Ag Ministers Discuss AgriStability and the Future of Risk Management Programs

Agriculture ministers from across Canada issued what they’re calling the “Calgary Statement” following their annual federal/provincial/territorial meeting, held in Alberta this week. The document outlines the priorities for the next agricultural policy framework, which will replace Growing Forward 2 in April 2018.

“We got the framework in place, just how much dollars and how it will be put together will be basically put together in the next year,” said meeting co-chair and federal Ag Minister Lawrence MacAulay, in a conference call with reporters following the meeting on Friday.

Without going into much detail, the Calgary Statement lists six priority areas for the next policy framework: markets and trade; science, research and innovation; risk management; environmental sustainability and climate change; value-added agriculture and agri-food processing; and public trust.

Ag ministers prior to their meeting in Calgary this week (courtesy AAFC)

Ag ministers prior to their meeting in Calgary this week (courtesy AAFC)

Changes made to business risk management programs — mainly AgriStability and AgriInvest — in Growing Forward 2 were discussed at the meeting.

“There’s some concerns in that. There’s a drop in enrolment and we want to make sure we find out why, to encourage farmers and whether there’s any tweaking we can do to make sure more farmers enlist in this program,” he said.

Saskatchewan Ag Minister Lyle Stewart said the talks were “mostly general in nature,” but he felt the important issues were addressed.

“I think there’s a will to get the bottom of some of the issues that have been problematic in GF2. Minister MacAulay mentioned shrinking participation in AgriStability. That was discussed at some length, and as negotiations continue over the next year and a half or so we’ll have some detail.”

Stewart said the issue of grain transportation with the potential for a big crop in Western Canada was also discussed at the meeting.

“Everybody’s been warned and claimed to be engaged in delivering this crop to tidewater…so I think I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Stewart, when asked whether he was optimistic about grain transportation this fall.

Possible solutions to labour needs, and the importance of maintaining quality standards for imported food products were among the other topics the ministers discussed in Calgary.