Critic slams N.S. government for failing to do much to help beef farmers

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX Nova Scotia's opposition Conservatives are pushing the province's NDP government to do something to help struggling beef farmers.

Tory agriculture critic Chuck Porter says months have gone by and beef producers have yet to hear from the government on how it plans to help the industry.
Porter says Agriculture Minister John MacDonell is dragging his feet.
He says farmers are being forced to sell their product at a fraction of the cost required to produce it.
Beef farmers are struggling with high production costs, low prices for their product and stiff competition from cheaper imported products.
Farmers say they are losing about $200 on every head of cattle they sell. Some are facing huge debts, while others are closing their farms or culling their herds.
"At the end of November, Minister MacDonell stated an announcement would be coming the third week of December," Porter said in a statement.
"Now that time frame has come and gone and we still do not have answers."
For some beef farmers, an announcement may come too late, he said.
"Some farms are truly struggling, and knowing relief is in sight may save operations from closing their doors."
Conservative Murray Scott recently asked the NDP government to order all Nova Scotia institutions serving beef to buy only local beef.
In October, the legislature unanimously passed a resolution supporting farmers and the use of locally grown product.
But farmers say it may not be enough.
"I'm afraid we're going to lose the critical mass of the industry in the next six to eight months," Kurt Sherman, a Cumberland County farmer and a director of the Nova Scotia Cattle Producers, said in a recent interview.
The group is working on a 10-year plan for the industry.
Nova Scotians consume about $200 million worth of beef a year, but only five per cent is locally grown. Farmers say there is great potential for economic spinoffs if they can get better access to local markets.
(Halifax Chronicle Herald)

Organizations: Conservatives, Nova Scotia Cattle Producers

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Cumberland County

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