Today, federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture reached agreement on the content of the Growing Forward 2 policy framework for the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector. The new five-year agreement includes investments in strategic initiatives of over $3 billion for innovation, competitiveness and market development, including a 50% increase in governments' cost-shared initiatives. In addition, governments will continue to deliver a complete and effective suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs to ensure farmers are protected against severe market volatility and disasters.
"Just as farmers continuously improve their business practices, so too have governments made adjustments to help Canada remain a world leader in agricultural innovation and trade," said Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "Growing Forward 2 will help drive economic growth and long-term prosperity through agricultural innovation and market development, while also ensuring governments continue to share the risk of severe market volatility and disasters."
Key highlights of Growing Forward 2 include:
Following consultations with industry, governments have committed to increase their focus on innovation, competitiveness and market development. As the global population rises and demand for consistency in supply of high quality food increases, Canadian farmers, producers and processors must be positioned to capitalize on emerging market opportunities. Research and development hold the promise of growth in both productivity and profitability for the sector.
Innovation will lead to more efficient, sustainable farming and processing operations and help position Canada as a world leader in agriculture.
"The new Growing Forward agreement pays particular attention to strategic investments that support sector sustainability and adaptability to ensure all government programs contribute to the sector's future economic growth," said meeting co-chair Brad Cathers, Yukon Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. "Growing Forward 2 is important for Yukon with its emphasis on investment in innovation and market development. We are pleased to have worked collaboratively to reach this important stage in support of our sector's transformation."
Modifications to AgriStability and AgriInvest will ensure that Canadian producers continue to have access to a strong and effective suite of BRM programs. AgriInsurance (crop insurance), AgriRecovery, and the Advanced Payment Program will continue to help farmers manage production risks and provide cash flow assistance. Governments will boost coverage for those with negative margins as well as substantially increase farmers' ability to contribute greater funds into their AgriInvest account. BRM program reform is in line with government and industry agreement that programs should not mask market signals and should create space for the development of private risk management tools.
Ministers reviewed the status of federal trade negotiations and promotional and access initiatives in key export markets, including South Korea, Europe, Japan and China. They agreed to continue an aggressive trade agenda that is opening new markets and creating opportunities, while reaffirming their support for supply management. A roundtable discussion was also held on challenges and opportunities for the food processing sector. Under the new agreement, governments will continue to work to increase access to international markets and to reduce obstacles to trade, promoting growth and competitiveness for the entire agriculture, agri-products and agri-food sector.
FPT governments relied on their long history of collaboration in examining a range of options before achieving agreement on a framework that will serve the broad interests of the agriculture, agri-products and agri-food sector across Canada. Under the agreement, Ministers indicated they will: continue to work collaboratively on developing different insurance products; conduct a mid-term review of the entire BRM suite of programs; encourage reduction in interprovincial trade barriers; advance the bio-products sector; and work to reduce the regulatory burden. Governments will continue to work closely with the sector as Growing Forward 2 programs are developed and implemented. Consultations with stakeholders will be ongoing and focus on the longer-term direction for BRM programs, explore new insurance-based tools, and seek input and partnership on strategic investments.
Today's agreement sets the stage for FPT governments to complete bilateral agreements so programs will be in place by April 1, 2013, when the current framework expires.
More information about Growing Forward 2, is available at www.agr.gc.ca/GrowingForward. The next annual FPT Ministers' meeting will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in July 2013.
Note: In the absence of a Quebec Minister responsible for agriculture, Quebec has not taken a position on these issues.