Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

November 14, 2006 19:41 ET

Ministers Focus on Building a Stronger Future for Agriculture in Canada

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 14, 2006) - Federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture met today in Calgary to discuss the transformation of Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector, and to set the stage for cross-Canada consultations on the next generation of agriculture and agri-food policy. Ministers agreed on measures to address the pressures farmers are facing in a rapidly evolving world, announcing changes in how governments support farmers in managing the business risks of farming.

Given that Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry is an integral part of the Canadian economy and an important contributor to Canada's social fabric, ministers also launched consultations for the next generation of agriculture and agri-food policy. They were united in their commitment to work with the sector on new policies that will enable industry to seize new opportunities and remain competitive in a challenging global environment.

Supporting Producers in Managing the Business Risks of Farming

Over the past ten months significant progress has been made on a new suite of business risk management (BRM) programs to address concerns identified by producers. Vast improvements have been built into what is becoming a new margin-based income stabilization program. In principle, and subject to the appropriate authorities, agreement has been reached on a separate disaster relief framework, and on options for considering the extension of coverage under production insurance to livestock and additional horticulture crops.

At the same time, ministers acknowledged that more work still needs to be done to identify and address gaps and make improvements in the business risk management suite, within the context of affordability. They tasked officials to continue consultations with the sector, starting in January, in conjunction with the next generation policy development process.

Ministers, with industry representatives and government officials, have worked intensely on re-engineering the support governments provide to help producers manage the business risks of farming. The changes tackle many of the needs expressed by industry representatives on behalf of farmers, and include significant delivery and design improvements such as:

- More accurate assessment of losses by improving the way inventory is valued;

- Better protection through expanded negative margin coverage;

- Easier participation requirements, based on a small fee rather than a deposit;

- Targeted advances to provide faster payments during a disaster;

- The availability of interim payments across the country so producers can access some of their estimated payment early;

- Simpler sign up and less paperwork, with most provinces having automatic sign-up for producers who previously participated;

- More flexible deadlines for applying;

- More accurate online calculators to estimate payments available in some provinces;

- Secure electronic filing in most provinces;
- Common services standards across the country for processing applications; and

- More informative statements for producers.

In principle, and subject to securing appropriate authorities, ministers agreed to the following:

- establishing a new agriculture disaster relief framework that enables agricultural disaster relief programming and have instructed officials to provide options on how best to apply it; and

- options for considering the extension of coverage under Production Insurance to livestock and additional horticulture crops.

In addition, consistent with recommendations from industry, they agreed to maintain linkages between income stabilization programming and production insurance, to monitor these linkages going forward, and to make any necessary adjustments in the future to ensure they continue to work as intended. They further directed officials to review overall affordability and interrelationships in the BRM program suite within the context of consultations for the next generation policy.

Next Generation of Agriculture and Agri-Food Policy

Turning their attention to long-term transformation of the sector, ministers held a significant discussion on forward policy directions for agriculture in Canada. Over the past several decades, there have been substantial changes to the face of agriculture and agri-food in Canada, as well as substantial new and emerging competitive challenges. Together with governments, the sector must seek out new opportunities to ensure its future success and profitability.

Ministers formally launched consultations for the development of the next generation of policy and challenged the sector and those interested in it to focus their energy and enthusiasm on bringing innovative ideas and solutions to bear on the challenges the sector faces. Representatives from across the value chain will have an opportunity to input early in the process to help shape the discussion moving forward.

Ministers released an overarching discussion paper that examines the economic situation of the sector and sets out a proposed vision, and a principles paper that sets out proposed guidelines for the policy development process. This will be followed in the coming weeks by the release of a series of thematic papers that present possible policy options in the areas of environment (including an evaluation of ecological goods and services), food safety and quality, innovation and science, renewal, and markets and trade - as well as a number of economic background papers, including one on business risk management. Ministers stressed that the suite of documents is intended to guide discussions for the consultations and that governments remain open to new ideas from the sector. The documents can be found at www.agr.gc.ca/nextgen.

Ministers recognized the significant input industry has provided for a national traceability system. They committed to further industry consultation as part of the implementation process. They also received an update on Avian Influenza preparedness and the enhanced specified risk materials feed ban.

The annual conference of agriculture ministers will be held in Whistler, British Columbia, in June 2007.

Contact Information

  • Media relations
    613-759-7972