The leaders of farm organizations across the sector are basking in the praise of a high-profile federal advisory board.
The Advisory Council on Economic Growth accorded the sector high profile in a recent report on Canada’s economic prospects.
The report’s recognition of the agri-food sector should be especially valuable in raising its profile across the multitude of government departments whose actions and regulations affect the industry.
The report recommended that agri-food be used as a pilot project for boosting eight sectors “where Canada has a strong endowment, untapped potential, and significant global growth prospects.”
To encourage those sectors to grow the national economy, the government should “take a focused approach that removes barriers and galvanizes the sector around a bold growth agenda.”
“This is a great opportunity for us as we move forward,” Ron Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture said. “The report really recognizes our potential for growth.
“We can use the report in the development of a national food strategy and the Agriculture Policy Framework. We need to work together across the sector to achieve what the report proposes.”
“It’s great news for us to be recognized like this,” Jeff Neilsen, president of Grain Growers of Canada said. Farm groups reached out to the economic council and their message about the potential of the sector was understood.
“It understood the farm sector supports the whole economy and that technology is very important to us,” Neilsen said.
“It’s encouraging to see agriculture being highlighted as such a high-potential sector,” said Keith Kuhl, president of the Horticulture Council of Canada. “Government support in our sector goes a really long way. Additional investment provides significant advantages throughout the value chain, from producers being able to grow even more nutritious, more sustainable crops, all the way through to consumers getting even higher-quality produce at even better prices. On top of that, Canada helps to feed the world, and investments in our sector mean greater exports and higher trade revenues overall.”
Jim Everson, executive director of Soy Canada, called the report “a very refreshing, well-thought-out blueprint for growing Canada’s agri-food sector. We support the co-operative federal, provincial and private sector partnership outlined in this visionary report.”
The council “correctly captures the promise of economic growth inherent in Canada’s agri-food sector as well as the benefits of Canada’s rich, natural assets and clean environment for food and feed production,” he also said. “It is critical that Canada’s agriculture sector continue to be a leader in sustainable production.”
John Mazzwohl, director of government and industry relations with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, says the report will assist the industry “in interactions with government departments on policy issues and regulations.
“The report says what the industry has been saying for a long time. The profile it’s giving us is important because the message is coming from outside our world.”
“The Canadian pork industry is very supportive of the council’s recommendations that are aimed at driving innovation, improving skills, removing barriers to greater workforce participation and positioning Canada as a global trading hub,” said a statement from the Canadian Pork Council. “The report’s focus on agriculture and food provides a clear approach that can be used to implement an overall growth strategy for the Canadian pork industry.”
Lee Moats, chairman of pulse Canada, says the report “offers a bold vision that Canada will become the trusted global leader in safe, nutritious and sustainable food for the 21st century.”
It urges government and private sector collaboration. “The Canadian pulse industry welcomes the opportunity to work with government to define the action plan, lead ag food pilots and revamp the approach to value chain roundtables to establish both top-down and bottom-up category targets. And the approach we take has to go beyond addressing obstacles. The approach must also focus on opportunities that will foster growth through innovation. The opportunity for Canadians is to fulfil the urgent need for an integrated agenda that connects food to health and sustainability along with economic prosperity.”
Soy Canada’s Everson said the study recommends the federal government “take a targeting approach to removing growth obstacles” and galvanize the sector around a growth strategy agenda.
Trade, science and innovation, value-added processing and sustainability are the building blocks of a strong and prosperous Canadian agriculture sector, he said. Including these priorities in the next APF is imperative to unleashing the agriculture industry’s growth potential described in the council’s report.
“When we successfully reach the goals set out in the report we will have done so because we are viewed as the trusted global leader in safe, nutritious, sustainable and affordable food and ingredients,” Moats said. “We encourage the government to begin working with industry immediately to develop and implement the growth strategy.”