OTTAWA, March 22, 2017 — The 2017 federal budget announced today in Parliament clearly signals the government’s recognition that Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector is primed to drive a new era of economic growth that will benefit all Canadians, says the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. Although Budget 2017 doesn’t specify details on certain policy targets — such as the aim of increasing agri-food exports to $75 billion annually by 2025 — CFA is pleased with the emphasis on the contributions of agriculture in helping to grow the economy.
“CFA is encouraged that the government envisions an expanded role for farmers and agri-food businesses as part of its innovation agenda. Farmers have been saying for years that agriculture is a strategic sector for Canada, given our vast natural resources, our research and technology, and our skilled labour force,” said CFA President Ron Bonnett. “We look forward to talking with elected officials to chart a course toward greater success, and to determining how the government’s plans align with our own efforts, such as our call for a National Food Strategy and enhanced market development, both domestically and across the world.”
While Budget 2017 represents modest spending overall, the investments and policy directions related to the agri-food industry show that the government intends to act on advice of the Finance Minister’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, which in a report released last month recommended new agri-food spending as a worthwhile investment.
Agriculture is earmarked as one of three pivotal areas under the proposed Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan. “Initial efforts will centre on three industries that touch the lives of all Canadians and offer great potential for growth and job creation: clean technology, digital industries and agri-food,” said Finance Minister Bill Morneau today in Parliament. “We will help farmers, producers, and processors build their businesses globally, and do so sustainably.”
Among the budget priorities are agricultural innovation, specifically pertaining to clean technology, and improvements to transportation infrastructure and trade corridors. Investments in labour are noted as well, although they are not specific to agri-food.
Budget 2017 also proposes to create a new $1.26 billion five-year Strategic Innovation Fund to consolidate and simplify existing business innovation programming. “The Strategic Innovation Fund will attract and support new high-quality business investments and will continue to be available to aerospace and automotive firms, while also expanding its support to other dynamic and emerging sectors, such as clean technology and agri-food,” according to the budget document.
While the budget contains many positive elements, farmers will note certain items were not referenced in today’s announcement. There was no mention of tax policy changes to support transfer of farm ownership to family members. There were no specific commitments to rural infrastructure spending, and CFA will be looking for further details on how rural Canada is represented in future spending through the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
CFA and its members look forward to discussions with policy makers to obtain more information on budget priorities and to offering farmers’ perspectives on various proposals. CFA will provide its members will an in-depth budget analysis in the coming days.
CFA Director of Communications
Phone: 613-236-3633 ext. 2322