2007 Annual Conference of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Agriculture


June 29, 2007 | Whistler, British Columbia

Ministers of Agriculture from across the country have come to an agreement in principle on Growing Forward, a bold market-driven vision for Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products industry in every region of the country. They also announced agreement on a new suite of programs to help producers manage the risks of doing business.

A New Vision, A New Generation of Policy

Growing Forward will form the basis of an action plan for the future of Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector to be negotiated by federal, provincial and territorial governments over the coming months. Evolving from the current Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), Growing Forward will guide governments with a common vision – a vision of a profitable and innovative industry that seizes opportunities in responding to market demands and contributes to the health and well-being of Canadians.

Ministers said Growing Forward will build on the best of the APF, but, more importantly, on the ideas put forward by producers and other stakeholders in the sector during extensive cross-country consultations this past winter. Ministers heard clearly from consultations that new directions are needed to improve and sustain prosperity in Canada’s agriculture-related industries.

To move forward, Ministers declared that Canada must build on its strengths: the skills and knowledge of its people; significant research and development capacity; and strong production and modern regulatory systems. They noted that segments of the agriculture sector are already competing successfully, but that there is a need to broaden that competitive success to the sector as a whole.

To achieve a profitable and vibrant future for the sector they agreed, through Growing Forward, to work together on policies and programs that:


  • Encourage an approach to innovation that encompasses the full continuum from mind to market, and uses the best ideas from other sectors and other countries.
  • Include a new suite of business risk management programs that better respond to the needs of producers.
  • Generate benefits for the sector and all Canadians by contributing to their priorities ranging from food safety to environmental sustainability to health and wellness.
  • Enable provincial-territorial flexibility, consistent with national objectives, so that provinces and territories can adapt programming to local needs.
  • Modernize and implement innovative regulations and standards in a way that ensures society’s needs are met and contributes to the sector’s competitiveness.
  • Ensure streamlined, transparent and efficient service delivery for all programs.

New Vision Means New Programs

Federal, provincial and territorial officials will continue close consultations with industry. Driven by the policy outcomes in Growing Forward, and these consultations, decisions will be made on initiatives and programs to be introduced, retained, modified, or ended, with transition plans to be put in place over the coming months. Ministers committed to an orderly transition, with a focus on providing adequate notice for all stakeholders.

Growing Forward will support a business environment conducive to innovation. It will encourage the sector to adopt best practices that increase competitiveness and help manage business risks effectively. It will include measures to help producers and others in the industry capitalize on opportunities in new and evolving markets at home and abroad, such as a growing consumer interest in health and wellness products. Ministers underscored the importance of collaborating across governments. They also recognized that underpinning these efforts is a need to modernize regulations and encourage the sector to take further actions that contribute to the priorities of increasingly health-conscious and environmentally-aware Canadians.

Ministers also placed a high priority on assuring an open and seamless evolution to the new business risk management suite. The new suite replaces the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization program with new programs that are more responsive, predictable and bankable for farmers. With the exception of AgriRecovery, which remains to be determined, programs will be cost-shared on the basis of traditional arrangements. The new suite includes:

  • AgriInvest – savings accounts for producers that provide flexible coverage for small income declines and support investments that help mitigate risks or improve market income. Ministers agreed on the need to implement AgriInvest as soon as possible, in a simple and efficient manner, while recognizing that further program work needs to be done for review at the next ministers’ meeting in September.
  • AgriStability – a margin-based program that provides income support when a producer experiences larger income losses.
  • AgriInsurance – includes existing production insurance and other insurance products, and will expand to include other commodities.
  • AgriRecovery – a disaster relief framework, to provide rapid assistance when small-sized disasters hit producers, to fill gaps not covered by existing government programming. Ministers agreed on the need for this framework and tasked officials to develop greater clarity on the definitions of small and large disasters as well as to provide options for funding for ministers to consider at their September meeting.

Further detail on these programs will be provided in the fall.

Continuing to Listen and Act

Ministers discussed the status of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agriculture negotiations and noted the efforts underway by WTO Members to make progress toward an early and successful conclusion to the Doha Round. Ministers affirmed Canada’s continued, strong interest in pressing for an ambitious outcome from the negotiations for the benefit of Canada’s entire agriculture sector, including both supply-managed and export-oriented industries.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments will continue to work closely with industry leaders as Canada advances its objectives at the WTO, as well as through regional and bilateral trade negotiations. In the development of Growing Forward, ongoing collaboration will ensure that support for the industry is in compliance with trade obligations.

The next meeting of Agriculture Ministers will be in September and the next annual conference will be held in Quebec City in July 2008. The Growing Forward document can be viewed at www.agr.gc.ca.