Federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture met face-to-face for the second time this year to initiate action on a number of key proposals to improve support to Canadian producers. This meeting follows what has been a difficult year for many producers, mainly related to bad weather, the CN work stoppage, and market access issues.
Ministers recognized that the risks facing producers have changed, particularly with respect to climate and international trade, and that current programs may need to evolve to meet their needs. To start to address these changing risks, Ministers made targeted improvements to the AgriStability program.
Ministers asked officials to change the treatment of private insurance for the 2020 program year. In addition, understanding that administrative burden is an issue for many, in particular for smaller producers, Ministers agreed to launch a pilot in select jurisdictions to make applying for support easier, by using tax return information to simplify the application process.
Ministers’ engagement on key business risk management programs signaled a direct response to the changing risks faced by producers. The business risk management programs aim to provide producers with tools to ensure the viability of their operations and to manage risks largely beyond their control.
Officials are to report back to Ministers in April on an assessment of the business risk management programs to ensure they are aligned with their intended objectives. In addition, officials are to develop options to make the programs more effective, agile, timely, and equitable for producers. In particular, officials are to evaluate the impact of changes to the reference margin limit and changes to eligible expenses under AgriStability.
Ministers also took the opportunity to advance other priorities in the agriculture sector. They reviewedFPT-industry work on prevention, preparedness, response and recovery planning to African swine fever (ASF), which is a shared responsibility. Ministers agreed on the importance of strong biosecurity protocols to prevent ASF from entering Canada. Since the Ministers’ last meeting in July, Canada has signed zoning agreements with the U.S. and the EU and continues to engage other trading partners to allow for trade to continue in the event of an outbreak.
Ministers also reiterated their commitment to evidence-based rules to support free and open trade, and resolved to continue the strong collaboration among jurisdictions and with industry to address market access restrictions. They discussed the trade challenges impacting industry, particularly the canola, pork and beef, and soy sectors and recognized the need to work with the sector to support industry’s sustainability, profitability and growth.
In support of Canada’s supply management system, Ministers reiterated the importance of providing compensation to supply-managed producers and processors in a full and fair way in response to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. The federal government is taking the appropriate steps to announce details as soon as possible.
A roundtable session allowed Ministers to discuss other priority items such as the importance of finding solutions to labour challenges facing the sector; issues including modernizing, aligning and eliminating overlaps and gaps in Canada’s regulatory framework to reduce barriers to interprovincial and international trade; mental health; and animal activism. Ministers are united in their commitment to strengthen Canada’s agri-food sector to increase global economic competitiveness and for the agriculture sector to realize its economic potential.
Ministers agreed to build on the progress made at this meeting and look ahead to their next annual conference in Guelph, Ontario, in July 2020.
“I understand that the risks farmers face have changed. Along with FPT Ministers, we are helping address these risks by making progress on our programs, including today’s targeted improvements to AgriStability. Farmers are good stewards of the land, and produce the best quality products for Canadians and international consumers. They deserve our respect and protection.”
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri‑Food
“This was a timely and productive meeting for the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Agriculture Ministers group. We made solid progress on several important issues for the agri-food sector and our farmers. I am very confident that our next meeting, which will be hosted by Ontario, in Guelph in July, will continue and significantly build on that progress for our agriculture sector and economy.”
- Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for Ontario
- Business risk management programs, including AgriStability, serve to help producers manage risks such as natural disasters, weather events, severe loss and market volatility.
- This FPT meeting builds on discussions and decisions taken at the July 2019 FPT meeting in Quebec City, where Ministers underlined their commitment to help the sector seize new opportunities, and tackle important challenges to ensure that producers and agri-businesses succeed.
- Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry is a key driver of economic growth. The sector contributed over $143 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2018 and employed 2.3 million people. Agriculture and agri-food accounts for one in eight jobs in Canada.
- The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion commitment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors. The Partnership aims to continue to help the sector grow trade, advance innovation while maintaining and strengthening public confidence in the food system, and increase its diversity. In addition, under the Partnership, producers have access to a robust suite of business risk management programs to help them manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage.