Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Ministers Sign New 5-Year Deal to Up Agriculture Innovation

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Ministers Sign New 5-Year Deal to Up Agriculture Innovation

Article excerpt

Agriculture ministers sign new 5-year deal

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WHITEHORSE - The federal government is investing $3 billion to promote innovation and trade in Canada's agricultural sector, but it is also reducing its participation in a savings account program aimed at protecting farmers from bad years.

Agriculture ministers from across the country signed the new five-year Growing Forward 2 agreement that includes plans for innovation, market development and a 50-per-cent increase in cost-sharing initiatives from the federal government.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz told reporters at the close of the meeting in Whitehorse that just as farmers need to constantly improve their business practices, so too have governments made adjustments to help Canada remain a world leader in agricultural innovation and trade.

"With the world population on the rise, there's an increasing demand for a high-quality and sustainable supply of food stuffs. There's limitless opportunity for our farmers and processors," Ritz said Friday. "But like many other sectors in the Canadian economy, a big part of the sector's growth rests in its ability to compete in global markets."

The new, five-year framework agreement will be implemented by April 1, 2013 and will focus on three areas; innovation, competitiveness and market development.

It means research into innovation will be accelerated with the goal to help position Canada as a world leader in innovation investment, Ritz said.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart said his province signed the agreement reluctantly because of its changes to the AgriInvest program.

The AgriInvest program allows producers to invest 1.5 per cent of their net sales and receive matching government funds to mitigate their risks, but the new program will reduce that to one per cent.

"The decision to sign the agreement didn't come easy as we have opposed changes to AgriInvest after consulting extensively with our stakeholders," Stewart said in a news release. …

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