Ag Policy Connection Ep. 1 — The origin (and future) of the Ag Policy Framework

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Much of what governments in Canada do when it comes to agriculture and farming falls under the umbrella of the “Ag Policy Framework” — the big agreements that federal, provincial, and territorial agriculture ministers have been signing roughly every five years going back to the early 2000s.

With the latest iteration of the APF, known as the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership, set to begin on April 1, 2023, this inaugural episode of the Ag Policy Connection podcast explores the history of farm programs in Canada and the events that led to Ottawa and the provinces coming together for that first national five-year agreement on ag policy and programs in 2002.

We learn how a fed-prov meeting in 1989, with then federal ag minister Don Mazankowski, got the ball rolling, as governments across the country tried to rein in spending on farm support, and how the downturn in the hog industry in the late ’90s led the provinces to work together on offering the same business risk management programs across the country.

Also read: Is the Ag Policy Framework living up to its potential?

After learning about events leading up to the original APF, we discuss the following:

  • The implementation of that first agreement, including how the recent WTO agreement factored into programs offered to farmers, and how the policymakers of the day settled on the 60/40 federal/provincial cost share ratio that’s still a pillar of the framework today;
  • The evolution of the framework through its multiple updates, from the original APF through Growing Forward 1 and 2, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, and now the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership; and we wrap up the episode discussing…
  • Is the FPT framework still the best option for delivering farm programs? What needs to change, given how government departments other than agriculture are increasingly having a say in what happens on farms? Are there new external risks that need to be accounted for, such as increasing protectionism, unpredictable access to critical inputs, and the general worldwide shift from abundance to scarcity of food commodities?

Our guests for this episode are:

Douglas Hedley, who joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in 1972 and retired from a distinguished career with the department in 2004, where he was involved in drafting the federal government’s farm policy and programs through the ’90s and ’00s; and

Scott Ross, executive director and former director of business risk management and farm policy with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

The Ag Policy Connection is presented by RealAgriculture and the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute. Keep an eye (or an ear) out for more episodes on different ag policy changes that have shaped Canadian agriculture and farming.

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