November 27, 2007


Canada's agri-ministers to help pork, beef industries



Federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers in Canada agreed to advance pour a multimillion-dollar help to beef and pork producers in the light of the collapsing dollar and high feed grain costs.


Meanwhile, cattle producers are still trying to regain foreign markets lost since the bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis first hit in 2003.


After their meeting in Toronto, Ontario on November 17, the farm ministers said they had "discussed in depth the rapidly escalating pressures on cattle and hog producers."


"They agreed to develop a joint industry/government action plan to address these challenges and to support long-term profitability of the sector. Ministers agreed to a set of principles to guide them in their discussions with the livestock sector," the ministers said in a statement said following the meeting.


While details remain vague, it appears that funds for the industry/government action plan would come out of the C$600 million earmarked under the new "AgriInvest" program. These are yet-to-be-established producer accounts meant to cover small drops in profits.


One report estimated that the new pork and beef plan could take about C$200 million from these funds.


The ministers want to develop the new livestock action plan that should "not mask market signals,"; should respect trade obligations and should "encourage sound business planning and practices toward a profitable future."


The ministers said as part of the new livestock action plan, they will "accelerate access to existing programs -- such as targeted advances and interim payments under AgriStability, AgriInvest and the federal C$600 million Kickstart program -- and improve access to the Advance Payments Programme."


Using the plan, the two senior levels of government said they will also help industry promote exports.


Finally, the ministers agreed to "work to enhance competitiveness and profitability by modernizing and streamlining regulations, including addressing regulatory issues identified by industry."

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