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APAS concerned to see AgriInvest funding linked to environmental assessments

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan is cautiously optimistic about the next agricultural policy agreement.

The new Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership will inject $500 million in new funds, or a 25 per cent increase in the cost shared partnership.

Other key changes under the deal, will see provinces increase the AgriStability compensation rate from 70 to 80 percent, with work to begin on developing a new AgriStability model to make it faster, simpler and more predictable.

Agriculture Minister Marie Claude Bibeau says provinces also agreed that in order to receive AgriInvest government contributions, producers with allowable net sales of at least $1 million dollars will need to have an Agri-Environmental Risk Assessment done by 2025.

Vice President Bill Prybylski, Chaired the APAS Task Force on the Next Ag Policy Framework.

"We're certainly glad that there was an agreement signed, there was some concern earlier that they may not be able to reach an agreement. So, we're pleased that there is an agreement in place. Obviously happy to have the announcement of the additional funding going into the program, but we do have some concerns in some areas, particularly with regards to the environmental assessments."

He says while he's pleased to see increased funding he's concerned with indications that producers will be required to meet environmental reporting requirements to access AgriInvest coverage

"We have no problem with the environmental assessment in itself, but tying agriculture funding to an environmental lens. We felt all along, we stressed that we believe those are two very separate issues and that they should be kept separate and segregated and not be tied together."

Prybylski says producers already comply with high standards of environmental protection and land stewardship.

"World food security is also a huge concern right now, and so is the increasing cost of production. We need strong commitments from government to share the risks that we producers take on in producing these essential commodities."

APAS President Ian Boxall says it is very important for the Federal and Provincial governments to agree on improvements to agricultural programming.

Boxall feels the future sustainability of the industry depends on strong commitment from both levels of government.

He highlighted the current situation in the livestock sector. 

"Our cattle producers are squeezed by rising production costs and stagnant livestock prices, while consumers are paying record retail prices in the store. We recognize today’s news but also stress the need to continue these discussions so that programs can help us address these challenges, otherwise we risk losing this industry."

The Federal, Provincial and Territorial Agriculture Ministers reached an agreement in principle on a new ag policy framework during their annual meeting in Saskatoon.

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