Catching Up With The Ag Minister — Gerry Ritz Looks Back At '14 and Ahead to '15

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz (photo courtesy AAFC)
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz (photo courtesy AAFC)

Whether it was the rail transportation fiasco in Western Canada, the ongoing country-of-origin labeling dispute with the U.S., the Canada-E.U. trade deal, UPOV ’91, bee health, the Canadian Wheat Board…the list goes on — 2014 was another eventful and exciting year in Canadian agriculture.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz joined RealAg’s Kelvin Heppner to look back at what transpired over the past year, and to discuss his priorities for 2015, including the federal election slated for next fall. Here are some of the highlights (listen to the interview below):

  • Ritz welcomes the recent passage of the annual appropriations legislation in the U.S. Congress, which he says “draws a line in the sand” on resolving the dispute over country-of-origin labeling.
  • The government and Canadian Grain Commission are still looking at an insurance-based producer payment protection system in Western Canada. The fund-based model included in Bill C-48, which was introduced in the House of Commons earlier this month, could be temporary, depending on needs.
  • Transparency in the rail system, including corridor reporting, is a priority. The railways are also being asked to explain how they’ll supply producer cars while weekly shipping mandates remain in place through winter.
  • Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, which includes the implementation of UPOV ’91 plant breeders’ rights and changes to the cash advance program, will not be passed before the end of the year, as the Senate has risen for the holidays.
  • The legislation supporting the Canada-E.U. trade agreement will likely be introduced in Parliament during the winter session.
  • Bilateral trade talks with Japan will continue in 2015. The Canada-Korea trade deal takes effect January 1st.
  • Ritz will be running as the Conservative candidate for Battlefords-Lloydminster in the next federal election, tentatively scheduled for October 19th, 2015.
  • As of recording, Ritz was in 263rd place in the Real Ag hockey pool ($5 goes to the Canadian Cancer Society for each team that finishes ahead of the minister!)

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