On June 9, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada hosted a national engagement session for organizations and associations representing growers and farmers affected by the Next Policy Framework to be launched in 2018. The day-long session offered participants an opportunity to express what they see as currently working and areas for improvement in the upcoming framework. The day was divided in two. Session 1 was called “Setting the Scene: State of Markets, Policies and Sectors”, and Session 2 in the afternoon was titled, “Overview of Growing Forward 2 Structure and Programming”. Each session started with a presentation followed by table discussion with AAFC staff moderating and taking notes. The notes are to be collated into a report to be used in July by AAFC in discussions about the next policy framework.
Session 1 talked about the current performance of the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector and key risks and opportunities facing the sector across areas including international trade, innovation and technology, social license, climate change and labour. In the table discussions that followed, sustainability, climate change, social license and market opportunities seemed to be the most discussed. Other issues that came up and most tables were on-farm succession planning/youth engagement, the growing middle class in Asia, and CFIA’s diminished role in terms of plant health and food inspection. The issue of labour was discussed surprisingly little.
In the afternoon the conversation focused on Growing Forward 2, namely what worked and areas for improvement. The presentation highlighted current funding allotments and asked for input on the next policy framework. Also discussed was how priorities have emerged since the launch of Growing Forward 2, namely food processing, environmental and climate change and public trust/social license.