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Canada: Nova Scotia NDP offer new loan program to fruit, organic farmers

Nova Scotia's New Democrats said Sunday they would offer a new loan program to fruit and organic farmers if elected next month. Premier Darrell Dexter said the program would allow farmers to deter a portion of their loan payments until after their crop is harvested and sold.

Dexter said that would allow farmers to grow their crops without financial pressures.

"Fruit growers and organic farmers need a longer time from when they plant their crop to when they can harvest and sell it," said Dexter in a news release.

"Hard working farming families need stability to know they can keep planting in new crops."

The loans would be offered through the provincial government's Farm Loan Board, which already works with local farmers.

The NDP said there would be no new costs associated with the initiative.

Dexter also pointed to a $400,000 expansion of a loan program for new farmers entering the business announced last month.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative party said Sunday it would pass legislation to keep hospitals operating during labour disputes in health care.

Tory leader Jamie Baillie said disputes would be settled through arbitration rather than strikes or lockouts.

“It is unfair to patients and families to not know if medical care will be there when they need it,” Baillie said in a statement.

“A PC government will stand up for patients, while the Liberals and the NDP stand on the side of health unions."

Baillie noted an anticipated strike at the Capital District Health Authority in 2012, when 530 diagnostic imaging appointments were postponed and 430 surgeries delayed.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil spent Sunday campaigning in the province's Annapolis County in Clementsport and in Middletown.

On Monday, federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is expected to campaign with McNeil throughout the Halifax area.

Copyright 2013 Canadian Press.

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