Two Liberal MLAs are urging the Higgs government to provide support to potato farmers who are being impacted by the Covid19 crisis
MLAs Andrew Harvey and Chuck Chiasson say that the recent announcement by McCain foods that, as a result of market uncertainty, contracted potato acreage for 2020 would have to be reduced, will have a significant impact on potato growers.
“This will be a significant blow to the potato growers who are already struggling as a result of weather-related losses in 2018 estimated to be around $40 million”, noted Harvey, the MLA for Carleton-Victoria.
According to Chiasson, there is a way that the province can move quickly to provide much needed financial support to the potato industry. As a result of the 2018 loss, New Brunswick potato growers would be eligible for a disaster relief program.
The AgriRecovery program is a disaster relief framework under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership that helps agricultural producers recover from natural disasters.
“This program provides relief with contributions by the federal and provincial governments and the potato industry itself,” said Chiasson, MLA for Victoria-la Vallée. “The federal government has already approved its share of the program contribution and Potatoes NB is prepared to step up on behalf of industry. All we need is the province to provide its contribution of $5.1 million and farmers could benefit from $12.5 million in immediate relief”
As Harvey indicated, the potato industry plays a significant role as an economic driver in the agricultural sector “This is an industry that generates $1.5 billion to the province’s economy every year,” he said.
Harvey and Chiasson noted that the governments of PEI and Nova Scotia have already signed off on this disaster relief program. “The Premier indicated that the province was prepared to provide financial support programs to fill in the gaps, said Harvey. “Here is a way they can do so, and we hope the Premier will sign off on this much needed support for our potato growers.”