Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

March 03, 2005 15:00 ET

Agriculture Ministers Focus: Discussions on Moving Agriculture Industry Forward


NEWS RELEASE TRANSMITTED BY CCNMatthews

FOR: AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD CANADA

MARCH 3, 2005 - 15:00 ET

Agriculture Ministers Focus: Discussions on Moving
Agriculture Industry Forward

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 3, 2005) - Ministers met to
discuss a number of initiatives to assist the agriculture industry in
moving forward in this challenging period of low and declining farm
income. They also discussed yesterday's decision by a U.S. District
Court to grant a preliminary injunction that effectively delays the
opening of the U.S. border to Canadian live cattle under 30 months. The
discussions were part of a scheduled mid-year meeting between federal,
provincial and territorial Ministers of Agriculture in Ottawa on March
2-3, 2005.

Ministers expressed their disappointment over the U.S. District Court
decision to grant a preliminary injunction to prevent implementation of
the U.S. rule that would have allowed a resumption of U.S. imports of
live cattle, other ruminants and a wider range of products derived from
them. They vowed to continue their efforts to normalize trade between
Canada and the United States, and to increase access to other
international markets. Ministers agreed to maintain the current
set-aside programs under the Repositioning the Livestock Industry
Strategy announced on September 10, 2004, and to monitor the situation
so that measures continue to respond to industry needs.

Ministers also discussed changes to feed regulations in line with the
recommendations of the international team of experts on BSE. They agreed
to work closely together to find solutions to the issue of disposal of
specified risk materials (SRM) as quickly as possible. Ministers
welcomed the announcement of $80 million in the Federal Budget for SRM
disposal.

Recognizing the difficult economic conditions currently facing
producers, governments continue to provide significant funding to
address farm income challenges. Assistance to farmers reached an
all-time high of $4.9 billion in 2004. The Canadian Agricultural Income
Stabilization Program (CAIS) alone is paying out more than $1.3 billion
a year for 2003, 2004, and 2005.

As referenced in the Federal Budget, Ministers committed to working
together to find a better means of effectively engaging producers in
joint management of business risk under CAIS, and to working towards
sustainable solutions for future program years. Officials were directed
to develop alternatives to the current CAIS deposit to be presented to
Ministers at their annual meeting in July 2005, and a plan for
consulting with industry. In the meantime, Ministers agreed to extend
enrolment for the 2005 program year to May 31. Ministers agreed there is
a need to deal with the deposit deadlines for the 2003 and 2004 program
years. Details will be announced by March 31.

Ministers also discussed the need for progress on national poultry
agreements; the challenges facing the grains and oilseeds sector; the
status of GMO labelling; World Trade Organization negotiations on
agriculture; trade matters such as the swine anti-dumping/countervail
action; the need to deal with the trade irritants of bluetongue and
anaplasmosis; and issues related to the pest control regulatory system
in Canada.

Finally, Ministers discussed the Annual Review of the Agricultural
Policy Framework, and committed to continue to work with industry to
move the sector forward, and to build a strong and sustainable
agriculture industry for the benefit of all Canadians.

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