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Farmers won't be impacted by Ag cuts in budget: Ritz
Published Friday, March 30, 2012 1:54PM CST
The federal agriculture minister says Saskatchewan farmers and food processors won't be impacted by $309 million in cuts to his department in yesterday's budget.
Gerry Ritz says the cuts will be made on the administrative side and that, for the most part, programs will remain intact. He added that safety nets will still be there for producers.
"Government is like any business or your household budget, it needs to look for efficiencies," Ritz said in an interview with CTV News on Friday.
"When times are tough, you need to go back through and find out what's redundant; what's overlapping; what you are doing now that really is beyond the scope of your mandate and start to pull back in and refocus."
However, in a news release, the federal NDP said the budget dealt a second blow to Prairie farmers, who the party says are struggling to move forward after the recent changes to the Canadian Wheat Board.
Ritz also touched on the recent $6.1 billion takeover bid for grain-handling giant Viterra, saying the government doesn't have a stance on the deal at this point.
"We know there's a process to be followed with the Investments Canada Act, along with the Competition Bureau, will have a look at the overall effect of these changes.
"The province has put forward an oversight, as well, and that's all good. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that farmers are well served, that Canadian consumers are well served and that taxpayers are well served."
He said while the timing of the Viterra offer to the scrapping of the wheat board's monopoly over grain marketing may seem suspect, there is no link between the two developments.
"These types of deals take months in the planning," Ritz said.
"We just passed (the wheat board) legislation in December and (the Viterra) deal was started long before that."