Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Quebec, Ontario ag ministers meet

Ontario and Quebec ministers of agriculture issued a communiqué after a recent meeting in Quebec, but it’s hard to decipher what it means.

For example, they say “recent trade agreements remained an important point of discussion. In the spirit of the unanimous position of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Agriculture Ministers took last summer in Charlottetown about the importance of preserving the integrity of the supply management system, Ministers (Jeff) Leal and (Pierre) Paradis reiterated the need of meticulous application of clear border rules, as well as the importance of reciprocity of standards.”

They did not say what border rules they have in mind. One possibility is the ban on trading live chicken between the two provinces. Another is imports of milk ingredients from the United States.

“In light of the impacts that the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (with Europe) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (with 12 countries, including the U.S., Japan, Australia and New Zealand) will have on the agriculture sector, the Ministers agreed to continue to discuss investments and compensation that the federal government can make to preserve future of agriculture.”

As if quota-holding farmers haven't already been promised enough by the Harper government announcement that it would guarantee no decline in their profits for 10 years.

The communiqué mentions the agreement on collaboration of climate change, but says nothing about the rumours that Ontario will unveil a carbon-trading system later this week that could enrich the province’s coffers by $2 billion a year by 2020.

The beef and dairy cattle sectors are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

They “agreed that early action could include funding joint research projects related to water and integrated pest management.”

They steered clear of any mention of neonicitinoid seed treatment pesticides. Ontario is in the midst of implementing restrictions that have angered Grain Farmers of Ontario which is trying to persuade courts to temporarily shelve the regulations.

“Recognizing how important the food processing industry is to the Canadian economy, the ministers agreed to champion the importance of food processing at the Agriculture Minister’s FPT table and make it one of the priority areas of Growing Forward 3,” the communiqué says, but it’s not clear what subsidies or incentives they have in mind.