Public trust in our agri-food system is key for all Canadians. The federal government needs to take a leadership role to re-establish, maintain and strengthen public trust in the sector.
Since the industrial revolution, scientific advances and technological innovations have fundamentally altered our relationship with agriculture and food. Most consumers are distanced from the processes by which their food is taken from farm to table, creating a climate of uncertainty and making space for the spread of misinformation – particularly in the age of the internet.
Now, more than ever, public trust is essential for ensuring the continued success and growth of the agri-food sector.
In recent years, the federal government has worked to address this issue through some policies (especially in traceability) and targeted investments (such as grants provided to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity).
In the first part of 2019, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food started a study on the public perception of the Canadian agri-food sector.
AIC recognizes the positive impact made by these initiatives and sees opportunities for further involvement by the federal government in improving public perception.
AIC’s position is that the federal government should take on a stronger leadership role. The intent is not for the federal government to become an advocate for the agri-food sector but rather to provide unbiased and factual information on the agri-food sector.
As such, AIC recently called on the federal government to:
- Expand the mandate of the Chief Science Advisor to help break down misconceptions, provide factual information on scientific advances in a way that Canadians can understand, and help disseminate this information on the agri-food sector. The added role should be accompanied by adequate funding;
- The federal government should play a role in promoting cohesive dialogue and information sharing within and between the agri-food sectors. Knowledge transfer on scientific advances and best practices would help create a stronger agri-food sector; and
- The federal government should help to incentivize initiatives that connect Canadians and the agri-food sector thereby enabling Canadians to further their knowledge of the agri-food system.