Farmers need good representation
The Union des Producteurs Agricoles (UPA) will be paying close attention to the study of the 2016-2017 credits by the Ministry of Agriculture in the National Assembly of Quebec today. “MAPAQ seems to be giving up more and more their economic vocation, to the detriment of the competitiveness of our enterprises. Parliamentarians must ask good questions,” said the UPA president, Marcel Groleau.
The members of the Commission de l’agriculture, des pecheries, de l’energie et des ressources naturelles (CAPERN) have the opportunity to question the Minister of Agriculture, Pierre Paradis, on the budget priorities of his ministry for the coming year. It will be the opportunity, for parliamentarians, to have specific and detailed answers on the major issues in the world of agriculture.
In their strategic plan for 2015 – 2018, deposited last month, MAPAQ mentioned that the wishes of the consumers and citizens will guide the orientations and the action priorities during this period of reflection, notably, the use of pesticides, the well-being of animals, the availability of organic foods and health foods.
MAPAQ has also mentioned, briefly, that it wants to promote the interests of the Quebec biofood sector in commercial negotiations; that they will defend the supply management system; and they will focus on creating tools to manage risk. However, no concrete intervention has been mentioned. “To respond to the expectations of
consumers, the producers are in need of a competitive agricultural policy. Quebec, unfortunately, is behind in this chapter,” continued Mr. Groleau.
The income security dossier is major in assuring the development of the agricultural sector and the establishment of young people in the field. In 2014, a working group made up of the UPA, MAPAQ and the Financiere agricole du Quebec (FADQ) were leaning towards the reworking of programs. Their report containing unanimous recommendations was given to the Minister at the beginning of 2015.
In their budget speech of 2016-2017, the Quebec government announced that they will proceed to reform the Programme de credit de taxes foncieres agricoles (PCTFA) and they will transfer management of it to Revenu Quebec. The government also announced that, as of January 1st, 2017, exploited farmland by a farmer registered with MAPAQ will be admissible to financial aid corresponding to 78% of the value of the municipal taxes. According to the government, this percentage is equivalent globally to the level of support presently given to those in the program. According to the UPA, nothing could be farther from the truth.
The new program applies one rate only of 78%; it excludes school taxes and abolishes the 100% credit of the first $300 in taxes. The credit of 85 % of the cost of taxes for evaluation that exceed $1,813 per hectare has also been abolished. When all these changes are taken into consideration, the impact represents an average increase of 30 to 40 % of the bill assumed by the farm producers.