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Next Policy Framework: What is it? (PCN Winter 2017) JAN 4 2017 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Pulse Crop New

Last summer, the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Agriculture came together at a meeting in Calgary to decide upon the vision for Canada’s Next Agricultural Policy Framework. Ministers created and agreed upon this vision, which is known as the Calgary Statement, and announced it to Canadians. What is a policy framework and what does this mean for farmers, and more specifically, the pulse industry?

In agriculture, history has shown that for over 15 years the federal, provincial and territorial governments (FPT) have come together to look at common policy and program priorities that can be administered by FPT governments. Each incarnation of a policy framework has identified areas of priority that the FPT governments came together to focus on.

From the Calgary Statement, areas were identified as: Markets and Trade; Science, Research and Innovation; Risk Management; Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change; Value-Added Agriculture and Agri-Food Processing; and Public Trust. Currently, the federal and provincial governments are consulting with Canadians and industry regarding their thoughts on the specific areas of interest. What do the six areas mean to the pulse industry and what feedback is APG sharing with government?

1. Markets and Trade

The pulse industry relies upon good market development and open borders to enable trade. Canada is the largest exporter of pulses and they are shipped to more than 150 countries across the globe. The pulse industry’s current interest continues to be focused upon harmonization of maximum residue limits (MRLS), low level presence, and recognition of scientific standards across jurisdictions.

Focusing upon these areas and enabling work to evolve to address requirements for smooth entry into markets is critical to continued success for the industry. That said, trade is not possible without the consistent and reliable movement of product, and our industry feels that continuous improvement to transportation must be included in this area of the next policy framework (NPF).

2. Science, Research and Innovation

Scientific research is key to addressing issues for the pulse industry across the country. Annually, Alberta Pulse Growers applies more than 60 per cent of the producer service fees to scientific research. The pulse industry has benefited from past policy frameworks that included Agri-Science Innovation Projects where Pulse Cluster funding was provided to the industry.

These funds have addressed issues such as dry bean breeding and pea breeding for Alberta varieties, agronomic issues, food innovation and health research. The pulse industry across Canada is already preparing for the opportunity to apply for the next Cluster opportunity by confirming overarching goals and objectives and requesting the researchers across Canada to submit their research ideas for consideration.

3. Risk Management

This area is a critical component of the NPF. The past components of Agri-Insurance, Agri-Stability, Agri-Invest and Agri-Recovery are all being discussed by governments and industry as to their success, and APG is currently working with Grain Growers of Canada to deliver comprehensive feedback to the federal government regarding the current suite of programs while offering concepts for discussion related to what the next round of business risk management programs could look like.

Messages were transmitted to government that elements of current risk management programming are not working and other ideas should be considered.

4. Environmental Sustainability

The pulse industry is positioned very well to contribute a strong environmental sustainability message thanks to the nitrogen fixation abilities of the crop. In addition to primary agriculture, the environmental sustainability message can also be extended into food processing with the inclusion of pulse ingredients into food product recipes, where processors can also capture the sustainability attributes of the crop.

Where the industry could benefit within this area of focus is to look at a full cropping system and recognize value in the continuation of having pulses included in rotation and exploration of preparedness of producers to maximize their abilities to meet sustainability requirements if they choose.

5. Value Added Agriculture and Food Processing

During 2016, with International Year of Pulses celebrations, the industry encouraged food processors to learn more about pulse ingredient inclusion in food products. APG has worked with the Food Processing Development Centre in Alberta and, nationally, Pulse Canada worked with the Canadian International Grains Institute and POS to share innovation for pulse ingredient inclusion. What it means to include value added agriculture and food processing in the framework discussion is not yet known.

6. Public Trust

Recently, there has been increased discussion about building public trust to ensure farmers’ licence to operate. With the Calgary Statement, this is the first time the topic of public trust has come to the table to be included into a policy framework. While industry is unsure what this area of focus could look like, it will be interesting to discuss and debate the opportunity to envision public trust in the discussion.

Other areas where industry may be able to offer up additional comments is to open a dialogue with governments for inclusion of human resources in the next policy framework. The opportunity is to develop and address needs for a growth industry including resolution of temporary foreign workers challenges, incentives for increasing opportunities for building future scientific capacity for agricultural research and capturing other labour force opportunities.

Industry is prepared to enter into discussions with the government on the evolution of the Calgary Statement for FPT government implementation. In addition, the Alberta agriculture industry will be providing comment back to the Government of Alberta on their recommendations for how they will roll out the Alberta portion of the framework.

For now, Growing Forward 2 continues and the pulse industry is in the middle of Pulse Science Cluster 2 research but is actively working on preparations for the next policy framework.