Canada's Ministers of Agriculture discuss challenges

by Bryan Salvage
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NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ONTARIO — Canada's federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Agriculture held their annual meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake last week to discuss developments in agricultural policy and global economic challenges.

As a result, ministers agreed to take a national, science-based approach on food safety and directed officials to advance work in three key areas: enhanced surveillance; pathogen reduction in meat and poultry; and common meat hygiene standards. They further agreed these actions will build on progress made by federal, provincial and territorial governments in upgrading and improving their systems. Ministers will report on the progress in these areas at their next annual meeting in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in July 2010.

An agreement was also reached that a mandatory, comprehensive national system for livestock will be in place by 2011 and implementation will be supported by national funding and regulatory framework. Ministers committed to engage key industry groups on the timing of implementation for each species. Ministers also discussed the need for traceability for all sectors.

Positive steps taken to engage trading partners on key market access issues facing the livestock, beef, pork and other agricultural sectors were also acknowledged.

Ministers committed to work together with industry to identify and take full advantage of market-access opportunities, and to address bilateral and multilateral trade matters, including trade restrictions related to H1N1, U.S. country-of-origin labeling and South Korea's treatment of Canadian beef exports. They also iterated support for advancing Canada's trade interests at the World Trade Organization and in bilateral Free Trade Agreement negotiations, notably with the European Union, to benefit Canada's entire agricultural sector, including export-oriented and supply-managed industries.

Finally, ministers also discussed moving forward on the issue of livestock insurance for discussion at their next meeting.

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