget that acknowledged a thriving agriculture sector is integral to the economic strength of Manitoba. 

"For me, that is a really good foundation on which to build policy."

Jill Verwey, president of the Keystone Agriculture Producers is also pleased with what she heard in the budget as it relates to agriculture. 

A key issue that KAP has been focused on relates to property taxes, in the budget the Province decided to maintain the 50 per cent school tax rebate on farm properties while increasing it for other property sites. 

"You know, it's something that we've continually been advocating for and encouraging the province to work towards a complete removal of the tax on farm properties.  So we're very pleased to see that in place."

KAP was also pleased to see the funding in place for the business risk management programs and another $135,000 for tuition rebates to help address the veterinary shortages for large animal vets in the province.

Verwey says another encouraging announcement was the government's plans to reopen two of the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation offices.

Kostyshyn says no decisions have been made on the locations or timeline on when the offices will open ... but stay tuned. 

Another key issue in the agriculture sector not just in Manitoba but across the Prairies has been the growing concern over the shortage of large animal vets.

The Province announced 135 thousand dollars for a Veterinary Services Strategy which includes bringing the number of seats dedicated to Manitoba students at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon to  20 and developing an apprenticeship program for veterinarians that are either in their first, second or third year of the program to work with large animal veterinarians in the rural areas.

Carson Callum, General Manager of Manitoba Beef says it's encouraging to see the Province's commitment to developing a veterinary strategy to address the shortage of large animal vets:

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