TORONTO, Ontario – Canadian federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Agriculture met Feb. 11 to discuss ways to better foster sustainable market opportunities, which will help farmers, producers, processors and exporters to continue driving the Canadian economy.

Ministers are preparing to launch 19 pilot projects throughout Canada to expand inter-provincial trade in meat. These projects will enhance processors' ability to sell their products to more Canadian consumers, in turn increasing market opportunities at the farm gate.

"Breaking down trade barriers at home and abroad will yield greater returns for our meat industry and benefit all Canadians," said Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

Ministers were pleased that the $20 million Livestock Auction Traceability Initiative is now accepting applications to help strengthen Canada's national traceability system by modernizing the identification and tracing of animals at auction marts, assembly yards, feedlots and other high-volume commingling sites.

Ministers acknowledged the more than 100 cost-shared and federal programs delivering results in innovation, environmental management, food safety, food processing and marketing. Governments will continue to seek input from Canadians to help set priorities for the next policy framework, Growing Forward 2, which will drive the economy, help the industry maximize its resources, and reduce input costs. Ministers also agreed that young and beginning farmers will be key to the future of the sector and will be full partners in discussions on Growing Forward 2.

Ministers will meet next on July 7-8 in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.