Canada’s prime minister spells out his expectations for agriculture

An Agri-Food Value Investment Fund to create jobs in food processing is among 
the new minister’s top priorities

The following contains excerpts from the ministerial mandate issued to newly appointed Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay

As minister of agriculture and agri-food, your overarching goal will be to support the agricultural sector in a way that allows it to be a leader in job creation and innovation. You will implement our government’s plan to help Canada’s agriculture sector be more innovative, safer, and stronger.

Canada’s farmers, ranchers and food processors are the foundation of our food sector. Government must use its policy and financial tools to support the agricultural sector in its vital work. This includes helping the sector, including getting product to market, water management, research and innovation, food safety and export support.

In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:

Invest in 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.

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.

Invest 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.

Promote Canadian agricultural interests during future trade negotiations.

Work with producers and provincial governments to assess whether the suite of farm income safety nets meets the needs of Canadian farmers when they are faced with serious challenges beyond their control, including implementing a new multi-year agricultural policy framework to replace Growing Forward 2 (GF2), which will expire in 2018.

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.

Canadian farmers must be able to get their product to market and so you will support the minister of transport in undertaking a full review of the Canadian grain transportation system in the context of responding to the Canadian Transportation Act review.

Support the minister of infrastructure and communities 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.

Support the ministers of natural resources and the environment and climate change in making investments that will make our resource sectors world leaders in the use and development of clean and sustainable technology and processes.

These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments. The government’s agenda will be further articulated through cabinet discussions and in the speech from the throne when Parliament opens.

I expect you to work closely with your deputy minister and his or her senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest…

Our ability, as a government, to successfully implement our platform depends on our ability to thoughtfully consider the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants.

Each and every time a government employee comes to work, they do so in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians. I expect you to establish a collaborative working relationship with your deputy minister, whose role, and the role of public servants under his or her direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities…

We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds.

I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. When dealing with our cabinet colleagues, Parliament, stakeholders, or the public, it is important that your behaviour and decisions meet Canadians’ well-founded expectations of our government. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.

Full text of the letter from the Office of the Prime Minister can be found here.

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