Canadian Pacific

According to the AAFC, Western Canadian grain is a C$20 billion industry.
Photo courtesy of Canadian Pacific. 

CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA — As a leading driver of jobs and trade, the agriculture and food sector is one of Canada’s key growth industries contributing more than C$100 billion annually to the GDP. Budget 2017’s targeted agri-food investments will help the sector build on its competitive strengths, allowing farmers to grow their businesses.

Lawrence MacAulay, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), discussed the challenges and opportunities for the agriculture sector for Western Canada with some agricultural producers in Alberta.

MacAulay held a roundtable with western grain industry stakeholders to discuss the Transportation Modernization Act legislation tabled by the government on May 16, which includes measures to advance a long-term agenda for a more transparent, fair and efficient rail system in Canada.

In response to the introduction of the act the Western Canadian Wheat Growers said, “Increased competition and capacity is essential for western grain farmers, and Minister Garneau’s Bill appears to include some positive changes for improved service and accountability in the grain handling and transportation system, which the Wheat Growers have been requesting for some time.”

The association sees the possible positives the act could have on Western Canada’s grain production and transportation.

“The carrier definition is expanded to include other railways, service level provisions have been strengthened, penalties for poor performance are included, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) powers are increased with a dispute resolution process added, the Maximum Revenue Entitlement (MRE) remains and is amended to give railways credit individually for their capital investment, railways reporting their crop movement and winter contingency plans to the minister—we see all of this as positive and hope it ensures improved service of railways and overall efficiencies in our grain handling system in western Canada.”

According to the AAFC, Western Canadian grain is a C$20 billion industry.

MacAulay also met with beef processors and representatives of national and provincial cattle and beef associations. Discussions focused on market access and trade, relations with the United States, accessing and retaining labor in Canadian meat processing plants, and research and innovation.

“I thank the farmers and stakeholders in the grain and beef sectors here in Calgary for sharing their views with me on how to take advantage of growth opportunities in the agricultural sector,” MacAulay said. “Together we will work to bolster the grain transportation and meat processing systems so that our farmers can continue to grow their businesses, meet growing global food demand sustainably, and strengthen the middle-class.”

During his meetings, MacAulay highlighted the benefits of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, which received royal assent on May 16. CETA will create jobs, strengthen economic relations and boost Canada's trade with the world’s second-largest market.  It will improve market access for Canada’s key agricultural product exports, such as grains, oilseeds, meats, fruits and vegetables, and processed products.