FREDERICTON (GNB) – Federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers met in Ottawa last week to discuss support to help Canadian farmers and food processors grow their businesses.

Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet participated.

The ministers discussed the next steps toward developing the forthcoming agricultural policy framework. They will reconvene in July to ensure work is on track to launch the framework on April 1, 2018.

Doucet said discussions were encouraging as all the ministers understand the industry’s importance to the economy of New Brunswick, the Atlantic region and across Canada.

“The New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan recognizes that agriculture is a key economic driver in our province,” said Doucet. “About 13,000 New Brunswickers make a living thanks to agriculture and together we are working to develop policy that supports the continued growth and prosperity of this important sector.”

Canada and the United States have a long-standing history of co-operation and remain each other’s primary trading partner for agricultural products. The ministers were also in agreement on preserving the integrity of the supply management system.

In addition, the ministers emphasized the importance of agriculture and agri-food to the Canadian economy. Canada’s agriculture and food industry contributes more than $100 billion annually to the GDP and employs one out of every eight working Canadians. The participating ministers also discussed the importance of trade and market development.

New Brunswick’s agriculture sector represents $563 million in total cash receipts while the value of processed food shipments is more than $1 billion, including $400 million in agri-food exports.