Regional Country News
June 21, 2002
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"Subsidizing farmers has backfired in Canada," says Lawrence Solomon, one of the authors of a report released last week by a Saskatchewan-based [editor’s note: URI is in fact based in Toronto] research institute, which is a division of Toronto environmental group Energy Probe.
Energy Probe is also affiliated with Environment Probe, an organization which recently sent out a fundraising letter slamming Ontario’s farmers for polluting the environment, living off the avails of subsidies, and hiding behind exemptions in environmental protection laws.
Solomon wrote the most recent report, entitled “Agricultural Subsidies in Canada: 1992-2001”, along with Carrie Elliot for the Urban Renaissance Institute. Available on the agency’s website, the report asserts that, "over 10 years, the federal and provincial governments supplied approximately $3.53 in agricultural subsidies for every dollar earned by a Canadian farmer, (yet) no province operated a profitable farm economy over the past decade."
The report provides statistics showing Ontario’s agricultural sector is the most heavily subsidized among provinces in Canada, followed by Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia. A large part of this, according to the authors, is the support of supply management systems for dairy and other products.
Solomon and Elliot suggest the report "understates the direct and indirect financial assistance that Canadian farmers receive" and "excludes the subsidy that farmers receive through property tax concessions," which they call "substantial."
The website for the Urban Renaissance Institute states the agency "is dedicated to helping cities and their regions flourish by removing the many impediments to their proper functioning," and includes goals such as "to measure and reveal the wealth that cities generate" and "to demonstrate why sound urban policies are indispensable to wilderness and farmland protection."
Also on the website, internet surfers are urged to vote on the question, "Do you support eliminating farm subsidies that help large farms but hurt small ones?" As of Monday, June 17, 79 people had apparently voted, with 52 per cent answering "yes" and 48 per cent responding "no.”