As one of Canada’s most innovative industries, agriculture relies on both public and private sector research to move forward and adapt to changes in the environment, regulatory requirements, and the needs of a growing population.
Support for public sector research remains key to the future development of our industry. The public sector is where many of our ground-level breakthroughs take place, one of the most globally recognized being the development of canola, now one of Canada’s largest agricultural exports.
Recently, Canada signed on to the Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Conventions on Plant Breeders’ Rights, commonly referred to as UPOV ‘91. This brought us in line with other nations in the protection of Plant Breeders Rights and has also helped to bring significant private research investment into Canada.
Farmers are particularly concerned about the future of early stage public sector research. The industry relies on Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada which remains the largest employer of research scientists in the federal government and continues to be a catalyst in maintaining research facilities for the future of the agricultural economy. Food safety and security are part of the commitment of the federal government and it is crucial to maintain a strong public sector research program which is adaptable to the needs of the grain and oilseed sector.
Farmers’ investment in research
Grain farmers directly fund research through their check-off dollars. Most provincial crop commissions have a mandate to fund research projects and provide agronomic support to their members. In addition, organizations such as the Western Grains Research Foundation, also funded by check-off dollars, invest over $19 million annually into variety development and field crop research and are directed by farmer representatives. Such research is crucial to the industry as it ensures that contributions are being invested where growers see a need.