Ottawa invests over $300,000 to assess potential problems facing Island farmers
Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay knows farming is risky business.
Weather, he notes by way of example, is increasingly packing a potentially damaging punch.
“We used to always get two to four inches of rain,’’ says MacAulay, the federal minister of Agriculture and Agrifood.
“Now we get a foot.’’ David Mol, president of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, is also concerned with what climate change has in store for Island farmers.
“All you have to do is turn on the TV and you can see cars floating down the streets in other parts of North America,’’ says Mol.
“You just have to look at the rest of the world, and by goodness we are dodging bullets left and right here.’’
Dodging risks is not all about good fortune, however.
Timely and effective response to potential or pending problems facing farmers is key to sustainability and prosperity.
“There are just so many things you can do to prevent harm to crops,’’ says MacAulay.
The federal government announced Friday a $300,500 investment (the provincial government is chipping in an additional $10,000) for the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture (PEIFA) to undertake a risk assessment of agriculture in the province.
The assessment will include three focus groups,
from across P.E.I., discussing and ranking various risks associated with agricultural production for a range of commodities.
“There are so many things that we have to deal with that we didn’t have to deal with years ago along with some of the things we had to deal with years ago,’’ says MacAulay.
“What we want to do is make sure that the agriculture sector in general is aware of what needs to be done in order to make sure that we produce more product on the same amount of land.’’
Mol welcomes the opportunity for the PEIFA to partner with governments to get farmers to sit around a table and bare their souls.
“There’s pessimism, there’s realism and there’s optimism and we know that pessimism doesn’t get us anywhere,’’ he says.
“So we need a mixture of reality mixed with optimism.’’
Mol would like to see risk to farmers spread out over a longer period, especially with the decrease in mixed farms.
“Mixed farms is the old way
“There’s pessimism, there’s realism and there’s optimism and we know that pessimism doesn’t get us anywhere. So we need a mixture of reality mixed with optimism.’’ David Mol
of mitigating risk,’’ he explains.
“If the potato crop was no good pricewise, the grain crop probably was okay or pigs were okay and the beef weren’t. But today where farms only have one, maybe two, the odd time three, different commodities that their marketing, the risk isn’t spread out.’’
The funding to PEIFA is being made through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriRisk Initiatives (ARI), which supports the research and development as well as the implementation and administration of new risk management tools for use in the agriculture sector.
P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture president David Mol, left, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, centre, and Malpeque MP Wayne Easter look over a soybean plant at the Harrington Research Farm. The trio was on hand Friday as MacAulay announced $300,500 in federal funding for a risk assessment of agriculture on the island.