Drastic cuts to grain commission will hurt farmers
By National Farmers Union
Cuts to Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) research, producer protection and grain quality programs will negatively impact farmers, says the National Farmers Union. On May 15, the federal government announced that it would cut CGC producer protection programs by 67 percent, grain quality programs by almost 50 percent and research programs by 60 percent.
May 19, 2008
government’s drastic cuts to Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) research, producer protection and
grain quality programs will have a devastating impact on farmers, says Terry
Boehm, Vice-President of the National Farmers Union (NFU).
Boehm was responding to testimony by federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz,
who appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture in Ottawa May 15, one day after the release
of the government’s spending forecast. The government revealed it would chop CGC producer protection programs by
67 percent, grain quality programs by almost 50 percent, and research programs by 60 percent.
“These cuts will destroy the ability of the Canadian Grain Commission to
function by starving it of necessary operating funds,” stated Boehm.
Even before the cuts were announced, the Harper Government had begun a process
of changing the mandate of the CGC to facilitate the interests of the private grain
trade, rather than ensuring farmers’ interests were protected. Those changes are
contained in Bill C-39, an Act to Amend the Canada Grain Act – which is
currently being reviewed by the Commons Agriculture Committee. The proposed
cuts also coincide with the removal of the Kernel Visual Distinguishability
(KVD) system on August 1, 2008, despite the absence of a reliable
alternative method to ensure quality standards for Canadian grain exports.
Boehm pointed out that the cuts would reduce the CGC’s ability to ensure grain shipments
are weighed and inspected fairly. “The principle of bringing fairness to the
marketplace, and protecting farmers’ interests, was the basic reason for the
introduction of the Canada Grain Act in 1912,” he said. “Bill C-39, combined
with this wholesale slashing of CGC programs and the elimination of the KVD system, puts
farmers in a very vulnerable position.”
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