The Gleaner
Agriculture

Regional UPA federation takes stand on use of agricultural land

The Fédération de l’UPA de la Montérégie held both virtual and in-person annual general meetings in early October, which were attended by well over 100 farmers, partners, and employees.

A total of 26 resolutions, responding to concerns expressed by 626 producers who took part in 15 consultation meetings organized by local syndicates, were adopted. Three of these resolutions addressed support for growers devastated by the heavy rains and inclement weather that led to a catastrophic 2023 season. These focus on crop insurance reform, the Agri-Relance program, and a review of the different risk management programs.

Concerns were also raised about a lack of efficiency and clarity in the authorization process to clean and test waterways, which became very apparent with the heavy rainfall this summer. Other resolutions addressed the need to adjust bridge and roadway widths to match the dimensions of existing agricultural machinery.

Delegates also passed an extraordinary resolution on the development of the battery industry in Quebec, following the government’s recent announcement it would invest billions in the Swedish company Northvolt and a new battery manufacturing plant to be built in the Montérégie region in Saint-Basile-le-Grand and McMasterville.

Last week’s announcements concerning the development of the battery industry raise legitimate questions. The government is dragging us collectively into an enormous multi-billion-dollar gamble, and it’s clear that the scale of the sums invested will prompt some to demand special privileges to avoid submitting their project to the CPTAQ,” said Jérémie Letellier, the president of the regional UPA federation. He noted at least 70 of the 450 hectares expected to be used by Northvolt are zoned agricultural.

The resolution calls on the government to set an example by relying on the Commission de protection du territoire Agricole du Québe(CPTAQ) legislative framework, rather than on provisions such as decrees which have been used in the past to grant exceptions in terms of activities permitted on agricultural land. The resolution also calls on the government to make use of the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) as a transparency measure in terms of social, environmental, and economic considerations in such cases. (SR)

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