Canada’s agriculture ministers are in Charlottetown July 15-17 for their annual federal, provincial and territorial meeting, one of several high profile meetings for Canada’s agriculture sector scheduled for the coming weeks.
There certainly isn’t a shortage of issues to talk about.
Top of mind for farmers in Western Canada is the ongoing near-drought conditions across much of the Prairies.
Both Saskatchewan agriculture minister Lyle Stewart and federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz have said they are monitoring the dry conditions, which are particularly concerning for prairie ranchers who are worried about the state of hay and forage crops.
In Alberta, 54 percent of hay and pastures are rated poor, with ranchers in the northwestern part of the province reporting even worse condition at 81 percent poor.
While not as dire, the situation isn’t looking that great for grain farmers in Alberta either, with 35 percent of canola crops rated in poor condition, while less than 50 percent of spring wheat, oats and barley crops are considered in fair condition.
Much of the crop damage will fall under crop insurance, although industry watchers expect some farmers may also have to seek out AgriStability payments if the dry conditions continue.
However, cuts to the federal and provincial business risk management suite under Growing Forward 2 mean government political and financial liability is lower than it could have been a few years ago.
With Growing Forward 2 more than halfway through its five-year term, it’s expected initial conversations about what might be included in, let’s call it Growing Forward 3 for the time being, will also begin at the ministerial meetings.
There have already been demands from Canada’s agriculture sector for more long-term research funding, particularly for exploratory work and public research projects.
Some of the sector’s top researchers are in Ottawa this week for their first policy conference, where organizers hope to start a discussions around a modern research policy.
Expect a similar conversation to make its way to the federal/provincial/territorial ministerial table.
Also anticipated is a brief update on transportation. While the ongoing dry conditions on the Prairies have reduced yield projections significantly, a review of the transportation system continues.
The Canadian Transportation Agency review panel must present its final report by the end of December, although the latest rumblings in Ottawa are that many would rather have the findings presented before the pending federal election expected in October.
Transportation matters were on the agenda at the three-day Canadian Federation of Agriculture summer meeting, which started July 13 in Charlottetown.
The Federation was also expected to discuss climate change, the upcoming federal election and its federal budget priorities.
Then there’s the matter of the pending Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. With reports that a deal could be reached by the end of August, political posturing is mounting, as speculation rises that Canada will have to make significant concessions on its supply managed sectors: dairy, eggs and poultry.
TPP chief negotiators are scheduled to meet in Hawaii starting July 24, with a ministerial round of talks scheduled for July 28-31.
American negotiators have reportedly told Congress they expect the July meetings will be the last ones, although trade watchers like Canada’s Peter Clark have said that timeline is doubtful given the complexity of the issues left on the table.
International trade minister Ed Fast said he will attend the TPP meetings in Hawaii, pledging to ensure Canada remains at the table to try and secure a deal that benefits all sectors.
(Source – http://www.producer.com/2015/07/key-agriculture-issues-heat-up-as-summer-sessions-get-underway/)