Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

September 14, 2012 14:35 ET

New Agri-Innovators' Committee to Provide Long-term Vision for Agriculture Innovation

WHITEHORSE, YUKON--(Marketwire - Sept. 14, 2012) - In line with the Harper Government's efforts to create jobs, growth and long term prosperity for Canada, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced today the creation of an Agri-Innovators' Committee to provide expert advice on agriculture research and development. The Committee is the first national advisory body to provide advice to the Minister on agricultural innovation.

Minister Ritz made the announcement following a two-day meeting with his provincial and territorial colleagues on the next Growing Forward agricultural policy framework. The new framework will increase cost-shared investments by 50% to position the sector for longer-term productivity growth.

"The focus for Growing Forward 2 is on transformation to enhance the success of farmers and the sector," said Minister Ritz. "This new committee will provide additional industry advice and expertise to help ensure that investments by governments are generating the results and returns needed by farmers."

Governments are transforming agricultural policy in Canada to increase focus on proactive and strategic investments that move the sector forward. A critical element of this transformative agenda is enhanced coordination and collaboration, and prioritizing activities along the innovation continuum to increase productivity, reduce costs, and advance sustainability.

Comprised of representatives from across Canada and an array of agricultural sectors, the Committee will draw upon a broad range of expertise and skills to facilitate greater government-industry-academia collaboration. This new Committee would work in parallel to other committees, including the National Program Advisory Committee (NPAC) which focuses on business risk management.

The Committee membership list and biographical notes are available in the backgrounder.

BACKGROUNDER - Agri-Innovators' Committee Membership List

Committee Co-chairs and Biographical Notes

Travis Toews, Beef, (Alberta)

Mr. Toews is past-President of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA), an organization he has been involved with in a variety of roles since 2005. A member of AAFC's Beef Value Chain Roundtable, Mr. Toews chaired CCA's Foreign Trade Committee and served on the Domestic Agriculture Policy & Regulations and the Value Creation & Competitiveness committees. Mr. Toews has been a vocal advocate for ensuring the industry's competitiveness on the domestic and international fronts and fostering innovation in the beef sector. He has appeared before numerous Parliamentary and Senate Committees encouraging support for research and development and innovation to ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of the Canadian beef industry. Prior to joining the CCA, Mr. Toews was involved with his provincial association, the Alberta Beef Producers, and up until January 2009, served as a Director with the Canada Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA). Mr. Toews and his family operate Melbern Holdings, a cow-calf operation in north-west Alberta. He is a designated member of the Society of Management Accountants.

Suzanne Vinet, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (effective September 17, 2012)

Ms. Vinet has been with the federal public service for 28 years, where she has held several senior positions. In recent years, she has served as: Deputy Minister, Canada Economic Development for the region of Québec (2010-2012); Associate Deputy Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (2009-2010); Associate Deputy Minister at Health Canada (2007-2009); and Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy, at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (2005-2007). Ms. Vinet began her public service career in 1984 with the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food where she gained extensive expertise in policy and liaison. She took on increasingly senior positions with a focus on trade policy. A native of Vaudreuil, Quebec, Ms. Vinet received a diploma from the Institut de Technologie agricole et alimentaire in Saint-Hyacinthe, and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree (economics) from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. She also attended the National Defence College of Canada in Kingston.

Committee Members and Biographical Notes

Lloyd Affleck, Pulses, (Saskatchewan)

Mr. Affleck is Vice-President, Saskatchewan, and Chairman of the Board for Canterra Seeds Holdings Ltd., a company specializing in pedigreed seed products from high‐yielding canola to a versatile portfolio of cereals, pulses and other crops types. Mr. Affleck, who is a member of the Special Crops Value Chain Roundtable, was a founding member of the Western Marketing and Processing Association and also served as director of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers from 2002 to 2008. He was then appointed as a Pulse Canada Representative serving as vice chair for three years and chairman for another three. Mr. Affleck has been farming for 40 years and is a third generation of a four generation farming operation which has some 3,400 acres of crop land on a four year rotation cereals, pulses and oilseeds . In 1993-94, Mr. Affleck was a member of a Federal Government Special Crop Initiative Project and then as a member and Chair of Special Crop Rural Initiative program.

