HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwired - July 19, 2013) -
Editors' Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.
Today, federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) agriculture Ministers wrapped up their annual meeting which focused on the potential of Growing Forward 2 to spur innovation and market growth in Canada's agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector.
"Growing Forward 2 is an exciting step forward for our innovative Canadian sector, providing the strategic investments necessary to advance innovation and broaden our markets," said federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "I am extremely proud of our record of collaboration and dedication to ensuring our farmers, processors and exporters are on strong footing to take full advantage of the trade and market opportunities emerging around the world."
Growing Forward 2 will help drive transformative change by proactively investing in innovation, market access and development, and regulatory reform.
Both levels of government recognize the importance of a strong agricultural and food industry as a catalyst for new jobs and new growth across the country. With sector exports reaching a record $47.7 billion last year, remaining competitive and productive are critical components to expanding trade and generating growth. Growing Forward 2 is complemented by Canada's ambitious trade agenda, aimed at maintaining and expanding export opportunities in traditional and emerging markets. In this context, Ministers also reaffirmed their support for supply management.
Ministers also expressed their extreme disappointment regarding the U.S. Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) that continues to be harmful to the Canadian livestock industry. They stressed their continued commitment to stand up for Canadian cattle and hog producers against these unfair measures.
"I'm very pleased with the level of collaboration among the jurisdictions," said Minister MacDonell. "Each of us is committed to addressing whatever issues the agriculture and agri-food sector is confronting, from food safety and traceability to insurance and innovation. Working together, we will continue to provide effective support to Canada's producers and processors, to ensure the long-term sustainability and prosperity of Canadian agriculture."
Ministers discussed the potential for further support under AgriRisk Initiatives to facilitate industry's capacity to implement and deliver new, private sector risk management tools. They also discussed expediting the implementation of a Western livestock price insurance pilot program. Governments remain committed to engaging the private sector in expanding the range of risk management tools available to Canadian farmers. For more information on AgriRisk Initiatives, interested parties can visit www.agr.gc.ca/AgriRisk.
Growing Forward 2 will also facilitate a modern regulatory environment for the sector through industry and regulatory agency collaboration to enhance Canada's competitive advantage. Ministers discussed directions the federal government is following to improve the regulatory environment for the sector, which will continue to target health, product safety and the environment.
Ministers also discussed the control of imported goods, particularly reciprocity of standards. They recognized the perception of differences in oversight expressed by industry and consumers. They agreed to further examine this subject, while stressing the quality of Canadian products and the strict controls to which all foods are subject.
Ministers were given an overview of food safety modernization activities under the federal government's Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan, which will further strengthen Canada's world-class system and better protect Canadian families. As part of the plan, the CFIA is moving forward on new, stronger and more streamlined food regulations to bring the Safe Food for Canadians Act into force. The CFIA is also in the midst of a consultation on food labelling modernization.
Ministers discussed the strategy for a Food Safety Integrated Surveillance Network to link federal, provincial and private food laboratories. They endorsed the development of a business case to improve detection and response to food-borne threats.
FPT Ministers agreed that the implementation of traceability for cattle, hogs, poultry and sheep remains a high priority and encouraged the implementation of a cost-effective and sustainable system in collaboration with industry.
Officials updated Ministers on the options and engagement process for streamlining and modernizing the crop variety registration system, while ensuring it continues to support and promote Canada's sterling reputation for high-quality grains.
Ministers expressed optimism for the future of the agriculture and agri-food sector in Canada. Over the medium term, strong global demand, particularly from major emerging economies, will underpin continued strong commodity prices and growth for the sector. They will continue to build on their strong record of collaboration, and oversee the implementation of Growing Forward 2 throughout the year in the lead up to their next annual meeting which will be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba in July 2014.
BACKGROUNDER - Growing Forward 2
Growing Forward 2 is a five-year agreement developed in consultation with industry, and the announcement of several bilateral agreements between FPT governments. Launched in April, Growing Forward 2 marks a major shift towards realizing the high economic potential of the sector. On top of multi-year funding for business risk management programs, it includes an FPT investment of more than $3 billion over five years in strategic initiatives. The policy's strong focus on innovation, competitiveness and market development provides a foundation for the development of programs and services to position Canadian producers and food processors for growth and prosperity in the years ahead. For more information, visit: www.agr.gc.ca/GrowingForward2.
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