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Lamontagne defends its aid programs for farmers

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Minister André Lamontagne insists that it is above all a question of better “supporting” producers in the administrative mazes of the programs.

Isabelle Porter in Quebec

Posted at 7:46 p.m.

  • Quebec

Farmers are not making sufficient use of the aid programs offered by Quebec, according to the Minister of Agriculture, André Lamontagne, who is nonetheless counting on help from Ottawa to support them further.

“We have identified several producers who are not using the tools we have to their full potential,” he argued during the study of his ministry’s appropriations on Thursday. We must, he says, “find a way to support them so that they can use them.” For example, only 100 of the 167 million dollars from the Agri-stability program of the Financière agricole du Québec have been committed, he argued.

By the government's own admission, the agricultural sector is going through a “crisis”, particularly in the market gardening sector, which suffered a disastrous year in 2023.

Thursday morning, emerging farmers were at the National Assembly alongside opposition elected officials to demand support. The existing aid is not adapted to their needs, argues Liberal MP André Fortin, who appeared in front of the media this morning with two of them.

Government programs are “complicated, tedious and expensive,” he told Minister Lamontagne during the study of the appropriations. Producers sometimes have to spend hundreds of dollars for agronomists to help them produce their requests, he said, urging the minister to implement a reform.

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Mr. Lamontagne remained very vague on the changes that could be made to the current system, and insisted that it is above all a question of better “supporting” producers in the maze of the programs.

In 2023, compensation paid by the Financière agricole du Québec will exceed one billion dollars, unheard of in 15 years. And the agricultural world is increasing demonstrations demanding urgent aid to save producers from bankruptcy.

Responses from Ottawa in “the coming weeks”

Minister Lamontagne nevertheless asked the federal government to add more via the federal Agri-Recovery initiative, which helps farmers who bear the brunt of natural disasters. Market gardeners in southern Quebec and hay producers in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, who have suffered from heavy rains and drought, could benefit.

Pressed with questions by MP Fortin, Mr. Lamontagne said he was confident of having a positive response from Ottawa in the “coming weeks.” It was not possible to know on Thursday what extent this aid would be. Liberal MP André Fortin, for his part, said he feared that Ottawa's response would be negative and that the Quebec government would find itself without an alternative plan as a new agricultural season approaches.

Minister Lamontagne was also asked by Québec solidaire why he had not requested help from Ottawa before March. He maintained that he had warned the federal government last fall of his intention to submit a request. However, it was then necessary to produce documents proving the necessity of this aid, he explained.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116