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Canadian government still undecided on U.S. invitation to join coalition focused on agricultural productivity

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November 26, 2021

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The Canadian government has not yet decided how it will respond to an invitation to join a U.S.-led coalition of countries promoting “sustainable productivity growth” in agriculture.

The productivity-focused coalition championed by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the UN Food System Summit in September is seen as countering the European Union’s Farm to Fork strategy, which Vilsack and others say will lead to a reduction in agricultural productivity.

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“We initiated this coalition because it is clear that increasing agricultural productivity is essential to meet the needs of a growing global population and ensure that food is affordable to hundreds of millions of people around the world,” Vilsack said in October. “If we are going to end hunger, while minimizing environmental impacts, we must commit to developing and deploying new ways of doing things in agriculture.”

Joining the coalition would be a signal the Canadian government supports the U.S. approach.

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The list of countries that have already signed on includes Australia, Brazil, Ghana, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Philippines and Vietnam.

Speaking at a World Food Prize event in Iowa last month, the U.S. ag secretary noted Canada and Mexico have both been invited to join the coalition. The symposium featured a panel discussion where Vilsack was joined virtually by Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, and in-person by Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, Víctor Villalobos, but neither addressed the United States’ invitation in their remarks.

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Bibeau’s office forwarded RealAgriculture’s subsequent requests for comment on the topic to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s communications staff.

The Canadian government is “closely considering” the productivity coalition, as well as joining another U.S.-led group of countries focused on reducing food waste, says a spokesperson for AAFC.

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“Each of those coalitions support Canadian policies and interests; however, decisions on joining them have not yet been taken,” the spokesperson says, in a Nov. 25 email.

Canada has agreed to join a third U.S.-led coalition: the coalition on Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, also known as AIM4C.

“In addition to the U.S.-led coalitions, Canada has also expressed support for other coalitions that have come out of the UN Food System Summit: Achieving Zero Hunger, Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems, and Making Food Systems Work for Women and Girls,” notes the AAFC spokesperson.

Related: European lawmakers endorse Farm to Fork strategy, with steep pesticide & fertilizer restrictions