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The Wildrose Caucus believes that the agricultural industry in Alberta is now and will continue to be a vital component of Alberta’s economic and social well-being.
As the province’s largest and most dynamic renewable resource, the food production sector will become even more important as our non-renewable resources decline. We have the land, the water, and above all else the expertise to supply a range of safe, high quality food products into domestic and world markets at a competitive price. Those markets will only grow as the world population increases and as more countries develop the ability to improve their standard of living and their consequent need for quality food products.
To meet those needs and fully develop these opportunities, the Wildrose is committed to creating an efficient, market-oriented, and flexible agri-food sector which will be a major contributor to the future prosperity and well being of the Province.
We are convinced that a competitive agricultural sector must be built around the actions of individual producers left free to decide what they produce and where and when they want to sell it. The role of government is to provide a positive and properly regulated business environment, to remove artificial production and marketing distortions, and to administer proper regulations in a fair manner. We will fulfill that role.
Competitiveness at Home and Abroad
The burden of regulatory costs has become a major factor in reducing our competitiveness in world markets. Many of the costs that have been imposed by the current Government through both direct and indirect regulatory intervention in the farming and ranching business can be either reduced or removed completely. We will ensure that all regulations survive a stringent cost/benefit analysis before being retained or imposed.
The Wildrose Caucus is committed to legislating effective private property rights and to repealing bills 19, 24, 36 and 50. We know that the industry has the expertise and the desire to operate in an environmentally sustainable manner and that it will take whatever steps necessary to ensure the safety of its production activities and of its products without the need for oppressive regulatory oversight.
In the field of marketing, we are committed to giving producers the freedom to sell their products where and when they want to and will work closely with the majority Conservative government to remove the marketing restrictions currently imposed on our grain producers by the Canadian Wheat Board.
We recognize that the agriculture industry needs access to markets outside our borders in order to thrive. In that context, we are prepared to work with industry to assist it in creating effective international marketing mechanisms. We will also press the federal government to put much more emphasis than it has in the past on accessing agricultural markets in its trade negotiating activities.
Long-Term Stability in an Unpredictable Industry
The Wildrose recognizes that farmers and ranchers face unique challenges in dealing with erratic weather conditions and uncertain world markets. We’ll ensure that farmers and ranchers with legitimate claims get swift payments. While we are opposed to long-term support programs that distort production and marketing decisions and impede access to overseas markets, we favour targeted relief mechanisms that provide short-term assistance when disaster strikes. Further, we will work with the agriculture industry to develop effective insurance programs to deal with production and/or income losses.
Beyond that, we believe that the erratic nature of farm income levels needs to be addressed through tax mechanisms that average revenues out over the long-term, such as a farm income and savings account.
We also favour accelerating capital cost allowance to encourage investment in productivity upgrades and an increase in the capital gains exemption for small businesses (which would apply to the majority of farm and ranch operations).
We will work tirelessly with the federal government to implement these changes.
The agricultural policies we pursue will work to create an environment in which individual farmers and ranchers are able to maximize the opportunities that we know are ahead for our agricultural industry.
Alberta’s agricultural producers deserve better. A Wildrose government will:
- Enact effective property rights legislation to provide more certainty to farmers and ranchers about their access to and use of land, water, and other private property.
- Review provincial regulation of the agriculture industry to ensure proper management of real risks to human and animal health. All regulations should take into account an accurate cost/benefit analysis of their impact on agricultural producers and food safety.
- Leave the development of agricultural marketing in the hands of industry. This will ensure that marketing initiatives are based on market forces.
- Reform provincial agriculture insurance and disaster relief programs to effectively and fairly deal with legitimate production and/or income losses.
- Work with the federal government to introduce tax reforms including effective income and saving plan provisions, such as an income averaging trust account.
- Introduce policies and programs that ensure adequate supplies, storage and efficient use of water for all Albertans.
- Work with the federal government to change the emphasis of their current trade policies to ensure access to world markets for Canadian farm products.
- Secure marketing freedom for Alberta grain producers.