Canada protests over falling incomes

Canadian farmers have been out on the streets of the capital city Ottawa, mounting tractor blockades and marching on Parliament Hill in protest at falling farm incomes.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture presented a letter – signed by 21 farm leaders from all sectors of the industry – to Prime Minister Stephen Harper claiming that food supplies were in danger.

“It is in jeopardy because Canadian farmers can no longer afford to pay higher and rising costs.

It is in jeopardy because farm income is showing the worst three years in history.

It is in jeopardy because Canada can no longer attract or keep its young farmers,” it said.

A recent report from the CFA highlights the financial plight many now find themselves in.

For example, grain prices fell by 37% in 2004 and another 15% in 2005, while the cost of fuel has climbed 80% since 2002 to about 64 cents/litre (32p)

Farm debt has grown by 90% in the past decade and the debt to equity ratio is now at a record high of almost 20%.

“The years 2003-06 will be the four worst years for realised net income in Canadian history, with an average income per farm of $5592 (£2740) a year,” says the report.

The CFA claims that some farmers are even struggling to plant a crop for the coming season due to their financial plight and is demanding targeted financial support to address regional needs.

Earlier in April, prime minister Harper indicated that more money would be on the way.

A new federal budget was due to be released this week, and farmers were hoping for evidence of these commitments.