Questions By Members, 30 November 2016
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

Agriculture diversification

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Agricultural biodiversity is essential to the future of farming as it maintains healthy soil, water conservation, soil fertility and biota, pollination, and it provides species with the ability to adapt to the changing environment by increasing their resistance to disease and their tolerance to the increasing extreme temperatures of climate change.

Question to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries: What is government doing to help diversify agriculture on Prince Edward Island and how is that process working so far?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Mr. McIsaac: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to say agriculture is changing on a daily basis. It really is. Our farmers are on top of this on a day-to-day basis.

We practice the four Rs of fertilizer application: the right time, the right fertilizer, the right place, and the right quantity. This is what we need to do.

Our soil is the basis of everything we grow. We have to look after our soil and treat it right, and our farmers certainly are doing that.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, your first supplementary.

Funds for agronomy initiative

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The agronomy enhancement program, which was initiated in June of this year, is a collaboration between PEI’s processing growers, Cavendish Farms, and the government. Its focus is on developing more research funding for the potato processing sector to increase marketable yields while producing environmentally sustainable potato crops.

A question to the minister: How much is the province paying for the new enhanced agronomy initiative, including the project leader position at the potato board?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Mr. McIsaac: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

We do support the Potato Board in many ways. If they have grants that we can help them out, if there’s dollars we can put into certain programs that will help the industry through the Growing Forward 2 Program. In any ways that we can we work with all of our commodities to make sure that they improve, they grow, and they continue to drive the economy of this province.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, second supplementary.

Agriculture sector spending

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was hoping for a dollar amount and I hope the minister will get back to me with that.

Supporting Island agriculture is important to rural vitality on Prince Edward Island and it’s essential to farmers. I think the minister would also agree that diversity in agriculture makes for a stronger agricultural sector.

A question to the minister: How much does government spend on supports, direct and indirect, for the potato sector, and how much does it spend, in comparison to the potato sector, in all other agricultural sectors?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Mr. McIsaac: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Some of those numbers I certainly can bring back to the Leader of the Third Party.

But when we talk about diversity just to look back over the last couple of years in our new Future Farmer Program where last year we had 55 new entrants. Forty-one of those had no agricultural experience before. But they came to PEI, they liked what they saw, and they got into small business, small farms or whatever and carried forward.

This year we have 30 members now in the Future Farmer Program. This is where our future is. We’re driving our economy forward, our young people, our new people want to be involved in this. One of the new farmers was, actually, a 74-year-old gentleman who wanted to get involved.

We help each and every one of those to get started, to do a business plan, whatever it might be, and where we can fund them we certainly will. But this is what we need in our fisheries and our agriculture to drive the provincial economy, and we will be right there with them.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

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