National Newswatch

Asks Bibeau to support the research plan.


Ottawa—A Steering Committee to guide the formation of a National Strategy for Agri-Food Research and Innovation has been selected by the Agri-Food Innovation Council (AIC).

The committee members represent a good swath of the agrifood community and more including provincial representatives will be added, says AIC CEO Serge Buy. Getting the federal government to agree to the strategy development is one of the ongoing priorities.

Buy, who will chair the committee, noted that the members come from organizations that belong to the AIC as well as other groups. The committee will promote the national strategy with politicians and government officials, the media and other agrifood groups. “We note that politicians have, increasingly, become supportive for this – so we’ll see how that develops.”

In a recent letter to Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, Buy said Canada must streamline investments in agrifood research and innovation and “ensure policies and programs are coordinated, strategic and focused on realizing market and societal impacts. All points along the agrifood innovation process, from primary research to adoption, should be reviewed to ensure alignment with priorities and address capacity gaps.”

It is crucial to make sure that efforts to strengthen the agrifood research and innovation ecosystem are efficient, non-duplicative and able to achieve tangible results, he said. “We believe that a national strategy is instrumental for addressing many of these issues.”

The agrifood sector holds “enormous potential for the Canadian economy both in terms of job creation and economic growth. The sector enjoys a competitive advantage internationally and a strong innovation ecosystem. Canada is one of the very few countries in the world that can achieve both production intensity and environmental sustainability as well as being a reliable and trusted supplier of agriculture and agrifood products to a world that needs food.”

The research also needs to deal with the pressure on the sector to innovate to achieve sustainability, resiliency and environmental stewardship expectations and the challenges of labour shortages that inhibit innovation. Slowing productivity gains, rising prices, growing barriers to trade, and ongoing disruptions to the supply chains continue to be formidable obstacles, he said.

The development of this strategy should be co-led by government and industry and ensure it remains focused on agrifood and not be subsumed in other government programs in which “no one will have an agrifood background.

“Together, we can ensure Canada capitalizes on our competitive advantage in agrifood for the next generation.” The AIC and its partners wish to discuss the issue as soon as possible with Bibeau.

The steering committee members include:

-Ian Affleck, Vice President, Plant Biotechnology, CropLife Canada

-Andrea Brocklebank, Executive Director, Beef Cattle Reseach Council

-Trish Henderson, United Farmers of Alberta

-Marie-France MacKinnon, Vice-President, Public Affairs & Communications, Canadian Meat Council,

-Martin Scanlon, Dean, Faculty of Agricultural & Food Sciences, University of Manitoba, Member, Deans Council – Agriculture, Food & Veterinary Medicine

-Natisha Stashko, Executive Director, Smart Agriculture and Food, Alberta Innovates,

Steven Webb, CEO, Global Institute for Food Security.

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