HALIFAX: The MLA for Inverness wants the province to give farmers a bonus for investing in their livestock.

In the fall sitting of the provincial legislature, Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster asked the Minister of Agriculture to give beef farmers a bonus for those who invest in new bulls to improve the quality of their herds.

“This was something local farmers had been asking me about, and I know the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture has put forward ideas like this to help our farming economy,” MacMaster told the legislature recently.

The bull bonus helps to offset the cost of a new bull to help farmers bring genetic diversity to their livestock, he explained.

“I know the economics of this, Nova Scotia beef farming can be more expensive relative to other areas of the country yet they are selling beef at Canadian beef market prices,” the Inverness MLA later said in a press release.

“It is something that has worked in the past and it can make a difference for farmers right now.”

Agriculture minister Keith Colwell said the province is currently looking into the idea.

“For about the last 50 years there has been genetic enhancement in the industry for bulls and that work we’re examining now and we’re looking at the best possible way to do it,” the minister responded.

The Inverness MLA tried to inject some humour into the debate in this supplemental question.

“Some of their bulls have lost their enthusiasm,” MacMaster said to laughter. “Now they should not be criticized for that, it happens. I may say they’ve lost the spark in their eye, they’ve lost that loving feeling, but the minister can fix that… Why not offer a bull bonus now, or at least start to build it into the Spring Budget?”

Colwell responded that the department has met with the federation and are continuing to work on improving the beef herd.

“It’s very important to make sure we have the best beef herd we can have in the province and we’re doing a lot of work around that,” the minister said. “We’ll continue to do that in conjunction with the Federation of Agriculture. We’ve met with them on several occasions regarding this, and also to the beef producers in the province.”