Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

July 08, 2005 17:11 ET

Progress Made on Vital Issues at Annual Ministers of Agriculture Conference

KANANASKIS, ALBERTA--(CCNMatthews - July 8, 2005) - Federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture today reached agreement and directed that policy options be developed on a wide range of initiatives relating to Canada's agriculture and agri-food sectors. Ministers agreed that addressing the long-term future of the Canadian agriculture industry is a priority.

Officials were tasked with exploring solutions to the issues raised and to consider more broadly a process for reviewing and updating policies around the long-term sustainability of the industry and transformative change. While reconfirming their commitment to the APF, a number of provinces raised concerns over the long-term affordability of programs. In advance of a review of the programs' parameters scheduled for this fall, provinces presented sustainability models.

Ministers agreed to meet later this year to consider options in the context of a national approach.

Ministers launched their discussions with an update on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and an analysis of contingency planning to address any possible outcome ahead of the July 27th U.S. District Court hearing related to the future of imports by the U.S. of Canadian beef, cattle and other ruminants. Ministers welcomed the opportunity to speak, and examine possible scenarios, with representatives of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and the Beef Value Chain Roundtable. Good progress was made and further collaborative work will be done by governments and industry to refine an approach prior to the court decision.

Ministers were provided with a status report on progress towards finalizing regulatory amendments to enhance Canada's BSE feed controls, and federal, provincial and territorial preparations for the removal and disposal or alternative use of specified risk materials. Ministers directed their officials to work cooperatively in this regard, with a view to accelerating the eradication of BSE from Canada and in a manner that is supportive of re-integrating the North American market.

Ministers agreed on the need to move forward with long-term transformative changes to the industry, building on the pillars of the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), including; Science and innovation; Environment; Food safety and Quality; Renewal; and Business risk management. They received updates on the APF Review Panel's work on assessing whether APF programming is achieving strategic outcomes.

Parliamentary Secretary Wayne Easter made a presentation to Ministers on findings flowing from his consultations since January 2005 with Canadian producers on the challenges related to declining farm incomes.

Ministers agreed on the need to continue to strongly press Canada's position in the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations related to agriculture. Ministers underscored their commitment to work collaboratively in support of a level international playing field that promotes fair competition among producers and processors from all countries. They also reiterated their support for the right of producers to choose to use orderly marketing systems such as supply management and the Canadian Wheat Board. Provincial and territorial ministers were invited to attend WTO negotiations with Minister Mitchell in Hong Kong later this year.

Ministers were encouraged by progress to create a National Traceability Policy approach to guide implementation of a sector-by-sector traceability across the Canadian food supply chain. Ministers were assured that steps would be taken quickly, while ensuring sound science. This new tool will enhance the ability to respond to animal health concerns and will assist efforts to reopen markets.

To enhance and build upon existing animal health initiatives, ministers have supported the development of a National Animal Health Strategy for Canada, in collaboration with the private sector, to address animal and human health interactions, and to manage various impacts associated with disease outbreaks.

Ministers received a progress report on work towards development of a national food policy framework. Officials were directed to continue the work and report to ministers.

FPT ministers acknowledged the importance of creating a Canadian organic certification system, which will allow Canada to maintain access to the EU market, and have instructed officials to continue their work to publish regulations by this fall.

Ministers met with Canadian Agri-Food Marketing Council representatives and announced their support for proposed industry-wide export targets and enabling goals for 2010.

To strengthen the position of Canadian agriculture and agri-food products in global markets, ministers endorsed the continued development of a strong Canada Brand for the agri-food and seafood sectors, a key element in securing new or emerging markets for Canadian products.

Ministers committed to the continued development of an ecological goods and services (EG&S) policy framework that balances both the benefits of agriculture and the responsibilities of producers for sound environmental stewardship. They also committed to engage producers and other stakeholders to support new research pilots that meet established criteria for policy development. Ministers agreed to hold a national symposium on EG&S that will be led by the Province of Manitoba.

Ministers received and reviewed a presentation from the Province of Quebec on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) labelling and related issues. Ministers recognize the need to continue the discussion on GMOs, and have requested a status report on the issues related to this matter for the next annual conference.

Ministers agreed to complete the review of the scope and coverage of the Agriculture and Food Goods chapter of the Agreement on Internal Trade. Ministers further agreed that each jurisdiction will consult its industry stakeholders as it sees appropriate and to bring forward final recommendations on a revised Agriculture and Food Goods chapter to the Committee on Internal Trade Ministers by December 2005.

Finally, business risk management was a key item on the ministers' agenda.

Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program and Production Insurance (PI) as the two key programs to help producers manage the business risks of farming. Ministers discussed the possibility of moving to a fee-based approach, at 0.45% of a producer's reference margin, instead of a deposit, which would be affordable for producers and would not tie up working capital. They also considered a CAIS advance to pro-actively target assistance to producers experiencing a farm income disaster. Program modifications in support of producers experiencing back-to-back disasters were discussed. Ministers discussed the criteria for negative margin coverage. Negative margins occur when a producer's eligible expenses under the program are higher than eligible income. Ministers will seek to execute an amending agreement as soon as possible.

Ministers received an update on the link between the CAIS and PI programs, inventory valuation, reference margins and progress on further administrative improvements. Ministers will continue to work towards strengthening linkages between CAIS and PI programs. Ministers have asked officials to report back in the fall with an update on these items.

Ministers also received a progress report from the National Association of Agricultural Supervisory Agencies (NAASA) on efforts to negotiate improved multilateral agreements governing national supply management for turkeys, table eggs and broiler hatching eggs; a report on which is due back to ministers in the fall.

It was agreed that the next annual meeting will be held in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, June 26-29, 2006.

Contact Information

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