Subsidy programs raise problem of paperwork

Farm News Review – By Scott Stevenson
Subsidy programs raise problem of paperwork

Recent Quebec environmental grant generates more questions and concerns

Local Journalism Initiative

One of the positive points about the Quebec government’s recent compensation program for environmental practices is that it was simple to sign up. Government grant and loan applications can add an unrealistic amount of work to a farmer’s load.

The so-called Ministerial Initiative on Compensating Agri-Environmental Practices, described in this column two weeks ago, caught my attention for the speed at which nearly $20 million was handed out: 24 hours.

“It’s very simple to register,” Union des Producteurs Agricoles (UPA) president Martin Caron told the Terre de Chez Nous weekly newspaper after the Financière Agricole du Québec money was all granted.
It was so simple and fast, in fact, that many producers would have missed out, particularly those not reading their emails or getting their news in English only.

For that reason, I raised concern about lack of access for English-speaking farmers, who were “left out of Quebec government environmental program,” I wrote in this column’s last subtitle.

The day it was published, UPA-Estrie communications advisor Valéry Martin called me expressing concern that I might be starting a language war. I had, indeed, added the sensitive language angle to the subject, not suggesting that English-speaking farmers were intentionally excluded but rather that the program’s design, among other factors, had that side effect.

Martin noted that she had sent three emails to farmers like me to make sure we didn’t miss out on the program. The emails were part of the UPA-Estrie’s usual flow of information in French to registered farmers—among the many communications I and others often lack the time to read fully.
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