Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agrifood (AGRI)

This week the Committee met in Centre Block to hear from and question Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz about the Main Estimates for 2011-12 and the Supplementary Estimates for 2012-13. The Committee also asked questions of public servants from the Department of Agriculture and Agri-food as well as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency with regard to the estimates.

The Minister had to answer some difficult questions regarding the governmentʼs plan for supply management. During negotiations in New York, Trade Minister Fast suggested that Canada might be willing to abandon supply management in order to take part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations as a delegate. Minister Ritz defended his governmentʼs record on protecting supply management, and even went as far to say that the Conservative Party was the only party to run the 2011 campaign on a platform of defending supply managed industries. His response was that each country in negotiations starts with everything on the discussion table, then will remove sensitive policy areas from the discussions later on.

At the end of this Committee meeting, the chair, Larry Miller introduced motions 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 under Agriculture and Agri-food in the Main Estimates. Each motion was carried unanimously by the Committee.

On Wednesday, the Committee met in its usual location to resume its overview of the supply chain. The Committee was met by representatives from the Department of Agriculture and the CFIA. Most of the discussion time was spent on describing the Departmentʼs Value Chain Roundtables, and the multistakeholder process these VCRTs undertake.