Young Farmers’ Programming Funded STAFF
Meetings, workshops and information sharing for young farmers by way of the Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum will get $1.2 million in federal support over the next four years.
The federal government on Sunday announced its funding commitment to the CYFF, which Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the federal minister of state for agriculture and veterans affairs minister, described as “investing in the future of agriculture.”
Blackburn, in a release, said the funding from the government’s Growing Forward farm policy framework will go toward:
organizing meetings where young farmers from across Canada can exchange ideas on solutions to problems encountered by young people looking to establish themselves in agriculture;
workshops on farm business management practices;
support for provincial young farmers’ organizations; and
building up information available for young farmers through the CYFF’s newsletter and website.
Statistics Canada has never counted so few cattle farms. In its count of cattle, hog and sheep inventories released Feb. 16, the federal statistics agency reported 99,265 Canadian farms with beef or dairy cattle as of Jan. 1.
“This was the first time since data has been collected that the number of cattle farms has fallen below 100,000,” StatsCan said, reporting a 1.4 per cent drop in Canada’s beef herd and a 0.2 per cent decline in the dairy herd.
Statistics Canada also reported another decline in the number of hog farms in Canada during 2009, falling to 7,360 as of Jan. 1. At the same time, the average number of hogs per operation increased from 1,482 to 1,580.
Since January 2009, there has been a 4.3 per cent decrease in the breeding herd, mainly sows and gilts, StatsCan said last week.
Canada’s inventory of sows, estimated at about 1.3 million head, is “at a level not seen since 2000.”
The number of sheep on Canadian farms also slipped slightly during 2009, dropping 0.2 per cent to 806,600 head as of Jan. 1, 2010.
Wayne Easter, the federal Liberals’ agriculture critic, on Friday claimed the StatsCan report to be a sign that the current government hasn’t provided livestock producers “with the necessary support to sustain their operations.”
The report, he said, shows that the number of cattle farms in Canada has fallen to an “80-year low.”
Furthermore, he said, “in the face of tighter border controls as well as heavy environmental and economic blows, hog farms and cattle herds have shrunk to their lowest levels in more than a decade.”
Easter criticized federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz for boasting that exports of agricultural products have reached $42.8 billion while he “fails to acknowledge that the livestock inventory has reached its lowest level in 12 to 15 years.”
Ritz “also continues to claim that his government has provided support for our hog farmers when the industry claims that only 120 hog producers across the entire country have been eligible for a loan under the loan loss reserve program,” Easter said.
Canadian Pork Council president Jurgen Preugschas said Feb. 3 that $300 million in loans had been approved under the loan loss reserve program, but noted that those approvals covered just 113 producers.
The program, including up to $400 million in guarantees offered by Ottawa, is meant to allow hog producers to restructure their debt and stretch out their payments over longer terms.
Easter said “several viable solutions… have been agreed upon by industry members and the opposition parties which could provide farmers with the support needed to surpass the series of blows they have been dealt with.”