Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

June 24, 2011 15:03 ET

Government of Canada Promotes Open Trade & Innovation on World Stage

ROME, ITALY--(Marketwire - June 24, 2011) -

Editors Note: There are photos associated with this press release.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz is wrapping up another series of trade missions to advance Canada's agriculture objectives, this time to the first G20 Agriculture Ministers' Meeting, the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and the Global Research Alliance (GRA) Summit.

"Our Government is working to ensure that Canada's agriculture industry remains competitive and innovative," said Minister Ritz. "Promoting open trade and innovation in international fora, such as the G20, is essential to improving Canadian farmers' profitability, addressing global food security and sustaining our environment."

In Paris, Minister Ritz attended the G20 Agriculture Ministers' meeting and endorsed the Action Plan that pushes for greater trade and innovation, which for Canada includes science such as biotechnology, to help increase food production, improve variety and nutrition, as well as create new market opportunities.

Minister Ritz also participated in the first Ministerial Summit of the Global Research Alliance (GRA) in Rome where he presented and signed the founding charter and confirmed that the GRA accepted Canada's offer to host their 2012 Council meeting. Minister Ritz announced that the first set of projects, totalling $16 million from the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program, has been approved. These projects will help farmers reduce input costs and improve environmental sustainability.

"Canadian farmers know better than anyone that a sustainable environment is critical to their continued success," said Minister Ritz. "Through joint research and innovation, the Global Research Alliance will help farmers in Canada and around the world learn how to produce more food, more efficiently."

On Sunday, Minister Ritz will be at the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, where Canada will vote in the election of a new FAO Director General and work to strengthen the role of standard setting bodies, such as Codex and the International Plant Protection Convention, that level the international playing field for all trading nations.

Minister Ritz used these fora to meet with his counterparts from such countries as India, Japan, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates to discuss outstanding agriculture trade issues. Minister Ritz also promoted ministerial participation at the upcoming Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting to be hosted by Canada on September 7-9, 2011 in Saskatoon.


About the Global Research Alliance

Canada is one of the founding members of the Global Research Alliance, an international network of more than 30 member-countries, devoted to collaboration in agricultural research on greenhouse gas mitigation and beneficial management practices for farmers in Canada and around the world. At its launch, Canada announced that it would invest $27 million towards the Global Research Alliance.

About the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program

The Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program represents Canada's initial contribution to the Global Research Alliance. The Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program will help Canadian farmers become more competitive and profitable through improved access to, and adoption of, beneficial management practices that help mitigate greenhouse gases. An initial $16 million has been approved for 13 projects and will bring farmers, the agricultural community and academia together to work towards a common goal of advancing research, technology transfer and adoption of beneficial management practices to mitigate agricultural greenhouse gases.

The projects address the priority areas of the Global Research Alliance in livestock systems, cropping systems, agroforestry and water use efficiency.

Livestock/Cropping systems

Two of the priorities for the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program are dedicated to livestock and cropping systems. For example, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is partnering with the University of Alberta and other collaborators to study and compare two practices in beef operations. First, the project will examine and compare confined cattle feeding, where livestock are confined for the purposes of growing, sustaining, finishing, or breeding, and swath grazing, where cereal crops are cut and left in the field for cattle to graze. Swath grazing, a relatively new practice, is unique in that farmers may save money because they don't have to transport feed or remove manure from feeding sites. This has the potential to reduce feeding costs by 50 per cent.

Second, the project will examine residual feed intake - the difference between an animal's actual feed intake and its expected feed requirements for maintenance and growth. Efficient animals eat less than expected and have a low residual feed intake, while inefficient animals eat more than expected and have a high residual feed intake. Improving residual feed intake is expected to reduce methane and manure emissions from cattle by 15 to 20 per cent.


Agroforestry is an integrated and intensive agricultural production system in which trees are planted on the farm operation and contribute to improved productivity, yield, profitability and sustainability. Another focus area for the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program is dedicated to agroforestry. For example, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is partnering with the University of Saskatchewan and other collaborators to study how shelterbelts - plantations made up of one or more rows of trees or shrubs planted in such a way as to provide shelter from the wind and to protect soil from erosion - can help mitigate greenhouse gases. Shelterbelts act as a carbon sink – a filter that accumulates carbon dioxide and replaces it with oxygen. Recent research suggests that this agroforestry practice may help farmers reduce their carbon footprint and improve animal health and soil protection.

Water Use Efficiency

Agriculture depends on an adequate supply of good quality water for plant and animal production. Water is the key to sustainable agricultural production, and is intrinsically linked to food security. A third focus area of the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program is dedicated to water use efficiency. For example, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is partnering with the University of Saskatchewan and other collaborators to study greenhouse gas emissions in irrigated systems typical of the Prairies. Irrigation is practiced on one million hectares of farmland in Canada and more irrigation will be required to meet the food requirements of the growing world population. Canadian producers will benefit from findings of this greenhouse gas mitigation research that promotes increased water savings, reduced irrigation pumping costs and improved nitrogen-use efficiency, thereby increasing their profitability while helping the environment.

A full list of projects will be made available once individual funding agreements are signed.

To view the photos associated with this press release, please visit the following links:

Contact Information

  • Media Relations
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario

    Meagan Murdoch
    Director of Communications
    The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz