Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

October 25, 2005 10:21 ET

AAFC: Science Consultations to Bring a Better Future for Producers, by the Honourable Andy Mitchell, P.C., M.P. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 25, 2005) - My number one priority as minister is to create an environment that permits our country's agricultural producers to make a sustainable living - both now and for future generations.

When that means developing initiatives such as the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program to provide producers with protection against short-and-long term income losses due to events beyond their control, or creating strategies to help ruminant producers through the BSE crisis, that's what we do.

But it also means thinking strategically into the future and building on our strengths and competitive advantages. One of the greatest advantages we have over our international competitors is our science capabilities and our ability to innovate.

Through our scientific research, Canadian producers have had access to the most up-to-date agricultural technology and methods, helping them to be among the most effective and cost-efficient farmers in the world. Science innovation will be increasingly important in Canada's ongoing efforts to brand our agriculture and agri-food sector as the world leader in food safety and quality, as well as in our efforts to expand existing markets and to penetrate new ones.

Clearly, maintaining our scientific competitive advantage is critical to the continuing success of our agricultural sector, which is why I have asked the Department to undertake a comprehensive review of its science program.

The science consultations will include 11 regional meetings with communities, stakeholders, industry representatives and partners. Web-based consultations are also accessible through the Department's website (www.agr.gc.ca/sci/cons/index_e.php) to allow all Canadians to participate. These consultations, to be conducted through October and November, will culminate with a two-day national symposium Nov. 22-23 in Gatineau, Quebec.

Through this process, we will be able to focus in on a number of key issues, including regional and national priorities, the Department's role vis-a-vis the national science and research community, and a strategy to foster greater partnership with provincial governments, academia and the private sector.

As this review and consultation process begins, I want to be clear that there will be no reduction in our national investment in science. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's annual research budget is close to $300 million annually, which accounts for nearly half of Canada's total agricultural research spending, making the Department the country's single largest player, by far.

Investment in science is an investment in the future profitability of our agricultural producers. Studies show that for every dollar invested in agricultural research, the payback to producers is $20.

This review is about finding ways to be more effective in science innovation and research. Another principle that will guide us through this review is that research and development activities in the provinces will generally be maintained at current levels, with the recognition that research needs to be done all across the country.

We also want to ensure that the agricultural science undertaken in the future will meet the needs of industry and will take into account regional variances. We will be seeking to find synergies between government departments, between different levels of government, between governments and academia, and between governments and the private sector. Through this kind of integrated and holistic approach, we will provide a science and innovation capacity that will help our agricultural producers compete in the ever-changing international market and will provide our scientists with state-of-the-art facilities in which to do their research.

I am excited about this consultation and review and I urge all of you to participate in the process, to help this Government create a climate that will allow our agricultural producers to be profitable and sustainable for generations to come.

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa
    Media Relations
    (613) 759-7972