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Liberals pledge revamp of federal farm lender

An expanded FCC would take up some other federal ag services

The federal Liberals’ platform heading into the Oct. 21 election calls for an “expanded and enhanced” role for Farm Credit Canada in supporting the country’s agriculture and agrifood sectors.

Platform documents released Sunday last week (Sept. 29) call for the merger of several existing federal financial and advisory services — which the Liberals said are “currently scattered between several agencies” — into Regina-based FCC.

First set up during the Diefenbaker administration in 1959, FCC today bills itself as a “financially self-sustaining federal Crown corporation” reporting to the federal ag minister, lending money and providing other services to farmers, agrifood operations and agribusinesses.

Under a re-elected Liberal government, FCC, whose “mandate will be expanded and enhanced,” would become a new entity dubbed Farm and Food Development Canada.

The new agency “will serve as a single point of service to help all parts of Canada’s food economy develop, grow and export to new markets,” the Liberals said.

A re-elected Liberal government would also move to increase Farm and Food Development Canada’s capital lending capability by up to $5 billion per year “on top of the existing support” FCC provides, the party said.

That expanded lending capacity, the party said, would “help more food businesses access the capital and support they need to succeed and grow.”

In a separate platform plank dealing with red-tape reduction, the party also pledged to eliminate “all fees” charged for business advisory services such as mentorship and training provided by FCC.

Similar fees would also be eliminated at other Crown lenders such as the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada, the party said.

A table in the party’s platform document, budgeting for the cost of financing expanded services to the ag sector, calls for the use of “retained earnings” to the tune of $64 million during 2020-21.

That figure is shown decreasing by $6 million annually in each of the three subsequent budget years, to $46 million in 2023-24.

Other ag-related measures noted in the Liberals’ platform include:

  • a “collaborative review” of Canada’s business risk management programs, with “a special focus on AgriStability;”
  • a pledge that the party is “prepared to increase federal support to farmers to help them manage risks beyond their control;”
  • continuing to work with farmers on tax measures to “facilitate the intergenerational transfer of farms, making it easier for farmers to transfer or sell family farms to family members or others;”
  • moving ahead on “full and fair support” for Canada’s supply-managed sectors, including processors, in the wake of market access granted to imports under the Canada-EU (CETA) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade pacts, and taking “the same approach” on compensation when the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico agreement (CUSMA) is ratified;
  • a new Canada Commercial Consular Service, to help connect exporters with local legal assistance and support against “unfair practices by other countries who don’t respect rules-based trade;” and
  • “protecting the rights of hunters and farmers, by not bringing back the long-gun registry” in the context of a pledge to tighten federal gun laws and ban assault rifles. “Hunters and farmers do not use or need assault weapons,” the party said.

Glacier FarmMedia Network

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