GUELPH — “Climate change and the environment” top the priority list for Canada’s next Agricultural Policy Framework, according to this country’s agriculture ministers in a joint communiqué issued after their meeting in Guelph.
The so-called “Guelph Statement” outlines the territorial, provincial and federal ag ministers’ shared vision of a “sustainable agriculture approach” as they develop the new policy to be launched in the spring.
Listed in order, federal Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and her colleagues have agreed on five priority areas for the upcoming framework:
1) climate change and the environment;
2) science, research and innovation;
3) market development and trade;
4) building sector capacity and growth;
5) resiliency and public trust.
This vision is touted as “charting an ambitious path for the sector.” It also demonstrates that Canada is “a world leader in sustainable agriculture and agri-food production,” according to the ministers. Their joint statement also praises Canada’s “solid foundation” from which to “rise to the climate change challenge,” all the while expanding markets and trade, meeting the expectations of — and feeding — Canadian consumers as well as “a growing global population.”
“We all want to ensure that our agriculture is sustainable and that our farmers and agri-food entrepreneurs succeed. They must be incredibly resilient and innovative in the face of many challenges, including climate change, fluctuations in international trade, and labour shortages,” said Bibeau, who co-chaired the Nov. 9-10 event with her Ontario counterpart. “Together, we will invest wisely to grow the sector while protecting our environment, reducing our emissions and safeguarding the well-being of those who ensure our food security.”
Lisa Thompson, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, left the climate change and emissions rhetoric to her federal colleague. “The discussions over the last few days focused on the need to continue our efforts to build a competitive, sustainable agriculture sector that is well positioned for growth and includes the use of research, technology and innovation to help us meet the challenges of the future, and the Guelph Statement reflects this,” said Thompson.
“Our discussions on strengthening collaboration, improving agri-food labour capacity, supporting innovation, increasing trade and investment, enhancing mental health supports for farmers and their families, and protecting our hog sector from African Swine Fever were extremely productive. I know these discussions will help us continue to build strong relationships across Canada as we build on our shared vision of encouraging and promoting agriculture,” added Thompson.
The participating ministers also agreed to continue to improve the suite of business risk management (BRM) programs to make them timely, equitable, and easy to understand, while supporting the competitiveness and sustainability of the sector.
They also reported progress on other key action areas for agriculture, including labour, Animal Health Canada, trade and market access, regulatory priorities like interprovincial trade and mental health.