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April message from Michael Chong

Web posted on April 03, 2006

Dear Editor:

In the past, I have written extensively on the difficult economic conditions facing farmers, especially those not in supply management. Yet, since I last wrote on this issue things have not gotten better. Recently, farmers have been drawing attention to their plight. You may have seen the yellow signs that remind us that "Farmers Feed Cities" or seen the rallies across the province and country on the nightly news.

During the recent campaign, we made the following commitments to address the farm income crisis. First, we said we would speed up delivery of the $755 million in emergency aid promised to grain and oilseed farmers in November. Second, we said we would replace CAIS with separate farm income stabilization and disaster relief programs, so that the new programs would be simpler and more responsive, and so that they would properly address the cost of production, market revenue, and inventory evaluation. Third, we said we would commit an additional $500 million annually to farm support programs. Finally, we said that we would ensure that domestic supply managed industries remain viable. We remain steadfast in these commitments.

We are delivering on our first commitment. On our first day in office, our government accelerated the payout of the $755 million to grains and oilseeds farmers. We have already sent over 50,000 cheques to farmers across Canada. In Ontario alone, over $30 million has already been paid to more than 11,000 farmers. We do recognize the limits of this funding. With regard to the second commitment, to replace CAIS with separate farm income stabilization and disaster relief programs, we are developing plans to implement this commitment. We cannot implement this immediately, since we are well into the year 2006, and to put in place these big changes mid-way through the year would cause more problems than it would solve. We will, however, make the incremental changes previously agreed to by Federal and Provincial Ministers of Agriculture, in order to improve CAIS for the interim.

We remain committed to our third proposal, to add an additional $500 million annually to farm support programs.

Finally, our government remains supportive of supply management. It is a system that has worked well for Canadian farmers and for Canadians. It has not been subject to the economic shocks experience by other sectors of agriculture. Most importantly for tax payers, governments have not had to spend public dollars to support supply managed sectors of agriculture, since these sectors have been economically healthy and self-supporting over the last 3 decades. In less than a month, Agriculture Minister Strahl has had eight meetings with provincial ministers, an Agricultural Ministers' summit in Vancouver and dozens of meetings with farm groups. While Minister Strahl and our government are working hard to tackle the problems facing farming today, I do not pretend that we will solve agriculture's problems overnight. However, our government, more than any government in recent history, is committed to agriculture; over 20 Conservative Members of Parliament are farmers, and many more grew up on family farms. Our government understands the urgency of the situation and is working hard to deal with this crisis.

- Michael Chong


Michael Chong is the MP for Wellington-Halton Hills. He is President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Minister for Sport. To contact Michael, call 1-866-878-5556 or e-mail chongm@parl.gc.ca.


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Other Stories of Interest

Michael Chong Monthly News Letter
( October 17, 2006 )

July message from Michael Chong
( July 21, 2006 )

May message from Michael Chong
( May 02, 2006 )