Federal programs set for Growing Forward sequel

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay speaks Nov. 24 at Agribition in Regina. (Agr.gc.ca)

Market development, product development and overall sector development are among the priorities in the federal government’s five-year funding plan for the ag sector.

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, speaking Friday at Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, announced a $1 billion suite of six federally funded programs to roll out through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership, due to launch April 1 next year, will be the five-year, $3 billion follow-up to Growing Forward 2, the current five-year federal/provincial/territorial ag policy funding framework.

As in previous ag policy frameworks, business risk management (BRM) programs including AgriStability, AgriInvest, AgriInsurance, AgriRecovery and livestock price insurance will be jointly funded by Ottawa and the provinces/territories. The six Canadian Agricultural Partnership programs to be funded solely by Ottawa will include:

AgriScience, supporting “pre-commercialization activities and investing in cutting-edge research.” The program will have two components, Clusters and Projects. The agriculture department is now accepting applications from industry groups under the Clusters component; interested groups can call 613-759-1977 or inquire via email.

AgriMarketing, for national industry associations and small and medium-sized enterprises to increase and diversify exports to international markets and “seize domestic market opportunities through industry-led promotional activities.”

AgriCompetitiveness, backing industry-led efforts to help the ag sector “leverage, co-ordinate and build on existing capacity, enhance safety, adapt to changing commercial and regulatory environments, share best practices, and provide mentorship opportunities.”

AgriInnovate, backing agribusinesses to bring innovations to market or adopt “leading-edge” technologies and processes.

AgriDiversity, to strengthen the sector by incorporating the views of a “more diverse set” of industry players, to help diverse groups “take a greater leadership role, building the entrepreneurial capacity and business skills of under-represented groups (and) facilitating the sharing of industry experience, best practices and knowledge.”

AgriAssurance, to help national industry associations and small and medium-sized enterprises to “make meaningful and verifiable claims about the health and safety of Canadian agricultural products” and “build industry capacity to increase public confidence in the food system, respond to market requirements and meet consumer demand.”

Calling it “an exciting new chapter for agriculture in Canada,” MacAulay outlined Ottawa’s priorities for the new framework as “growing trade and expanding markets; innovative and sustainable growth of the sector; and supporting diversity and a dynamic, evolving sector.”

BRM changes

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership will also include the BRM program changes to which ag ministers agreed in July, effective in the 2018 program year.

Among those changes, the reference margin limit (RML) for AgriStability will be changed to “ensure producers from all sectors will have improved access to support under the program, regardless of their cost structure” and guarantee all producers at least 70 per cent of their reference margin.

A late participation mechanism will also be added to AgriStability. During “significant events,” provincial and territorial governments can trigger the mechanism to allow producers to enter the program late, “in situations where there is a significant income decline and a gap in participation.” Producers who enroll late under the mechanism will see a 20 per cent cut in benefits.

Also starting in the 2018 program year, a $250 minimum payment will apply under AgriStability, while under AgriInvest, the minimum payment will be adjusted from $75 to $250.

Maximum allowable net sales (ANS) eligible under AgriInvest will be reduced to $1 million, down from $1.5 million, and annual government matching contributions will be limited to $10,000 per AgriInvest account, down from $15,000. — AGCanada.com Network


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