A meeting of federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers in Ottawa this week addressed several issues of concern to BC producers.
BC agriculture minister Lana Popham told Country Life in BC before she left that she would be discussing assistance for farmers in the Peace hit hard by adverse conditions this fall. The assistance would likely be delivered under federal risk management programs.
The issues headlined the closing communiqué when the ministers wrapped up their meeting December 17.
“This meeting follows what has been a difficult year for many producers, mainly related to bad weather, the CN work stoppage, and market access issues,” it said. “Ministers recognized that the risks facing producers have changed, particularly with respect to climate and international trade, and that current programs may need to evolve to meet their needs.”
Targeted changes to the AgriStability program were announced, with changes to how the program views private insurance coverage. A pilot was launched in select jurisdictions that promises to make the application process easier by allowing producers to use tax return information to complete requests for coverage.
Popham was not immediately available to comment on how the changes would affect BC, or if her bid for support for the Peace region received a favourable hearing.
A roundtable session also allowed agriculture ministers to discuss issues such as labour, a key issue as workers prepare to come to BC in January for the 2020 season. BC Landscape and Nursery Association members discussed the potential for delays at their own meeting this week.
“We’ve been given advance warning that the Government of Mexico is directing consulates to forward all complaints directly to Mexico City, rather than working with local regulators or Integrity Services Canada,” the association said in a memo to members. “We are still trying to get complete details on what this will mean, but we are worried that it could lead to disruptions for employers trying to access workers.”
However, Glen Lucas, assistant general manager of the Western Agricultural Labour Initiative, said last week he wasn’t aware of any significant delays or issues. Responding to this week’s memo, however, he allowed that some greenhouse operators may have concerns.
The next meeting of federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers is their annual conference, which takes place in Guelph in July 2020.