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Innovation and Competitiveness at the House Agriculture Committee

This is a guest post by Ryder Lee, Manager of Federal and Provincial Relations at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

On April 28 Andrea Brocklebank, Executive Director of the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in Ottawa. The committee of Members of Parliament have dedicated a series of hearings to examining the issue of innovation and competitiveness in the Canadian agriculture and food sector.

Over the course of several weeks the committee will hear from many witnesses representing different parts of Canadian agriculture. These witnesses bring their views on what is needed in the area of the study. After hearing from all the witnesses, the committee generally releases a report with recommendations for government and industry. This same scenario plays out repeatedly as the standing committee examines different issues or holds hearings about legislation related to agriculture.

Committee appearances such as this are an important part of advocating for policy and program improvements for beef and cattle production and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is regularly invited to appear.

Other witnesses at the committee meeting included representatives from Crop Life Canada, Genome Prairie and the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association.

Brocklebank had three key points for the committee:

  • continued federal government support of basic and applied research programming is critical to supporting industry advancement in a sustainable manner;
  • further enhancing engagement of industry in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) decision-making regarding critical research infrastructure, staffing and programming will help to ensure the most efficient use of resources; and
  • meaningful progress in basic and applied research streams is contingent on long-term, predictable, meaningful funding commitments that are preferably 10 years in length.

The beef cattle industry has made great strides in recent years developing the National Beef Research Strategy. The strategy has informed the allocation of producer check-off funds and made the most of matching government funds for research. The recommendations for government are a continuation of the strategy and a continuation of the success of the Beef Science Clusters. The second beef science cluster is a $20 million undertaking that includes $15 million of AAFC investment matched with $5 million of industry funding focusing on applied research projects and research capacity in the areas of forage, grasslands and the environment, animal health and welfare, feed efficiency, beef quality and food safety.

Looking beyond the Beef Science Cluster projects, the CCA and BCRC will continue to work with AAFC and other research funding bodies to continue improving on Canada’s capacity for research and innovation which are key to future competitiveness.

To read Ms. Brocklebank’s full testimony, click here [PDF 208KB].

To hear an audio recording, click here, go to “Meeting 26 (April 28)”, click on the “webcast” icon, and start listening at 01:02:24.

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