There is $35.3 million less in the agriculture budget this year, compared to last year. That’s a roughly nine per cent decrease, but many Weyburn area farmers aren’t too concerned.
“Overall, as farmers, I think everybody should be happy that we’re shooting for a provincial budget surplus,” said Marcel Van Staveren, who farms near Creelman. He said that the agriculture industry will do its share by taking less and that it “can probably do with less anyways.”
Grain prices are recovering and the backlog is starting to move, which makes him very optimistic. “If we’re in a good situation, maybe we don’t need as much support,” he said.
Van Staveren was concerned with the amount of AgriStability funding, especially given the recent marketing problems caused by the grain backlog.
Crop Insurance, AgriStability and AgriInvest received an allocation of $40 million less compared to last year, which was a record year for Crop Insurance funding. Much of the cut is due to lower grain prices hitting the Crop Insurance funding equations.
“There’s no way around that,” said Russ Leguee, a Weyburn farmer. “They can’t reflect artificially high prices.”
Leguee was pleased with the budget overall, especially a nearly $8 million increase to various research and development projects for the agriculture industry.
“To get a bit more (for research and development) in a budget that they warned us was going to be restrained is really good,” said Leguee.
Both Van Staveren and Leguee were happy that there was no increase to the education tax rates.
Leguee said it was encouraging to see an increase to the highway budget, $88.5 million more, because transportation is becoming an increasingly important issue for farmers looking to get their grain to market.
Van Staveren was also happy about that increase, but not the announcement that three major twinning projects would continue receiving funding. He felt it was more important to focus on repairing existing highways rather than expanding them.