B.C., Ont. sign onto ag policy framework

The Ontario and British Columbia governments have each co-signed their agreements with the federal government on the specifics of their funding through the new Growing Forward ag policy framework.

In Ontario, the joint federal and provincial funding will be for up to $300 million over five years, while B.C.’s share, also for five years ending March 31, 2013, will be $78 million.

“Growing Forward reflects the needs of our agri-food industry,” Ontario Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky said in that province’s joint federal/provincial release Wednesday.

“It puts emphasis on building a profitable sector through investment in innovation, a flexible approach to meet individual business needs and more partnerships with industry.”

Growing Forward is Ottawa and the provinces’ replacement for the previous federal/provincial Agricultural Policy Framework (2003-08). The new $1.3 billion agreement is intended to cover cost-shared programs for ag-related programming, except for business risk management (BRM) programs, across the country.

Ontario’s Growing Forward non-BRM programming will take about $181 million in federal funds and $121 million from the province, and will focus on two areas, the province said: Best Practices, and Innovation and Science.

“Best Practices” helps improve performance in environment and climate change; food safety and traceability; business development; and biosecurity. Innovation and Science programs will encourage and support ongoing research and the commercialization of research, the province said.

In B.C., the $78 million for non-BRM programs is on top of the $475 million agreed upon for BRM programs such as AgriInsurance and AgriStability.

“These agreements will facilitate a simpler and more accessible delivery of programs and services to producers,” B.C. Agriculture Minister Ron Cantelon said Wednesday in that province’s joint release with the federal government.

“The province is committed to working with industry in the design of programs that will help us build a competitive and innovative agriculture sector, respond to the priorities that matter to Canadians and take a hands-on approach to managing risks in the sector.”

In B.C.’s case, the $78 million is to be invested in several non-BRM programs “designed to increase competition and innovation in agriculture, and build a sector that contributes to society’s priorities and proactively manages risk.”

The non-BRM funding is also expected to enable B.C. to continue the delivery of its Environmental Farm Planning (EFP) program, food safety initiatives and a limited On-farm Food Safety program.

The federal and provincial governments “have been working with farmers and processors every step of the way to develop the Growing Forward framework, and to develop programs that are tailored with the flexibility to meet B.C.’s diverse regional requirements,” the province said in its release.

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