New federal ag program announced

Innovations like these steps in pre-commercialization research at the cereal genomics lab at AAFC in Lethbridge. Alta. are targets of the new federal agricultural investments.  |  WP file photo


Six federal programs designed to get new agriculture and food projects up and running and support the existing industry launched Feb. 13.

Lawrence MacAulay chose Canada’s national agriculture day to set the $3-billion ball rolling down a five-year lane.

Included in the federal minister’s announcement were $2 billion in federal and provincial cost-shared programs and $1 billion in purely federal initiatives.

Agriculture Canada has broken the investment into six programs: marketing, scientific development and discovery, innovation of processes and products, diversification of the participants, assurance of quality and buyer confidence and competitive advantages.

“Our government has identified agriculture and food as a key driver for our society,” he told an Ottawa press conference.

The government refers to the new programing as a partnership “ with a shared vision for our sector.”

So far only Ontario has signed on to the deal and negotiations are ongoing with the rest of the provinces and territories.

Because the new programs also replace existing agricultural development systems the government expects to sew up the arrangements by April 1.

“We didn’t want any lapses in programing in Canada, so we will be ready to go by April 1,” said the minister.

The new initiatives are open for business now and accepting applications from farmers and industry looking to enter into partnership with the government to enhance the agriculture and food industries.

In its last budget the federal government targeted $75 billion in agriculture and food exports by 2025. Currently, without seafood, Canada exports about $56 billion, seafood is about $6.6 more.

The minister suggested that meeting that goal would require a lot of “new projects and thinking from the industry.”

The new federal five-year programs:

AgriAssurance – A $74-million federal initiative to foster pubic trust through enhanced production systems that provide credible standards of quality and traceability, including auditable tools.

AgriDiversity – A $5-million program that will expand the diversity of the participants in the sector, increasing representation from women, youth, indigenous people and those with disabilities.

AgriCompetitiveness – $20.5-million for building capacity in the industry, including farmer-focused seminars on best practices, safety, business and the development of tools and activities to raise agricultural awareness.

AgriScience – $338-million towards discovery and applied science that accelerates innovation and supports pre-commercialization activities. This includes funding for research clusters and short-term projects.

AgriInnovate – $128-million for the advancement of innovative tools, products and technologies that increase competitiveness and sustainability.

AgriMarketing – $121-million towards improved global marketing by funding national industry associations’ activities or those of small and medium-sized businesses promoting their products.

The federal and provincial programs will include a $297-million initiative to grow trade, a $690 million innovation and sustainability program and a diversity project that has budgeted $166.5 million to enhance the diversity of representation in the sector and create regional programs that increase public trust in the industry.

All-told the five years of programing will target $686.6 million towards federal programs, $467 million for activities within the sector, $950 million for innovation and scientific research and infrastructure development and a further $1.2 billion from the government’s Strategic Innovation Fund.

“They are are innovating (in agriculture and food) all over the world and we have to keep up,” said MacAulay.

“Look online and see if these programs fit your business or organization. Every farmer innovates. But the world is telling us we have to deliver more… If you are not on the cutting edge you are not going to be in,” said the minister.

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