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Canada’s Opportunity

Canada has vast opportunities in the current agricultural market. The MacDonald-Laurier Institute issued a challenge to the government of Canada to reform the regulatory system, change the farm support system to foster productivity, adjust disproportionate support to small operations, and secure market access for Canadian agri-food product.

The report “Canadian Agriculture and Food: A Growing Hunger for Change” does an excellent job of explaining just why Canada has so much potential on the global market.

“Canada has both natural and accumulate advantages offering an opportunity to become the premier supplier of agricultural and agri-food products to the world. Canada has the third largest endowment of arable land per capita in the world behind Australia and Kazakhstan. However, Australia’s arable land is of relatively low quality due to poor access to water and Kazakhstan lacks infrastructure. Most of Canada’s competitors have less than half the arable land per capita than we do.

Another advantage for Canada is the quality and health of our soil. Many of the world’s soils have been badly degraded, including much of Asia and Africa where growth in food demand is occurring. These soils have lost quality, productivity, and utility due to erosion, desertifcation, and/or significant use of chemicals instead of organic matter to try to improve productivity. Canada has some of the most stable soils in the world, which constitutes another significant advantage for country.

A final natural advantage for Canada is our access to water. Much of the world faces some degree of fresh water scarcity. Like soil degradation, many of the areas in the world facing sever water water scarcity are also the areas with enormous growth in food demand. Canada is one of the few nations on the earth not to experience water shortages. Canada contains approximately 9 percent of the world’s renewable freshwater supply and our use of renewable water resources (as a percent of total resources) is very low compared to our competitors.

In addition to these natural advantages, Canada also possesses two accumulated advantages. The first is infrastructure. In a comparative sense, it is much easier for Canadians to deliver their products to markets than many of our potential competitors. In addition, Canada maintains a recognized scientific and research-based infrastructure to support the industry. The second accumulated advantage is our long history and experience with the industry. Indeed, agriculture is one of the founding industries of the nation.”

With advantages like these, it seems what Canada needs most is the leadership to capture these opportunities. Declining marketshare is an unacceptable outcome.

Robynne Anderson

Robynne has extensive experience in the agriculture and food sector, working throughout the value chain – from basic inputs to farmers in the field to the grocery store shelf. She works internationally in the sector, including speaking at the United Nations on agriculture and food issues, and representing the International Agri-Food Network at the UN.Throughout her career she has worked with farm organisations like the Prairie Oat Growers Association, the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi and the Himalayan Farmers Association, as well as global groups, to further the voice of agriculture in the food debate. She has also worked with Fortune 500 companies growing worldwide businesses to assist them with issues management and strategy decisions.

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