Agriculture This Week - Hard to satisfy agriculture with a federal budget

The federal budget dropped last week, and how the document did in terms of supporting agriculture is rather difficult to determine. 

Certainly there has been reaction to it from various farm and rural-base groups, but therein lies the problem of knowing whether the federal Liberals did a good job of supporting the overall agriculture sector. 

When it comes to farm groups there are many, most focused on bite-sized sectors of the overall industry, cereal grains, or canola, or pulses, or fruits, or, well you get the idea. The seemingly fractured landscape has evolved for perfectly good reasons. What is good for canola producers, might not be the best for cereal growers.  

Of course the difference becomes even more significant when you consider what a fruit grower in British Columbia might want compared to a beef producer in Alberta, a canola grower in Saskatchewan, vegetable producers in Ontario, a dairy farmer in Quebec or a potato grower in Prince Edward Island. 

Programming needs to be hugely diverse to help all, and when a group looks at legislation, like a federal budget, they are viewing it to see if it helps the farmers they represent, and given the diversity within agriculture the needs can be rather specific to a commodity and widely variant from what others are hoping for. 

So there was frankly zero chance the budget would be viewed as a positive by all producers. 

It gets more complicated when you overlay the rhetoric of politics too. 

Voters on the Prairies have not exactly flocked to the Liberal banner in recent federal elections, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not particularly popular among many in the agriculture heartland, to the point a few on the political fringe as calling for western separation. 

So to expect a lot of support for the budget from out west would be folly. 

And, there is also the reality that farming no longer carries the votes it once did. Rural depopulation has lessened the voice of farming in parliament. 

That has an impact. For example, the mere idea of a carbon tax has Prairie farmers shuddering, worried about added costs, and no counter-balancing added returns. But, among eco-friendly voters worried about things such as climate change and what the earth might look like in a few decades for their children, a carbon tax may be viewed in a more friendly fashion. 

Ultimately, federal governments, of any stripe, must appease the urban voters in our biggest cities because their vote fills so many seats in Parliament, and that means agriculture may not be a budget priority. 

In the end, each farmer needs to delve into the budget on their own, hopefully without too many preconceived notions based on where they live, or what they produce, and from there determine if the budget was good, or bad, for Canada as a whole. That is after all what a federal budget should strive to achieve – being good for the country.

article continues below

The federal budget dropped last week, and how the document did in terms of supporting agriculture is rather difficult to determine. 
Certainly there has been reaction to it from various farm and rural-base groups, but therein lies the problem of knowing whether the federal Liberals did a good job of supporting the overall agriculture sector. 

When it comes to farm groups there are many, most focused on bite-sized sectors of the overall industry, cereal grains, or canola, or pulses, or fruits, or, well you get the idea. The seemingly fractured landscape has evolved for perfectly good reasons. What is good for canola producers, might not be the best for cereal growers.
 
Of course the difference becomes even more significant when you consider what a fruit grower in British Columbia might want compared to a beef producer in Alberta, a canola grower in Saskatchewan, vegetable producers in Ontario, a dairy farmer in Quebec or a potato grower in Prince Edward Island. 

Programming needs to be hugely diverse to help all, and when a group looks at legislation, like a federal budget, they are viewing it to see if it helps the farmers they represent, and given the diversity within agriculture the needs can be rather specific to a commodity and widely variant from what others are hoping for. 

So there was frankly zero chance the budget would be viewed as a positive by all producers.
 
It gets more complicated when you overlay the rhetoric of politics too. 

Voters on the Prairies have not exactly flocked to the Liberal banner in recent federal elections, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not particularly popular among many in the agriculture heartland, to the point a few on the political fringe as calling for western separation. 

So to expect a lot of support for the budget from out west would be folly. 

And, there is also the reality that farming no longer carries the votes it once did. Rural depopulation has lessened the voice of farming in parliament. 

That has an impact. For example, the mere idea of a carbon tax has Prairie farmers shuddering, worried about added costs, and no counter-balancing added returns. But, among eco-friendly voters worried about things such as climate change and what the earth might look like in a few decades for their children, a carbon tax may be viewed in a more friendly fashion. 

Ultimately, federal governments, of any stripe, must appease the urban voters in our biggest cities because their vote fills so many seats in Parliament, and that means agriculture may not be a budget priority. 

In the end, each farmer needs to delve into the budget on their own, hopefully without too many preconceived notions based on where they live, or what they produce, and from there determine if the budget was good, or bad, for Canada as a whole. That is after all what a federal budget should strive to achieve – being good for the country.

© Copyright Yorkton This Week

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Yorkton This Week welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus