RM Issue #040131
Jan 26 2004
P.E.I. agriculture industry in crisis: politicians
CHARLOTTETOWN — Plans for a symposium on the future of agriculture are underway for Prince Edward Island after three Island MPs met with provincial cabinet Friday. The politicians referred to the situation in the Island's agriculture sector as a crisis. Beef, hog and potato prices are extremely low and some farmers say they won't be able to hang on much longer. The politicians wouldn't commit any more money for agriculture, saying instead that a long-term solution must be found. Premier Pat Binns says it will be tough to compete in a commodity business. "It's going to be tough for us to get through the short term. But, we really have to think about the long term and the sustainability of P.E.I.," he says. "We need a mindset, a major shift in thinking if we're going to be successful in the long term and this is a great start to begin to look at that." There has been talk of building another french fry plant on the Island to take some of the surplus spuds off the market, but both Binns and Malpeque MP Wayne Easter agree that isn't the answer. "The fact of the matter is agriculture is in trouble all over the world and throwing money at it is not the answer, growing more acreage is not the answer," says Easter. "As the premier said, everything has to be in balance and so what we want to do is bring some of those players together, see if any way of thinking outside of box." Federal and provincial officials are now working on the details of the agricultural symposium, tentatively scheduled for some time this fall.