by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Federal and provincial ministers of agriculture spent the morning of a day long conference in Toronto Friday discussing Business Risk Management program but could say little at the end of the day about progress made.
“I’m not going to commit to any specifics at this point. We’ve all got homework to do going back to our colleagues and our cabinets,” said Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz at an afternoon press conference. “We’ve always said the programs need to be bankable and predictable. They also need to be bankable and predictable for our treasury boards and our finance departments.”
Ritz said there will be another round of consultations with farm groups before the summer and will try to do programs that don’t drive countervail.
The ministers meet next, in early July, in Saskatoon. Carol Mitchell, the newly appointed minister of agriculture for Ontario gave assurances there was “progress going forward” on risk management. She says the next round of consultations will be give “concession farmers…a chance to say what their needs are now, and going into the future.” Ritz added that “any progress is always incremental. . . . governments always have (farmers) best interests at heart.”
Ritz is unfazed by complaints from producer organizations that only 120 hog producers across Canada have been eligible for a loan under the Hog Industry Loan Loss Reserve Program, which is backed by the federal government.
“We work on this on a case by case basis. We start to analyze where it didn’t work. I continue to get assurances from the banking sector that they are looking very seriously at every application. . . Of course the banks don’t want to own your hog farms either. I am quite buoyed by the work Farm Credit is doing.”
The weanling pig market appears to be picking up, he said and “there are a number of hog producers. . . in a wait and see attitude to ascertain where the market is going.” He said if a round table meeting in Guelph today hosted by the Liberal Party of Canada and billed as “bridging the rural-urban gap,” came up with usable ideas his government would look at them. “We always put farmers first,” he said. BF