Since Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, over 22,000 family farms have been lost - a drop of 13.6 per cent. This number comes from a recent Statistics Canada study, which also found that last year alone, 5,400 farms with annual revenues between $100,000 and $250,000 stopped operating.
It is clear that the Conservatives have failed to protect struggling farming communities. After killing the Canadian Wheat Board, reducing grain inspection services and making numerous cuts to risk mitigation programs, among other things, they are now letting family farms die without defending them and the rural areas they often support.
“New Democrats repeatedly warned the Conservatives about the consequences of gutting supports that helped rural farming communities survive,” said NDP Agriculture critic Malcolm Allen (Welland). “Instead, Conservatives put more money in the hands of private insurers and inspectors and are now forcing community pastures to be sold off.”
As a result of misplaced Conservative priorities, the farming industry is becoming more concentrated in the hands of fewer and much larger corporations.
“New Democrats understand that we need to stop ignoring family farms and restore our world class agricultural infrastructure. We must reinvest in rural communities,” said NDP Deputy Agriculture Critic Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier – Maskinongé). “Canada needs a national food strategy that helps strengthen economic resilience in rural communities and better links local food networks to urban areas.”