News they didn't want to hear

Harry Sullivan
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Struggling beef farmers told to reconsider career path if theyre not making money

News they didn't want to hear

MURRAY SIDING - Telling struggling beef farmers they should leave the industry if they cannot make a profit was not exactly the news they wanted to hear.
But that is precisely the message some participants at an agriculture candidates' forum at the cattle auction facility in Murray Siding came away with after listening to outgoing Colchester Musquodobit Valley MLA Brooke Taylor.
"Brooke basically told us to get out of farming," said Marsha Weatherby, who attended the combined forum and auction along with husband Larry.
The couple, who operate a beef farm in the Harmony area, were referring to comments made by Taylor during his presentation in which he suggested farmers who are struggling to make ends meet may want to reconsider their career path.
Taylor said his Conservative party's agriculture strategy is a framework that identifies solutions "to be profitable in a new economy" but is not intended to promote the beef industry's dependency on adhoc programs.
While Taylor said he is not promoting an overall exit strategy for struggling farmers, a Conservative government would be prepared to work one-on-one with farmers to help define their direction. Ultimately, however, individual farmers "will have to determine what is best for them and their families," he said. "Unfortunately, there will be some casualties along the way."
To the Weatherbys, who said Taylor reiterated that sentiment when they spoke with him following the presentations, the message was clear.
"He's just saying, if you are not making money, get out," Larry Weatherby said. "I'm very disappointed in the Conservative's platform on agriculture, period."
John Tilley, vice-chairman of the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers, which hosted the event, said he, too, is disappointed in the Conservative's position on agriculture. And while some support has come from the government for the industry, he said, "we've got a real problem with the document (released early this spring) that says they put in $40 million."
That position was repeated by Brooke who stated during his presentation that the government has provided $40 million to the beef sector since the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) crisis developed in the spring of 2003.
Tilly, however, issued a press release that suggests the document contains inaccuracies in three specific calculations and that the actual amount contributed by the government is much less.
Colchester Musquodobit Valley riding Liberal candidate Willy Versteeg, who also participated in the forum, told the audience that making agriculture work in Nova Scotia "needs to be an absolute priority. He referred to the promises laid out last week by leader Stephen MacNeil during a campaign stop in East Stewiacke.
That plan calls for the development of a steering committee to assist with the implementation of carbon capture technology; the establishment of a pilot program transition fund to help farmers change what they are doing now into a more economically viable and sustainable option and development of agriculture programs in the classrooms to better educate the consumers of tomorrow on healthy food choices and the importance of supporting local communities.
Hants East incumbent and NDP agriculture critic John MacDonnell told the approximately 70 people in attendance that his party will work with farm organizations and other stakeholders to "stop the bleed" by developing a 10-year agricultural strategy for Nova Scotia, as a way to focus on ways to help farmers
"Our job is to create an environment that can assist (government and industry) "to address the barriers to a profitable future," he said.
All three representatives also spoke of the need to ensure food safety and secure farming practices and of the importance of producing as much locally grown product as possible.
When it came time to auction off their presentations, MacDonnell secured the highest bid at $90 while Versteeg received $25.
Taylor, who made a point of saying he was not "electioneering," received a $10 bid.
The money, along with other contributions from the event (totalling $229.10) is to be donated to Feed Nova Scotia.

Organizations: Weatherbys, Nova Scotia Cattle Producers

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, East Stewiacke, Hants East

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Recent comments

  • Homer
    January 18, 2010 - 10:18

    Glamourgirl from Nova Scotia writes: How to go Brooke a baby. Thanks for telling them the truth!

    Yes don't give them money. Don't cut back small business tax. Don't allow questionable tax deductions. Don't allow programs and rebates to business.

    I am sure no one would wine about it at all

  • jo
    January 18, 2010 - 10:15

    GARRETT people have jobs to make money to live,if farming is your life you better hurry and make money out of it,if not you will have get another job just like the rest of us!

  • ric
    January 18, 2010 - 10:12

    with a looming global food shortage, is it really the best time to be putting farmers out of a job??

  • who are these
    January 18, 2010 - 10:11

    does this really come as a surprise to anyone? they don't give a s*&$ about the actual working ppl. at the county meeting that deed transfer tax was being voted on, Councillar Edwards suggested the professions involved paid the difference out of their own pocket. ignorance, ignorance, ignorance

  • mark
    January 18, 2010 - 10:09

    so if i lost my job at wal mart i can go to the goverment and say give wal mart more money so i can keep my job,no it dont work that way,NOT ALL FARMERS ARE IN A DROUGHT.

