by BETTER FARMING STAFF
If you’re looking for agriculture in this year’s federal budget, you’ll have to do a lot of reading between the lines.
The industry received no mention in federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget speech and only passing mention in budget documents posted on Finance Canada’s website. These included $75 million over three years to Canadian cattle processing plants to improve their operations and $51.7 million over two years to the Canadian Grain Commission.
In a news release last week, Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Laurent Pellerin noted that “the government has promised us that they put ‘farmers first’ and we expect this message will be delivered in the throne speech.”
The $281 billion budget aims to reduce the Canadian deficit more than $4 billion from its high of $53.8 billion in 2009.
Along with pledging $7.7 billion in infrastructure spending, highlights included:
• $2.2 billion in stimulus spending to support areas of the country and industry hardest hit by the recession, including agriculture, small business and forestry;
• $135 million over two years to the National Research Council Canada’s regional innovation clusters program;
• $40 million over two years to launch a small and medium-sized enterprise innovation commercialization program;
• $49 million to regional development agencies to support innovation;
• Establishing a red tape reduction commission;
• $7.2 million over two years to improve Canadian fish and seafood industry access to international markets;
• Increasing the amount people can earn before paying federal income tax and being subject to higher tax rates;
• Expanding eligibility for accelerated capital cost allowance for investment in clean energy generation;
• Cutting administrative spending, including introducing a government salary freeze for workers and politicians, introducing tax changes and other initiatives with the goal of saving $17.6 billion over five years;
• Introducing more employment insurance benefits and funding to retrain unemployed;
• Reducing the federal corporate income tax rate to 15 per cent by 2012 from its 2010 rate of 18 per cent.
“The crisis emerged more quickly and with greater force than anyone could have predicted,” says Flaherty in his budget speech. No banks in Canada have failed and the country is in a position to ensure the deficit it has amassed to counter the downturn are temporary. The country is performing better than the United States and other advanced economies in its recovery, he says. BF