Quebec starts talks on farmland protection

The Quebec government has tapped the former head of its commission for protection of Quebec farmland to talk to farmers and others about what such protections are needed going forward.

Agriculture Minister Laurent Lessard on Friday named Bernard Ouimet, the commission’s president from 1994 to 2004, as the province’s representative to a forum on guidelines and measures that the agriculture department can or should put into play to protect farmland.

Stemming from the report in February of the Pronovost commission on the future of Quebec agriculture and agri-food, the province has already created a forum in which farm, municipal and rural groups such as l’Union des producteurs agricoles, la Fédération québécoise des municipalités, l’Union des municipalités du Québec and Solidarité rurale du Québec could contribute to talks on how best to modernize the legislative regime for protection of Quebec’s ag land base.

That forum first met on Oct. 15, the province said.

The Pronovost commission, headed by former senior bureaucrat Jean Pronovost, had proposed forming new dialogues within the ag sector and “civil society” in general on consumers’ emerging demands on the farming and agri-food sectors.

Lessard on Friday cited Ouimet’s acquaintance with many of the players in the ag and agri-food sectors and with the issues at stake in connection with farmland protection.

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