Ms. Jane Halford
Farm Credit Canada
1800 Hamilton Street
Regina SK S4P 4L3
Dear Ms. Halford:
The federal government has recognized the importance of a vibrant and sustainable agriculture and agri-food sector to the country's economy and to ensure its food security. We also recognize that Canadian family farms contribute significantly to the vitality of many rural communities across the country.
Therefore, in November 2021, federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture jointly signed the Guelph Statement, which recognizes Canada as a world leader in sustainable agriculture. This vision should also inform the work of Farm Credit Canada (FCC).
Despite many recent challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian agricultural producers and food processors have shown exemplary resilience and continued providing quality products in a particularly difficult context. I would like to thank FCC for supporting the sector by providing financial and advisory services, expanding access to capital and enhancing capital and enhancing its products and services. Canada's producers can rely on FCC as a financial partner in weathering supply chain challenges, commodity price volatility and the rising costs of key agricultural inputs impacted by geopolitical and global market instability. To this end, the Government made sure to support FCC by quickly increasing its capacity to offer financial services.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change remain urgent priorities for our government, and we must ensure that the agricultural sector steps up as a front-line partner. FCC's products and services allow the sector to grow, adopt innovative practices and business models, pursue new markets and close gaps in research, technology and infrastructure. This opens opportunities for early commercialization and deployment of agri technologies, helping to position Canada as a leader in climate change mitigation.
In addition, in accordance with FCC's mandate, I am asking you to provide the leadership necessary to ensure that it delivers on the following priorities:
- Continue to operate as a responsible lender whose purpose goes beyond financial performance by providing a choice of financing options, filling gaps in industry needs and taking on necessary levels of risk to meet long term needs, with a primary focus on family farms.
- Continue to be a creative, flexible and patient leader to contribute to a growing and sustainable agricultural sector in Canada, while taking on the necessary levels of risk in order to advance innovation and opportunities for underrepresented groups. Continued efforts should be given to:
- Build on the Starter Loan, Young Farmer Loan and Young Entrepreneur Loan. Continue to expand and enhance the financial products and services that reduce barriers for young producers, entrepreneurs and underrepresented groups to enter or become more established in Canada's agriculture and food industry, including supporting intergenerational transfers.
- Offer a steady and stable presence for the Canadian agriculture and agri food industry through all economic cycles and during challenges, including climate change and natural disasters, price and trade volatility and dysfunctions in the supply chain.
- Enhance input financing as a lever to support producers facing rising input costs associated with geopolitical events and incentivize additional production to combat global food insecurity.
- Enhance support to agri-food and agribusiness entrepreneurs and promote our value added food processing sector. Support opportunities for early commercialization and deployment of agri-technologies to help position Canada as a leader in sustainability and climate change mitigation.
- Support food security by offering products and services reflecting the social, economic, environmental and health aspects of the agriculture and food system.
- Continue to pursue and promote a strong relationship with other Canadian financial institutions and credit unions and identify opportunities to offer joint financing solutions to mutual customers.
- Be a catalyst in attracting capital to the agriculture and agri-food industry through increased venture capital investment and improved access to capital for industry to accelerate meaningful progress in areas such as improving production capacity and sustainable practices driven by agricultural technology innovation.
- Collaborate with Indigenous communities to encourage more First Nation, Inuit and Métis-led agriculture and food production through targeted financial support and other business solutions.
- Enhance mental health services offerings to support those involved in Canada's agriculture and food system. Work with and provide financial support to likeminded organizations to assist producers with mental health issues through greater awareness and knowledge dissemination and provide greater access to services and support networks in rural communities.
- Continue to expand FCC's advisory services, knowledge offerings and farm management tools to support the broad range of core and emerging business management needs of Canadian producers and agribusiness operators seeking to solve new or specific business challenges.
- Continue to support the prioritization of Canadian land ownership by providing financing to individuals and entities that are able to legally do business in Canada and meet provincial land ownership requirements.
- Implement the recommendations outlined in the 2021 Special Examination Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the FCC Board of Directors.
- Begin to report on climate-related financial risks, in accordance with the Budget 2021 commitment. FCC is encouraged to work with other crown corporations to share best practices.
As Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada works to advance sector-specific priorities outlined in my mandate letter, I ask that you continue to support the Deputy Minister, my principal source of public service support and policy advice for the entire Agriculture and Agri-Food Portfolio, in ensuring a coordinated portfolio. I know that I can count on you and the FCC team to fulfil these priorities and that FCC will commit to tracking and reporting on its progress toward results for Canadians.
In closing, I assure you of my full cooperation so that, together, we can continue to build an innovative, sustainable and prosperous future for agricultural and agri food producers and processors and protect the sector's reputation for providing high quality food products to Canada and the world.
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, PC, MP