Advisory panel left out of farm program review

Canada's agriculture ministers wrapped up their annual meeting in Vancouver today with an agreement to continue looking at business risk management programs. | Twitter/@L_MacAulay photo

VANCOUVER — Canada’s agriculture ministers wrapped up their annual meeting here today with an agreement to continue looking at business risk management programs.

However, officials will do that work, not the expert advisory panel struck last December that included farmers and industry players.

Industry and the panel had asked for an extension after the one-year process ministers approved last year got off to a late start.

After a presentation from the panel yesterday, ministers agreed the work should go on, but tasked officials to carry it out.

The panel recommended several broad directions for the work to take. They included producer-paid top-ups such as the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program and better coverage for smaller crops.

In response, ministers announced the resumption of AgriRisk funding worth $55 million. AgriRisk was developed to fund both public and private-sector risk management tools outside of the other BRM tools

Ministers decided that the cannabis industry will be eligible for funding for federal programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership because it is considered an agricultural crop. The provinces and territories will determine eligibility for cost-shared programs.

However, income from cannabis, either medicinal or recreational, will not be eligible for support under AgriStability and AgriInvest.

“Governments agree to monitor this over the coming years as the cannabis industry matures and stabilizes,” said the communiqué issued after the meeting.

Murad Al-Katib, chair of the agri-food national economic strategy table, updated the ministers on his work and pressed them on internal trade and competitiveness.

That topic also came up at the Council of the Federation meeting last week, where premiers called for a meeting on the issue. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded by summoning premiers to a fall meeting.

The ministers received updates on trade files, regulatory reviews and labour.


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