Shadow minister encourages provincial ministers to “play tough” at FPT meetings

(Kelvin Heppner/RealAgriculture)

Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) ministers of agriculture are meeting this week to discuss several issues, but the key agenda item is an agreement in principle on the next Ag Policy Framework, set to roll out in March of 2023.

John Barlow, Foothills MP and Conservative shadow minister for agriculture, was on hand at Ag in Motion in Langham, Sask. this week to discuss goals for the upcoming meetings.

One of the main concerns heading into the meetings, he says, is funding requested by the provincial ministers, compared to what is going to be put on the table by the federal government.

“From what I understand it could be half, or less than half of what is being asked. And that’s really disappointing,” Barlow says. “I think everyone here today certainly would understand that agriculture is going to play a pretty critical role in Canada’s economic recovery as of post-COVID. But on top of that, you see the global conflict that’s going on with Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and you take away 25 per cent of our wheat and barley crop globally, there’s going to be a huge void there. And that burden is going to fall on Canadian producers.”

According to Barlow, there is potential for a 12.5% increase in total funding tabled later this week, which is a number the provincial ministers will likely not be supportive of — as that’s half of what has been pushed for.

“l can’t speak for Minister Merit or Minister Horner in my province, but they may be reluctant to sign that agreement if it’s such a shortfall,” he notes.

As with most funding, Barlow says there will likely be strings attached to that potential increase in funding, as well.

“[It’ll likely be] linked to environmental policy, we’ve certainly heard that they’re going to attach access to BRM programs to environmental assessments, which I think is a dangerous road to go down, and very expensive, bureaucratic, and unfair obstacle for producers to access very important programs.

“So it’ll be up to the provincial premiers if this is a road they want to go down, but I would encourage them to play tough.”

Check out the full conversation between Barlow and RealAgriculture’s Kelvin Heppner, below:

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