Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit believes the recent meeting of his federal, provincial, and territorial counterparts, was the most productive one.
The meeting in Fredericton, New Brunswick was his 5th one, and is back home after missing the wrap up news conference on Friday to catch a flight back to the province.
There were no detailed discussions on the growing drought in Western Canada, but Marit said it was mentioned as he made a request for an AgriRecovery assessment.
“The federal ministry is looking for some data from us and our ministry officials are working together. She (Federal Ag Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau) has assured us she has put two teams on this. Obviously its Alberta, Saskatchewan, and my understanding is B.C. – if they haven’t done it – will probably be in the same boat, so we just raised our concerns around that with the drought,” Marit said. “We’re doing all the preliminary work now to get the process going and hopefully over the next couple of weeks we can see, and come to terms on, what we’re going to do.”
The ministers also agreed to proceed on introducing an optional AgriStability model that they say will be simpler for producers. Marit says Saskatchewan will stick with the accrual method on AgriStability, while other provinces may offer cash.
“Our preliminary numbers show that if we went to a cash basis it would probably not help the producers in any degree at all,” Marit noted. “One thing we have agreed upon through AgriStability is moving the final date for filing, it would be moved up to June 30; hopefully that will shorten the timeframe for when producers will receive their payment.
“We also had a discussion earlier around what are some other things we could probably bring to AgriStability that would help especially the livestock sector we see challenges there. There will be some work with ministry officials and the federal government to see how some of these options may work or may not work.”
Another topic was pesticide management, which the ministers agreed that science and evidence-based decision-making is “paramount”.
“We had a good discussion about PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency) and making sure that any of the decisions they make are science-based, so we just raised our concerns of when chemicals are removed from the approval process that we make sure that we have other products that can not only can give us the same results but also are very cost-effective as well,” Marit said.
A working group will be created to explore the challenges of pesticide management, while working alongside the PMRA.
Other discussions centered on inter-provincial trade, the voluntary Grocery Code of Conduct, and plans for a Foot and Mouth vaccine bank.