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Atlantic ag ministers eye development plan

Atlantic Canada’s agriculture ministers say they’ve agreed to work toward a “more co-operative” approach on issues of shared interest and plan to talk more about formalizing that approach.

Meeting Monday in Little Rapids, near Corner Brook, Nfld., the four ministers agreed to “further explore the concept of an Atlantic provinces’ memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the development of the agriculture sector.”

The ministers — Newfoundland and Labrador’s Kathy Dunderdale, Prince Edward Island’s Neil LeClair, Nova Scotia’s Brooke Taylor and New Brunswick’s Ron Ouellette — said they’ve directed their officials to continue discussions to finalize a regional MOU.

“Many of the opportunities and challenges facing this sector are similar in all four provinces,” Dunderdale said Monday in a joint release. “As governments, we need to continue to work with industry to enhance opportunities for growth and diversification and work with each other in areas that are common to the region.”

“We must continue to broaden our perspectives and understanding of the entire farming sector and share ideas about how agriculture can be best positioned to take advantage of future opportunities,” Taylor said.

Several of the Atlantic provinces have pooled resources previously for ag projects, such as the bailout of the cash-losing Atlantic Beef Products plant on Prince Edward Island. For another example, all four provinces fund operating and maintenance costs for the Atlantic Veterinary College, also on P.E.I., and each receives a guaranteed number of undergraduate seats for qualified applicants.

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