Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
October 17, 2012
Today the Standing Committee on Finance was urged to sustain the momentum of Canada’s canola industry by supporting strategic investments and policy direction in three priority areas – research, market development and market access.
Canola Council of Canada (CCC) President Patti Miller explained to the committee the importance of addressing all three of these industry priorities in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Growing Forward II -- the next national policy framework for agriculture, agri-food and agri-products.
“Certainly, we need research to help us continually improve the productivity of the crop and the quality of our products and, in concert with the federal government, the Canola Council is leading in research and innovation – but a resilient crop and superior products do us little good if doors to global markets are closed,” says Miller.
“About 85 per cent of Canadian canola is exported. That means we need to open the doors to new markets and we need to keep them open. Without those markets, the growth of one of Canada’s most promising agricultural sector could be interrupted.”
Canola in the past two years today has put more money into farmer’s pockets than any other crop, and the industry generates more than $15.4 billion in economic activity and 228,000 Canadian jobs.
“Market Access, promotion and innovation are the key pillars of growth for canola and we are pleased that Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is pursuing these directions in Growing Forward II,” said Miller. “This leads directly to increased economic growth and jobs in Canada’s canola sector.”
But Miller says the industry and government must remain vigilant about trade barriers that could cause the industry to stumble.
The CCC is currently managing the federally-funded Canola Market Access Plan (CMAP), a $9 million program over five years aimed at addressing trade issues by building greater understanding and stronger relationships in key markets.
So far CMAP has resulted in $1.6 billion in new and maintained canola exports. The program expires in December 2013. Miller called for continued government commitment to market access initiatives under Growing Forward II.
“Trade barriers are a constant threat to our industry, so we need a sustained, proactive approach to keep borders open,” Miller said. “We need to continue to address these issues before they happen, through constant attention and education.”
Equally important, says Miller, are the two successful federally-supported programs under the original Growing Forward – a research partnership called the Canola/Flax Agri-Science Cluster, and the AgriMarketing Program.
Miller points out that Science Cluster research is already providing the industry with new knowledge that will help to increase productivity, environmental stewardship and profitability.
“We’ve come so far in just a few decades, and there is so much more we can do. With the continued commitment of the federal government to our industry, we can continue to transform that market potential into jobs and wealth for Canadians.”