N.B. forms task groups for agriculture plan

Ideas coming out of New Brunswick’s Agriculture Summit will be distilled by six task groups into recommendations for the round table that drafts the province’s agriculture plan.

Ag Minister Ron Ouellette on Friday announced that 104 New Brunswickers, volunteers from across all sectors of the farming and agri-food industries, have organized into six new temporary task groups and held their first meetings this week.

The task groups’ formation is phase three of four in the provincial government’s ag summit process, with phase four being the round table group.

“The spirit of collaboration within the agricultural community brought on by the summit will continue with the task groups as they engage in developing a transformational framework for agriculture in the province,” Ouellette said in a release, referring to the New Brunswick Agriculture Summit he and his federal counterpart Gerry Ritz chaired in early April in Fredericton.

“This framework will set a new course for agriculture by ensuring that it remains a cornerstone of New Brunswick’s economy, and fully participates in the goal of achieving self-sufficiency.”

The task groups are assigned to further analyze and develop recommendations stemming from the ideas and suggestions that came from the summit, which have been grouped under six themes: infrastructure; people; innovation/research and development; profitability; marketing (local and export); and land and environment.

Industry representatives will chair and lead the task groups, with help from provincial ag department staff in co-ordinating them.

The temporary groups will present their recommendations to the permanent round table on agriculture that will be tasked with helping to develop the strategic plan for New Brunswick’s ag sector, which includes over 2,700 farms and about 100 processors.

“With the financially troubled times we are facing, it is critically important that we get this next step done right for the future of agriculture and the rural communities of New Brunswick,” said Ron English, president of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, in the province’s release.

“By working together through this process, farmers will contribute to the development of a healthy agricultural industry in New Brunswick, one in which they can be assured of earning a decent income while providing the residents of this province with a reliable, healthy, and safe supply of food, now and in the future,” said president Jean-Eudes Chiasson of the National Farmers Union in New Brunswick, also in the province’s release.

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