Shelley Doan, Livestock and genetics, (Ontario)

Ms. Doan is President of Trans World Cattle Company Ltd., a company that exports Canadian dairy cattle to countries around the world including Mexico, Iran, Korea, Venezuela, Morocco, China and the United States. Family owned and operated, the company grew out of Walker Dairy Sales, which has been in business in southwestern Ontario for close to half a century. Ms. Doan has been actively involved with the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association (CLGA), a nationwide, not-for-profit trade association representing the market access and animal health interests of those involved in the sale, service and promotion of livestock genetics both domestically and internationally. Its members work together to continuously improve the livestock genetics industry by providing high quality live animals and genetic products to customers in more than seventy countries. Ms. Doan is a former President and Director of the CLGA, and was on the frontline as the organization worked to help restore Canadian cattle export access to the United States and Mexico.

David Fuller, Chicken, (Nova Scotia)

Mr. Fuller is former Chair of the Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC), a position he held since 1999 covering a period that saw some of the most critical challenges facing the Canadian chicken industry. He continues to operate the family farm in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley started by his father over 50 years ago. During his tenure, Mr. Fuller also played a role in the CFC's commitment to research and innovation, including the Canadian Poultry Research Council that was established in 2001 by the five national poultry organizations in Canada. Fuller participated at a number of international trade and agriculture events, including World Trade Organization Ministerials in Seattle, Cancun, Hong Kong and Geneva, numerous Cairns Group Farm Leaders meetings, International Federation of Agricultural Producers conferences and the World Poultry Congress. Mr. Fuller was a driving force behind the strategic development of CFC's vision and its role in Canadian agriculture.

Don Kenny, Grains, (Ontario)

Mr. Kenny is the former founding Chair and current director of the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO), an organization which represents Ontario's 28,000 growers of corn, soybean and wheat whose crops generate over $2.5 billion in farm gate receipts and result in over $9 billion in economic output. Mr. Kenny and his family operate a 5th generation century farm in West Ottawa. He played a leading role in bringing the three producer groups under one umbrella. Kenny has had a long time interest in innovation and research, co-chairing the Canadian Seed Trade Association 2011 Partners in Innovation conference. As well, he was heavily involved in the birth of Farmers for Investment in Agriculture (FIA), made up of the Fédération des producteurs de culture commerciales du Québec, Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Atlantic Grains Council, and the Grain Growers of Canada. Made up of over 100,000 farmers, it was formed in 2010 to address the need for greater investment in agronomic research.

Janie Levesque, Research and Innovation, (Quebec)

Ms. Lévesque has over 20 years of experience in research and development, project management, business development, marketing and training. Her primary focus has been in the areas of animal nutrition, genetics and food processing. Ms. Lévesque is currently employed at Genetiporc in Saint-Bernard, QC where she oversees a variety of projects focused on innovation in the pork sector. Over the course of her career, Ms. Lévesque has gained extensive knowledge and expertise in the dairy and pork industries. She received a Master's Degree in Zootechnics, specialising in animal nutrition and a Baccalaureate in Bio-Agronomy, specialising in animal production, both from Laval University in Ste-Foy, QC. Ms. Lévesque has authoured and contributed to a wide range of published studies and research papers.

