Summary of items from the 2017 Annual Meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Agriculture
Ministers reviewed the status of trade negotiations and market access initiatives in key export markets, including the United States, Europe, China and India. They agreed to continue supporting efforts to expand into new markets, strengthen competitiveness, and make the sector more inclusive to capitalize on opportunities at home and abroad, while reaffirming their support for supply management. Ministers observed that at the G20 in Hamburg, the Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission agreed to set the date of September 21, 2017, to start the provisional application of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Ministers noted that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has created a more competitive, prosperous and integrated agriculture and agri-food industry across North America, with trilateral trade reaching nearly USD$1 trillion in 2016. Provincial and territorial governments look forward to working as closely as possible with the Government of Canada on the modernization of NAFTA.
Ministers discussed federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) collaboration in accessing investments from the 2017 federal budget in science and innovation, trade, the environment and value-added industries. Specific focus was on the new $1.2 billion Strategic Innovation Fund which will expand support for high-growth sectors including food processing and clean technology. Ministers will receive an annual update on the investment in the sector from these federal programs, including information by region where possible.
Ministers discussed strengthening Canada's agricultural regulatory framework. Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector will benefit from a stronger, more efficient, more collaborative and more effective regulatory system that will enhance the Canadian brand. It will improve Canada's global competitiveness, enhance protection and advance public trust. Ministers endorsed the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada, which shifts emphasis from response to prevention and charts a path for governments, industry and other partners to collectively address evolving risks to plant and animal health. Ministers also discussed the outcome-based Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and how it will further strengthen and modernize Canada's food safety system.
Ministers discussed opportunities to foster Indigenous agriculture in Canada, including working with Indigenous representatives to help enhance access and awareness of agricultural programs. Indigenous peoples have identified early priorities, including capacity building, skill development, and on-farm action.
Ministers discussed the federal government consultations currently underway to support the successful development of a Food Policy for Canada, the first-of-its-kind for the Government of Canada. The food policy is centered on four themes: increasing access to affordable food; improving health and food safety; conserving our soil, water, and air; and growing more high-quality food. Ministers also acknowledged the need for the policy to reflect the diversity of issues across the country, such as those related to Canada's North.
Ministers discussed the Government of Canada's plan to legalize, regulate, and restrict access to cannabis, identifying considerations for the agriculture sector.
Ministers were presented an analysis of the depth and breadth of labour issues facing the agriculture and agri-food sector, including how these issues are impeding the sector's ability to meet its full potential.