The federal NDP is making an election promise to reopen the century-old tree nursery at Indian Head.
“We’ve committed to opening it on a cost-recovery basis to be operated either by government or by a community-based organization,” said Nial Kuyek, NDP candidate for the riding of Regina Qu’Appelle.
The tree nursery provided millions of seedling trees to farmers across western Canada starting in 1908, but the program was officially cut by the Conservative government in 2012. It was kept open for an additional year and attempts were made by some groups to take over operations, but none were successful.
“We’re going into a period of climate change where farmers and rural landowners will need trees to mitigate erosion, water, flooding – all the issues that come along with environmental change,” Kuyek said.
“We think that providing these trees on a reasonable cost-recovery basis to landowners across western Canada, is something that rural landowners want.”
The NDP also announced plans to review the rates farmers are paying to ship grain and oilseeds by rail.
“It’s been estimated recently that farmers are being overcharged as much as six dollars a tonne,” Kuyek said. “We think after 17 years of the revenue cap in place it’s time to do a costing study, we will do that.”
He says railways are charging high rates for mediocre service and a rail costing review would ensure a fair price.
Kuyek also says the NDP will review the safety net programs for agriculture producers like the level of federal contributions to AgriInvest.
The party also promised an additional $40 million for investing in public agriculture research.