Protecting the Foundation of Our Prosperity
Our province will need to consider immediate steps to protect and preserve the foundations of Prince Edward Island’s prosperity – and the future of farming needs to be at the top of the list.
“It’s clear now that the current crisis will have profound impacts on our provincial economy. As we emerge from these difficulties, it will be important to provide our farm sector with the tools they need to protect our prosperity,” says Liberal Agriculture Critic Rob Henderson.
As an essential industry, many farms are currently operating. But the impact of COVID-19 is still being felt: Food supply chains are complex, and difficulties are emerging in terms of moving commodities to the national and international marketplaces.
“For example, cross-border transport – both between provinces and internationally – will be slowed down for the foreseeable future. Observation, documentation and slowdowns will be a drain on productivity – and the implementation of social distancing and worker safety protocols will be tough on a sector that operates on tight margins,” Henderson said.
The impacts are being felt now. Prices paid to beef farmers are low; demand for higher-end cuts is dropping, and traditional promotions like Burger Love are either canceled or postponed. Demand for specialty dairy products could impact quota values, and reduced consumption of processed potato products has an impact on individual farmers – and the entire sector.
“We are at risk of looming food challenges when it comes to the profitability of our Island’s producers unless measures are taken to protect vulnerable farm and processing operations. PEI’s agriculture and fisheries industries are particularly affected by restriction and declines in tourism as well as restaurant closures,” Henderson said.
MLA Henderson’s suggestions include:
Provide farm families and workers access to COVID-19 Testing with speedy test result responses. This should include processing plant workers.
Develop supports to streamline home deliveries and e-commerce systems for food service and agricultural business operations.
Establish price assurance programs and forward contracting options - which need to be provided to our non-supply managed producers as soon as possible.
Follow through on the 2019 Conservative election promise to extend marked fuel exemptions to vehicles used for farm purposes.
Maintain crop insurance costs per acre to 2019 costs per farm per insured rate.
Increase the Ag Stability program within the existing risk managed suite of programs to a farm income guarantee to 80 per cent of last year’s farm income threshold.
The provincial Minister of Finance can eliminate farm property tax increases and hold farm property tax to 2019 levels.
Review Ag- invest program supports and alter to meet Farmers current needs.
Media Contact: Marcia Beck Director of Communications Third Party Members Office 902-626-9886