TORONTO — Speaking at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture annual meeting on Nov. 21, the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, spoke about population growth, trade agreements, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership and risk management.
Ag Minister Jeff Leal noted that in 2050 there will be nine billion people on the planet — 1.5 billion more in 33 years. He told farmers that they need to be prepared for more extreme climate events, water constraints, sustainability concerns and geopolitical instability around food safety security.
Speaking in Toronto, Leal said that he had just returned from Mexico where he met with Canada’s chief NAFTA negotiator Steve Verhuel. “I continued to advocate for a do-no-harm approach to renegotiations while reiterating that any proposals that threaten the integrity of supply management are absolute non-starters for Ontario,” he said.
He added that he has been busy meeting with U.S. governors, senators and farm bureaus while continuing to meet his trade advisory committee and emphasized working on opening trade to China, including a November trip to China and Vietnam that included 33 agri-food delegates.
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) will start in April to replace Growing Forward 2, he said. Among the aims is to reduce barriers and streamline program delivery, he said. CAP will focus on economic development, environmental stewardship and protection, he added.
He also said that the government will continue to work at modernizing risk management programs. “We will continue to be committed to funding (Risk Management Programs) at $100 million each and every year — that has not changed and will not change as we move forward. You can be assured of that.”
Leal also mentioned his concern about predator claims. “I want you to know that I have heard your concerns about the new wildlife damage compensation program,” he said. “That’s why we will be launching an evaluation of the program, along with involvement of our partners, like the OFA, to ensure the program continues to work in the best interest of producers.”