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Minister André Lamontagne avoids talking about a crisis in agriculture

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press “The agricultural sector is experiencing great turbulence,” said Agriculture Minister André Lamontagne.

Patrice Bergeron – The Canadian Press in Quebec

6:51 p.m.

  • Quebec

The Legault government avoids describing the difficulties currently facing farmers in Quebec as a crisis.

In a press scrum Thursday morning at the National Assembly, the Minister of Agriculture, André Lamontagne, spoke of “great turbulence”, but refused to speak of a crisis.

Faced with a disastrous drop in income and extreme weather events, farmers have expressed their frustration during protests in recent weeks.

The opposition relayed in the House the dismay of producers and the pessimism of the next generation of farmers.

The Financière agricole du Québec, in a way the insurer of farmers' production, will pay $1 billion to compensate producers for their 2023 losses, revealed La Presse Thursday.

“When things are bad, it works, and when things are very bad, it works,” argued Mr. Lamontagne, to argue that an “ecosystem” was already in place to help farmers in difficulty.

Asked twice whether the agricultural world was in crisis, he cited “really difficult” weather in 2023, “difficult” interest rates, as well as “supply shocks.” » during the pandemic, but avoiding stating that we had passed the crisis stage.

“The agricultural sector is experiencing great turbulence,” he first responded. These are difficult times, there have been difficult times in the past and we will get through it. »

“What is happening there is major and will ignite the rest of Quebec, there are significant mobilizations everywhere,” declared PQ MP Pascal Bérubé in a press scrum in the morning.

He particularly referred to the farmers who demonstrated with dozens of tractors in Rimouski earlier in March, in front of the office of the minister responsible for the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie–Îles regions. -de-la-Madeleine, Maïté Blanchette Vézina.

Mr. Bérubé considers that current government aid is insufficient and demands that agriculture obtain an envelope equivalent to 1% of the Quebec government budget.

The compensation offered by Financière agricole is often undervalued in relation to the applicant's assessment, argued his colleague Joël Arseneau, demanding more than a review of current programs.

“There are farms that are sold, there are farms that are abandoned,” continued Mr. Bérubé. There are farmers who are currently telling their children not to take over the farms. This is extremely disturbing and will get worse quickly. »

“They are at the end of their rope, they are no longer capable, if it continues like this, they will no longer be able to do their job, they will no longer be able to feed Quebecers”, for his part launched the Liberal MP André Fortin during question period on Wednesday, worried about the next generation of farmers.

According to forecasts from the federal Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Quebec's net agricultural income will increase from $959 million in 2022 to $66 million in 2024, unheard of since 1938.

It is pork producers who obtained the most significant assistance from Financière agricole, approximately $380 million from the Agricultural Income Stabilization Insurance Program.

Mr. Lamontagne recalled that he is awaiting reports on this sector in great difficulty.

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