June 12th, 2015
Agriculture has remained a staple of Canadian industries for or as long as Canada has been a nation. Canada remains as one of the largest agricultural exporters in the world, but their exclusive hold on the produce distributed throughout the country has lessened. Over the twentieth century, the proportion of the Canadian population and the GDP associated with agriculture rapidly reduced. The AgriCompetitiveness Program, amongst others, is designed to maintain a strong agricultural presence in Canada.
Of course, agriculture is still an essential element of the Canadian economy, and is centrally organized under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Under the AgriMarketing Program, a multi-million dollar initiative introduced in 2013, the agricultural industry is encouraged to develop its capacity, use assurance systems relating to food safety and traceability, and meet the necessary consumer and market demands. This is where the AgriCompetitiveness Program comes in.
The Canadian government recognizes the importance of agriculture to its economy. They want to invest in the agricultural sector so that Canadian farmers can continue to remain competitive both at home and in international markets.
One of the ways they are protecting the interests of the industry is through this new program, which runs for five years between 2013 and 2018 with a budget of $114.5 million dollars. These funds represent a combination of government initiatives and funding assigned to industry-led projects.
The AgriCompetitiveness Program uses ‘competitive’ in its title for a reason: it is designed to foster business and entrepreneurial capacity by developing leadership, networks, strategies, and innovations. It also provides venues for risk management and adapting to common challenges that are faced. Farmers can use these enhanced tools to withstand the pressures of the market and avoid setbacks.
This program is designed to increase productivity, generate growth in the industry, and create new jobs. It does so through three distinct methods of delivery:
Stream A: Facilitating Sector Capacity
This stream of the program endorses the value chain roundtables, or VCRTs. Along with the VCRTs it empowers the industry to construct and grow capacity and leadership as a combined strategic initiative.
The VCRTs are a significant forum for the government and industry to meet together to promote joint action and shared values that will meet and address shifting markets. Their collaboration extends to regulatory, science, and areas of innovation. Together they respond to changes in consumer demands, the market, and in developing international standards.
The market is difficult to predict, but by working together, the VCRTs play a pivotal role in heightening the Canadian presence in the global agricultural marketplace.
Stream B: Encouraging Business Development
The second stream of the AgriCompetitiveness Program focuses on agribusinesses. Specifically, it works to improve agribusiness profitability by developing young farmers, raising awareness for farm safety initiatives, and fostering skills for leadership at both the individual and industry level.
There is not as much funding under this stream, and the funding is directed towards not-for-profit organizations that have goals in line with the overall initiative of Growing Forward 2.
Stream C: Enabling and Supporting a Modern Regulatory Environment
This final stream is a joint industry and regulatory agency partnership. It works to increase stakeholder involvement in regulatory environments experiencing modernization efforts. It also increases grower access to up-to-date and efficient tools for pest control by means of the Minor Use Pesticides Program.
The distribution for funding is applications based. The Canadian government is using these three streams of the AgriCompetitiveness Program to assist in the expansion of the agricultural sector. This program does so by inspiring continuous growth, increased productivity, and developing new jobs.
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