Prairie NDP leaders push provincial governments to sign full AgriStability deal

The provincial NDP leaders in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba are urging their provincial governments to sign the federal government’s full AgriStability proposal.

The call was made during a virtual media conference on Thursday with Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili, Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew and Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley.

The premiers of the prairie provinces signed on to a partial agreement on March 25 to make changes to the AgriStability program. While the reference margin limit was removed for an additional $20 million, the premiers did not invest the money needed to boost the compensation rate from 70 to 80 per cent.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has provided an opportunity for the three provinces to still sign the full proposal before the June 30 deadline for farmers and producers to enroll in the program.

During Thursday’s event, Meili said the governments cannot continue to leave federal dollars on the table.

“We need to make sure that instead of more delay, more worry and more uncertainty, our farmers and producers have the stability and support that the name of the program implies,” stated Meili. “After years of struggling against drought and floods, now more than ever do producers need provincial governments on their side.”

He added that he’s not sure about the reasoning behind this decision as farmers and ranchers unite across the prairies to call for more support.

“They have earned the support of the federal government, but it’s Scott Moe, Jason Kenney and Brian Pallister who have blocked this when it’s our prairie provinces that have the most at stake,” Meili said.

Meili estimates the cost would be at about $10 million to enhance the support level in Saskatchewan. Notley believes the price tag for Alberta would be in the range of $7 million to $10 million.

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