On September 14, 2012, federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) agriculture ministers (except Quebec, which has not taken a position on these issues) signed an agreement to extend the Growing Forward program which is set to expire on March 31, 2013. The five-year agreement, referred to as ‘Growing Forward 2’, sets out the policy framework for continued co-ordinated government action with respect to the agriculture, agrifood and agri-products sector through to 2018.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the new five-year agreement includes investments of over C$3-billion in strategic initiatives to enhance innovation, competitiveness and market development to benefit the agriculture and agri-products sector, including a 50% increase in governments’ cost-shared initiatives. Similar to its predecessor, Growing Forward 2 will continue to deliver a suite of business risk management (BRM) programs.

BACKGROUND

In Canada, agricultural policy is co-ordinated through a joint five-year initiative among the FPT governments called Growing Forward (GF1), which replaced Canada’s original agricultural policy, the Agricultural Policy Framework, in July 2008. Growing Forward 2 (GF2) is the successor to the GF1 and will guide Canada’s agricultural policy between 2013 and 2018. Agricultural policy under the Growing Forward programs consists of two branches – first, a set of strategic initiatives intended to advance policy goals, agreed upon in the Saint Andrews Statement, related to innovation competitiveness and market development; and second, a suite of BRM programs designed to protect Canadian farmers from severe market volatility and disasters.

GROWING FORWARD PROGRAMS

GF2 is intended to build on and extend the programs and policies of GF1. Current program areas consist of the following:

Agricultural Regulatory Action Plan – a program aimed at addressing regulatory challenges impacting innovation and competiveness in agriculture with a focus on minor use pesticides, veterinary drugs and health claims, novel foods, and ingredients.

Business Development – an initiative that builds awareness and facilitates the implementation of business best practices in the agriculture and agribusiness sector.

Business Risk Management – a suite of business risk management programs designed to protect Canadian farmers from severe market volatility and disasters. Environment – an initiative with a focus on addressing environmental challenges such as water quality, water use, climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as exploring economic opportunities that encourage additional environmental action.

Food Safety – an initiative to enable the agricultural industry to manage risk proactively and effectively respond to demands for demonstrable assurances on food safety and biosecurity risks.

Markets and Trade – a program to facilitate access to global and regional markets for the Canadian agricultural and agribusiness industry. The program encompasses five initiatives (a) the Canada Brand; (b) AgriMarketing; (c) Value Chain Roundtables; (d) Market Information and Capacity Building; (e) Enabling Research for Competitive Agriculture Initiative.

Science – a program designed to encourage industry leadership in investment in agricultural science and research.

Some highlights of GF2 include:

  • 50% increase in non-BRM strategic initiatives to stimulate innovation, competitiveness, and market development;
  • continuing to provide BRM programs;
  • increased opportunity for provinces and territories to invest in environmental initiatives and on-farm water infrastructure; and
  • improved negative margin coverage in the AgriStability program, together with lower program fees for producers to participate in the AgriStability Program.

IMPLEMENTATION OF GF2

The suite of BRM programs will be delivered through a multilateral agreement that was signed on September 14, 2012 by the FPT governments. The other GF2 programs will be delivered through a series of bilateral agreements between the federal government and each province or territory, as applicable. As of the date of this bulletin, it is expected that these bilateral agreements and GF2 programs will be in place by April 1, 2013, when the current framework expires.