New Framework Announced

Three major components of the new Growing Forward 2 framework were unveiled on Friday.

The new five-year ag policy framework will take effect on April 1, 2013.

Speaking at the Alberta Barley Commission annual meeting on Friday, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced the new AgriMarketing, AgriInnovation and AgriCompetitiveness programs.

The AgriInnovation Program is aimed at accelerating the pace of innovation in the ag sector, with one stream focused on research and development, and another on commercialization.

"This includes the much-touted science clusters that worked so well in GF1. We'll continue to build on that successful model and  have industry-driven results out of AgriInnovation," says Ritz. "Applications are up already for that."

He says the new AgriMarketing program will be an enhanced version of the program with the same name in the original Growing Forward framework.

"We'll be strengthening the Market Access Secretariat. They're basically our SWAT team. If there's a problem, these are the folks that go in and work out the science-based technical answers and so on," says Ritz. "This will help industry improve its capacity to new interests, new types of commodities that are being called for both at home and abroad."

The AgriCompetitiveness will feature directed investments aimed at helping the sector adapt to global and domestic market trends.

"This is what is going to make a difference in being able to market Canadian product. We have a tremendous story to tell, from a lighter environmental footprint to new varieties to value-added products. We just have to do a better job of focusing all of that, and that's what AgriCompetitiveness will do for us," says Ritz.

These programs account for about a third of the $3 billion worth of non-business risk management spending in Growing Forward 2.

"There's a billion dollars that will be put into these three programs over the next five years," he says. "They are federal-only initiatives, but the provinces can certainly build on that with their shared costing."

Background (courtesy Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada):

The AgriInnovation Program

The AgriInnovation Program is designed to accelerate the pace of innovation by supporting research and development activities and facilitating the demonstration, commercialization and/or adoption of innovative products, technologies, processes, practices and services.

The AgriInnovation Program supports the following industry-led streams:

- Industry-led Research and Development:

The objective of this stream is to support pre-commercialization research, development and knowledge transfer leading to innovative agriculture, agri-food and agri-based practices, processes and products. This stream may provide non-repayable contributions to approved applicants, and/or access to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientists and experts for knowledge transfer.

The stream provides non-repayable support for two types of projects:

i. Agri-Science Cluster: an agri-science cluster aims to mobilize and coordinate a critical mass of scientific expertise in industry, academia and government (referred to as a Cluster). The agri-science cluster would be national in scope.

ii. Agri-Science Project: a single research project or a smaller set of projects that would be more focused in scope than an agri-science cluster. The scope may be national, regional or local.

- Commercialization:

The objective of this stream is to facilitate the demonstration, commercialization and adoption of innovative agri-based products, technologies, processes or services, through repayable investments. Funding is designed to support and reduce the financial risk associated with late-stage activities on the innovation continuum.

The AgriMarketing Program

The AgriMarketing Program will invest in the following:

- Projects that enhance the sector’s access to international markets by differentiating and promoting Canadian products and sectors, and providing market development tools that are critical to competing in an ever-changing global marketplace; and

- Projects that help the sector develop assurance systems and standards that give Canadian products a competitive advantage through credible quality and health claims, including food safety and traceability systems.

The AgriCompetitiveness Program

The AgriCompetitiveness Program will make directed investments that will help the sector adapt to rapidly changing and emerging global and domestic opportunities and issues, respond to market trends and enhance business and entrepreneurial capacity.

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