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AGRICULTURE MINISTERS FOCUS ON ECONOMY AND UPHOLD COMMITMENT TO A COMPETITIVE AND PROFITABLE SECTOR
February 9, 2009 | Ottawa, Ontario
Federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Agriculture met in Ottawa today to discuss issues which are critical to a competitive, innovative and profitable agricultural sector.
Ministers discussed the current economic situation, both within Canada and globally, and underscored the need to continue to work with the industry in these difficult times. Ministers discussed, in particular, the ongoing economic difficulties facing the livestock sector including the responsiveness of existing and future programs to meet both long and short-term challenges. Governments will continue to collaborate to ensure programming is responsive to the needs of the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector.
Ministers noted that Canada has one of the safest food systems in the world. Governments committed to ongoing collaboration to strengthen food safety, so that consumers and trading partners can continue to have confidence in Canadian food products. Ministers concurred that Canada's food safety and traceability systems are linked and are a key part of improving the competitiveness and profitability for the sector.
Concerted government effort will continue on implementing a national agriculture and food traceability system for emergency management and market access purposes, building on existing initiatives, and with priority on livestock and poultry. Ministers directed their officials to return in July with an action plan on food safety and a progress report on traceability.
Ministers also discussed recent advances on market access issues, including the establishment of the Market Access Secretariat. They recognized the need to focus on new opportunities in pursuit of commercially-significant market access. Ministers are determined in their focus to increase Canadian agricultural and agri-food exports and to level the international playing field for Canadian producers. Ministers agreed to continue to work with industry to assess and address the impacts of U.S. country-of-origin labeling requirements.
Ministers stressed the importance of a successful conclusion to the Doha Round of trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization which benefits Canada's entire agricultural sector, including supply-managed and export-oriented industries.
Ministers noted the progress made in the development of Growing Forward programs. They reiterated their commitment to complete bilateral agreements and get new programs up and running in all provinces and territories by April 1, 2009. New Growing Forward programs will be more flexible and responsive to local needs and support a strong, competitive and innovative sector that contributes to society's priorities and proactively manages risk.
Ministers noted the importance of making progress on the review of the existing demand-driven suite of business risk management (BRM) programs. The review is important to ensure that BRM programming is responsive to Canadian farmers in helping them to manage risks.
Ministers of Agriculture will meet next at their annual conference to be held July 9-10, 2009, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
Federal, provincial and territorial ministers of Agriculture in Ottawa, Monday, February 9, 2009.
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