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News  •  2 min

Why are the farmers angry?

Published on 

For several weeks now, European farmers have been demonstrating their anger with protests and road blockades. Increasingly, the unrest is being felt in Quebec as well. Why?

  • In Europe: The farmers’ anger stems from a feeling of abandonment at a time when they are dealing with the financial burden of unfair revenue sharing as well as rising international competition. On top of that, the European Union has imposed new environmental standards without sufficient compensation for the environmental services rendered nor adequate funding for the new agro-environmental measures. The new requirements have been poorly received.

  • In Quebec: Here at home, the agricultural community is demanding more government support. Economic difficulties and climate catastrophes are mounting, which caused a 23% increase in bankruptcies between 2022 and 2023. Debt has risen by 115% since 2015, while revenues have plunged by 38%.

  • Land prices: Land prices have increased tenfold from 25 years ago - a major obstacle for the next generation of farmers.

  • Labour shortages: The number of farmers is declining, and their average age is rising (52.9 years old). Agricultural enterprises are hiring foreign workers, but are having difficulty meeting their labour needs. This is impacting their profitability and placing mounting pressure on their bottom line.

  • Extreme climate events: In 2023, Quebec was hit by extreme climate events that did significant damage to the province’s harvests. Drenching rains, a late frost, forest fires and drought made life difficult for farmers and reduced their income. Heavy rainfalls had a particularly harmful effect on crops, damaging 60% of planted acreage throughout the province and resulting in estimated losses of 40% of the total.

  • Low morale: The cumulative impact of all these difficulties is weighing on the morale of agricultural producers in Europe and here at home. Many farmers are experiencing increased psychological distress.

Each piece of land counts. The government must take action.

Our take

These are grave times. In addition to the distress of the people who work the soil, our most critical resource for our food security - our farmland - is fast disappearing. Every day we are losing the equivalent of nearly 45 hockey rinks of farmland!

In the face of this untenable situation, Quebec’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, André Lamontagne, seems to empathize with farmers, but the announced measures aren’t enough. The Quebec government has been promising food autonomy for some years now – a promise very much welcomed by Équiterre. And yet, agriculture does not yet seem to be a top priority of the government, despite a few promising (if insufficient) gestures.

Fortunately, there are solutions. Équiterre and its partners in the Alliance SaluTERRE recently filed a brief proposing strong, concrete actions to address the crisis. Our recommendations seek to protect our farmland and lower agricultural land prices, while supporting best practices to protect the environment and combat the climate and biodiversity crises. And above all, they seek to support those who work so hard to feed us all.

The government knows what the solutions are. The power to act is in their hands.

It’s time for action

Here’s a way that you can support Quebec farmers and help ensure our future food security:

Send an email to the Premier, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Minister of Municipal Affairs supporting our recommendations.