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National Grains Strategy

(project status: completed)

In the August 2006, Agrivision invited the Department of Agricultural Economics (Richard Gray, Murray Fulton, Hartley Furtan and Kathy Lang who are all part of KIS) to sit on a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to assist in the process of developing a National Grains Strategy.

At that time, agriculture had been experiencing two decades of declining net farm incomes. Throughout the grains supply chain, most players are profitable, it is at the primary producer level where profitability is lacking. There had not been a national policy since the beginning of the 20th Century and it was felt that a national policy was needed in order to set long-term direction for the industry. Short-term ad-hoc programs were not effective in building the agriculture industry. Long-term direction for the grains industry followed by action plan items was needed.

Agrivision wanted to develop a National Grains Strategy that could be used by the government to develop policy that would assist in the sector's development over the long term.

There was a belief among members of the TAG that agriculture either needed policy to help it move to more corporate-style large farming operations or policy that would support a family farm structure.

Regional meetings held across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta invited recognized farm and agribusiness leaders to assess and analyze the issues and engage in creative thinking about new and different approaches to the grains sector. In addition to the regional meetings, a Senior Advisory Group made up of former Federal Agriculture Ministers met in October to advise on the project as well as share their wisdom and insight on agriculture policy.

These meetings were Phase I of the project and the end result was a report titled "Calling It Like It Is: Developing a National Grains Strategy" (May 2007). The report argues that the grains system was broken and that profitability could be restored only if significant systemic changes were made. Designing long-term visions for the sector and the supporting policy strategy is the key to the future well being of the sector. This will require the collective leadership efforts of the industry, governments and academic community. Phase II of this project will continue this investigation and will be titled: "Seeking Solomon - The Solution".

Phase II of the project is currently on hold. However, since the completion of Phase I a much different financial picture exists for grains and oilseeds farmers. Therefore, it would make sense to revisit and revised the recommendations in Phase I given the improved financial outlook.

For more information:
Kathy Lang 966-8419 or click to email the KIS Project
Al Scholz: Click to email Al Scholz


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