Farm leaders and ag ministers gather in Quebec City
By Canadian Federation of Agriculture
Representatives from across Canada gathered together for a recent meeting with national and provincial agriculture ministers, to discuss the terms and plans for 'Growing Forward', the governments' new national policy framework.
July 10, 2008
Quebec City, QC -Farm leaders from across the country held a productive meeting with national and provincial agriculture ministers yesterday as the ministers began their annual summer meeting to discuss the governments’ overarching new national policy framework, known as Growing Forward. “The Roundtable resulted in a candid discussion between farm leaders and national and provincial agriculture ministers and deputy ministers. We are pleased to have had an open dialogue around the program components proposed under Growing Forward," said Bob Friesen, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). In their discussions with ministers, farm leaders expressed support for the proposed framework’s overall correlation between competitiveness and innovation. They also expressed concern and made suggestions around several key issues that will be central to the next generation of agriculture policy. These included the need for a ‘flexible’ approach—as described in CFA’s AgriFlex proposal—which would allow for the development of regional solutions and commodity-specific programs; and further attention to the livestock sector crisis. Industry leaders highlighted the importance of having production insurance programs for all commodities and the role of cooperatives. They stressed the need for a smooth transition from the existing Agriculture Policy Framework (APF) to the new Growing Forward programs, and voiced real concern over the governments’ recent decision to reduce on-farm food safety program funding by 40 percent during this critical transition year. In addition to the points on the Growing Forward framework, the farm leaders raised concerns on potential changes to Canada’s Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), and called on ministers to hold a fulsome consultation with industry prior to considering any changes to the AIT. With more than 40 participants, the 8th annual Tripartite Roundtable offered a valuable exchange of perspectives, representing all regions of Canada. CFA is pleased by the participation and the level of importance ministers continue to attach to this informal forum. However, CFA members were disappointed that ministers and government officials from Alberta and Saskatchewan were unable to attend. Farm leaders representing these provinces will follow-up with their provincial governments to ensure that they are aware of the discussion held between industry representatives and other ministers. Looking ahead, CFA and its members remain committed to collaborating with governments to further refine the details of programs related to the new Growing Forward framework.