Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Opinion: Tories should heed farmers' warning
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 7 Apr 2006, p. 6

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With only two days under his belt as Prime Minister in the new Parliament, Stephen Harper was confronted with his first protest Wednesday as angry farmers converged on Parliament Hill. The new PM would do well to listen to their concerns. The farmers want the federal government to help them compete with heavily subsidized farmers in the United States and Europe. Those subsidies make it cheaper for food processors in Canada to buy raw materials like grains and oilseeds from abroad, shutting out Canadian farmers in many food sectors. "Canadian farmers...get no help from their own government to survive in the industry," said Ontario Federation of Agriculture vice-president Geri Kamenz. "Many here today will not make it through this year if they don't get help." Harper's government has pledged to help the farmers by vowing to replace the current Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program which offers compensation to farmers suffering drops in income in unusual years. Farmers have criticized the multi-billion dollar plan for its complexity and delays in getting much-needed cash. Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl, however, warned farmers that pressure must also be applied at the provincial level as the program is a joint federal-provincial project which all provincial agriculture ministers support. With the Conservatives discovering more surplus money than expected after taking over from the Liberals, they would be well advised to take a close look at the demands of farmers. As many signs in Wednesday's protest read, "Farmers Feed Cities". It is a message Harper's government should keep in mind when sifting through the pleas from various special interest groups for more cash.

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7 Apr 2006
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Harper, Stephen ; Kamenz, Geri ; Strahl, Chuck
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Opinion: Tories should heed farmers' warning