I am writing about the recent announcement by John Duncan, Conservative Island North MP, regarding a $2.37 million “agricultural grant” recently given to Macaloney Whiskey Distillers of Victoria.
The objective for this grant stated on the federal government website, is to support Canadian agriculture to the tune of 500 tonnes of “Canadian grown malt barley” annually and to create an estimated 79 jobs.
This equates to approximately 300 acres (less than 0.5 per cent) of the over 103,000 (2001 stat) acres currently being farmed on Vancouver Island.
Before 1947, Vancouver Island had been the most significant grain producer in B.C. Currently we import much of our land-based food products, a lot of which comes from increasingly drought-ridden California. It is obvious that local food production reduces our dependence on imported foods.
Would a better choice be to facilitate the establishment of more regional grain cleaning, storage and processing facilities for small and medium farmers who could easily supply the Whiskey distillery with their 300 acres of barley?
This would allow growth of a significant additional amount of food grain such as whole wheat, rye, lentils, chick peas and other important fruits and vegetable crops.
Not wanting to take away the entrepreneurial spirit of the whiskey distillery, my question to our federal MPs is: do you think giving a $2.37 million agricultural grant to a business enterprise with a 300-acre local malt barley growing objective is a good use of taxpayer dollars?