Changes needed to farm supports undermined by climate change

The Manitoba government also promises to help promote Manitoba farms and food

Making farm support programs more responsive to climate change and promoting farms and food are two measures promised by the Manitoba government in its speech from the throne Nov. 20.

“(O)ur government will establish a new working group with industry to ensure risk management tools are responsive to changing climate,” Lieutenant-Governor Phillip Lee said while delivering the speech.

The throne speech lays out the government’s plans for the coming session of legislative assembly. Details come later through legislation, legislative amendments and the budget.

Excessive moisture the last few years hurt both livestock and crop farmers. There’s Excess Moisture Insurance but the deductible goes up and coverage goes down every year a farmer makes a claim. Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn will appoint a working group to explore ways to improve programs following several years of claims.

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“We need a task force to do some massaging of ideas,” he said in an interview Nov. 24.

“We haven’t quite finalized it but it will be sooner than later.”

Any changes will have to be affordable for governments and farmers, Kostyshyn added.

The government will introduce new legislation to protect Lake Winnipeg, preserve wetlands, strengthen surface water management and drainage regulation and support the new Assiniboine River Basin Initiative to improve transboundary water planning.

“There is an alternative solution in partnership with producers to have wetland retention and a filtration system,” Kostyshyn said. “The day will come when these rain events won’t be as they are today and we’ll be appreciative of some wetlands.”

The government will encourage rural development through the Farm and Food Awareness Act, he said. The legislation will help food producers and processors grow their business.

The government is also dropping the interest on student loans, which will especially help rural students who must pay for room and board on top of the other costs related to post-secondary education, Kostyshyn said.

The throne speech was “disappointing,” said Blaine Pedersen, Progressive Conservative agriculture critic and MLA for Midland.

“We don’t need a committee to study more things,” said Pedersen, referring to the working group. “That’s just the buzzword for delay.”

The government’s plan to build a 7,500-cfs outlet on Lake Manitoba to ease flooding is good, but according to Pedersen, will take seven years to build.

“They’re stalling on that,” he said.

Throne speech references to Growing Forward 2, including a grain innovation hub, are old news, Pedersen said.

The following are some other government plans:

  • Highways: $3.7 billion will be invested over five years. In 2015 there will be major upgrades to Highway 6 from Woodlands to north of Grosse Isle, improvements to Highway 10 near Boissevain, south of Minnedosa, east of Swan River and south of Flin Flon, repaving of Highway 17 north of Fisher Branch and surfacing of Provincial Road 327 to Easterville.
  • Waste water: Upgrades will be made to 27 treatment facilities throughout the Lake Winnipeg basin.
  • Churchill: Work will continue to develop Churchill as an arctic gateway and hub research and tourism.
  • Emergency rooms: Designs to rebuild and expand emergency rooms in Flin Flon and Dauphin are being finalized. The tender for a new 10-bed health centre in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes will be issued in the coming weeks.
  • Senior care: More than 300 personal-care-home beds are currently under development across Manitoba, including in Morden/Winkler, Lac du Bonnet and Winnipeg.
  • Craft beer: A new craft beer strategy to expand Manitoba’s homegrown brewing industry will be developed.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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