May 19, 2004
For immediate release
Agriculture Committee Recommends Fundamental Change in Industry
Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture & Forestry
The Standing Committee has recommended that industry, government and supply chain partners collaborate in creating a new direction for Island agriculture. That would be based on making the transition from an industralized, commodity-based model to one which is based on product differentiation and branding, building on the Island’s pastoral image, geographic isolation, healthy environment and tradition of family farming.
“The commodity-based model of selling at the lowest possible price is simply not working for this province,” said Mr. MacDonald. “If Prince Edward Island is to survive and prosper in the future, a fundamental shift in direction is needed.” The committee is recommending the adoption of a branded image for the Island and developing a new relationship with the supply chain in order to gain a premium price for its distinctive products.
Mr. MacDonald said that five years ago, a previous Standing Committee had released a report on the farm crisis at that time. Since then, he said, farm debts continue to rise, equity continues to be eroded, margins continue to shrink, expenses are rising faster than incomes, and the loss of farms in the province continues to be the highest in Canada.
“While government and industry can continue to respond to one crisis after another with short-term, ad hoc measures, producers want to earn their living from the marketplace,” said Mr. MacDonald. “While the Committee can point to the need for change, it is ultimately up to the industry to decide on how to bring about such change.”
The chair said that the consequences of doing nothing could mean that future agriculture committees will be asked to investigate yet another crisis facing the industry.
The report presented a number of detailed recommendations aimed at easing the crisis facing beef and hog producers. It also recommended that new partnerships be established with processors and retailers to ensure that producers receive a fair and equitable return from the market.