Agree­ment helps farm­ers

Agri­cul­ture min­is­ters meet­ing in St. John’s

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

Agri­cul­ture min­is­ters signed a $3-bil­lion part­ner­ship with Ot­tawa aimed at strength­en­ing the in­dus­try and de­vel­op­ing new mar­kets as fed­eral of­fi­cials pre­pare for loom­ing trade talks with the United States.

Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Lawrence Ma­cAulay said the Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Part­ner­ship is in­tended to help the $100-bil­lion sec­tor come up with in­no­va­tions to boost pro­duc­tiv­ity, de­velop new trad­ing part­ners and mit­i­gate en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

The five-year plan, which comes into ef­fect on April 1, 2018, was rolled out Fri­day at the close of two days of meet­ings be­tween Ma­cAulay and his provin­cial and ter­ri­to­rial coun­ter­parts in St. John’s, N.L.

“The 14 min­is­ters sit­ting down agreed that this is the best path for­ward,” Ma­cAulay said at the clos­ing news con­fer­ence. “I don’t think any­body feels cheated out of any­thing.”

He said the part­ner­ship is meant to help the sec­tor con­tinue to “in­no­vate, grow and pros­per and po­si­tion Canada as a leader in the global econ­omy.” There are six key com­po­nents, in­clud­ing sci­ence and re­search, mar­ket de­vel­op­ment, en­vi­ron­men­tal sustainability and risk man­age­ment.

A re­view will also be done on the risk man­age­ment pro­grams, with min­is­ters slated to look at the find­ings at their meet­ing next July.

Ma­cAulay says he hopes it will en­sure more eq­ui­table cov­er­age for pro­duc­ers un­der AgriSta­bil­ity, which pro­vides sup­port for farm­ers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing crop fail­ures or large losses.

Saskatchewan Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Lyle Ste­wart said the new part­ner­ship re­places Grow­ing For­ward 2, but should main­tain the same level of fund­ing.

The new agree­ment al­lows prov­inces and ter­ri­to­ries to trig­ger late par­tic­i­pa­tion, mean­ing pro­duc­ers could en­ter the pro­gram and get slightly lower pay­ments even if they did not sign up by the dead­line.

“Saskatchewan does not sup­port late par­tic­i­pa­tion in AgriSta­bil­ity as we be­lieve it goes di­rectly against the prin­ci­ple of proac­tive risk man­age­ment and does not fix a prob­lem pro­duc­ers have iden­ti­fied,” Ste­wart said. “We have no in­ten­tion of trig­ger­ing late par­tic­i­pa­tion un­der any cir­cum­stances in the prov­ince.”

Nova Sco­tia Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Keith Col­well said he was pleased with the new deal, say­ing it was a “bet­ter frame­work than the last one.”

The min­is­ters reaf­firmed their sup­port for sup­ply man­age­ment, which lim­its the amount of im­ports into Canada with­out high tar­iffs, as Cana­dian of­fi­cials gear up for trade talks on ev­ery­thing from wheat to dairy that are set to be­gin next month with the United States.

Col­well said he was con­fi­dent in the up­com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions and that the min­is­ters would be get­ting reg­u­lar up­dates as talks pro­ceed.

“It looks pos­i­tive so far, but it’s early in the ne­go­ti­a­tion stages,” he said in St. John’s. “I feel very con­fi­dent in the fed­eral ne­go­tia­tors.”

Cana­dian farm in­comes rose to $14.8 bil­lion in 2016, while the to­tal value of Cana­dian agri­cul­ture, agri-food and seafood ex­ports ex­ceeded $62 bil­lion.

CP PHOTO

Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Lawrence Ma­cAulay said the Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Part­ner­ship is in­tended to help the $100-bil­lion sec­tor come up with in­no­va­tions.

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