Evidence of meeting #6 for Agriculture and Agri-Food in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was programs.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Chris Forbes  Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Christine Walker  Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Management Branch, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Colleen Barnes  Vice-President, Policy and Programs, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Make your answer very short.

5:15 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

I think it's probable that one of things is the fact that the last year and half to two years have been quite difficult in parts of the country. Obviously, when you look at these programs, there have been others who have been asking for the 70% to go to the 85% for a number of years. I would say that the requests around that have definitely grown in the last year and half.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. Forbes.

Mr. Blois and Mr. Drouin, I believe you have five minutes.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

We have how much time, Mr. Chair?

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Five minutes.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Five minutes, okay. Cut me off at two and half, and then I'll pass it on to Mr. Blois.

Ms. Rood mentioned the issue of access to and capacity building for cattle in eastern Ontario. I know that in central Manitoba, it's an issue, and I know that in eastern Canada, it's an issue right now. I believe that there was a formal presentation given to the department about 48 hours ago, if not 24 hours ago. We've all met with the same folks.

The Government of Canada does not own any slaughtering capacity in Canada, right?

5:15 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

No. We have a little bit of research centre capacity but nothing bigger.

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Okay.

I'm wondering about the potential funding programs. If we were to approach a potential meat packer or slaughtering person that could do that here, a company that could do that in Canada, where would we point them to?

Is there CAP funding that would go through the province or are there other funds?

It's not part of your department, but perhaps ISED....

5:15 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

My general view is that when we meet with stakeholders, we try to bring together the relevant federal, and sometimes provincial, partners to those discussions.

If there's a discussion about, let's just say, processing capacity of any kind in Ontario, we would try to engage with provincial counterparts and with a regional development agency. We'd bring in, as you mentioned, ISED, to talk about the proposal, the various federal and provincial programs that are out there and what might be the right fit for those programs. That's the best way to describe the process, and that's why we engage with stakeholders when they have questions like this.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Drouin Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Okay, thank you.

Kody, it's all yours.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Thank you, Francis.

Touching on the slaughterhouse capacity again, that's something that has come up in our discussion here in the committee. I learned in the lead-up to the election the difference between the provincial and federal sides in terms of jurisdiction. If a slaughterhouse wasn't meeting certain requirements.... I assume that there are requirements under CFIA, and if they're not meeting them, that could result in a closure. Am I correct in saying that?

5:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

Yes, a federally inspected slaughterhouse is one where you want your meat to cross outside the province, so you need to federally inspect it, and CFIA would be the one inspecting and setting the standards around that facility.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

If one were to see a closure.... There are probably different reasons why a particular slaughterhouse could close, but one could be that they're not meeting the federal standard that's set under CFIA and the federal—

5:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

Yes, certainly, food safety would be a.... Yes.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Another thing has also been a conversation. We've talked about the price on pollution in agriculture and the role that agriculture can play. I've certainly talked at this committee about the fact that 10% of our GHG emissions in this country are tied to agriculture, not that we should see that as a bad thing. We see that as an opportunity as our government tries to meet our Paris Agreement targets to make the investment in agriculture to help get farmers there. Can you speak to some of the programs that are out there, either on an efficiency side, directly on farm, in innovation?

I think you probably have about a minute left. Is that right, Mr. Chair?

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

You have almost a minute and a half.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

There are 90 seconds to talk about the programs. I'd be interested in having a briefing at some point, if that would be something of value.

5:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

I guess I would say that first we start with the research capacity, and I think a big focus of our research is on climate change and reducing emissions. The minister mentioned emissions from livestock, but they are certainly also in our cropping processes. We look at ways we can use technology or processes to reduce things like fertilizer inputs, which of course have a cost benefit for producers as well as they can reduce emissions.

We have the research agenda, which we usually develop in concert with the sector to make sure that we're targeting some of their priorities. I would then say we have a range of programs out there.

I mentioned earlier the agricultural greenhouse gases program. We have a clean technology program. One of the priorities of the Canadian agricultural partnership is environment and sustainability, so provinces would have programs under the agricultural partnership that would also double down on the federal efforts.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kody Blois Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

I certainly appreciate that.

I think I'm out of time.

Thank you for your answers.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Pat Finnigan

Thank you, Mr. Blois.

Mr. Perron, you have the floor for two and a half minutes.

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Perfect.

I'd like to come back to a question I asked the minister earlier about the other productions under supply management, for which you would have reached confidential agreements, even though there was no announcement.

Can we expect it to happen soon? I know you can't give a date, but the producers are concerned, and they'd love to hear about that before the next budget.

March 12th, 2020 / 5:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

I think the minister has already answered that question.

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

So the answer would be the same. It was worth a try. That's okay.

I also talked about mental health with the minister earlier. She told me that the money was coming from the federal government, and I believe it's coming from the Department of Health, if I'm not mistaken.

Have you thought about a special program for agriculture, extra money to help organizations?

5:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Chris Forbes

I'm not sure, but I think most provinces already have programs to help farmers with mental health. We can check that for you.

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Rest assured, I'm not asking you to create another program to replace the Quebec program. I'm still a member of the Bloc Québécois, and half of our taxes come here. We would therefore like to see more money to support provincial initiatives.