THUNDER BAY – Bilateral trade between Ontario and Quebec in the agriculture, and agri-food sectors of the economy are a $9 billion annual business. The Hon. Robert Dutil, Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and the Hon. Carol Mitchell, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, met yesterday and agreed to adopt a joint action plan to promote better agri-food sector integration and competitiveness between the two provinces.
This sector of the economy is one where Ontario and Quebec together represent over 65% of the total market. represent near two thirds of the Canadian food processing industry and over 65% of the supplied managed production (dairy, poultry and eggs) in Canada.
“We share common interests in combining our collective expertise and rich experience in a number of key areas, including dairy, horticulture, food product innovation and organics.” Stated Robert Dutil, the Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
From Ontario, Minister Mitchell stated, “Yesterday’s meeting is an important step forward in our joint efforts to enhance the competitiveness of producers and processors in Ontario and Quebec.”
Under the action plan, the two ministers have committed to work towards mutual recognition of standards involving bilateral trade, and to increased collaboration between Quebec and Ontario in areas of common interest, including research and agri-science innovation.
Moreover, the two governments will work with industry partners to address common matters facing the chicken and hog sectors.
The ministers also agreed to work together in urging the federal government to review the federal Product of Canada guidelines and consider national compositional standards for yogurt. The Ministers also agreed to continue to jointly support supply management in Canada and in international trade negotiations.
Ministers Dutil and Mitchell also committed to work together in support of food export companies, and will be jointly championing the SIAL Canada trade show. SIAL is a prominent international food export trade show currently underway in Montreal until today.
As part of the Quebec-Ontario Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the two agriculture ministers will meet annually to promote a stronger collaboration in the agri-food sector. A report back to review progress on the 2010 action plan is scheduled to take place in May 2011.