COLLINGWOOD - Nova Scotia beef producers are getting proactive with politicians, urging them to take their concerns seriously before the industry collapses.
To prove their point, the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers are asking the four political parties to step up to the auction block today with their vision of the future for beef farmers. Sale day will take a twist in Truro as cattle farmers hear from the candidates and put their bid on a political platform.
"The future of the farming community in Nova Scotia depends on our political decision makers understanding the integral contribution we make in communities across the province and beyond," Collingwood farmer Kurt Sherman said. "The better they understand our role in the economy the more likely they are to make decisions that have a positive impact on our industry."
To date, the New Democrats have committed to sending agriculture critic John MacDonell, while the Conservatives and Liberals have also committed to sending someone. There has been no response from the Green Party. The event begins at 10 a.m., at the Atlantic Stockyards in Murray Siding.
While there are many issues facing beef farmers, Sherman said the ones they want to see addressed during the election campaign include pricing returns and a fair share of the retail dollar, access to local markets, funding for new entrant opportunities and practical succession plans.
Sherman said policy experts have indicated that if all the beef consumed in Nova Scotia were produced here, it would add several hundred million dollars to the province's gross domestic product.
"There is something fundamentally wrong when Nova Scotia producers provide less than 15 per cent of the beef consumered here," producers association vice-president John Tilley said.
The losses are huge, he added, saying there's an environmental cost, profit loss, investment loss and lost land. There's also a human cost in neighbours who move away, lost wisdom and stewards with no land to care for.