Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agrifood (AGRI)

This week the Committee continued its study of Growing Forward 2, continuing its focus on marketing and trade of Canadian agri-products. The previous program, Growing Forward 1, comes to an end in 2013 and the committee has been seeking witness testimony about the effectiveness of the previous program, as well as where improvements could be made for the next round.

Witness testimony this week cemented the idea that work needs to be done in freight prices, and inconsistencies in the rail system which have led to a competitive disadvantage in a number of export markets for Canadian agri-products.

CETA received both negative and positive reviews from witnesses, some highlighting the need for increased market access in Europe, while other witnesses pointed out that the EU would likely remain closed to Canadian GM products.

Many groups highlighted the effectiveness of funding in expanding access to markets internationally, but said that funding fell short of promoting a grown-in-Canada market for agricultural products. The effectiveness of labeling of products as Canadian was an issue that drew a range of different opinions from witnesses and committee members. An interesting discussion was also generated about diversification of domestic agricultural product markets in value-added products like vegetable oil and fertilizers.

The committee has not gone in camera, but did recess for an emergency vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday.