Bernard Généreux, MP for Montmagny—L’Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, and his colleague Luc Berthold, MP for Mégantic—L’Érable and Shadow Minister responsible for Agriculture and Agri-Food, expressed support for dairy producers and the Fédération de l’UPA du Bas-Saint-Laurent. They are calling for the federal-provincial AgriRecovery program to provide relief for the region’s poor summer harvest caused by weather, and they are also asking for help to deal with the impact of international agreements on dairy products.
During summer 2017, areas in the Lower St. Lawrence received one third the normal rainfall, which has been catastrophic for harvests and croplands. “I believe that farmers are fully justified in asking to be compensated for their higher than normal costs. Based on what I’ve been told by the Fédération de l’Union des producteurs agricoles and by local farmers who contacted me directly, they’re simply not able to cope with the effects of this summer’s drought in the Lower St. Lawrence. Silos are empty, and so are wells, and the land has been devastated. These farmers, who put food on our tables, are an important part of our economy, so I believe that the Liberal government has to help them because they’re victims of a natural disaster,” said Mr. Généreux.
For Luc Berthold, the unpredictable nature of farming means that when disaster strikes, requests for help need to be responded to quickly. “If the Justin Trudeau government believes that family farms are just schemes to avoid paying taxes, I invite their officials to do what I did and go see for themselves the hardship and concerns of the drought-affected farmers and producers. They will see real people with real problems, and the need for a rapid agreement with the Government of Quebec to activate the AgriRecovery relief framework,” said the shadow minister.
Lots of hope, not much substance
Like all dairy producers across Canada, farmers in the Lower St. Lawrence have shown frustration with the Trudeau government’s hasty closure of the Dairy Farm Investment Fund. “This government is making it up as they go along and it’s dairy farmers who are paying the price. With the economic agreement with Europe rapidly approaching, they rolled out an incomplete and unfair program to deal with the 17,000 tonnes of European cheese soon coming to Canada. Farmers only had a few days to go over the program and submit an application, when each project requires an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Only 10% of them will be getting government assistance by the end of this five-year program,” said Luc Berthold.
Mr. Généreux agrees. “The current government is playing games with farmers, with most of them ending up with nothing. We Conservatives had a $2 billion compensation plan for dairy farmers to offset the impacts of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement. This plan was scrapped, leaving dairy farmers with an incomplete program, meaning that not only will most farmers go without any help at all, but also that there will be an unfair situation with some benefiting at the expense of others, based on who was able to apply first,” said the MP for Montmagny—L’Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.