Two weeks into parliament’s summer recess, and federal politicians have been busy making the rounds as Ottawa prepares for an election on October 21.
Agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau toured several farms in BC last week as part of a swing through the province that saw cash announced for the berry and dairy sectors.
The largest announcement was up to $3.6 million for research that will help BC strawberry, raspberry and blueberry growers remain competitive internationally. The announcement was made at Berry Haven Farm in Abbotsford on July 4. The funding builds on a five-year investment in breeding research announced May 11 totalling $1 million.
The latest round of federal funding will be joined by contributions from industry and the province to boost total funding to $6.1 million, according to Bibeau.
Administered by the Lower Mainland Horticultural Improvement Association, the funding will support the development of new cultivars, better horticultural methods and improved pest and disease control.
The berry announcement was followed by a visit to Salt Spring Island Cheese Co. on July 6 and the announcement of $1.2 million in funding under the Dairy Farm Investment Program.
A total of $853,901 was announced for robotic milkers, automated feed systems, herd management tools and cow comfort equipment at 13 farms on Vancouver Island. Two others grants from the Dairy Processing Investment Fund totalling nearly $380,000 will help Salt Spring Island Cheese and Natural Pastures Cheese Co. in Courtenay upgrade and expand their production facilities.
Both programs are part of government’s efforts to support the industry in anticipation of impacts from the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
Bibeau did not announce details of the $3.9 billion compensation package being developed for supply managed sectors to address market access granted under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Ottawa had previously set a deadline of June 30 for finalizing those details.
Rather, reporters grilled Bibeau on efforts to regain access to China for beef and pork from Canada. China closed its doors to these products after claiming to have found fraudulent export certificates with a shipment.
However, the meat didn’t originate in Canada and there is no indication how the certificates became attached to the meat.
“We want to know where this meat comes from and who is behind this action,” she said. “I am hopeful that we could settle the issue in a reasonable time frame.”