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AIC looks to add clout to new research policy

The group is hopeful that a Liberal promise to boost research spending will become reality.

By Alex Binkley, Ontario Farmer

The Agricultural Institute of Canada is looking for 100 organizations to support its new research policy before it presents it to the federal and provincial governments, says CEO Serge Buy.

“We’ve already lined up a bunch of groups and we’re reaching out to others,” Buy said in an interview.  He’s confident the goal will be reached before the end of November.

“We’ve received widespread support and once we’re at 100, we’ll present the plan to the new minister.  We want to demonstrate wide-spread support for our idea.”

During the Oct. 19 election campaign, the Liberals promised to add $100 million over four years to boost agriculture research and reverse the Harper government’s cuts to basic research.

“It would be a very good start,” Buy said of the Liberal promise.”  The new government has made all the right noises on agricultural research and it makes us cautiously optimistic.”

“We can always use more funding because there are many difference priorities.  We need to concentrate on developing the best science.”

AIC spent two hears consulting governments, scientists, academics, farm, and food and other organizations on the contents of the policy.  It released the policy in mid-September calling for a forward-looking approach to feeding a burgeoning global population, coping with climate change and developing alternatives to fossil fuels.

Key elements of the plan include an annual progress checklist and ongoing consultations to ensure research priorities remains relevant, he notes.

One of the fist steps that must be taken is the creation of “a national body to develop medium and long-term agricultural research priorities and strategies.” It would track what projects are being worked and point out the ones that should be.

It would look for funding from “a diverse range of sources including governments, industry and producers, as well as co-funding from other research disciplines.”

The co-ordinating body would look for research that “monitors social concerns and expectations regarding agriculture, and search for ways to meet these concerns and expectations through basic research and development of new technology.”

One change that’s needed is to support the involvement of Canadian researchers in international projects on food security and climate change challenges.

Researchers also have to pay attention to the demands of domestic and foreign consumers for more information on food production, the policy says.

The polity contains five key components for the policy and suggestions for achieving them.  They are:

  • setting long-term national goals in agricultural research;
  • better consulting all stakeholders when establishing research priorities;
  • recognizing Canada has global responsibilities in agriculture research;
  • enhancing the transfer knowledge from researchers to farmers and others;
  • providing stable and predictable financial support for both fundamental and applied research.

Access the article here.

To view the policy and contact AIC indicating your support click here.