Reflet_2012_03_22

ACTUALITÉ / NEWS

GPR Liberals help grow new party policy on family farms

debate, and consideration as part of the party’sfuturepolicyguide. Theparty’snewpolicyonfamilyfarmsis the result of revisions to the original GPR proposal to accommodate concerns from other regions. The original proposal dealt with concerns about farm land ownership. The final policy agreed on during the national convention moved the focus towardsdevelopingasustainablefoodsupply system for Canada and sustainable income forfarmers. “BeitresolvedthataLiberalgovernment create a partnership between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture to develop a national food strategy for Canada that will addressfoodsupply,sustainablefarmincome for farmers, agricultural employment, environmental sustainability, and a secure foodsupplyforCanadians.” Both the original GPR proposal and the final version accepted during the national convention note that costs to keep up with technological improvements, market changes, and regular maintenance, and inflation have created a financial debt situation that is driving many long-time farmers to sell out and preventing young farmers fromentering the field. Lemieuxunimpressed PierreLemieuxislessthanimpressedwith the federal Liberal party’s new policy on agriculture. The Conservative MP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russellthinksthepolicy

G REGG C HAMBERLAIN gregg.chamberlain@eap.on.ca

OTTAWA | Ontario’s family farm traditionreceivedsomespecialattention during the Liberal’s national policy convention thanks to the efforts of the Glengarry-Prescott-Russell riding association. “The main focus was to protect small family farms,” said Connor Quinn, GPR Liberalridingassociationpresident,during a phone interview. PartofthatfocuswastopreventOntario’s traditional family farm culture from becomingswallowedupintheagri-business maw of international and multi-national corporations. The recent national policy convention held in Ottawa this spring saw the GPR proposal diluted a bit but Quinn expressedsatisfactionwiththeoverallresult. The policy review submission process leadinguptothenationalconventionlasted almost a year and began prior to last year’s spring federal election. Each riding associationsubmittedtheirpolicyproposals to a regional review committee which then created a final list of 10 priority items from the region. That list went to the provincial reviewcommittee,whichcreatedatop10list of policy issues out of all the regional lists it received and reviewed. Each provincial association then presented its priority list during the national convention for review,

Part of the focus of a newLiberal policy is to prevent Ontario’s traditional family farmculturefrombecomingswallowedupintheagri-businessmawofinternational andmulti-nationalcorporations. photoarchives

provesthattheLiberalsareoutoftouchwith theconcernsoffarmers. “The Liberals don’t have a good understanding of agriculture,” said Lemieux during a phone interview. “When you look at our riding (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell) there are lots of medium-sized and large (family) farms and they are good farms. They (Liberals) don’t understand rural ridings. Conservatives hold rural ridings, because Conservatives understand farmers.” The MP questioned whether the Liberals’ policy proposal would not hampereffortsoffarmfamiliesintheriding

and elsewhere from improving their economic situation through expansion of their holdings. He noted that the issue of “farmdebt” is a real one but that when a farm ismanaged well and allowed to expand and develop, the farm assets increase in value and a farmer is a position to further improve assets by upgrading equipment and/or expanding holdings more to make room for other crops with potential market value.“The farmer knows best how to managehisresourcesandassets,”Lemieux said, “and I don’t think they shouldhave to be constrained.”

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