July 11, 2008
QUEBEC CITY, Que. (CNB) - A five-year, $1.3-billion multilateral agreement, Growing Forward, was signed today in Quebec City, Que., by Agriculture and Aquaculture Minister Ronald Ouellette and the other federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture.
The announcement was made at the conclusion of their annual meeting in Quebec City.
"I'm very pleased to have participated in this historic event for the agriculture industry of Canada," Ouellette said. "This new framework agreement will make agriculture more profitable and competitive, while helping the sector to be an important player in achieving self-sufficiency for New Brunswick by 2026."
The funding is cost-shared on a 60-40 per cent basis among the federal government and the provincial and territorial governments. This represents an increase of $330 million over non-business risk management (BRM) funding allocated under the agricultural policy framework. The investment demonstrates the ongoing commitment of federal, provincial and territorial governments to a strong, competitive and profitable agricultural sector.
The agreement is a significant achievement paving the way for new programs that support the Growing Forward vision of a profitable and innovative agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products industry that responds to market demands and contributes to the health and well-being of Canadians. Ministers credited input from more than 3,000 stakeholders and a strong partnership among the federal, provincial and territorial governments as being the driving forces behind the development of Growing Forward.
Growing Forward is an integrated and comprehensive plan that focuses on key results in the areas of competitiveness and innovation, society's priorities and proactive risk management. Growing Forward will give farmers and others across the value chain the marketplace edge to capture business success, both domestically and in export markets. The framework includes programs that enable greater adaptation and quicker response to changing consumer markets.
A commitment to reducing governments' regulatory burden and providing better tools for entrepreneurs to plan and evaluate their businesses are other examples of how Growing Forward will help the sector achieve long-term profitability.
Growing Forward also focuses on supporting the enhancement of food safety systems and the continued implementation of on-farm environmental actions. In addition, the framework commits governments to continue to work with the sector to put in place traceability and biosecurity systems.
The Growing Forward framework includes an improved demand-driven group of BRM programs launched in April 2008. Ministers agreed to undertake a strategic review of BRM programs over the coming year to ensure programs meet evolving needs.
Growing Forward sets the stage for governments to complete bilateral agreements and launch new programming in each province and territory prior to April 1, 2009. Flexibility is a key element of Growing Forward and will enable governments to deliver programs that better respond to local priorities. Ministers committed to continued consultations with the sector as Growing Forward programs are developed and implemented. The efficiency and effectiveness of Growing Forward programs will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.
Ministers discussed developments in the livestock industry and committed to continue working together on programs that focus on long-term goals including innovation, regulatory streamlining and market access.
Ministers remain hopeful for a successful conclusion to the Doha round of trade negotiations, which benefit Canada's entire agricultural sector, including export-oriented and supply-managed industries.
Ministers affirmed their commitment to working closely with the full range of Canada's agriculture industry stakeholders. Most provincial Ministers confirmed that they will be joining Gerry Ritz, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, in Geneva later this month as Canada pursues its objectives at the World Trade Organization.
Ministers instructed the federal, provincial and territorial Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) task force to continue to advocate Canada's opposition to United States COOL through the United States Department of Agriculture's rule-making process and to examine all options available to defend Canada's interests.
Ministers were provided with an update on progress to date on the proposed revisions to Chapter Nine of the Agreement on Internal Trade. They directed officials to finalize the text and report back by Oct. 31.
Ministers also recognized Canada's important role as a global producer of food. They discussed the recent volatility of commodity prices and agreed to monitor the situation and maximize opportunities for the agricultural sector at home and abroad.
The next annual conference of agriculture ministers will be held in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., in July 2009.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Alain Bryar, communications, Department of Agriculture and Aquaculture, 506-444-4218; Media relations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 1-866-345-7972.