Investments in agricultural science and innovation help create better opportunities for farmers and Canadians

OTTAWA, April 12, 2017 /CNW/ - The agriculture and agri-food sector is a key driver of the Canadian economy, supplying 1 in 8 jobs, and is a trusted global leader of safe, nutritious, and sustainable food.

Agricultural discoveries in science and innovation play an integral role in the overall competitiveness of the agriculture sector and create better opportunities for farmers, businesses, and Canadians.

Today, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, and Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, highlighted the Government of Canada's investments in scientific agricultural research during a tour of the AAFC Ottawa Research and Development Centre.

Budget 2017 proposes to invest $70 million over six years, starting in 2017–18, to further support agricultural discovery science and innovation. The focus of this research will be on addressing emerging priorities, such as climate change and soil and water conservation.

This investment builds on the Budget 2016's $30 million commitment over six years for advanced research to mitigate biological threats to agriculture.

Minister MacAulay highlighted these combined investments of $100 million, along with other funds committed in Budget 2017 that will boost innovation in Canada, and help the agriculture sector be more competitive and sustainable. This includes setting an ambitious target to grow agri-food exports to at least $75 billion annually by 2025. This is all part of the Government's plan to create good jobs and grow the middle class.

Quotes

"Science is the cornerstone of the Government's plan to create good jobs in the agri-food sector and to grow the middle class. Our commitment to funding cutting-edge agricultural research will help farmers grow the economy, feed a growing population, protect the environment and combat climate change."
Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

"To be successful in the highly competitive global economy, Canada must continue to strengthen its approach to performing world-leading research and generating new breakthrough ideas. In this context, the Government has an important role to play in advancing science, research and innovation, the pillars of strong economies."
Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

Quick Facts:

  • Canada is the world's fifth-largest exporter of agriculture and food products, and contributes over $100 billion annually to Canada's gross domestic product (GDP). The agriculture and agri-food industry employs 2.2 million Canadians.
  • Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, provides leadership in the growth, development and sustainability of the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector.
  • Scientists at AAFC's 20 research centres across the country work on projects that benefit Canadian farmers, industry and Canadians.

Additional links

BACKGROUNDER

Digitalization and Genomic Project:

Budget 2016 committed $30 million over six years to support advanced research to mitigate biological threats to agriculture.

The funds are being used to purchase specialized equipment, renovate laboratories, and hire staff in order to digitize specimens from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada's current physical collections, which contain over 19 million species of insects, plants, fungi, bacteria, and nematodes. Genetic data will be generated for specimens that pose the highest risks to agriculture and biodiversity so that they can be more easily identified and tracked.

By digitizing the collections and having them accessible to the general public, farm groups, universities, and other government departments and agencies, Canada and the agriculture sector will be better positioned to prevent invasive species entering or exiting Canada. It will also enable producers to identify and manage pests more effectively, and to have a better understanding of how species are migrating due to changing climates.

QUICK FACTS on Science Making a Difference:

  • AAFC scientists discovered a new way to treat blueberries against blueberry maggot in a tenth of the time it would normally take while still ensuring consumers get quality fruit.
  • AAFC researchers developed a new variety of wheat that is resistant to fusarium head blight, a disease that costs $1.5 billion in lost income to farmers since the mid-1990s.
  • In order to adapt to climate change, AAFC scientists recently discovered a gene that makes alfalfa plants more drought tolerant.
  • By using genetic and molecular testing, AAFC scientists were able to correctly identify that Canadian yellow peas did not contain a destructive worm. This discovery improved access to key markets and increased the profitability for growers and exporters.
  • Historical specimen records in the Canadian National Collection of Invertebrates were essential to developing a model of the potential distribution of the invasive bronzed blossom beetle, a threat to Canada's $19.3 billion canola industry.
  • AAFC researchers are helping to develop a new precision feeding system for pigs. Using this feeding technique could result in saving $8 to $12 per pig in terms of reduced feeding costs and reduce excretions of phosphorous and nitrogen by nearly 40%.

QUICK FACTS on Budget 2017 Agricultural Highlights:

  • Budget 2017 clearly recognizes that Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector is an important driver of economic growth.
  • The Budget's Innovation and Skills Plan sets an ambitious target to grow agri-food exports to at least $75 billion annually by 2025.
  • Budget 2017 supports the implementation of the Next Federal-Provincial-Territorial Agricultural Policy Framework.
  • Budget 2017 highlights include:
    • investment of $70 million over six years to further support agricultural discovery science and innovation;
    • creation of a new $1.26 billion five year Strategic Innovation Fund that will improve access to support for agri-food value-added processors;
    • investment of $950 million in innovation superclusters to enhance Canada's global competitiveness by focusing on innovative industries, including agri-food;
    • investment of $200 million over four years to support clean technology in Canada's natural resources sectors; and,
    • investment of $80 million for a new world class plant health research facility.

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SOURCE Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

For further information: Guy Gallant, Director of Communications, Office of the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, 613-773-1059; Media Relations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 613-773-7972, 1-866-345-7972

RELATED LINKS
www.agr.gc.ca

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