Farmers hit hard by inflation: 'We're going cash' | Elections Quebec 2022

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Farmers hit hard by inflation: “we go to cash” | &Elections Quebec 2022

During the election campaign, the candidates of the main parties all pledged to do more to help the region's producers, who help fill the pantry of Quebecers every year.

Maurice Migneault, from the Complémenterre farm, in Mont-Brun.

In Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the concerns raised by agricultural producers are numerous. There is the fragmentation of land, the lack of veterinarians, adaptation to climate change and the difficulty of ensuring long-term succession.

Traveling through the region, however, one realizes that two concerns are at the top of the list of most producers: cost increases caused by inflation and the absence of an abattoir in the territory.

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For Kamylle Béchard-Plourde, co-owner of Jardins tomatoes et chamomile, in Rouyn-Noranda, there is no doubt that profitability is at the top of many producers' concerns.

Kamylle Béchard-Plourde, co-owner of the Tomato and Chamomile Gardens

It's always been like that, but this is even more glaring , it is really a question of profitability. We are in a northern climate, so making the infrastructure profitable over a short season like the one in Abitibi-Témiscamingue has always been an issue. In 2022, with all the increase in inputs, the increase in equipment, it hurts, says the vegetable producer.

The riding of Rouyn-Noranda–Témiscamingue is covered in farmland from north to south, from Mont-Brun to Saint-Édouard-de-Fabre.

Ranch Témisca co-owner Augustin Cormier abounds in the same direction. He points to the skyrocketing price of silage plastics in 2022 to illustrate how difficult it is for an agricultural business to break even.

Augustin Cormier's farm is located in Saint-Édouard-de-Fabre.

This producer of feeder calves, raised for meat, maintains that several of his colleagues must find a second job in order to arrive at the end of the month. An observation shared by Kamylle Béchard-Plourde.

“What I observe around me is that most producers have to fill in and go find work outside. But when we do that, we are not giving hours to our business and making it more efficient. »

— Kamylle Béchard-Plourde

In Mont-Brun, producer Maurice Migneault of the Complémenterre farm points out that in addition to diesel prices, which have almost doubled in one year, the price of parts and equipment now represents a difficult burden for many farmers .

The worst part is machinery parts. It no longer makes any sense. Garages don't hold much inventory anymore because it's too expensive for them. There are really illogical cases. Small springs, they were $980 last fall when we wanted to buy some. Normally, it should be worth less than $20, illustrates Mr. Migneault.

For Maurice Migneault, many factors make it cost more and more expensive to take care of his cows and his farm in Mont-Brun.

He has nearly 50 years of experience in the field, but he's dreading when he'll have to place his seed order for next year: We're definitely going to cash >, he announces.

Beyond price increases and inflation, the absence of a slaughterhouse with permanent inspection slows down the enthusiasm of cattle producers in Abitibi-Témiscamingue who would like to contribute to increasing the food autonomy of the region.

For Augustin Cormier, the establishment of a slaughterhouse with permanent inspection must be one of the priorities of the candidate who will be elected in Rouyn-Noranda–Témiscamingue.

Cows and calves in the pasture at Ranch Témisca, in Saint-Édouard-de-Fabre

From an economic and environmental point of view, it is nonsense for him to have to make his animals travel so many kilometers to have them slaughtered.

The speech is the same on the side of Maurice Migneault, who adds that after the departure of an animal from the region, it is difficult to follow its trace.

What is serious, our animals in the region, they are getting lost. Don't try to find them. I worked at the union and we heard: "I send a valve and this week I would like to bring back 10". We answered them: "No, it's not the same way it works, we slaughter in the chain, so it could be 10 of yours, it could be 10 of the neighbours", he recalls.< /p>

“I would say that above 90% of our slaughtered animals are slaughtered in the United States. It's all mixed up, he can stay there and we get American beef. »

— Maurice Migneault

According to him, consumers are ready to pay a little more money to consume local and organic meat, which has never left the region.

Yes, it may cost us a penny or two more to have it slaughtered here, but here we'll follow it, we'll trace it and we won't lose quality. Slaughter is hard. When your animal goes 800-900 kilometers, there is 3 to 5% weight loss and the animal becomes nervous, so it influences the quality of the meat a little, he explains.

Calves eat outside at the Complémenterre farm in Mont-Brun .

