Ag ministers must decide on program review at meeting

Several Canadian farm organizations say they expect agriculture ministers will approve a review of business risk management programs at their annual meeting this week in St. John’s.

Federal, provincial and territorial ministers are meeting July 20-21.

Canada’s AgGrowth Coalition said a comprehensive policy review could be done over the next year, followed by another year for program design and implementation.

The coalition includes the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Canola Growers Association, Grain Growers of Canada, Grain Farmers of Ontario, the National Sheep Network and the Canadian Horticultural Council.

It formed earlier this year to press for BRM programs that are responsive to farmers’ needs. Farmers across the country have complained that the programs are ineffective and complicated. Participation in AgriStability has dropped significantly, and there is no coverage for regional disasters.

“Given the opportunities facing the sector and the ambitious targets set for growth in the sector, this review must be approached with urgency and a clear mandate to act immediately upon subsequent recommendations,” said a statement issued by the coalition.

Ontario’s Jeff Leal proposed a similar review at the ministers’ mid-term meeting. He said the framework could be signed, with a provision for the review, and the status quo would continue for those programs until the review is complete.

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The idea met with support from some provinces but others wanted changes sooner.

Saskatchewan minister Lyle Stewart suggested at one point that a review could hold up the entire framework, which also includes cost-shared programming for things like environmental programs and agricultural awareness.

Growing Forward 2 expires March 31, 2018.

The ministers will discuss other issues, including trade, before their meeting wraps up.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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