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FPT Ministers of Agriculture

July 18, 2014: Today, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture concluded their annual meeting after focused discussions on creating opportunities for a dynamic agriculture and agri-food sector in Canada. Ministers continue to plan for long-term success, while taking necessary actions to further strengthen the sector, which contributed $106.9 billion to Canada's GDP in 2013.

FPT Ministers committed to enhancing collaboration between governments, academia and industry to continue to build a modern and competitive sector that contributes to Canada's economy and economic growth. Ministers will maintain efforts to improve infrastructure, strengthen the regulatory framework, enhance market access and development, and advance investment in innovation.

Ministers recognize the federal government's activities to modernize the existing variety registration system based on feedback received through industry engagement. Ministers agreed on the need to ensure a strong system for transporting grains so that Canadian shippers remain competitive in markets at home and abroad. Ministers supported the development of a comprehensive and collaborative approach to emergency management, including the management of plant and animal health risks. In order to attract new investment and keep Canada's farmers on the cutting edge, Ministers discussed Canada's plan to strengthen plant breeders' rights, while ensuring farmers' privilege for farm-saved seed. Globally, they are supportive of expanding trade opportunities including working to break down market access barriers. They will continue reducing unnecessary regulatory burden, and removing barriers to innovation. Ministers stressed the importance of the quality of Canadian and imported products (reciprocity of standards), and the strict controls to which all foods are subject.

The Ministers discussed ongoing trade negotiations, such as those between Canada and the European Union (EU) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They emphasized the importance of signing trade agreements that benefit the agriculture and agri-food sector, while recognizing the importance of supply management in Canada. In discussing the new cheese access that would be provided to the EU under the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement, Ministers recognized the importance of the federal government's commitment to monitor impacts and provide compensation. Together, federal and provincial governments continue to stand alongside Canadian and U.S. industry to deliver a unified message of the negative impacts that U.S. Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) is having on both sides of the border.

Provincial and territorial ministers highlighted the vital importance of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to the agricultural sector, including food processing, and discussed the importance of addressing workforce challenges in the short and long-term. They agreed to monitor and report back on the impacts of federal reforms and work with the federal government to address the ongoing needs of the sector.

The Ministers also discussed other key topics such as bee health and social license—the importance of maintaining public trust in agricultural practices. Ministers reflected on the situation facing farmers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba as a result of recent flooding.

Quick Facts

* Agriculture is shared jurisdiction in Canada. The federal, provincial and territorial governments work closely together in the development and delivery of policies and programs.

* The Canadian agriculture and agri-food system is a complex and integrated supply chain which includes input and service suppliers, primary producers, food and beverage processors, food retailers and wholesalers, and foodservice providers. The activities along this supply chain generate significant economic benefits at both the federal and provincial/territorial levels.

* In 2012, the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector employed over 2.1 million people, and provided one in eight jobs in Canada.

* Canada is the world's fifth-largest exporter of agriculture and agri-food products, with 2013 exports of $50.4 billion.

Quotes

"Federal-provincial-territorial collaboration and partnership is essential in ensuring the long-term success of Canadian Agriculture. We continue to work with industry to build a modern, science-based environment that will make Canada a destination of choice for R&D and value-added processing investment. By focusing on access to new growth markets and emerging opportunities, we will ensure that the sector continues to serve as an engine of economic growth for the Canadian economy." - Gerry Ritz, Federal Agriculture Minister.

"Agriculture is the cornerstone of the economy, built on innovation. We will continue to work with counterparts across the country to build opportunities close to home and around the world for producers, processors and the entire value chain through strategic investment. At the same time, we must continue to focus on important issues for producers like water management, trade, business risk management, food safety and transportation." - Ron Kostyshyn, Manitoba Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.

Backgrounder

During the annual conference of federal, provincial and territorial Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Agriculture, presentations and discussions focused on the following themes:

Innovation

In order to meet growing global demand, Ministers discussed the need to increase agricultural productivity through adoption of new technologies, improved production and business practices, increased research and development, and labour investments. Building on the current five-year Growing Forward 2 (GF2) policy and programs, Ministers examined longer-term issues, trends and strategies that will guide the future success of the sector. In this context, Ministers were briefed on the recommendations in the final report of the Agri-Innovators Committee which provides a foundation for government and industry action in key areas to support tomorrow's globally successful sector.

Regulations

Regulatory modernization efforts will further enhance sector competitiveness and maintain a world-class system that protects the health and safety of Canadians with the appropriate level of oversight. Ministers recognize the importance of the proposed Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) outcomes-based transformation initiatives to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden, and remove barriers to innovation, while ensuring alignment of FPT actions.

Crop Variety Registration

Ministers received a progress report on the modernization of Canada's variety registration system and industry engagement results. Federal officials will proceed with plans to transform the existing system while preserving the current benefits, quality assurance and Canada's international reputation as a producer of high quality grains, oilseeds and field crops.

Grain Transportation

The federal government has taken concrete measures through Bill C-30 to manage the backlog of grain and help the transportation system respond to future peak demand. This includes increased supply chain transparency, strengthened contracts between producers and shippers, and implementation of rail and grain regulations by August 1st for the start of the crop year. As governments and industry drive to improve productivity and yields, a strong and expanding logistics system is essential for Canadian producers and shippers to remain competitive in domestic, continental and offshore markets.

International Strategy and Trade

With almost half of Canada's total agricultural production destined for export, the sector's growth potential lies in its ability to expand markets abroad, making this a key priority for both industry and governments. In 2013, the Canadian agri-food and seafood industry exported a record $50.4 billion. Ministers continue to support efforts to stimulate innovation and cultivate a competitive advantage that complements governments' pro-trade market development initiatives, recognizing the importance of supply management. Ministers remain supportive of an ambitious international agenda including trade negotiations, market access and market development activities, and of ongoing collaboration to maximize the impact of international efforts. The Canadian wine industry presented an overview of their sector, which stressed the importance of this agricultural growth area, for both domestic and export trade markets.

Business Risk Management (BRM)

Just as the vibrant Canadian agricultural sector continues to transform and grow, so too does the risk landscape. In order to mitigate the economic costs of adverse events, Governments significantly bolstered insurance programs under Growing Forward 2 (GF2) to serve as a producer's first line of defense. This includes enhancements to crop insurance, as well as the new Western Livestock Price Insurance Program. In addition, GF2 includes an extensive suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs to help producers cope with severe market volatility and natural disasters. FPT governments will continue to monitor and evaluate BRM programs, and engage industry to ensure they are meeting producers' needs, and to inform the next policy framework.

Emergency Management

Ministers endorsed proactive work on an approach to mitigate risks, focusing on all components of emergency management: prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. Part of this work will complement FPT governments focus on better collaboration between governments, academia and industry in exploring avenues to prevent animal and plant health risks which pose a threat to the sustainable and economic well-being of the sector. Ministers also noted the significant work undertaken with industry towards the development of a Livestock Market Interruption Strategy, and recommitted their support to this project to ensure its completion in 2015.

Key Issues

Ministers committed to continue work with the bee and crops industries towards sustaining a healthy bee population. With respect to the issue of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, Ministers acknowledged the importance of collaborative efforts used to contain the virus, and encouraged continued emphasis on the implementation of bio-security measures across the value chain to further protect the pork industry. In addition, Ministers discussed the importance of integrated water management practices for sustained growth and risk mitigation.


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