Madam Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to ask supplemental questions tonight with respect to a question I asked the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food on December 13. It is well known that right now farmers, not only in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon, but all across the country, are suffering from a lack of access to foreign markets. This is particularly difficult for our soybean and canola farmers.
I asked a very specific question on what steps are going to be taken. I received an answer that I did not quite feel to be satisfactory to the farmers in my riding or across the country, something about “we stand with, we are going to have some meetings, we are going to talk, this, that and the other thing”.
What is really happening is that we have lost access for foreign markets as a result of unresolved trade disputes that the government seems incapable of taking any action on.
The U.S. has had similar problems and it brought forward a $28-billion market stabilization fund for U.S. farmers. Good for them. The problem we are having with that now is that allows them to do a whole bunch of things. Number one, they can sell their product to other markets that are not closed, at a price that is much cheaper than Canadian farmers can. What they can also do is sell their product into Canada at a price much cheaper than our farmers can sell here in Canada.
This is the big problem and I met with the Dufferin Federation of Agriculture. Hard-working farmers whose livelihoods are being severely affected by this met with me. Most farmers do not just farm soy or canola, they have a whole bunch of other things they do. On top of this issue, they are now struggling with the fact that they had a wet harvest in Ontario. They now have to pay to dry their corn and wheat. On top of that, they are getting slammed with a carbon tax. Some farmers are getting bills for $1,400 worth of carbon tax just to try and dry their product so they can get it to market, with no relief in sight from the government.
To make matters worse, many farmers in my riding across Ontario and across Canada are also cattle farmers. In Ontario, they have a complete lack of processing capacity due to the closure of the processing facility in Toronto. A farmer told me that in November she looked for a new place to have her beef processed and was told it could be processed in April. What happens to that family? They now have to pay to feed those cattle for the next four and a half months, the cattle will be overweight, and they will get less at market and pay penalties.
This is a catastrophic crisis in farming communities all across this country and in particular in Dufferin—Caledon. What they do not need are platitudes. I am not feeling very confident that we are going to get any concrete answers. They do not want platitudes like “we stand with or we are going to have a meeting”. They also do not want the government to say it will give them some loans. Farmers do not want loans, they want solutions to the problems. They want access to foreign markets fixed. They want processing capacity restored.
For the farmers in my riding and the farmers across the country, I would like an actual solution and not platitudes.