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PRESS RELEASE - AGRICULTURE MINISTERS PROMOTE NEW MARKET OPPORTUNITIES AS INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO DRIVE CANADIAN ECONOMY

Toronto, Ontario – February 11, 2011 – Federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Agriculture met today to discuss ways to better foster sustainable market opportunities, paving the way for farmers, producers, processors and exporters to continue to drive the Canadian economy.

In their continued effort to create more market opportunities, Ministers are preparing to launch 19 pilot projects across Canada, to expand inter-provincial trade in meat. These projects will enhance processors’ ability to sell their safe, high quality product to more Canadian consumers, in turn increasing market opportunities at the farm gate.

“Farmers and processors are proud of their safe, high quality meat and we’re working together to help them sell their steaks or chops to their provincial neighbours,” said federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “Breaking down trade barriers at home and abroad will yield greater returns for our meat industry and benefit all Canadians.”

In addition to growing the domestic market, collaborative efforts continue to expand export opportunities while maintaining support for supply management. 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.

“Public and sector engagement is vital to the development of a common vision for agriculture in Canada,” said meeting co-chair Michael Olscamp, New Brunswick Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries. “We will work together to define a policy agenda that will promote strong growth and competitiveness and allow the sector to continue to prosper.”

Over the past year, Governments have delivered considerable support to producers to help them better manage weather and market related difficulties. Ministers encouraged farmers and producers to make use of business risk management options, and Ministers recognize the need for continuing to work to make sure these options meet the needs of the farm gate.

Information on how agricultural stakeholders and Canadians can share their views on Canada’s next agricultural policy framework is available at www.agr.gc.ca/GrowingForward2.

Ministers will meet next on July 7-8, 2011, in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

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