Brison questions agriculture minister during Commons debate
Friday, May 15, 2009
FOR RELEASE: Friday, May 15, 2009
Federal agriculture minister on hotseat
- department’s spending estimates debated in the House of Commons
OTTAWA - The Liberal Party of Canada selected the 2009-2010 spending estimates of the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food as one of the two departmental spending plans chosen by the party for debate in the House of Commons. The debate was held on May 14, 2009.
Kings-Hants M.P. Scott Brison asked the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Gerry Ritz, questions on supply management, the Kentville Research Station, the issue of landbanking in order to preserve prime agricultural land and country of origin labelling.Mr. Brison’s specific questions were:
“Supply management is on the table for the European Union trade negotiations and while the government wants it removed, that decision is not yet official,” Mr. Brison said.
1) Is supply management on the table for the Canada-EU free trade agreement negotiations, yes or no?
2) Will the minister commit absolutely to defending supply management in the FTA negotiations with the EU?
3) The Kentville research centre, the Atlantic Food and Horticultural Research Station in Kentville, Nova Scotia is vital to Atlantic Canada's food and horticultural industry. The Conservative government is quietly gutting the centre's capacity through attrition and cutting operational funds. The centre's employees in fact as they leave or retire are not being replaced. Modern agriculture needs modern science. Will the minister commit to the long-term viability of the centre and to restore all of its operational funding so that the centre can continue to meet the important needs of Atlantic Canada's horticultural community?
4) Canadians understand the need to preserve prime agricultural land, but in Canada the cost of preserving these lands has been assumed only by our farmers particularly when farmers have to forego profits by not selling their land to developers. What is the role for the federal government to protect agricultural lands, possibly through landbanking?
5) In terms of country of origin labelling, the U.S. has implemented new country of origin labelling rules that are hurting Canadian livestock farmers. Canadian beef and hog farmers are getting lower and lower prices. They cannot compete with these unfair trade rules. Why has the government continually failed to defend our farmers and stand up to the U.S. government in order to secure changes to protect Canadian farmers against the pernicious effects of country of origin labelling?
“I also remain very concerned about the issue of agricultural research in Canada and specifically about the research centre in Kentville, where retiring employees are not being replaced contrary to the assertions of the Minister,” he added.Liberal agriculture critic Hon. Wayne Easter asked Minister Ritz if he knew the current level of farm debt in Canada. Mr. Ritz could not immediately answer the question so Mr. Easter advised that “the debt load is $55 billion and it has increased $4.1 billion since the government came to power, four times the amount of debt as the U.S. farmers.”
The complete Agriculture and Agri-food--Main Estimates debate (2009-10) is available HERE under Government Orders, Business of Supply.
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