For the first time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made public the mandate letters traditionally issued to every minister, and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay’s list includes a national food policy, improved grain transportation, climate change adaptation and more basic research.
MacAulay is to develop “a food policy that promotes healthy living and safe food by putting more healthy, high-quality food, produced by Canadian ranchers and farmers, on the tables of families across the country.” Health Minister Jane Philpott also received similar instructions.
The Liberals are said to have taken a close look at studies by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute that show Canada has an $8-billion-a-year deficit in the trade of processed food and beverages. Displacing imports with more homegrown food would create more jobs in the Canadian manufacturing sector.
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MacAulay is also to work with Transport Minister Marc Garneau in responding to the Canadian Transportation Agency’s grain transportation review, which is due next month.
Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland is to “develop strategies to implement the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and consult on Canada’s potential participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).” That includes compensation for Canadian farmers harmed by the provisions of either deal.
MacAulay has a variety of other tasks including investing “in agricultural research to support discovery science and innovation in the sector. To better allocate research funding, you should establish a transparent process that involves food producers.
Also on the to-do list is “an Agri-Food Value-Added Investment Fund to attract investment and create good jobs in food processing. This will provide technical and marketing assistance to help food processors develop new value-added products that reflect changing tastes and market opportunities.”
The minister also has to make sure that Growing Forward 3 will be ready when the current program expires in 2018. He is also to work with provinces, territories, and other willing partners, to help the sector adjust to climate change and better address water and soil conservation and development issues.
MacAulay is also to work with Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi “to ensure that we make significant investments in transportation infrastructure, including short line rail spurs and inland and port loading terminals to improve efficiency, remove bottlenecks and increase system capacity.”