  • frank
    January 18, 2010 - 10:04

    Obvious overlooked and wealth left by previous generations abandoned in favour of other lands and people with loss of our wealth here. Imagine a $10 million investment resulting in up to $600 million in economic activity and up to $200million returned to people in taxes. What industry?- A secure,sovereign, made in Nova Scotia beef industry as we had 100yrs. ago but we cannot afford it or even the less than $3 million needed to get it going. Potential tax benefit to the people is double farmers income here instead of away. Food security and sovereignty is good governance in the economy.

  • jo
    January 18, 2010 - 10:04

    you people voted for then(Conservatives),reality check A !

  • Glamourgirl
    January 18, 2010 - 10:03

    How to go Brooke a baby. Thanks for telling them the truth!

  • Anderson
    January 18, 2010 - 09:58

    More evidence that the Conservatives just don't get it. You have to have a strong agriculture sector for so many reasons beyond profit.

    Strong farms promote jobs throughout a community. They ensure food security when other agriculture markets run into trouble. They keep prices down by ensuring competition. They are our primary environmental caregivers.

    Despite this: the Conservative government -- the rural party -- has a terrible record on agriculture.

    They let the pork industry collapse ..... ..... This comment has been edited by a moderator. Please, don't use these forums for campaigning or sloganeering.

  • stumpdummy
    January 18, 2010 - 09:58

    many comments from real academic achievers, I can tell. I'm not just trying to take a cheap shot at people who aren't in favour of supporting agriculture, and to the rest of you ,,Thanks for the support. Take a look around the world, economic and climatic instability everywhere. Let's just make one theoretical situation that's not that far fetched. Australia a few months back had two extremes going on, the south burning with wild fires the north suffering severe floods, both situations could have severe effects on Australia's ability to supply beef and lamb to the world market, other export products from the region affected too. Have a few more similar situations around the planet and many sources to import food into Canada may disappear. Other populations are growing, standards of living affect what's available to export as well. We ,the farmers are not just concerned about our livelihoods, but our society as a whole. I will continue to farm on some scale if things don't improve, I will be able to feed myself,,,BUT if the crunch comes don't expect me to feed you!

  • Don
    January 18, 2010 - 09:58

    There are way too many farmers including beef farmers that are clinging to the same old ways of growing beef or other products . Like all industry they have to gradually change . However many haven't changed at all in many years and now it is a big change that many need to do , or get out . It's the farmers choice . Retailing beef at or near the farm is necessary . Generating electric power from methane produced at the farm is another . And growing the animal slowly as in New Zealand is a third . Diversify the farm products grown so as to utilize the manure produced - and sell at roadside that product . And C0-0perate with neighbour farmers in all of this .

  • Countrygal
    January 18, 2010 - 09:52

    Bet Rodney will choke when he reads this (presuming he can read). Another nail in the proverbial coffin for old Roddy - kick the farmers when they're down.

  • Homer
    January 18, 2010 - 09:51

    Just Brand one side of those cows with GM and the other side with CAW

    All branches of the government will line up to kiss you a$$.

  • BJ
    January 18, 2010 - 09:49

    Ok so you can't/won't compete therefore gov't is supposed to support you?? Maybe get them to bring back the good 'ol days? C'mon...

  • Garrett
    January 18, 2010 - 09:41

    If all the Beef farms in Truro shut down because they are struggling to make ends meet, there would be no Beef farms left in Truro.

    This is when we count on the GOVERNMENT to help us out and give us Grants so we can retian the Beef industry in Nova Scotia. We need support, the last thing we need is for some fool to be telling us we might want to consider a career change. Farming is my life and im not about to throw it away.

  • Wayne
    January 18, 2010 - 09:39

    if i had a small to medium beef op i would have a small business run by others in my family. just think of all the space in a farmers yard and what an oppertunity it would be to have a meat market. $$$$$ to be made and it's being done if you were to look around! if your not making $$ while its on the hoof.....put it on a platter.

  • stumpdummy
    January 18, 2010 - 09:38

    something missed here is that Taylor's personal assistant was the top(only)bidder on the Tory item up for auction, item donated by said assistant.
    ,Mark did you eat today, or anytime lately,,,,,,,if it came from N.S. you know it's safe & fresh, no melamine etc but we can't produce it at a loss for you much longer.When all food is imported ,will you feel safe? When the beef industry goes ,so does much of N.S.'s scenery, bushes and weeds to the roadside . Tourists are going to love this place !!. Question,,does retailing products imported into N.S generate much N.S. GDP ??????? Your Wal-mart job likely disappeared because the local economy has collapsed because of exported opportunities (see frank from Nova Scotia's comment) ( & you can get govt $ , called EI) farmers can't