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WHEREAS in June of 2006 Statistics Canada released statistics which showed that Alberta net farm income dropped by 50 per cent in 2005 compared to 2004; andWHEREAS several disasters such as poor quality harvests, a BSE crisis, soaring Canadian dollar, soaring input costs and overall poor commodity prices have ballooned Alberta farm debt to an all time high of $12 billion; andWHEREAS continued promises that the Canadian Agricultural Income Support (CAIS) Program will be redesigned to a more farmer friendly program have never come to fruition;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge both the Federal and Provincial governments to implement a direct farm support payment to act as bridge funding until redesign of the CAIS has been implemented.
In 2004 the Province of Alberta implemented a made-in-Alberta solution to the problems with the CAIS program which consisted of advance payments to producers that were based on an equity loss estimation.The program worked well at first putting much need dollars into the hands of producers at the height of the BSE crisis, however when 2005 rolled around and producers filed their CAIS claims for 2004 most were told that they were not entitled to the money they received under the advance program and were ordered to repay a portion or all of their advance payment back.A couple of months later they were told to do nothing and wait to see if new changes to the CAIS program would affect their claim.Which brings us to today, summer 2006 with still no word on how the changes to CAIS will affect our Agricultural Producers.With drought in 2002, BSE in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and most producers still receiving little to no assistance from the CAIS program, how much longer can producers wait?
Resolution 10-06S urged Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development; and the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation to implement a retroactive change to the CAIS program that would allow producers the option of pricing inventories with separate beginning and ending values so that net changes to inventory values could be shown in the program year margin. In response, the federal government recently announced that they will be making changes to the way producers’ inventories are valued by making retroactive adjustments to inventory valuations going back to 2003 and have indicated that these will apply in Alberta. The province is working with the federal government on its plans to retroactively change the way producers’ inventories are valued.
The federal government has implemented two new programs – AgriInvest and AgriStability – to replace CAIS and provide producers with short-term assistance; it is also improving the Advanced Payments Program or APP. With these new investments, the federal government is estimating that up to $2.3 billion in financial aid will be available to help producers make it through the tough economic times. In addition, the 2008 Federal Budget announced $72 million over two years to farm programs and committed to improving access to $3.3 billion in potential cash advances to Canadian farmers. In late 2007, the Government of Alberta announced the Alberta Farm Recovery Plan – a $165 million transitional funding program for the livestock sector. In June 2008, the Government announced the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency as part of the Livestock and Meat Strategy. The agency is modeled after similar successful organizations in other countries. Its role is to align and redirect government funds, resources and programs to revitalize the livestock sector and to act as a catalyst to help enhance industry competitiveness and profitability.