Liberals encouraged to undo previous cuts

The federal government should restore some of the agriculture programs and services that the former Conservative government cut, says a left-wing think-tank.

Other programs that were damaged, downsized or degraded should see their roles returned, said the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ new Reversing the Damage report.

The cutbacks discussed in the report include some specific to farming and agriculture:

  • cutting jobs at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • ending the beef cattle research program at Brandon’s research centre
  • closing Winnipeg’s Cereals Research Centre and moving its functions to other places
  • dismantling the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration and removing the key federal role in community pastures
  • abandoning the federal role at the shelter belt research program in Indian Head, Sask., and the program’s subsequent collapse.

“The recently elected Liberal party has the opportunity to reverse the damage caused by the cuts,” writes report author Lynne Fernandez.

“These programs were cut by the Conservatives despite the abundance of evidence — in some cases over decades — that they delivered important economic, social and environmental results. Reactivating these programs would go a long way towards protecting a valuable and unique ecosystem and supporting agricultural production on Canada’s Prairies.”

The CCPA wants the Liberal government to restore the Cereals Research Centre to the University of Manitoba, restore the beef cattle program at Brandon’s Agriculture Canada research centre, retain control of community pastures still under federal ownership and oversee ones already handed off to patron groups to make sure environmental and social concerns are maintained.

It also wants the federal government to work with the Manitoba government and Manitoba municipalities on their oversight of community pastures in that province.

As well, it asks the government to study the badly degraded shelter belt program at Indian Head to see if it can be salvaged.

ed.white@producer.com

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