UPA not happy with cuts in agri­cul­ture

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS BRIEF - Vic­to­ria Vanier

The Union des pro­duc­teurs agri­coles (UPA) con­sid­ers the bud­get cuts of 14.5 % in agri­cul­ture danger­ous. The in­se­cu­rity cre­ated by the cuts could have dis­as­trous im­pacts on the in­vest­ment de­ci­sions of agri­cul­tural pro­duc­ers.

To an­nounce to pro­duc­ers that the Fi­nanciere agri­cole du Que­bec (FADQ) doesn’t have the funds needed if the mar­kets or the weather don’t co­op­er­ate is cer­tainly not a good idea in such a risky sec­tor. For ex­am­ple, the mar­kets for pork and ce­re­als are presently at a low and no-one can pre­dict where they will go in the next twelve months.

In its bud­get speech (2015 – 2016), the gov­ern­ment an­nounced cuts of $151 mil­lion to the an­nual FADQ bud­get (25%). This de­ci­sion makes the agri­cul­ture sec­tor the most af­fected and is bad for in­vest­ment, for emerg­ing pro­duc­ers, for em­ploy­ment and re­gional devel­op­ment. To avoid the neg­a­tive con­se­quences of such an an­nounce­ment, the gov­ern­ment should re­veal to the pro­duc­ers its long-term in­ten­tions.

Agri­cul­ture and food trans­for­ma­tion are the key el­e­ments of the Que­bec econ­omy. Each year those sec­tors em­ploy more than 200,000 (one of ev­ery twenty jobs in Que­bec) and gen­er­ate rev­enues of roughly $4.5 bil­lion for dif­fer­ent lev­els of gov­ern­ment.

It is cru­cial that the 2015-2016 ex­er­cise is not one of tran­si­tion and the nec­es­sary bud­gets will re­turn in 2016-2017 for a pe­riod of five years. If not, the dura­bil­ity of the agri­cul­tural sec­tor will be in ques­tion, our en­ter­prises will be weak­ened, and thou­sands of Que­bec jobs will be threat­ened.

Where is the need ad­dressed of a clear agree­ment as rec­om­mended by the FADQMAPAQ-UPA work group on the se­cu­rity of rev­enue which was trans­mit­ted to the Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture last De­cem­ber? Th­ese rec­om­men­da­tions were part of a con­sen­sus and many of them could be im­ple­mented this year, de­spite the con­straints an­nounced. Noth­ing for pri­vate forests

The UPA is not happy that the bud­get does not in­clude in­vest­ing in pri­vate forests to sup­port the stim­u­la­tion of the for­est in­dus­try in all re­gions of Que­bec. More than 130,000 in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, small busi­nesses and large cor­po­ra­tions hold 6.5 mil­lion hectares of Que­bec forests. Of that num­ber, about 35,000 are for­est pro­duc­ers. The har­vest­ing of pri­vate wood rep­re­sents 15% of the sup­ply for the fac­to­ries. The wood har­vest­ing ac­tiv­i­ties done in pri­vate forests gen­er­ates about 25,000 jobs and rev­enues of $2.5 bil­lion a year for the in­di­vid­u­als, busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions in­volved. In­ter­est­ing mea­sures

As one of the big­gest net­works of small to medium sized (SME) busi­nesses in Que­bec, the UPA re­sponded fa­vor­ably to the mea­sures to lighten the fis­cal load of SMEs in the pri­mary sec­tor along with the new rules re­gard­ing the trans­fer of busi­nesses be­tween rel­a­tives, some­thing the UPA has de­manded for many years.

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