November 10, 2021 – Guelph, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
In addition to releasing the “Guelph Statement”, an important milestone for the next agricultural policy framework, Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture made progress today on other key action areas that will help grow our agriculture sector, make it even more sustainable, and help foster the resiliency of the food supply chain.
In order to maximize shared investments and contribute to collective outcomes, governments will deliver measurable results, while maintaining flexibility in the design, delivery and management of programs.
Sustainable agriculture and climate change
As climate change directly impacts the quality of our soils and water supply, and consequently our productivity, protecting our environment and ensuring the resilience of the sector are priority issues for the next agricultural policy framework. In addition, our ability to meet the expectations of consumers here and abroad is key to maintaining our competitiveness and accessing new markets. Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector can play a leading role in feeding the world through innovative and sustainable agriculture.
Ministers underlined the urgency of addressing climate change for the sector. They discussed shared priority areas where progress could be achieved through the next policy framework, and agreed that more needs to be done to support the long-term viability of the sector. Sustainable growth also needs to be inclusive, to continue to provide equitable opportunities to all who want to participate in this vital part of the Canadian economy.
As COVID-19 has further compounded the challenges of finding and retaining labour, Ministers discussed lessons learned and priority actions that could be taken to support the sector’s needs. In addition, supporting the health and safety of workers during COVID-19 will continue to be a priority.
Ministers noted that, while Canada’s dependence on international agriculture and agri-food workers will persist, there were a number of opportunities, including for the next policy framework, to further support the sector in addressing labour challenges over the longer term. This includes a flexible approach to promote the sector as a career of choice and address barriers to recruitment, better data, support for strategies with industry, gaps and best practices with regards to skills and training, and better leveraging of available funding for training, skills and automation that address regional challenges.
Business risk management
The next policy framework will work to enhance sector resiliency to anticipate, mitigate and respond to risks, in part through a robust suite of business risk management (BRM) programs. This will require evaluation of our policies and programs to ensure they are helping the sector rise to the challenge of climate change and be resilient in the face of changing conditions. This will include exploring ways to stimulate the adoption of sustainable practices to help increase resilience and reduce risks for producers.
FPT governments have heard the views of farmers and stakeholder groups who have been asking for further changes to the current BRM suite, so that government programs are responsive, simple, equitable, and able to respond quickly and effectively to events such as this year’s extreme weather conditions, which resulted in crop losses, poor crop quality, and reduced forage and water supplies for livestock.
Ministers expressed their ongoing concerns and noted that continuing to improve the BRM suite of programs remains a top priority. As such, Ministers considered options for the AgriStability program that could be introduced as part of the next agricultural policy framework and beyond. Ministers also discussed potential long-term changes to BRM programming, to ensure that producers have a suite of programs they can rely on when they face extraordinary situations.
African swine fever
Given the escalating spread of African swine fever (ASF) worldwide and the detection of the disease in the Caribbean, Ministers discussed the heightened urgency for continued collaboration among all orders of government, and with industry, on ASF prevention and preparedness efforts. Ministers were briefed on efforts being deployed, including progress on zoning agreements with international trading partners. Ministers concluded by renewing their commitment for a timely, coordinated approach that will support Canada’s hog sector to address anticipated market challenges caused by market closures, the halting of exports, and a domestic surplus of hogs should ASF arrive in Canada or the U.S..
Animal health canada
A key component of Canada’s broader animal health plan is the continued progress towards the establishment of Animal Health Canada (AHC). Ministers received an update on the work done to-date. They approved the next steps needed to develop a full AHC work plan, budget, and new governance structure to foster enhanced governments-industry collaboration. This plan, which will be presented to Ministers in 2022, would operationalize this new model for collaboration across the value chain, aimed at protecting the health and welfare of Canada’s farmed animals by the end of 2023.
Trade and market access
Ministers discussed the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including changes in the global trading environment and additional opportunities for trade growth for Canada’s exporters by proactively addressing trade challenges and evolving consumer preferences and demands, such as for more sustainable production practices, and increasing demand for Canadian food products. Ministers also discussed opportunities for enhanced collaboration with regards to market access and trade priorities in the context of the next agricultural policy framework, touching upon trade policy and negotiations, advocacy efforts, interprovincial trade, and market diversification.
FPT governments agree that competitiveness is key to promoting recovery, resilience and growth of the sector. Ministers approved the work underway to examine considerations related to removing regulatory and non-regulatory barriers to domestic trade for food products, and the path forward for engagement and investment in the Canadian Plant Health Council, which is advancing work in three priority areas – biosecurity, surveillance, and emergency response.
FPT governments understand how much we depend on smooth collaboration between food producers, processors, and retailers for the food on our tables. In today’s conference, Ministers reiterated the need for industry to develop a retail fee code of conduct or practice that improves transparency, predictability, and respect for the principles of fair dealing. As such, Ministers were updated on industry’s work with an independent facilitator. They called on industry to provide a report on their progress in December and to follow up next March with a concrete proposal for a code of conduct or practice and a dispute resolution framework.
Ministers welcomed panelists to describe the importance, magnitude and complexity of mental health challenges among people working in the agriculture sector today. The wide-ranging discussion helped identify potential areas of joint collaboration.
Ministers welcomed representatives from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and national commodity groups for a roundtable on the environment and climate change. In addition, a second roundtable was held with industry members to discuss the collaborative efforts needed to tackle the agri-food labour gap.
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
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