Industry receives $20 million
The Ecology Action Centre opposes the use of tax-payer funds to bail-out Nova Scotia’s failing mink industry. According to the December 2014 fiscal update the Department of Agriculture is $9.9 million over budget due to an increase in Agri-Stability program expenses related to the mink industry.
Fur farmers in Nova Scotia experienced a 60% price drop for mink pelts in 2014. This drop has triggered $20 million in federal and provincial disaster assistance under the Agri-Stability Program, a program designed to help farmers weather fluctuations in crop prices of 30% or more.
“Using tax-payer funds to bail out an industry that caused the worst outbreak of blue-green algae in our lakes in Nova Scotia’s history is completely unreasonable,” says Jocelyne Rankin, Water Coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre.
According to Accountability Reports from the NS Farm Loan Board, the fur industry has received over $24 million in loans since 2007. Federal and provincial governments have provided an additional $1.44 million in loans to improve environmental performance of the fur industry in South-West Nova Scotia. At the time, these investments were supposed to help drive economic growth, job creation and long-term prosperity. “This approach is a perfect example of what Nova Scotia needs to stop doing. Using tax-payer dollars to bail out this industry that has polluted our lakes for years, shut down a children’s summer camp and caused neighbouring property values to plummet will never get us to the green and prosperous economy we deserve,” says Rankin.
This bail-out contradicts Stephen McNeil’s election promise to end bail-outs for industries in decline. The 2013 Liberal platform criticized old habits that have led to governments assuming “that they are the first-stop shop when it comes to subsidies to individual corporations and bail-outs to industries in decline. This has to stop.”
Fur farming in NS needs the same ecological and regulatory rigor that the Doelle-Lahey Report has recommended for open-pen salmon aquaculture. Specifically the province needs to focus on low-impact/high-value product by respecting ecosystem carrying capacity, separate the regulation of the industry from the promotion of the industry, focus on openness and transparency and opportunities for the public to contribute to decision-making.
The provincial government is currently developing a green economic strategy. Specifically regarding this issue, the Ecology Action Centre recommends the following: stop propping up industries that realize private profit by externalizing pollution that harms our communities, and put an end to tax-payer bail-outs of industries that pollute our lakes, our drinking water wells and kill our fish.
By Jocelyne Rankin from the Ecology Action Centre on Jan. 13, 2015.