A salmon farm in Canada. Photo: Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

Canadian government urged to unleash country’s food growing potential

Canada’s aquaculture sector has added its voice to a call for the country’s government to address growing global food insecurity by unleashing Canada’s food production potential.

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The open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and eight government ministers is signed by 13 organisations representing food producers and suppliers, including the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA).

They argue that Canada not only has the potential, but an obligation, to support food production as a top policy priority.

Poor hit worst

“With the war in Ukraine, ongoing challenges from Covid, global supply chain problems and environmental shocks from climate change, Canadians and citizens around the world are facing higher food costs and shortages,” say the producers.

“The poor are – and will be – disproportionately affected. It is time for Canada to intensify food production to sustainably and affordably feed Canadians and the world.”

The letter calls on the Canadian government to make secure food production and supply a top consideration in policy and funding decisions, and focus on an agile, modern regulatory environment that supports production growth.

Predictable regulations

“The 2019 Agri-Food and Aquaculture Roadmap highlighted that predictable and efficient regulations are needed to reduce barriers to investment, innovation and growth,” write the food producers.

“We recommend an immediate review of the status of all outstanding projects in the Roadmap and renewed attention to their completion. In addition, we suggest that the Agile Regulations Committee take a more focused approach, targeting a small number of regulatory changes at a time to achieve results.”

Joyce Murray has not yet said whether she will renew licences for BC's salmon farmers.

Salmon farming

The call by Canada’s food producers comes against a background of considerable uncertainty about the future of British Columbia’s open-net pen salmon farming industry.

Canada’s ruling Liberal Party has promised to “transition” salmon farming away from net pens after years of unproven claims by activists and some First Nations that the industry is a threat to wild salmon.

Licences for 79 salmon farms in BC are due for renewal by the end of this month but fisheries and oceans minister Joyce Murray – one of the ministers to receive the foods producers’ letter – has not yet said whether she will renew them, but has reiterated the party’s commitment to transition.

The open letter is signed by officials from the Canadian Canola Growers’ Association, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, the Canadian Meat Council, and Soy Canada, among others.