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Agriculture research reaps rich harvest for economy

By Agriculture Minister Lawrence Macaulay      

One of my priorities as minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is to promote and support a sector that delivers healthy and innovative food grown in sustainable ways to Canadians and global consumers.

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Fuelled by ingenuity, the Canadian agriculture and food industry not only feeds Canadians and the world, but is also a key economic driver in Canada, generating one in eight jobs, more than $50-billion in exports, and more than $100-billion of our gross domestic product. Thanks to our world-class farmers and processors, and to our scientific achievements in agriculture, our country is recognized globally for its high-quality, diverse and innovative agriculture and food products.

Canada’s scientists help our farmers stay on the leading edge of agriculture with new crop varieties that boost yields, resist disease, and deliver better nutrition— and by offering new technologies that support farmers in their sustainable agricultural practices.

Just last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame’s award ceremony in Regina, Sask. Each year, the Hall of Fame honours Canadians for their outstanding contributions to our agriculture and food industry. Dr. Ron DePauw, recently retired scientist from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), was recognized for his achievements in developing many new wheat varieties that have had an incredible impact on wheat production across the Prairies.

One of my priorities as minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is to promote and support a sector that delivers healthy and innovative food grown in sustainable ways to Canadians and global consumers.

It’s great to see that on the environmental front, AAFC researchers are involved in soil, water, climate change and greenhouse gas research. Holos, a new Canadian-developed software program, estimates greenhouse gas emissions based on information entered for individual farms. This will benefit farmers by helping them put in place management practices to reduce emissions from their operations.

Boosting the productivity and sustainability of Canadian agriculture will be critical to feeding a growing global population, requiring the world’s farmers to increase production by 60 per cent by 2050. In Canada, we have the responsibility—and the ability—to meet this growing demand.

A big part of Canada’s continued success in agriculture will rely on new investments in innovation, new discoveries and a strong commitment by government to sound and transparent science. That includes making use of modern biotechnology and the newest techniques to develop new crop varieties that are more productive and that consume fewer resources.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said, “I believe very much in evidence-based decision making and in the skill and wisdom of Canadian scientists. Success of Canadian agriculture has always been linked to robust scientific research and the practical application of the brainpower gained from that research. There are some challenging dimensions to GM crop production. Some consumers here in Canada and elsewhere are seeking reassurance about the validity of our science and its products … such issues need to be squarely addressed on the basis of sound science and transparency.”

Canada’s commitment to sound science-based regulatory decisions is essential for an innovative and competitive Canadian agricultural sector. This approach has served Canada well, as demonstrated through the high degree of confidence in the Canadian agriculture and agri-food system, both domestically and internationally. Over the years, Canada has been able to lead by example, and has successfully advocated against the adoption of trade restrictions on agricultural products that were not based on science. This has supported a more transparent and predictable trading environment for our agricultural exporters, enabling them to respond to the increasing international demand for safe, top quality food.

All of this speaks to the tremendous impact of science on the overall well-being of the sector and on the ability of farmers and processors to do what they do best—deliver the safest, highest quality food to Canadians and our global customers.

I’m excited to be part of this dynamic and innovative sector, and look forward to delivering on my mandate to support Canada’s agricultural sector in a way that allows it to be a leader in job creation and innovation.

All of this will be done in close consultation with the entire sector, “from gate to plate.” I will continue to reach out to farmers, food processors and the rest of the industry to chart the best way forward for Canada’s agriculture and food industry.

We will continue to look to science to bring real results for our farmers, consumers, and the economy.

Lawrence MacAulay is Canada’s minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

news@hilltimes.com

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