NDP vows to extend AFSC financing

Alberta farmers can expect a re-elected NDP government to streamline farmland approvals and allow the Agriculture Financial Services Corp. to extend financing for non-traditional crops and livestock.

The measures, unveiled in NDP leader Rachel Notley’s platform March 31, hope to lure voters despite rural support remaining generally low for the party.

The NDP platform said it would reduce wait times for government approvals related to farmland, including environmental permits and lease transfers.

Notley would create a one-stop portal for farmers to access government services.

As well, the AFSC under the NDP would be able to finance non-traditional crops and livestock.

As well, the party would develop a unit to assist farmers in succession planning and encourage young farmers into the industry.

The party said it would maintain funding for 4-H and agricultural societies, working with 4-H groups to ensure they remain vital to the agriculture sector.

Notley is also running on her government’s record when it comes to agriculture.

The platform said the government expanded energy efficiency programs, largely funded by the carbon tax, to help farmers lower costs, even though most farmers say the levy has increased their expenses.

It also said the NDP worked to promote Alberta agriculture through trade missions and by creating the Local Food Act.

The NDP government also fired the old AFSC board, cleaning up what Notley called a culture of waste and entitlement, after it was found that members had been making lavish expenses and procurement violations.

The NDP’s platform is much different than its United Conservative Party rivals.

The UCP largely wants to undo four years of NDP policy if elected later in April.

The party would scrap the carbon tax, potentially putting funding for efficiency programs in limbo, and replace the province’s farm safety legislation, exempting small farms and allowing farmers to either have WCB or private insurance.

The UCP would also ensure research is farmer-led, though it’s not clear if there would be more research funding.

As well, it vows to streamline AFSC.

jeremy.simes@producer.com

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