SIMCOE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 5, 2012) - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz sat down with farmers from the Haldimand - Norfolk area today to get their input on agriculture policies and to let them know about the many ways that the Harper Government is creating growth and economic prosperity. Human Resources and Skills Development Minister and member of Parliament Diane Finley (Haldimand - Norfolk) hosted the roundtable discussion.
"Our government remains focused on creating jobs, growth, and long-term economic prosperity for all Canadians, and supporting the agriculture industry is vital to our plan," said Minister Ritz. "Through Economic Action Plan 2012, our Government is providing targeted investments that help create new economic opportunities for our farm families and economic growth in our rural communities."
Minister Ritz highlighted the Harper Government initiatives that are helping farmers make their living from the marketplace, become more innovative, and better manage risk. These initiatives include:
- A $50-million Agricultural Innovation Program to facilitate innovation and adoption of new products, technologies, and processes that enhance economic growth, productivity, and competitiveness;
- Ensuring that employment of temporary and foreign workers continues to support economic growth and helps create more opportunities for all Canadians;
- Opening, reopening, and expanding market access for Canadian farmers and producers, who last year exported agriculture products valued at more than $44 billion;
- A $500-million loan program through Farm Credit Canada to ensure that young and beginning farmers can start or grow their businesses; and
- Strong and consistent defense of Canada's supply management system.
Building on industry's call for more market access, market development, and innovation, Minister Ritz and Minister Finley used the opportunity to consult on the next suite of agriculture programming. Just as farmers review their business practices on a regular basis, the Harper Government is reviewing its programs to make sure they will help the sector become more competitive over the long term. As the outlook for the agriculture sector is positive, with many commodities currently experiencing record high incomes and showing strong growth prospects, the time is right to make sure that agriculture programs are having the greatest impact on the future. The Government will continue to invest in science and innovation to keep Canadian farmers efficient and competitive, while providing predictable, stable, and bankable programs to help farmers weather disasters.
"Our government knows how important agriculture is to the economy, and particularly here in southwestern Ontario," said Minister Finley. "In line with our economic plan for job creation and prosperity, the Harper Government will continue to work with farmers to make sure that our programs provide them with the resources, technology, and tools needed to be successful on their farms."
This roundtable was part of ongoing consultations with farmers and agricultural stakeholders.