(Regina) The Board of Directors of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) gave the 2012 Federal Budget mixed reviews in light of the potential long-term impact of some cost-cutting measures announced by Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance on Thursday. Overall, the APAS Board was pleased by the Budget’s goal of intensifying “Canada’s pursuit of new and deeper trading relationships, particularly with large, dynamic and fast-growing economies” but expressed concern with the lack of details surrounding some of the more significant cuts.
“Overall the budget wasn’t as harsh as expected, although Ag Canada did take some of the largest cuts,” said Norm Hall, APAS President. “The good news so far is that they protected most of the program spending.”
Despite the expected spending cuts announced for many departments, AAFC was one of only 10 departments to see cuts in the double digits. Although there were minimal cuts to AAFC program spending (0.12%), the Board of Directors agreed that agricultural producers will have to wait and see what specific areas of the department are cut, and whether those changes will affect service delivery.
“If AAFC can find ways of delivering their programs and services more efficiently, then of course we are supportive of these changes,” Hall said. “But if the cuts create backlogs and service deficiencies for rural residents, then we will take those concerns to the Minister and work with him to find solutions.”
Some of these savings will be realized by the consolidation of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s grants and contribution programs across the Department and the streamlining of management of the Farm Debt Mediation Service. According to the Ministry, the Department will be able to offer more efficient services with fewer people by delivering all of its programs out of one branch. Farmers and the industry could benefit from this change, which will simplify application processes, reduce paperwork and other redundancies while reducing costs.
“Saskatchewan farmers, especially those in the eastern part of the province will be pleased to see that nearly 100 million dollars has been allocated towards permanent flood mitigation following the 2010 and 2011 floods.” Hall concluded. “It is clear to see that both levels of government recognize that mitigation can dramatically lessen the impact and cost of natural disasters on rural and urban communities.
APAS is Saskatchewan’s general farm organization formed to provide farmers and ranchers with a democratically elected, grassroots, non-partisan, producer organization based on rural municipal boundaries. As the united voice of thousands of agricultural producers in Saskatchewan, we strive to represent the views of a wide variety of agricultural stakeholders in order to form comprehensive policies that can benefit all sectors of society.
For more information, please call:
Norm Hall, APAS President
Telephone: 306.789.7774 ext 151
Cellular: 306.789.7774 ext 211