Agriculture ministers from across Canada say they reached an agreement in St. John’s today on the core elements of the next agriculture policy framework, which will be called the “Canadian Agricultural Partnership.”
CAP is a five-year $3 billion federal-provincial-territorial funding agreement that will replace the current framework, known as Growing Forward 2, which expires at the end of March 2018.
“Our main goal was to reach an agreement on the next policy framework for agriculture, and I’m pleased to say we did just that,” announced federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, in a press conference this morning.
The agreement maintains the same overall level of funding as Growing Forward 2.
Among the changes in business risk management programs is a new cap on the AgriStability reference margin limits implemented in Growing Forward 2 to “ensure producers from all sectors will have improved access to support under the program, regardless of their cost-structure.” This will guarantee all producers at least 70 percent of their reference margin, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
To compensate for the changes to AgriStability reference margins, AgriInvest and AgriStability will have minimum payments increased to $250. The government’s matching payments under AgriInvest will also be capped at $10,000 per producer, down from $15,000, while the maximum allowable net sales eligible under AgriInvest will be reduced to $1 million, down from $1.5 million.
A late participation option has also been added to AgriStability, where provincial and territorial governments can decide to allow late sign-up to AgriStability in situations where there’s a significant income decline and a gap in participation. Producers who enrol late will see a 20 percent reduction in coverage.
“Saskatchewan does not support late participation in AgriStability as we believe it goes directly against the principle of proactive risk management and does not fix a problem producers have identified,” said Saskatchewan Ag Minister Lyle Stewart, while Alberta Ag Minister Oneil Carlier said he had “misgivings” about the late participation mechanism.
The ministers also agreed to undertake a year-long review of business risk management programs to assess how well they’re working, as requested by Ontario and a coalition of farm organizations. The report will not have any effect on BRM programs taking effect on April 1, 2018, as “the agriculture sector indicated to us they wanted no lapse in the program,” said MacAulay. Ministers will be presented with findings from the review in July 2018.
Overall, the CAP agreement focuses on six priority areas:
- Science, research and innovation
- Markets and trade
- Environmental sustainability and climate change
- Value-added agriculture and processing
- Public trust
- Risk management
While the agreement signed today covers the “core elements,” many of the details on what programs will look like provincially will be determined in the coming months.