Weekly MP Report from Jay Hill

MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
"Conservative Government’s Agriculture Agenda Securing Opportunities and Hope for Farmers"

It continues to be one of the largest ongoing federal initiatives since our Conservative Government took office over three years ago.  Yet our aggressive, transformative agriculture agenda remains largely unreported by national media outlets, most of which are based in urban centres.

Our investments and reforms to producer programs are very big news here in Prince George-Peace River and I would like to list some of the most significant accomplishments:

Most recently, as part of Budget 2009 Canada’s Economic Action Plan, we:
– Passed the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act to guarantee an additional $1-billion in loans over the next five years to Canadian farm families and cooperatives.
– Invested $500-million in the Agri-Flexibility Fund to drive innovation, tap market opportunities, and bring new products to market.
– Created the $50-million Slaughter Improvement Program to improve competitiveness through new technologies and processes.

To enhance trade and secure additional market access for Canadian farmers, we conducted missions to Washington, Mexico, Cuba, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, India, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Peru, Colombia, and the European Union.

We opened beef markets in Colombia, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and expanded key export opportunities for Canadian beef in Hong Kong. We also signed an agreement to expand Canadian pulse crop exports to India.

Our Government has been an active participant in WTO negotiations to eliminate export subsidies; reduce trade-distorting domestic support; and increase market access.
We defended the interests of the cattle, hog and meat sectors by launching a WTO consultation regarding American Country of Origin Legislation (COOL) and defended the safety of Canadian pork while dealing with H1N1. We also launched WTO consultations with Korea to defend Canadian livestock producers.

To help the livestock sector, we:
– Provided $1.5-billion in cash payments for livestock producers through new and existing programs, including cash for British Columbia ranchers affected by severe drought.
– Delivered tax deferrals for farmers affected by drought and flooding.
– Increased the Advance Payments Program to $3.3-billion in loans available to producers.
– Increased emergency advances from $25,000 to $400,000 with $100,000 interest-free.

Together, the federal and provincial governments are delivering $1.3-billion in cost-shared funding to producers over five years.  Plus, our Conservative Government is investing an additional $1.05-billion in federal-only programming.

Our new Business Risk Management Programs include:
– AgriInvest – provides a matching government payment to a producer account
– AgriInvest Kickstart – $600-million to help producers start their accounts.
– AgriStability – provides payments when farmers experience large margin declines.
– AgriInsurance – pays when a farmer experiences production losses.
– AgriRecovery – rapid assistance for producers hit by regional disasters.

We’ve also undertaken federal policy initiatives and investments to help secure new potential for Canadian producers, such as legislated renewable fuel content in gasoline, diesel and heating oil.  Plus, we’ve continued our efforts to safeguard Canada’s reputation as a safe, reliable source of agricultural products with the largest budgets ever for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and CFIA staffing level increases of 14 per cent.

As your MP and a former producer, agriculture has always been a top priority for me, and our Conservative Government will continue to deliver necessary support and new opportunities for our farmers.

For more information: www.agr.gc.ca.