Agricultural research — Critical to success

Agricultural research priorities have changed over the years in response to drivers such as political priorities, scientific progress, markets, producer needs and societal expectations. Agriculture and public research has received declining amounts of funding over the last decade with threats to key research facilities. Basic research and scientific discovery had not been a priority of the previous government, which has jeopardized the ability of Canadian producers to take advantage of new applications and associated productivity improvements. While we have seen a welcome change in direction, investing now in basic agricultural research and innovation positions the industry for continued steady growth long into the future.

A new model for innovation grounded in partnership between stakeholders, including producers and the federal government, will provide the sector with a continuous pipeline of new discoveries and applications to improve the productivity and sustainability of Canadian agriculture. There is a need to involve producers and research stakeholders in providing research policy and investment advice to the federal government.

Both the public and private sectors must also focus efforts on knowledge dissemination, knowledge translation and agricultural extension. Support for agriculture extension services is one way to promote the application of scientific research and new knowledge to agricultural practices through outreach and education. It is crucial that agricultural producers be aware of, able to access and benefit from publically supported research. Organizations that disseminate research results are encouraged to liaise closely between producers, academia and government.

Efforts should be made to track the uptake of new technologies and production methods that have been incorporated into commerce. This could be done in partnership with Statistics Canada, AAFC and industry to compile an annual compilation or identification of which technologies have been successfully applied in Canada. This crucial step will inform prioritization and funding within all stages of the research value chain.

CFA is constantly working to turn these policies into legislation on behalf of Canadian farmers.

Read about our policy goals for research in our Policy Manual

Objectives for Canadian agricultural research

Four main development stages of the research value chain:

Only by focusing funding to all of these four stages will this method be successful.