“Today, I met my provincial and territorial colleagues virtually to discuss many pressing issues facing the agriculture sector, in the lead-up to our Annual Conference in Guelph, Ontario on September 8th -10th.
I am working very closely with my provincial partners to monitor and respond to the evolving drought situation in the western parts of Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia. My heart goes out to those farmers and ranchers feeling the impacts of the extreme heat wave and drought conditions. Our Government is ready to assist and we will do what we can to make sure our programs are adequately responding to the crisis, including business risk management programs. I have committed to working closely with provinces to assess the need for activating flexibilities in our programs to respond to these extreme weather events.
In particular, we discussed that provinces affected by the drought could invoke the late participation provision of AgriStability to allow more producers to access the support the program provides.
I also urged Prairie governments to match the federal offer to raise AgriStability compensation rate to 80%, which would benefit distressed farmers now more than ever. This change would mean an added $75 million nationally into the pockets of farmers who need it the most every year.
Our Government is prepared to receive any formal submissions for AgriRecovery from provincial governments, which are needed to trigger the process. AgriRecovery is a 60-40 cost-shared program that provides emergency support in cases of natural disasters. We need all levels of Government working together to contribute their support for farmers in distress. Ministers directed officials to organize a meeting with drought-affected provinces soon to discuss AgriRecovery in more detail.
We discussed ongoing consultations for the next Agricultural Policy Framework, set to begin in April of 2023. We are all committed to developing a roadmap to achieving a strong and sustainable agriculture sector, and finding improvements to the business risk management programs.
I was pleased to share, alongside Minister Lamontagne, the work of our Working Group on Retail Fees. The set of findings shared today give all Ministers a solid basis of understanding of why an industry-led proposal to improve transparency, predictability, and respect for the principles of fair dealing would be beneficial for the agri-food sector and all supply chain partners. We are urging industry to continue their constructive dialogue to develop a concrete proposal designed for the Canadian context that will improve fair dealing in retailer relationships with their suppliers. We expect an update before the end of the year.
Protecting Canadian pork producers from the threat of African swine fever remains a major priority for our Government. We recommitted with Ministers to make African swine fever preparedness and response planning a priority, identifying gaps and determining next steps.
I greatly appreciate the strong working relationship I have with my provincial and territorial colleagues, and I look forward to meeting them again in person in Guelph in September.”