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Manitoba signs onto ag policy framework

The Manitoba and federal governments have co-signed their agreement on the specifics of funding for Manitoba farmers available through the new Growing Foward ag policy framework.

Growing Forward is the national framework to co-ordinate
federal and provincial agriculture policy, replacing the five-year Agriculture Policy Framework (2003-08) developed under the Chretien government.

Of the $1.3 billion in federal and provincial funding available to farmers across the country, Manitoba will see $117.5 million to fund ag programming, apart from business risk management (BRM) programs.

“This combined support for Manitoba’s diverse agriculture
industry will help advance timely programs and products that will
expand agricultural business opportunities,” provincial Ag Minister Rosann Wowchuk said in a release Thursday.

“As new initiatives are created throughout the province, the ripple effect of the economic benefits will provide an even more positive growth factor in the future.”

Non-BRM programming to be funded through Growing Forward in Manitoba is expected to include:

  • a Strategic Innovation Fund, to foster collaboration among value chain participants; capture specific innovation-related opportunities in primary and/or value-added processing; deal with “strategically important” problems in the agri-food sector; and promote “innovation and information sharing” ($26.9 million);
  • an Industry Innovation Fund, for investment in “innovative projects brought forward by participants in the sector” ($12.3 million);
  • business development, to “enhance the business management skills and capacity of individuals managing farm and agri-product processing businesses,” particularly farm and post-farm business managers, while ensuring inclusion of Aboriginal people, young farmers, youth, new Canadians and women ($4.5 million);
  • a Northern Agriculture Initiative, to ultimately increase the volume and value of agri-food produced in Manitoba’s northern regions, through activities such as ag extension support, or development of new production and marketing systems to allow consumers access to northern food products ($1.6 million);
  • a Food Safety Risk Management Suite, to set up both on-farm and post-farm food safety, biosecurity and traceability systems ($15.7 million);
  • environmental action, by providing funding for farmers’ eligible best management practices that enhance agriculture’s capacity to manage nutrients and water ($18.8 million); and
  • support for “the provision of environmental information that supports decision-making and improves the sustainability of agriculture” ($11 million).

“Growing Forward delivers stable
and bankable programs that work for farmers,” federal Ag Minster Gerry Ritz said in the joint federal-provincial release Thursday. “The agreement we
signed today will kick-start the rollout of these essential
programs in Manitoba.”

Details wanted

Manitoba’s announcement comes the day after similar launches in British Columbia and Ontario, on the heels of an announcement from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture that it had yet to see any such announcements on Growing Forward.

“It was stated within a press release, dated July 11, 2008, that the new programming would be ready to launch in each province and territory prior to April 1, 2009,” the CFA said in a statement Wednesday.

“However, it is now April 1, 2009 and no details have been publicly announced regarding the new suite of programs under the Growing Forward framework.”

“Farmers are eagerly anticipating the details of this program,” CFA president Laurent Pellerin said in the group’s statement Wednesday. “Any further delays in announcing the new suite of Growing Forward programs undermines the goals of predictability and continuity of program funding.”

The CFA said it planned to raise its concerns on the lack of information and other key issues at a scheduled meeting with Ritz on Thursday (April 2).

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