Ag ministers reach new farm program agreement

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — All provinces and territories have signed on to the new Canadian Agricultural Partnership, but there are still some disagreements about business risk management provisions within the five-year deal that takes effect next April 1.

In particular, Saskatchewan says it doesn’t support late participation in AgriStability.

That measure would allow producers to sign up for the program after the deadline but with payments reduced by 20 percent.

Speaking after the annual meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers in St. John’s today, agriculture minister Lyle Stewart said that goes against the principle of proactive risk management, and Saskatchewan will not offer late entry. He said some other provinces are considering the same restriction.

The agreement changes the AgriStability reference margin limit to guarantee producers at least 70 percent of their reference margin.

However, since the CAP will not contain any more money than Growing Forward 2, funding was reallocated as a result. The allowable net sales eligibility under AgriInvest will be reduced from $1.5 million to $1 million, and annual government matching contributions will be limited to $10,000 rather than $15,000.

The communiqué issued after the ministers’ meeting noted there is about $2.2 billion in AgriInvest accounts.

The Western Livestock Price Insurance Program will continue for the next five years, although it is unclear whether it would still be considered a pilot program or part of the BRM suite.

Ministers also agreed on the one-year BRM program review that Ontario and several farm organizations pushed for earlier this year.

Ontario minister Jeff Leal said the review will include “meaningful engagement” with producers across the country.

It will also include input from an external expert panel.

Ministers will receive a report from the review at their meeting next July in Vancouver.

Meanwhile, ministers also discussed trade negotiations, including the deal with Europe and the upcoming NAFTA negotiations.

Also on the agenda:

• Canada’s agricultural regulatory framework and the Plant and Animal Health Strategy

• opportunities to foster Indigenous agriculture

• the ongoing consultations toward a national food policy

• agricultural considerations for the plan to legalize cannabis

• labour issues that affect the sector

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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