April 4, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The creation of a permanent minister's roundtable on agriculture and the establishment of temporary task groups were announced today by Agriculture and Aquaculture Minister Ronald Ouellette as immediate first steps in developing an agriculture plan for New Brunswick.
Ouellette made the announcement at the end of the New Brunswick Agriculture Summit held in Fredericton, April 3-4. He and Gerry Ritz, minister of agriculture and agri-food and minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, co-chaired the event that brought together over 150 stakeholders of the agriculture and agri-food industry under the theme Transforming Agriculture Together.
"The open and candid feedback provided by participants at the summit has provided a strong foundation on which to build an agriculture plan for New Brunswick," Ouellette said. "This transformational framework will set a new course for agriculture by ensuring that it remains a cornerstone of New Brunswick's economy that fully participates in the goal of achieving self-sufficiency."
Ritz commended the province for generating this industry-wide discussion on the future of the New Brunswick agriculture and agri-food industry.
"The Government of Canada puts farmers first: listening to them, working with them," said Ritz. "The spirit of partnership demonstrated at the summit is exactly what is needed to move the sector forward not only in New Brunswick, but across the country. This type of discussion bodes well for the success of our new policy framework for agriculture, Growing Forward."
The task groups will be established to deal with priority themes developed during the summit.
"My hope is that the task groups will develop plans that can be confirmed by the roundtable for action by the appropriate parties," Ouellette said.
Ouellette has also proposed the creation of a permanent roundtable on agriculture, which he would chair. The roundtable will be comprised of individuals representing a broad cross-section from the various sectors within the agriculture and agri-food industry.
"Response from the agriculture community to our requests for input over the last few months has been outstanding, and the quality of that input was even better," Ouellette said. "I want to see these lines of communication remain open and formalize them so that consultations with the agriculture industry are not a one-off event, but a permanent part of how we interact in the future."
The agriculture and agri-food industry is diverse in New Brunswick, combining over 2,700 farms with 100 processing plants to produce close to $1.2 billion in agri-food and beverage products.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Alain Bryar, communications, Agriculture and Aquaculture, 506-444-4218; Margaux Stastny, press secretary, Office of Gerry Ritz, 613-759-1059.