TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 29, 2012) - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz welcomed the first meeting of the new Agri-Innovators' Committee today. Announced by the Harper Government in September to complement the renewed focus of Growing Forward 2 on innovation, the Agri-Innovators Committee will begin discussions on key areas of focus for advancing innovation in the agricultural sector.
"Innovation has shown it helps increase productivity, reduce costs, and advance sustainability in the agriculture sector-a sector that helps create jobs and economic growth for Canada," said Minister Ritz. "The work of this committee will be integral in providing industry advice and expertise to ensure investments made by governments generate the results and returns needed by Canadian producers and processors in a global economy."
The Committee is the first national body to provide advice to the Minister on agricultural innovation. The Committee comprises successful innovators with a broad range of expertise and skills, representing many agricultural sectors from across Canada.
"As co-chair of this new committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the sector to explore ways to ensure the long-term prosperity of the sector," said Travis Toews, Co-chair of the Agri-Innovators' Committee and former President of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association. "This committee will provide a useful forum for experts in the industry to share our experiences and engage in discussions on how to enable competitiveness and productivity through innovation."
A number of food processors and producers on the Committee have also been invited to attend the Agri-Processors/Producers' Summit in Toronto on November 30, where they will discuss opportunities to enhance innovation and improve the efficiency of the supply chain. The Summit is a joint initiative by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Terms of Reference - Agri-Innovators' Committee
Canadian producers are well positioned to take advantage of expanding opportunities in domestic and global markets. Agricultural policy in Canada is being fundamentally transformed with an increased focus on proactive and strategic investments. A critical element of this transformative agenda is prioritized funding for activities along the innovation continuum that will increase productivity, reduce costs, and advance sustainability. Greater government-industry-academic collaborations will drive new areas of scientific discovery based on the required applied science, technology and development, and knowledge transfer activities. This will ultimately lead to the development, commercialization, and adoption of new products, processes, technologies, and practices throughout the sector. A broad cross section of expertise on the innovation needs of the sector will be necessary to ensure that innovation investments lead to results for the sector and positively impact farmers' returns. Further, coordinating the efforts of various stakeholders within the Canadian agri-innovation system is key to efficiently and adequately address the needs of the sector. The Agri-Innovators' Committee (the Committee) is being established as an important means of acquiring such industry input.
The Agri-Innovators' Committee will advise the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food on issues consistent with the Minister's responsibilities and relevant to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) mandate and priorities. The Committee will provide advice on various aspects of innovation for the sector, with a view to accelerating the development and adoption of innovation to make the sector more profitable, competitive, and sustainable.
- It is proposed that the Committee focus on innovation for the sector and provide the Minister and the Department feedback and advice on issues relating to innovation in the sector, including, but not limited to:
- key objectives under AAFC's Growing Forward 2 (GF2) policy and programs framework:
- positioning Canada as a world leader in agricultural innovation investment;
- helping the sector become more competitive in domestic and international markets; and
- facilitating adaptability and sustainability for the sector.
- maximizing support for innovation in the sector (including financial support, infrastructure changes, knowledge transfer, science and research);
- AAFC's innovation frameworks and strategies;
- mechanisms for collaborating, communicating, and consulting with stakeholders, other government departments, provincial-territorial governments, academia, and industry to address current and future needs and gaps (e.g., ensuring regulatory frameworks do not inhibit innovation) as well as the appropriate roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders and how to integrate them within a coordinated innovation system.
- The Committee will consider issues presented by the Minister and the Minister may direct the Committee to consider and provide advice on any issue consistent with the mandate of the Committee. That advice may be provided in writing or verbally, depending on the preference of the Minister. The advice provided will not be binding on AAFC or the Government of Canada.
- Members can request briefings from the Department in relation to any issue within the mandate of the Committee.
4. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE MINISTER AND CO-CHAIRS
- The industry co-chair, in consultation with the AAFC co-chair, will prepare a general work plan for the Committee to respond to the Minister's request for advice.
- The co-chairs and Minister will meet, when there is mutual agreement that a meeting is required, and the co-chairs will ensure that the Minister has the opportunity to meet with the Committee annually.
5. COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP
- The Minister shall name an advisory committee of no more than 15 members, excluding ex-officio members.
- The advisory committee will endeavor to include no more than one representative from each province and/or territory and to have a balanced regional representation of various commodities and/or sectors.
- Members will serve for a term not exceeding two (2) consecutive years.
- Members of the Committee will serve as individuals and not as representatives of organizations or interest groups. Members are expected to contribute their own expertise, experience, and good judgement when providing analysis and advice.
- The Minister may renew the terms of appointment of any member for one or more further terms to a maximum duration of appointment within the five (5)-year framework (2013-2018).
- The Minister may name any person with relevant knowledge or experience to the Agri-Innovators' Committee, including but not limited to persons from the agriculture and agri-food sector and from the research and academic community.
- The Minister shall name one member of the Committee as co-chair representing the sector, and AAFC's Deputy Minister will act as a co-chair.
- It is expected that the Committee will meet in person two to three times a year. The co-chairs may determine the time and place at which the Committee will meet and the scheduling of any additional meetings, including teleconferences.
- Meeting agendas will be determined by the co-chairs in consultation with the Minister.
- The Committee will establish rules and procedures under which meetings will be conducted. To the extent possible, the Committee shall operate on a consensus basis.
- A quorum of 50 per cent of members is required for the Committee meeting to proceed, and the co-chairs or their designates will preside at all meetings.
7. CONFLICT OF INTEREST
- Members will perform their duties and arrange their affairs in such a manner that public confidence in the integrity, objectivity, and impartiality of the Committee are conserved.
- Any conflict of interest shall be reported in writing to the co-chairs who shall cause them to be kept in a registry to be maintained for this purpose by the Secretariat.
- Committee members will recuse themselves from committee proceedings as required, to avoid any real or perceived conflict of interest.
- The co-chairs shall also disclose any conflict of interest and cause them to be recorded by the Committee secretariat. The co-chair will recuse him/herself from the Committee's proceedings as required to avoid any real or perceived conflict of interest.
- Any privileged information divulged or obtained during meetings or provided in support of such meetings, including privileged information obtained from committees established by AAFC or during meetings with AAFC management, shall be protected and maintained as confidential and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, shall not be discussed in media interviews, external meetings, or other public forum until such time as this information has been officially released by the Minister for public use.
- Committee members will be required to sign confidentiality and conflict of interest agreements.
9. FEES AND EXPENSES
- Each member shall be reimbursed, consistent with guidelines set forth by the National Joint Council Travel Directive, for reasonable travel and living expenses incurred while performing committee duties while absent from his or her ordinary place of residence.
10. SECRETARIAT SUPPORT
- A secretariat within AAFC will be responsible for providing secretariat support to enable the effective functioning of the Committee.
- The Secretariat shall be responsible for administrative support on matters such as coordinating committee meetings and processing travel claims within Treasury Board guidelines.