Shaun Moran, Grains, (Manitoba)

Mr. Moran is a 5th generation farmer and President of the Portage la Prairie based Moran Commodities Corporation. Mr. Moran bought his first farm at age 17 and has been in the farming business since, today living on and operating the family`s Centennial farm. During the early 1980s when wheat prices were depressed, he decided to look outside of traditional grain crops to possible alternatives. Mr. Moran took a passion for marketing and developed a family based special crops business, diversifying into pulses and spices and the exporting of these around the world. Soon the company became a major player in the spice business, especially in caraway and coriander, helping turn the North American industry into a net exporter worldwide. Mr. Moran, who started his education in a one room schoolhouse, was a Dean's Honour Roll graduate of the University of Manitoba.

Jim Thorne, Food Processing (Ontario)

Mr. Thorne is President and Chief Executive Officer of Marsan Foods Limited, one of North America's leading suppliers of custom branded frozen meal solutions for the retail, foodservice, airline and healthcare markets. Marsan has been named one of Canada's 50 Best Managed companies. It has been in business since 1970 and is 100 per cent Canadian owned. Marsan has annual sales of about $75 million and 120 employees. Mr. Thorne has more than two decades of experience in the North American food business. Previously, he held senior management positions with Maple Leaf Foods, Campbell Soup Company and Nabisco Ltd. He is a graduate of Queen's University with an MBA. He is on the Board of Directors of the Food Processors of Canada. He is also the Industry Co-Chair of the AAFC's Food Processing Industry Roundtable. He has also recently agreed to co-chair the Canada - Brazil Consultative Committee on Agriculture, a mechanism established in 2006 to exchange information, facilitate trade, and promote economic and commercial cooperation between both countries.

Bill Vanderkooi, Processor, (British Columbia)

Mr. Vanderkooi is a former dairy producer, current President of Bakerview EcoDairy and CEO of the Nutriva Group, a company he founded in 2009. Nutriva Group is a multi-faceted, innovative group of agri-businesses focusing on developing and managing whole food value chains that begin with progressive, environmentally responsible farm practices and end with functional food products that embody natural nutrition innovation to improve the health and well-being of Canadians. For example, the company is working to enable dairy cows to naturally produce milk with the benefit of DHA Omega-3, a fatty acid believed to have a number of health benefits. In 2011 Mr. Vanderkooi was chosen by his peers to be the recipient of the Award of Excellence for Innovation in Agriculture and Agri-Food from the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. and the 2011 BC Food Processors Hall of Fame Innovation Award. He attended Dordt College in Iowa before going to graduate school at Michigan State University, where he earned MSc in animal science.

David Vincent, Pork, (Quebec)

Mr. Vincent is a director with the Fédération des producteurs de porcs du Québec for the Central Quebec region and a municipal councillor for the community of Sainte-Séraphine. The Fédération des producteurs de porcs du Québec represents the interests of 3500-plus pork producers in the province. Quebec's pork producers raise over 7.3 million hogs per year and generate economic benefits amounting to over $1.25 billion across the province. The pork industry in Quebec employs some 19,800 people. After growing up on his parents' farm, he is today working with the family business which specializes in pork production and also has 2,500 acres of land in production of corn and soybeans. The pork business includes 6,000 hogs and 450 sows. Mr. Vincent is a graduate of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and the environment at the MacDonald campus of McGill University.

Rick White, Canola, (Saskatchewan)

Mr. White has been General Manager of the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA) since 2008. He first joined CCGA in 2003, as the Director of Policy Development, where he was responsible for national policy development and advocacy activities of the organization. In his position, Mr. White is responsible for the overall management and operations of CCGA. Canola is a made-in-Canada success story, something the CCGA directly attributes to innovation and rapid adoption of new technology that improved profitability, sustainability and competitiveness. Mr. White has related to this message a number of Parliamentary Committees on agricultural issues. His career has seen him serve in positions with the University of Saskatchewan, the Canadian Wheat Board, Agricore Cooperative Ltd, and the Association of Manitoba Municipalities. Mr. White has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, and a Master of Science degree from the University of Saskatchewan, both majoring in Agricultural Economics. He continues to own and operate a share of the family grain farm in southeastern Saskatchewan.

Contact Information

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

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