Budget 2017: Ag industry pivotal
By Top Crop Manager
The 2017 federal budget clearly signals the government's recognition that Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector is primed to drive a new era of economic growth that will benefit all Canadians, says the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
While Budget 2017 represents modest spending overall, the investments and policy directions related to the agri-food industry show that the government intends to act on advice of the Finance Minister's Advisory Council on Economic Growth, which in a report released last month recommended new agri-food spending as a worthwhile investment.
Agriculture is earmarked as one of three pivotal areas under the proposed Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan. “Initial efforts will centre on three industries that touch the lives of all Canadians and offer great potential for growth and job creation: clean technology, digital industries and agri-food,” said Finance Minister Bill Morneau today in Parliament. “We will help farmers, producers, and processors build their businesses globally, and do so sustainably.”
Among the budget priorities are agricultural innovation, specifically pertaining to clean technology, and improvements to transportation infrastructure and trade corridors. Investments in labour are noted as well, although they are not specific to agri-food.
Budget 2017 also proposes to create a new $1.26 billion five-year Strategic Innovation Fund to consolidate and simplify existing business innovation programming. The fund will support new business investments and will continue to be available to aerospace and automotive firms, while also expanding its support to other emerging sectors, such as clean technology and agri-food.
Farmers will note certain items were not referenced. There was no mention of tax policy changes to support transfer of farm ownership to family members. There were no specific commitments to rural infrastructure spending, and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture will be looking for further details on how rural Canada is represented in future spending through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.