WHEREAS in the last five years, the cattle industry has been hit hard by drought, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (B.S.E.) that closed the borders, product recalls, and threats of Bovine Tuberculosis (TB). All events beyond the producers’ control and management initiatives; and WHEREAS the biofuel industry has caused food grain prices to rise significantly; and WHEREAS in the midst of these disasters to their livelihoods, Alberta farmers were optimistic and proactive buying in and participating (at their costs) in the “Age Verification Program” with the goal of stabilizing future production and reaping a premium for their efforts; and WHEREAS the cattle industry in Alberta is witnessing a mass exodus with industry experts estimating 30 to 40 percent of farms “closing their gates” by year end; andWHEREAS the escalating Canadian dollar has had a negative impact on the agricultural producers’export market; andWHEREAS acknowledgement of the Alberta Farm Recovery Program announced on October 16, 2007, is being made; however, it is believed that additional assistance is required to sustain the industry;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that a request be forwarded to the provincial government to review, in a timely fashion, the recent disastrous events that have occurred in relation to the agriculture industry and initiate a provincial assistance program to assist these producers to ensure continuance of the industry.
Over the past few years, the agricultural producing industry has been hit hard by many events: drought, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (B.S.E.) that closed the borders, product recalls, threats of Bovine Tuberculosis (TB), introduction of the biofuel industry that has increased the cost of food grains. Most recently, the escalating Canadian dollar is further hampering the agricultural producers by having a negative impact on the export market.Industry experts have reported that the cattle industry in Alberta will witness a mass exodus by year end with an estimated 30 to 40 percent of farms “closing their gates.”The Alberta Government recognized that agricultural producers required assistance when the Alberta Farm Recovery Plan was announced in October 2007. This Plan provides for Alberta producers to received $165 million in transitional assistance to help offset rising costs facing the livestock sector. It is further noted that this Plan will address the economic strain brought on by the rising costs of fuel, feed and fertilizer.At the time of the announcement, Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Food George Groeneveld stated that “The Government of Alberta will continue to work with and support our producers and this plan is only a temporary bridge to a long-term, more sustainable solution.” This long term, more sustainable solution is needed now, and the industry requires the assistance of the province in order to attain a solution.
Since this resolution was endorsed, several initiatives have occurred with regard to assistance for producers. The Government of Alberta announced the $165 million Alberta Farm Recovery Plan in October of 2007. In addition, 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 estimated that up to $2.3 billion in financial aid would 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 June 2008, the Alberta Government announced the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency as part of the Livestock and Meat Strategy. 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.