Canada’s agriculture ministers meet for first of two virtual meetings

(File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / DzhafarovEduard)

Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial Ministers of Agriculture held the first of two virtual meetings on Friday as part of their annual conference.

A number of initiatives were discussed that impact producers and processors and to build on the sector’s fundamentals and chart a path forward for growth and sustainability. The second meeting is planned for November 27th.

While there was a lot of discussion, there were no concrete actions.

The Ministers reviewed and discussed possible options for improvements to Business Risk Management (BRM) programs which aim to provide producers with tools to protect the viability of their operations and to manage risks beyond their control. That discussion will continue this week.

It was also agreed that labour is a top priority, looking ahead to the next agricultural policy framework. FPT governments are working with their respective ministries of labour to help ensure the continued availability of labour to support the agriculture and agri-food sector, and highlight the opportunities that exist for Canadians looking for work.

There will also be continued collaboration with industry to share best practices on current and future competencies needed to support sector renewal, careers in the sector, new and changing technologies, and recruitment and retention strategies.

Technology to improve productivity will include efforts to ensure the safe arrival of Temporary Foreign Workers into Canada and the prompt sharing of relevant data among government partners. Additional key elements may include efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and address outbreaks, and to support health and safety measures on farms and in agri-food businesses, in collaboration with the relevant ministries within their jurisdiction.

COVID-19 wasn’t the only topic, as African Swine Fever continues to pose to the Canadian pork supply chain.

FPT governments agreed that further action is required to prevent and prepare for ASF.

That includes supporting the government-industry Pan-Canadian ASF Action Plan, which will enable a timely and coordinated response to reduce the risk of an outbreak in Canada.

Ministers also asked officials to look at how an outbreak could impact different provinces and regions, and to return with regular updates on progress made on the Pan-Canadian ASF Action Plan.