FOOD SAFETY AND QUALITY KEY TO MINISTERS' VISION FOR AGRICULTURE
TORONTO, April 8, 2004 - Federal and provincial agriculture ministers discussed food safety and quality as a key to profitability when they met in Toronto to build on their vision for a strong
Ministers reviewed current challenges and discussed ways to build on the progress created by the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF). They agreed to continue working with producers and other industry stakeholders to determine what governments can do to ensure the APF foundation facilitates economic growth and diversification at the farm level across Canada and throughout the value
Consumer confidence in the safety and quality of Canadian food, at home and abroad, is critical to this growth. Ministers looked at ways to bolster this confidence and agreed to work on ways to even better coordinate policy on food safety and quality across all ministerial portfolios and orders of government, while respecting the roles and responsibilities of all
They pointed to Canada's experience with BSE as an example of what can happen when consumers have confidence in the food safety system. Beef consumption in Canada actually increased following the discovery of BSE, helping industry weather the economic storm and supporting Canada's case for the opening of borders
Ministers agreed that creating this type of confidence internationally would help Canada's industry continue to grow and sell more in global markets. They also discussed several other key strategies identified by industry during current roundtable discussions, including building a strong brand based on quality and enhancing Canada's ability to meet the evolving preferences of consumers.
These strategies are already starting to pay dividends and ministers agreed on the need to continue encouraging industry cooperation through roundtable discussions. They stressed that quality is critical and pointed to examples of producers and processors working together closely to create successful high-end products. They also underlined that Canada's farmers are innovative and have production expertise that allows them to raise the bar and compete at a different level.
Ministers received an update on the Avian Influenza outbreak in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. They expressed their support for the industry, underscoring the importance of cooperation amongst all industry stakeholders and agencies, and respect for sound science in decision-making. The meeting also provided an opportunity for Ministers to receive an update on the BSE situation and to hear directly from the Canadian Cattlemen's Association on the state of the industry. Furthermore, the Ministers agreed to pursue the development of a National Beef Strike Force as requested by the Council of the Federation.
The meeting also included discussions about the mandate and structure for the Annual Review Panel of the APF which they committed to finalize at the June annual meeting.
The next meeting of federal-provincial and territorial agriculture ministers will be held June 28-30 in Prince Edward Island.