Agricultural Economist Thinks Feds Could Still Do More For Farmers  

A southwestern Ontario agriculatural economist is taking a wait and see approach when it comes to the recent federal budget and how it relates to area farmers.

While Philip Shaw is happy to see the Liberals invest in the agri-food sector he thinks more still needs to be done for primary producers.

"I don't think that will probably have anything to do with agricultural safety net funding or stabilization policy for farm income," says Shaw. "I would just hope the government recognizes the importance of putting some of that funding on the ground with farmers themselves who are the greatest generator of wealth in that sector."

Agriculture is earmarked as one of three pivotal areas under the proposed Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan.

Shaw says it's still probabaly too early to tell if any of the investments will trickle down to area farmers any time soon.

"Building up some type of value-added market for processing wouldn't necessarily affect farmers closely in the short-term but there's nothing wrong with innovation and doing all those types of things and food processing and farmers and food processors getting a part of that capital."

Meantime, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture says the agri-food sector is primed to drive a new era of economic growth that will benefit all Canadians. 

President Ron Bonnett says the federation is encouraged that the government envisions an expanded role for farmers and agri-food businesses as part of its innovation agenda.

Federal Budget Agriculture and Agri-Food Highlights:

- Creating a $10.1-billion Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative that will invest in gateways and ports, to help get agri-food products to market.
- Successfully completing the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union, and making ongoing efforts to expand market access for Canadian agri-food producers throughout Asia.
- Eliminating tariffs on a broad range of agri-food processing ingredients, covering approximately $700 million in annual imports, to strengthen the competitiveness of Canadian agri-food manufacturers at home and abroad.
- Improving access to support for agri-food value-added processors through the new Strategic Innovation Fund.
- Investing $500-million to support the expansion of broadband networks in rural Canada and $2 billion to support rural infrastructure including roads and bridges, making it easier for Canada’s agri-food producers to connect to markets in Canada and internationally.