Agricultural Ministers From Across Canada Release the Guelph Statement

Source: Twitter @mclaudebibeau

Canada is recognized on the world stage as a leader in sustainable agriculture. As Canadian farmers struggle with the impacts of the climate crisis, it is becoming apparent that the government needs to promote and  support the continued growth of sustainable farming across Canada. 

On November 10th, 2021, federal and provincial agriculture ministers from across Canada met in Guelph, ON to discuss how Canadian agriculture will develop from 2023-2028 under the new Agricultural Policy Framework (APF). The AFP is a federal-provincial-territorial agreement that will help guide governmental involvement in Canadian agriculture through program funding and legislation. The Ministers for BC, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories attended the meetings virtually but the other ministers met in person.

Representatives from agricultural stakeholder groups such as the Grain Growers of Canada, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, the Canadian Pork Council, the Canola Council of Canada and the Canadian Canola Growers Association all attended the meetings and presented their key priorities to the ministers. Other agricultural non-profits including OCO tirelessly campaigned leading up to November 10th to ensure sustainable agriculture was supported. Common priorities that were discussed at the meeting included ecological goods and services programming, collaboration and science in support of environmental targets, triple-bottom-line sustainability and the need for strong risk management programming. 

In conclusion to the meeting the ministers released the Guelph Statement, which outlines the priorities for Canadian agriculture for the next five years and will guide the creation of the next Agricultural Policy Framework.

1) Climate Change and The Environment;

Climate change mitigation was one of the most prevalent issues under discussion at the Guelph meetings. By prioritizing climate change and environmental protection, the Statement aims to support farmers who are working toward mitigation and adaptation goals. 

These areas of focus could potentially be integrated into existing Business Risk Management programs to drive faster adoption of practices that reduce carbon emissions, increase carbon sequestration, improve soil and water quality and improve fertilizer management. 

The ministers also committed to work more closely with federal, provincial and territorial  environmental departments since Canadian farmers are impacted by environmental policy decisions. 

This nicely mimics the priorities that Farmers for Climate Solutions pushed for leading up to November 10th. To view the full list FCS’s priorities, you can visit their website:

2) Science, Research and Innovation;

This priority is primarily focused on addressing the challenges of climate change by exploring new technologies and adopting new energy efficiencies. It also includes support for pre-commercialization and start-ups, enhanced data collection, extension activities, performance measures and knowledge exchange and transfer. 

3) Market Development and Trade; 

This priority aims to defend and pursue Canadian trade interests on a domestic and international scale. This includes discussions around market diversification and development, removing interprovincial trading barriers and supporting export readiness. 

4) Building Sector Capacity and Growth;

This priority aims to address key challenges and opportunities in the agricultural sector through innovation and adoption of technology, digitization and artificial intelligence. The meetings also included discussion about supporting the next generation of farmers through supporting career opportunities, labour attraction and retention, training and automation and removing potential barriers to entry.    

5) Resiliency and Public Trust 

This priority aims to build resilience across the entire food supply chain. This will be done through supporting proactive risk management (including climate risks), improving animal and plant welfare and promoting assurance systems. This priority also covers protecting the mental and physical health of agri-food workers and promoting public awareness of sustainable production of safe, high-quality food. 

Other issues discussed at the meetings included ongoing labour issues, African swine fever prevention and preparedness, barriers keeping underrepresented groups from agriculture and regulatory priorities. Ministers and representatives reported positivity and optimism in light of the release of the Guelph Statement. 

As a member of Farmers for Climate Solutions, OCO is excited to see results that reflect our priorities for a climate-focused APF that allows farmers to meet the challenges of climate change. On November 11, we sent a letter to the Honourable Lisa Thompson, M.P.P., Minister for Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs discussing the priorities and interests of the organic sector in Ontario and the impact the Agricultural Policy Framework could have on the whole organic agricultural community. The priorities that we discussed include: 


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