The Telegram (St. John's)
Federal, provincial, territorial ministers meet in St. John’s
Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food Lawrence Macaulay foresees rapid growth in farming in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food Lawrence Macaulay foresees rapid growth in farming in Newfoundland and Labrador, and enough federal support to make it happen.
Of course, exactly how much support there will be is still being negotiated.
“Growing Forward 2” is a five-year policy framework with a $3-billion expenditure by the provinces, territories and federal government on agricultural programs and services, running to 2018. Negotiations involving all ministers are underway for what will follow.
They’ll be ongoing while Macaulay is in St. John’s, co-hosting the annual meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture, along with Newfoundland and Labrador’s Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Steve Crocker.
The two were at the Agriculture and Agri-food Canada Research and Development Centre off Brookfield Road on Wednesday morning for a news conference highlighting $365,291 in federal funding for a risk-assessment project for farmers in Newfoundland and Labrador. The project is part of the Agririsk Initiatives under Growing Forward 2 and will be carried out by the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture.
While at the podium, Macaulay referenced the province’s push to increase its food selfsufficiency from 10 per cent to at least 20 per cent by 2022.
“You’re setting the bar high, but there is no doubt you will reach your goal,” he said.
Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture president Merv Wiseman said he feels support for the industry now in a way he didn’t
under previous governments at both levels. He referred to a previously announced 64,000 hectares of agricultural area made available for agricultural expansion in the province.
“So now we also have a process of engagement that goes with that — how do we clear that land, where do we find the money? Where do we find the investment? How do we address the environmental
issues?” Wiseman said.
“The demands from the public on safe food is absolutely incredible and we have to deliver on that. We just can’t do it alone and in isolation. It’s a partnership arrangement between the province, between the federal government,” he said.
The risk assessment project will help identify potential farm management issues for existing farmers and newcomers alike. Farmers can expect to hear from the federation for their input, Wiseman explained.
Where it comes down to major dollars, the first step is a general framework, then the provincial and federal government will be expected to settle a bilateral agreement for the follow-up to Growing Forward 2.
Asked about NAFTA negotiations, the federal minister said he is not the official trade negotiator, but both he and Crocker expressed clear support for the supply-management system, essential to this province’s dairy, chicken and egg farmers.
“The premier’s in Edmonton this week and he’s brought that message to the council of premiers,” Crocker said.
St. John’s East Liberal MP Nick Whalen was also on hand, on the heels of hosting a related forum earlier this week, putting in a plug for everyone’s participation in the ongoing consultations on a new national food policy for Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s gross farm receipts in 2016 were $130 million, a 1.3 per cent increase over 2012. In the same period nationally, there was an increase of 8.9 per cent.
(Source: Agriculture and Agri-food Canada)