B.C., Manitoba approve APF extensions

The Manitoba and British Columbia governments have officially agreed to extend funding for some federal/provincial Agricultural Policy Framework (APF) programming.

The two provinces will each extend their share of funding up until April 1, 2009 at the latest.

The extension applies to four ag programming pillars of the five-year APF, other than the business risk management (BRM) pillar: renewal, innovation, environment and food safety.

The federal/provincial APF on agriculture programs’ funding and delivery was developed under the Chretien government and launched in 2003. It included the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program for business risk management.

Canada’s agriculture ministers agreed in principle in November last year to seek approval from their provincial governments to extend their commitments to the near-expired APF agreement on the four non-BRM pillars.

The federal government has already granted Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada approval to extend the federal share of the funding while Ottawa and the provinces work on Growing Forward, the APF’s replacement framework. The announcements Monday and Tuesday leave just the Alberta and Nova Scotia governments yet to approve APF extensions.

As for the BRM pillar, that’s covered under the first pillar of the Growing Forward program, which is already in place and includes the AgriStability and AgriInvest programs to replace CAIS.

“The APF partnership has supported a wide variety of successful industry initiatives in Manitoba’s agriculture sector from organic production and environmental farm plans to the link between agri-food research and medicine,” Manitoba Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk said in a release Tuesday. “Continuing these programs will allow for a smooth transition to Growing Forward and will provide certainty for our farmers and all our partners.”

“As we continue to negotiate the Growing Forward agreement it is important that B.C. farm families, producers and processors receive seamless, continuous service from the provincial and federal governments,” B.C. Agriculture Minister Pat Bell said Monday in a release.

The extension on the non-BRM APF pillars “gives us the time we need to ensure farmers have the voice they deserve in program design,” federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said, referring to ongoing consultations with farmers and farm groups on Growing Forward.

The provincial ag ministers said in a recent joint statement that they’re “committed to having a final agreement framework in place for Growing Forward by their annual conference” in Quebec City July 8-11.

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