At the FPT meeting, ministers discussed current key challenges and a vision for the future of agriculture
By Jackie Clark
Agriculture ministers from across Canada came together in a hybrid format – some in person and some online – for the Federal Provincial Territorial (FPT) agricultural ministers meeting this week.
Lisa Thompson, Ontario minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, hosted the event in Guelph, Ontario.
The ministers gathered to discuss key issues in the ag industry today, as well as establish a mission and direction for the next policy framework, explained Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, in a Nov. 10 press conference.
“Over the past three days our group of FPT ministers fleshed out plans on how we can best position Canada’s farmers and food processors as world leaders in sustainable agriculture,” she said.
“The meeting comes as farmers, processors, and others in the sector face unprecedented challenges with the pandemic, climate change, labour shortages and supply chain disruptions. Farmers and agri-food businesses have proven their incredible resilience in the face of these obstacles to feed Canadians and deliver our world-class products to customers around the world. As ministers, we are here to listen to farmers and the entire sector, to ensure their concerns and ambitions are top of mind,” Bibeau explained.
“Together we have created the Guelph Statement, which sets the direction for the next policy framework, set to launch in Spring 2023,” she said. “We have agreed on a vision that Canada is recognized as a leader in sustainable agriculture and agri-food production and drives forward to 2028 from a solid foundation of regional strengths and diversity, as well as the strong leadership of the provinces and territories in order to rise to the climate change challenge, expend new markets and trade, while meeting the expectations of consumers and feed Canadians and the rising global population.”
Part of building toward that policy framework vision involves addressing current challenges.
“A big part of a strong and resilient future for the sector is the need for reliable labour,” Bibeau said. Provincial representatives explained specific labour challenges, and industrial and government support will be necessary to realize solutions.
“We will take both a short and a long-term view to address these critical labour challenges,” she added.
Bibeau highlighted progress and successes of AgriRecovery and AgriStability programs. Work to reform business risk management programs is ongoing, she said.
In addition to labour and trade and market access, Thompson listed mental health as a key topic for supporting economic growth in the food sector.
“I’d also like to note that we spoke very diligently on the continued priority of FPT preparedness to protect our pork industry from the African swine fever,” she explained. “This was and will remain a key focus.”
The FPT ministers have formed a national team ready to collaborate on continued growth and solutions for the entire industry, she added.
“Despite representing diverse regions, as a country I can tell you with certainty that we are united in our shared goal of continuing to build and improve a strong, competitive and sustainable agri-food sector,” Thompson said.
“Challenges are great, but the sky is truly the limit for Canada’s agricultural sector,” said Bibeau.