Federal Election Could Delay Key Ag Initiatives

by 5m Editor
24 March 2011, at 9:05am

CANADA - Canada's agriculture minister fears key agricultural initiatives announced in Tuesday's federal budget will be derailed by an untimely and unnecessary federal election, writes Bruce Cochrane.

The federal budget, released Tuesday commits 50 million dollars over two years for the creation of a new Agricultural Innovation Initiative, 24 million dollars over two years to continue Canadian Swine Health Board's initiatives aimed at managing swine disease within Canada, 17 million dollars over five years to deal with plum pox, a disease that impacts fruit trees, and 100 million dollars over five years to improve food inspection capacity.

Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz told reporters yesterday this is a budget for all Canadians but, while the government is focused on the economy, families and farmers, the coalition partners are pushing for an opportunistic and unnecessary election.

Gerry Ritz-Canada Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

We continue to build our food safety system.

As you well know the Weatherill Report pointed out some shortfalls.

We addressed that last year with a 75 million dollar top-up.

This 100 million dollars over the next five years will give our front line inspectors brand new technology, the electronic equipment that they're missing at this point to make sure they can register the tests that they've done, get them into a database and have access to that database down the road.

This will also allow for some cross training.

As you know there's a diversity of product coming into this country and this will allow that cross training so that our front line inspectors are well versed.

It's unfortunate that the coalition is going to cut this short.

This is the type of thing that Canadians expect us to do, that they've asked us to do and we're not going to be able to implement it with them not supporting this budget.

Minister Ritz notes, when you look at food safety situations in Japan, they look to the Canadian example, we're in negotiations with India on a number of fronts and they look at the Canadian example and China looks at the Canadian example and they all seek to emulate it.

He says, as we seek to work with them we don't need an unnecessary election at this time.