Part of her work will include working on tax measures for farm transfers
By Diego Flammini
Prime Minister Trudeau issued mandate letters to all 37 of his cabinet ministers outlining what he expects of them during this next Parliament.
For Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, her overarching responsibility is to help the industry be a leader in job creation and innovation, and use federal resources to improve the sector’s export potential, her mandate letter says.
The prime minister gave Minister Bibeau 10 goals to work towards during her next term.
The letter she received "provides a clear reminder of our Government’s ambitious agenda to support and grow the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector," Bibeau told Farms.com in an emailed statement. "I will continue working closely with industry stakeholders, as well as provincial and territorial partners to advance the key mandated priorities.
"Tomorrow, I am meeting with my provincial and territorial colleagues to on ways to improve the suite of business risk management programs that help producers manage risks such as extreme weather and market volatility.”
The first item is to work with the provincial and territorial ag ministers to review risk management programs, with a focus on AgriStability.
Ag organizations are pleased to see the risk management programs high on the minister’s to-do list.
“We’re very pleased to see (the review) right at the top,” Erin Gowriluk, the executive director of Grain Growers of Canada, told Farms.com. “Even if we see some more interim measures coming out the (federal-provincial-territorial ministers’) meeting this week, we’re hoping we can have a discussion about business risk management reform.”
Bibeau must also work with some of her federal colleagues to support the industry.
For example, she will “work with the Minister of Finance (Bill Morneau) and farmers on tax measures to facilitate the intergenerational transfer or farms,” the letter says.
In addition, the ag minister must collaborate with Mary Ng, the minister of small business, export promotion and international trade, to identify tools to help the industry export its goods to global markets.
In Budget 2017, Canada challenged the sector to raise its exports to $75 billion by 2025.
Together with Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Minister Bibeau will also help “ensure that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency is making science-based decisions that lead to the safe and sustainable use of crop protection products in Canada,” the letter says.
Keeping science at the forefront of any crop protection decisions is important for the industry.
“Increasingly we find that modern agriculture is under attack,” Gowriluk said. “It’s important our farmers have access to the tools that they rely on to grow crops in a safe and sustainable manner. We have to make sure the processes used to review (crop) chemistries is rooted in science and not a matter of public opinion.”
Another of Bibeau’s duties includes finding ways to provide farmers with new tools and resources.
Along with Mélanie Joly, the minister of economic development and official languages, the federal ag minister will “create a new fund to help producers and processors close the technology and infrastructure gap in order to develop domestic and international markets,” the mandate letter states.
Western Economic Diversification Canada will distribute any money in the fund.
The ag minister will also work together with Jonathan Wilkinson, the minister of environment and climate change, to create a Canada Water Agency to find ways of keeping water safe, clean and well-managed.
Bibeau’s other responsibilities include moving forward with the Food Policy for Canada, compensating supply-managed farmers, and consolidating federal financial and advisory services into one entity named Farm and Food Development Canada.