TILLSONBURG, ON, Feb. 26 /CNW/ - Ontario's tobacco farmers expressed
anger and resentment today upon learning that funds for a comprehensive exit
plan were not explicitly included in today's federal budget.
The Board has worked hard for two years to persuade federal Members of
Parliament and key government officials of the merits of its case. In the face
of a collapsing domestic market for Canadian grown flue-cured tobacco, Ontario
producers, their families and the communities that they have supported for
generations are facing economic ruin.
"We had reason to expect that the Government of Canada would respond to
our proposals for a fair and equitable exit program in this budget. Our
farmers resent the government's silence on an issue that is having such a
devastating effect on our families and communities," said Tom McElhone,
Chairman of The Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board.
McElhone explained that the exclusion of a tobacco program in today's
budget means one of two things: either the Conservative government is planning
to ignore the needs of tobacco producers; or the government has not yet
determined the contents of an exit plan.
"Time is running out. We will roll up our sleeves and get back to work on
this immediately. We will not cease in our efforts on behalf of our farmers
until we get satisfaction. Our farmers and communities need answers and we
demand action," said McElhone.
McElhone said that the Board's exit proposal is based on the principle of
fairness and is a realistic solution for farmers and for government.
"Through no fault of our own we have been driven to the brink. We believe
it is the government's responsibility to use some of the billions of dollars
that has been generated by taxing the product to help the people who have
produced the commodity," he said.
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