After 15 months of uncertainty, Nova Scotia farmers are still searching for answers from the Rankin Government. With no plan in place, Kings North MLA John Lohr and Cumberland South MLA Tory Rushton say the government has made it clear that Agriculture is no longer considered essential, and the PCs aren’t the only ones saying it.
In an email to members last week, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture highlighted concerns with the government's failure to come up with a suitable plan for farming during Covid-19. Among the points highlighted:
- Agriculture is no longer being considered an essential service to this province when it comes to travel.
- Farm owners who live out-of-province, but own operations within Nova Scotia, have been denied entry into the province.
- While these are short-term restrictions, they could result in long-term impacts on Nova Scotia’s food security.
“Recent COVID rules have not only severely impacted small retail businesses but have also significantly impacted farmers,” says Lohr. “The public might not always see these restrictions, but they will feel the effects when farms go under.”
Rushton points out that crossing the border is essential to farmers, especially those with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia operations. He’s been in contact with the NSFA and farmers, looking for a solution to the government’s lack of plan.
“Farmers travel in and out of the province and need certainty when transporting food,” says Rushton. “If truckloads of food spoil before it arrives at the store, that doesn’t just hurt the food, it hurts the relationship with the buyer. They might look elsewhere next time, and then farms are in deep trouble.”
Lohr says it’s not the only issue facing farmers who struggled to get workers into Nova Scotia. He says restrictions have been poorly thought out and hurt many small businesses, noting that even U-picks that count on customers coming will be affected.
“We had to fight to help farmers bring Canadian workers from other provinces in during this latest lockdown,” says Lohr. “Our Annapolis Valley strawberry u-picks are dealing with an early crop. If people cannot come to the valley by mid-June, it will be a huge hit to farm finances.”
“It should have been a clear process and clear leadership,” says Rushton. “The agriculture sector isn’t asking for a lot. They just don’t want to be an afterthought when they are doing essential work and feeding Nova Scotians every day.”