For the co-owner of the Boucherie des Praz Christel Groux, whose slaughterhouse project was put on hold last spring, the next government will have to show openness in order to modify the legislative framework and provide financial support if it wishes to see the slaughterhouse project succeed.

I would like to meet the next Minister of Agriculture to be able to talk to him about the regulatory framework and program standards, to see how we are able to tie something together. Ultimately, what we want is a slaughterhouse, but we also want to be able to stay in business, so the financial programs have to be able to support us adequately in that, she says.

Christel Groux wants to build a slaughterhouse in Notre-Dame-du-Nord.

Christel Groux points out that, in particular due to cost increases, her company's project now consists of renovating and bringing the existing local slaughterhouse in Évain up to standard, rather than building a new one in Notre- Lady of the North.

While the average age of agricultural producers is nearly 55 years old in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, many observers are concerned about the attractiveness of the profession for the next generation.

According to Maurice Migneault, the risk of young entrepreneurs leaving the business due to lack of profitability is very present.

Of course, because it takes big tractors to do what we do. The last one we bought three years ago cost us 330,000 dollars. A guy starting out who has 25, 30, 40 cows, he can't afford to buy tractors like that, he says.

Beef producers in Abitibi-Témiscamingue must invest significant amounts to obtain machinery.

I'm afraid that we are a gang not to get through this wave, also notes Kamylle Béchard-Plourde. Medium-sized businesses may not develop, we may no longer all stay small businesses because we will have to work externally to meet the cost of living.

For Quebec Conservative Party candidate Robert Daigle, inflation is currently the major problem for farmers.

Fuel prices need to be cut. Gasoline taxes must be removed immediately, it will help them directly. There is also the whole history of fertilizers at the federal level. There are so many issues, it's so complex, but Mr. Duhaime was clear on this level: what we're going to do is we're going to [focus] on going to listen these people, target their needs and take concrete action quickly, he promises.

Robert Daigle, candidate for the Conservative Party of Quebec in Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue

For Parti Québécois candidate Jean-François Vachon, the independence of Quebec would make it possible to respond to several problems by giving more power to local decision-makers.

Mr. Vachon believes that tax incentives must be put in place in the short term to support young farmers.

The next generation must be helped. What we have done is we have put in place a long-term loan which is low and has a fixed rate. This will allow predictability for farmers who will be able to borrow at an attractive rate. We also want to ensure that there are tax incentives for sellers who sell to the next generation, he gives as an example.

Jean-François Vachon, Parti Québécois candidate in Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue

The candidate of the Liberal Party of Quebec, Arnaud Warolin, proposes for his part to put in place in the short term a specific financial assistance measure for producers struggling with a difficult financial situation.

Beyond this commitment, Mr. Warolin wishes, if he is elected, to make the slaughterhouse file a priority.

For me, this is a top priority. We are going to have to show leadership on this and stop placing the development of a sector solely on the shoulders of a few people. Slaughtering, as François Gendron said, is a necessary evil. It is absolutely necessary to have infrastructure to be able to allow farmers to process their meat, he considers.

Arnaud Warolin, Quebec Liberal Party candidate in Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue

According to outgoing MP and candidate for Québec solidaire, Émilise Lessard-Therrien, the provincial and federal governments will have to do more to make a slaughterhouse project a reality in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

How many years have we been talking about slaughter issues? To have a slaughterhouse in the region. It is part of our platform to create a network of public slaughterhouses because we know how problematic it is to finance it privately. We must assume that it is a critical infrastructure that must be funded by the state, she argues.

Émilise Lessard-Therrien, candidate for Québec solidaire in Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue

For his part, the candidate of the Coalition avenir Québec, Daniel Bernard, recalls that temporary agreements exist to allow the consumption of meat slaughtered on the other side of the Ontario border.

He intends to work on this basis in order to arrive at permanent rules, which could, for example, allow producers in Abitibi-Témiscamingue to have their animals slaughtered in the Belle-Vallée facilities, just a few kilometers from Notre-Dame. -from the North.

Daniel Bernard, candidate for the Coalition avenir Québec in Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue.< /p>

There are agreements within the framework of the Gourmet Fair, so that people can have them slaughtered in Ontario and come and sell in Quebec. The basis is already there, it is now a matter of making it compliant on an annual basis. I am convinced that we will succeed in having it during the next mandate, he declares.

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