Mediaplanet: What is the federal government currently doing to promote an innovative Canadian agricultural sector?

Hon. Lawrence MacAulay: Cutting-edge science drives profitable and competitive farm businesses — and that’s good for our jobs and our economy. That’s why science is a cornerstone of the new Canadian Agricultural Partnership. To ensure our science is meeting farmers’ needs, we are taking a collaborative approach through our 19 AgriScience clusters, bringing farmers, government and academia together to drive innovation in a whole range of sectors, from beef to canola to pulse to grape and wine. As part of our $70-million investment to address environmental challenges, we are hiring new scientists in emerging fields of agricultural science and we are launching “living labs” — working with farmers in the field to conduct research that meets their needs.

MP: What is the Canadian Agricultural Partnership? What can Canadian producers expect from the program?

LM: The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a collaboration of the provinces, territories, and the federal government working together with farmers, industry, and other stakeholders to move Canada’s agriculture and food industry forward. A total investment of $3 billion over five years will help the sector innovate, grow, and prosper. The Partnership focuses on priorities that are critical to unleashing the sector’s growth potential, including science, trade, and environmental sustainability. Further investments by the federal government, provinces, and territories will support robust programs to help farmers manage business risk.

MP: How has the federal government been working to raise the profile of Canadian agriculture globally?

LM: Canadian farmers are focused on the world. They export about half of their production, by value, to 197 countries — that’s why agricultural trade is such a high priority for our Government. We’ve set our sights on $75 billion in agriculture and food exports by 2025. In November, I led the largest-ever trade mission to China to open new doors for our agri-food exporters, which resulted in $640 million in new sales for Canadian businesses. I’ve promoted our food in other key markets in Europe, and North and South America. Our Fall Economic Statement also helps Canada’s farmers and food processors grow their global markets and reduce non-tariff trade barriers through investments.

MP: How is the federal government working to ensure that recent trade agreements work for both our nation’s farmers and the overall economy?

LM: Trade is a high priority of our Government because it drives jobs and economic growth. In a little over a year, we have concluded three landmark trade agreements — the agreement with Canada, the United States and Mexico; the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership; and the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement with the European Union. With all of our trade agreements combined, Canadian farmers and food processors will have a competitive edge in two-thirds of the global economy.

MP: What are some of the biggest successes in Canadian agriculture today? Where do you see the Canadian industry going in the future?

LM: I’m incredibly optimistic about the future of our industry, having farmed for many years and in my position as Minister of Agriculture. Global demand is growing for the high-quality, innovative, sustainable food that our farmers and food processors can deliver. I would say that our biggest success story is innovation. From Marquis wheat in 1900 to nano-fertilizers and genomes to improve crop yields, Canada has a legacy of discovery and innovation and we will continue this legacy with the new discoveries of today which will help our industry grow sustainably and prosper into the future.