Minister of Agriculture launches federal programs under new CAP

As part of Canada's Ag Day celebration, Minister MacAulay announced the six federal programs that will form part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP); the Agricultural Policy Framework that will replace Growing Forward 2 in April 2018. Every five years the federal, territorial and provincial Ministers of Agriculture agree on a five year joint policy framework. Certain programs are funded and managed by the federal government, with the remainder jointly funded and established by individual provinces and territories.


Overall, the CAP identifies 3 key focus areas:

The 6 federal programs are:

  1. Growing trade and expanding markets
  2. Innovative and sustainable growth
  3. Supporting diversity and a dynamic, evolving sector.  
  • AgriMarketing
  • AgriCompetitiveness
  • AgriScience
  • AgriInnovate
  • AgriDiversity
  • AgriInsursance


Sustainable Agriculture

Both AgriScience (research funding) and Agri-Innovate (funding to demonstrate, commercialize and adopt innovative agri-food products, products or services) make explicit reference to environmental sustainability and climate change as priorities, which is a welcome focus.  However, it is unclear how those priorities will be reflected in the application and evaluation process for those funding streams, and whether sustainability will be understood narrowly as “climate-smart ag”, or whether a broader set of on-farm research and practices will be encouraged.


Agricultural Diversity

For those of us concerned about the declining numbers of farmers in Canada, one new program, AgriDiversity, may provide some much needed support. AgriDiversity is described as a program to encourage the participation of under-represented groups in agriculture, including women, youth, Indigenous peoples and people with disabilities. Specifically it’s priorities are

  • helping diverse groups to develop their skills to take a greater leadership role
  • building the entrepreneurial capacity and business skills of under-represented groups (such as Indigenous communities, youth, women and persons with disabilities)
  • facilitating the sharing of industry experience, best practices and knowledge, to help under-represented groups to manage transformation
  • strengthening the sector by incorporating the views of a more diverse set of industry players


Supporting New Farmers

Given that much of the support currently offered to new farmers (including training and access to land) is provided by small, under-resourced non-governmental organizations, this program may help to build the capacity of these vital services. Unfortunately, the funding attached to this program is up to $5 million over 5 years, a number that pales in comparison to the other federal programs announced as part of CAP.  


Despite these encouraging elements, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership as a whole continues to steer our agriculture sector and agri-food system as a whole towards a export-oriented path, with places value on growth and technology above all else.  As described in an earlier blog post on the CAP, despite talking a good game, not much has changed in our government’s approach.



For ideas and proposals on how we can being to shift our agricultural sector towards deeper sustainability, equity and renewal, check out the following resources: