Manitoba farmers feeling left out as hearings skip province

WINNIPEG — Manitoba has been dropped from an upcoming consulting tour, which will lay the foundation for Canada’s next agricultural policy framework.

That will limit the province’s producers, the head of an industry group says.

The House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food will be holding a consulting tour to hear from industry participants about the upcoming agriculture funding framework, Growing Forward 3. The tour will include an eastern and western leg. Consultation of prairie provinces had been set to start the first week of October.

The western portion of the tour has been pushed back to November, and Winnipeg has been dropped, while a stop in Saskatchewan has been added, according to minutes on the Parliament of Canada website.

“We don’t get the ability to have that conversation now in Manitoba,” said Dan Mazier, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers.

Manitoba’s producers will not be able to impress or review funding and explain what does and doesn’t work in the province, he said.

“Every province has a different take on these programs,” Mazier said. “It’s not really a good step or process from a government that’s saying they want to work with Canadians. Look at the impact that agriculture has on Manitoba.”

The agriculture industry employs an estimated one in 10 people in the province, according to statistics from the Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development website.

However, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada official noted that producers from across Canada are able to voice their concerns online, and extensive consultations are ongoing.

Canadian farmers are able to submit feedback through a consultation questionnaire, via email or social media, with addresses found on Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s website.

The current agricultural framework, Growing Forward 2, will expire in 2018.

The tour will also not be stopping in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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