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Federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture helping the sector grow, innovate and prosper

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Federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture helping the sector grow, innovate and prosper

Canada NewsWire

VANCOUVER, July 20, 2018 /CNW/ - Canadian farmers, ranchers and processors across the country work hard every day to ensure that Canadians and consumers around the world have access to high-quality and healthy food. Canada's agriculture and agri-food system contributes over $110 billion of our gross domestic product, and last year our agriculture, food and seafood exports hit an all-time record of $64.6 billion.

Topics critical to the growth and continued prosperity of the sector were the focus of discussion at the annual meeting of federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers of agriculture, co-chaired by Lawrence MacAulay, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture for British Columbia.

Ministers discussed how they can collaborate to create more jobs and support economic growth in the agriculture and agri-food sector. Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector was recently identified in the Barton Report as one of six sectors with high potential for economic growth. An Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table was created as part of the federal Innovation Skills Plan and serves as a forum for industry leaders to explore opportunities and challenges facing the sector. The Table engaged FPT ministers on their views to drive growth in the sector. Ministers noted the significant work that the Table has undertaken and committed to work collaboratively with industry.

Ministers acknowledged the importance of trade. They discussed on-going trade negotiations to maintain and grow market access for Canada, and the importance of working together to help the agricultural sector expand their businesses in key global markets. Ministers also reiterated their strong support for supply management. Ministers agreed that an appropriately skilled and increased labour supply in the short and long term is critical to future growth, and also agreed on the importance of ensuring the effectiveness of temporary foreign workers programs.

FPT Ministers noted the successful launch in April 2018 of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year, $3-billion investment to help the sector grow, innovate and prosper. The Partnership provides ongoing investments to support leading edge discovery and applied science, spur innovation, and promote international trade, while ensuring that producers continue to have access to business risk management (BRM) programs.

The Government of Canada provided an update on progress toward legalization of cannabis. The cannabis industry is eligible to apply for federal programs under the Partnership. Provinces and territories have the discretion to determine eligibility for cannabis production for cost-shared programs.

For BRM programs, income from cannabis (including both medicinal and recreational) are not eligible for support under AgriStability and AgriInvest. Governments agree to monitor this over the coming years as the cannabis industry matures and stabilizes.

After significant effort over the past year, the external panel of experts presented its recommendations on BRM programming. Ministers thanked the panel on concluding their work and directed officials to move forward with additional work required on the recommendations and to report back on progress to Ministers in 2019. Ministers remain committed to continued engagement with industry, external experts and other stakeholders.

Topics at the meeting also included identifying areas for increased collaboration to streamline regulations, reduce regulatory burden and continue to uphold the safety and high quality of agricultural products. In addition, Ministers had the opportunity to hear about Indigenous agriculture activities currently underway in British Columbia and received an update from the federal government on the continued development of A Food Policy for Canada.

The next annual meeting of FPT Ministers will be held in Quebec City in July 2019.

Quotes

"Canada's farmers, ranchers and food processors provide safe, nutritious and sustainable food for the world, while creating well-paying jobs for our middle class. Federal, provincial and territorial governments are gathered here to focus on the overall competitiveness of the sector, and to create better opportunities for farmers and Canadians."
– The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

"It was wonderful to host my counterparts from around Canada here in Vancouver. As Agriculture ministers, we're always looking at ways to make sure our programs and policies are working for farmers, producers and processors across the country. The discussions we had together on supporting research, trade and development, and on the next steps in business risk management programs bring the voices, ideas and concerns of Canadian farmers to the table, and ensure they are part of the conversation. I look forward to continuing to build strong relationships across Canada and working together for Canadian food production and security."
– The Honourable Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture for British Columbia

Quick facts

  • Canadian farm incomes are forecast to reach a record $16.2 billion in 2017.
  • The food processing industry provides employment for a quarter of a million Canadians and is a major buyer of Canadian primary agriculture production.

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Summary of items from the 2018 Annual Meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture

Trade
Ministers discussed the status of trade negotiations and market access initiatives in key export markets and reaffirmed their support for supply management. Ministers discussed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) modernization negotiations, and noted that Canada remains optimistic that a good deal will be reached for Canada and Canadian producers. Provinces and territories are working energetically with the federal government to modernize NAFTA in a way that upholds and preserves the best interests of Canadians. Ministers also discussed trade and economic opportunities beyond our borders to help Canadian businesses compete around the world, and diversify our trading markets.

Labour
Ministers discussed current short- and longer-term challenges in agricultural labour markets, including the use of temporary foreign workers through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and future labour and skills needs of the sector. Ministers approved a work plan to further develop strategies and engage industry on labour issues. They recognized the opportunity to collaborate under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to address some of these labour challenges. Ministers agreed to continue to monitor the situation.

BRM review
Ministers discussed the suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. In July 2017, Ministers agreed to undertake a review of BRM programs to assess their effectiveness and impact on growth and innovation. An expert panel consisting of producers, academics and other experts was established to provide feedback and guidance on the review. The panel presented its recommendations to Ministers on July 20, 2018. Ministers directed officials to move forward with additional work required on the panel's recommendations and to report back on progress to Ministers in 2019.

Regulatory
Ministers acknowledged that the sector is changing rapidly and the need to address regulatory challenges, including the importance of collaboration with other regulatory bodies outside of agriculture, and of federal, provincial and territorial alignment. They highlighted that Canada has a world-renowned federal, provincial and territorial regulatory systems in place to ensure public safety and are exploring opportunities to enhance its capacity to drive innovation and increase resilience. Ministers committed to increase FPT collaboration to address the regulatory burden within their respective provincial and territorial authorities. In the short term, significant initiatives will be advanced: establishing a Canadian Plant Health Council under the Plant and Animal Health

Strategy for Canada, finalizing a national traceability system, and implementing the new Safe Food or Canadians Regulations.  Ministers also agreed on the importance of putting measures in place to support the sector in dealing with animal health emergency issues.

Cannabis
Ministers discussed the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) which received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018.

Ministers reviewed how cannabis will be treated under federal and cost-shared agricultural programs. The cannabis industry is eligible to apply for federal programs under the Partnership. Provinces and territories have the discretion to determine eligibility for cannabis production for cost-shared programs.

For BRM programs, income from cannabis (including both medicinal and recreational) are not eligible for support under AgriStability and AgriInvest. Governments agree to monitor this  over the coming years as the cannabis industry matures and stabilizes.

BRM programs are effective tools in managing risk in sectors that are well developed, but they are not meant to support intentional financial risk-taking commonly seen in emerging sectors. Industrial hemp production has been eligible for BRM support for some time, and will continue to be eligible moving forward.

 

SOURCE Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/July2018/20/c2382.html

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