Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

Dairy producers irritated s by the provincial budget

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Some 90 milk producers were expected at the general meeting which took place on Thursday.

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The Milk Producers of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean took advantage of their annual general meeting to review the provincial budget which was announced Tuesday . They find the government's lack of consideration for agriculture unacceptable.

In front of a few dozen members gathered at the Hôtel Universel in Alma, regional vice-president Michel Frigon recalled that agriculture represents 2,500 direct jobs and indirect in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. According to him, it is a sector as important as education and health.

We are not part of the two fundamental sectors in the eyes of the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister Legault. I find that unacceptable. It's not just during the pandemic that we are fundamental, it's every day of the year, he said, visibly upset.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Michel Frigon deplores that less than 1% of the provincial budget is devoted to agriculture.

When they put money into the battery sector, they are investments. Minister Lamontagne announced a few weeks ago that he was providing $34 million to support producers. When it's in agriculture, they support us, they support us in a pinch, I would say that they endure us, he adds.

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During the pandemic, when the shelves were slowly emptying and we began to fear running out of food, we were an important economic sector. Then today, it seems like it's a thing of the past.

A quote from Michel Frigon, vice-president of Producteurs de lait du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean

Among the issues milk producers are watching is Bill C-282. They argue that the federal government has ceded more than 8% of their market to foreign companies as a result of trade agreements concluded in recent years, such as the Canada-United States Agreement. United–Mexico (CUSMA).

Producers expect Senate to pass Bill C-282 to protect management of the offer.

It has been there since September 2023, but there is no discussion at the moment. We want this bill to be adopted, final, before the next elections. Yes, we want to increase revenues, but we also want to increase volumes to improve our profitability, mentions the president of Producteurs de lait du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Daniel Gobeil.

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Daniel Gobeil is the president of the Quebec Milk Producers and the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean regional group.

The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle has also caught the attention of producers. It was revised last year, and its new version will come into force on April 1, 2024. Producers are requesting financial support from Quebec to comply.

[The code], it comes with legitimate demands to give more comfort to animals, to invest in terms of freedom of movement, in terms of farms with free stalls, but it also comes with investments significant due to rising construction costs and interest rates. We are asking for support, raises the regional president.

Daniel Gobeil also regrets the end of the Program to increase aid for consulting services in matters of animal welfare and energy efficiency, in March 2023.

It's a program that worked, which brought a lot of investments. For every dollar the government puts into agriculture, we get a six or seven times greater return.

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