What’s potentially on the desk for the next agriculture minister? What should be in the new Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s mandate letter?

Host Kelvin Heppner is joined by Tyler McCann, managing director of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, for this episode of RealAg Politics. McCann recently wrote his own mandate letter of what he thinks should be on the docket in the coming weeks.

SUMMARY

  • McCann lives and breathes farm ag policy
  • He wrote his own mandate letter for the next ag minister, which you can find here.
  • Trudeau, when he was made Prime Minister, made mandate letters public
  • A big picture view, adding value (which is more than just value-added)
  • We don’t want just the ag minister thinking about agriculture
  • Trade, Health, Infrastructure are always departments that ag need to work with
  • Where is the minister leading, or supporting other departments? It helps understand where the ag minister fits in the broader perspective.
  • When Bibeau got her mandate letter in 2021, she was tasked with supporting ministers of environment/climate change, and minister of natural resources
  • All the big topics that are part of McCann’s mandate letter will be on the upcoming ag minister’s plate, whether that’s Bibeau, or someone else.
  • Common vision should come first
  • Business risk management programs. Federal-Provincial-Territorial meeting. Wouldn’t that be first on the calendar?
  • Developing a road map towards net-zero. Nature-based climate solutions.
  • Canada produces food, demand is going to increase. Striking a balance between carbon emissions reductions, but also maintaining our levels of food production.
  • Does the ag department need to work more with the environment and climate change department?
  • There are opportunities to embrace net-zero, and there’s always the potential for agriculture to do more. But there needs to be a concrete plan, and ag needs to be in the driver’s seat.
  • Balancing act: costs that policy makers want to move ahead on, disconnect between farm-level and policies
  • The government will pay for part of your electric car, but where’s the incentive for sectional control on an air-seeder?
  • Will NGOs or other groups have a greater say to the Ag Minister? NGOs speak loudly, their messages get noticed, but ministers and political staff understand the dynamics at play. Re: CRISPR
  • It’s important to get engaged so that government hears from farmers across the country. When your farm group says to speak up, do it.
  • Take part in the comment periods to ensure that these new technologies get attention in parliament
  • Decisions that are made by officials at PMRA or by Health Canada are clearly explained and communicated to the broader general public.
  • Science, not opinion. #scicomm and not just from the scientific community, but also from departmental offices
  • Hopefully, there’s an improvement in the time between announcing a big budget/ticket item, and that item actually being rolled out
  • Would newly elected Liberal MPs out west improve the connection or voice of the agri-food sector in Ottawa?

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