Federal-Provincial-Territorial Conference of Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Agriculture


NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ONTARIO, July 16, 1998 -- Federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers have strongly supported an industry goal that would see Canada build on its $90-billion domestic industry, and double agri-food exports by early in the next century.
      At the annual two-day meeting, ministers agreed to work with industry in reaching a target of four per cent of world agri-food trade by the year 2005. The ministers were encouraged by the record $22.3 billion in export sales Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector achieved last year, which represents slightly more than three per cent of world agricultural trade. They credited Canada's reputation for high quality and safe food as major selling points.
      Recognizing that growth in the agriculture and agri-food industry is an increasingly valuable component of the Canadian economy, the ministers were encouraged by an independent study suggesting that more than 200,000 jobs could be created if the industry reached its export target.
      The federal, provincial and territorial governments will continue to work together in their respective areas of jurisdiction to ensure a positive business environment exists for industry to make the necessary investments and adjustments to achieve its trade goal.
      To achieve this, the industry needs a sound domestic production system, a key feature of which is an effective set of farm safety net programs. Ministers discussed this at length at the meeting and decided to extend the existing safety net agreements by one year to March 2000. They discussed the objectives and principles of a new agriculture safety net framework and agreed that a five-year framework agreement should be developed. They agreed that safety net policy should stabilize incomes within a broader framework of improved risk management. The ministers directed officials to pursue an intensive work plan to resolve outstanding issues for a meeting of ministers by March 1999. The ministers intend to sign the new framework agreement at next summer's annual conference.
      The ministers recognized that investment was key to achieving the trade growth target and they agreed to implement a federal-provincial strategy to improve the investment climate and to develop and secure investment in Canada.
      Ministers also received a report on farm input costs that they had requested last year. They recognized the importance of making farm input cost data available to the industry.
      Ministers are confident that preparations for World Trade Organization talks expected in late 1999 are proceeding in the right direction. Ongoing consultations with provinces and industry regarding the Canadian negotiating position will continue throughout the year leading up to a federal/provincial/industry conference in the Spring of 1999. All stakeholders were encouraged to become involved in the process.
      With respect to agri-food investment incentives, the ministers asked officials to develop recommendations concerning a Code of Conduct for the agri-food industry.
      The ministers agreed on a process to revise federal-provincial agreements used by national poultry and egg marketing agencies. The aim is to make the agreements more flexible and to permit the national agencies to better adapt to changing market conditions.
      The findings of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) report on dairy blends were presented and discussed with the federal government indicating it would continue to receive comments from provinces and industry until July 24 and make a decision as soon as possible.
      Ministers were encouraged with the progress of two Canadian Food Inspection System (CFIS) initiatives -- the Meat and Poultry Regulation and Code and the Food Retail and Foodservices Regulation and Code. Progress to date is a direct result of the CFIS initiative and an example of partnership among the provinces and the federal government.
      A report was received from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Wildlife Habitat Canada outlining a strategy to address wildlife and waterfowl damage on agricultural production. The ministers agreed to continue their efforts while encouraging other partners to take a larger role in dealing with the problem. The only long-term sustainable approach to managing this problem is to improve wildlife and waterfowl management methods.
      Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister Lyle Vanclief proposed at the meeting that the sector's contribution to Canada be celebrated through a national agriculture and food week in the Fall of 1999. The Minister also asked his colleagues to work with the private sector to help make the 1999 week a successful part of Canada's millennium celebrations.
      Next year's annual federal/provincial/territorial agriculture ministers' meeting will be held in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

- 30 -

Records of decision are available by calling:
Rick Parent
(613) 759-7920