Sector Engagement Tables

The Sector Engagement Tables (SETs) are intended to create purposeful dialogue between agriculture and agri-food sector representatives and government officials to collectively advance growth and competitiveness in Canada.

This new engagement model was launched in December 2020 to replace the Value Chain Roundtables that had been active since 2003. As the sector and its operating environment evolved, so did the parameters for sector-government dialogue. The new model was informed by consultations with sector representatives and government partners.

Implementation of the model began with the creation of four thematic tables that will focus on systemic, cross-cutting issues that affect the sector as a whole:

  • agile regulations
  • sustainability
  • consumer demand and market trends
  • skills development

The model also includes Sector Advancement Tables looking at implementing solutions to systemic issues in the context of various commodity groupings. The initial work of the thematic tables is expected to inform the direction of the Sector Advancement Tables. Additional information on the Sector Advancement Tables to come.

How the tables work

All tables are led by a pair of co-chairs—one government official and one sector representative. Table membership aims to be focused but diverse, including a balance between sector associations, producers and processors across the value chain, as well as leaders from academia and fields such as technology, sustainability, and consumer research. Specific to each table, there is also participation from other federal government departments, such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada, and/or Employment and Social Development Canada; as well as provincial government representatives.

Agriculture and Agri-food Canada is committed to greater inclusion of underrepresented voices in sector discussions, both through membership on the tables as well as by exploring the creation of specific engagement mechanisms for youth, women, and Indigenous Peoples.

Each table’s activities are informed by a strategic planning process, as well as through communication with other tables within the model, and align with the following functioning principles:

  • Outcome-driven results: Clear deliverables (such as recommendations, reports or new initiatives) and progress measurement
  • Forward-facing: Actions focused on strategically advancing the sector
  • Collaborative: Focus on sector-government collaboration to advance policies and initiatives
  • Unique: Avoid duplication with other mechanisms and forums

Time-limited and issue-specific working groups will be established within the model to advance the work of the tables—supporting either an individual table or multiple tables—with the ability to bring in additional expertise from outside the membership.

A leadership table includes all SET co-chairs as well as the leads of other forums (such as the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council, Food Policy Advisory Committee), and serves as a focal point to guide the work of all tables in the SET model.

Upcoming meetings

  • Agile Regulations Table: November 16, 2021
  • Sustainability Table: November 17, 2021
  • Agile Regulations Table

    Mandate

    The agriculture and agri-food regulatory system embraces continuous improvement, striking a balance between meeting regulatory objectives and resolving irritants, while:

    • being more inclusive and sensitive to the needs of all stakeholders and the potential inequalities that may exist by improving stakeholder awareness and knowledge of the agri-food regulatory system
    • having greater and more consistent collaboration between government departments and stakeholders on regulatory development and management as well as on improving stakeholder navigation
    • being market responsive and outcome-based through better understanding cumulative and economic impacts of regulations and providing regulated parties greater flexibility for compliance; and, becoming more forward-looking by leveraging and anticipating opportunities associated with digitization and creating the enabling processes in the regulatory space by setting the conditions for developing, testing and bringing innovative products or processes to market

    Meeting highlights (table launched December 2020)

    July 13, 2021

    • The main goal of this meeting was to confirm the outcome statements and review and refine the performance measures for each of the medium to long-term key result areas and work towards finalizing the strategic plan
    • On short-term actions, first meetings of the COVID-19 Flexibilities and Regulatory Experimentation working groups are scheduled for the week of July 19; they will report on their respective deliverables
    • On longer-term strategic planning, members provided considerable input and refinement of the outcome statements and performance measurements

    June 4, 2021

    • The main focus of the meeting was to review and agree on a path forward for short-term actions and to continue progress on preparation of the medium to longer term strategic plan
    • On short-term actions, there was agreement from table members to initially focus on the lessons learned from regulatory experimentation and conducting a lessons learned of regulatory flexibilities and modifications to operations, including virtual inspections, employed during the COVID-19 pandemic
    • On the longer-term strategic planning, members continued discussions on outcome statements and performance measures for each key result area

    May 7, 2021

    • The main focus of the meeting was to finalize working groups for short-term actions and to continue the longer term strategic planning process by developing outcome statements and performance measures for each key result area
    • The short-term themes of “early work to shape regulatory experimentation” and “assessing recent flexibilities employed during COVID-19 and making them permanent” could be the first two working groups to start
    • On the long-term strategic planning process, table members will continue to refine outcome statements and performance indicators for each thematic area

    April 16, 2021

    • Building off the results of a survey completed in advance of the meeting, members discussed short and long-term priority actions for the table
    • On short-term actions, members were asked to identify: issues they want to work on; any other sector representatives not members of the table but who have expertise or may be interested in participating in a working group
    • On long-term actions, the strategic planning process will continue with the next tasks being: identifying outcomes for each theme; proposing actions and activities to meet the outcomes; and performance metrics for each identified outcome

    March 26, 2021

    • After an update from Treasury Board Secretariat on the second round of targeted regulatory reviews and from Health Canada on their regulatory activities, members noted their appreciation and requested that regulatory activity updates be a regular agenda item
    • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada committed to explore the possibility of sharing a list of recommendations submitted to Treasury Board Secretariat as part of the regulatory review of agri-food and aquaculture consultation as a resource for the table
    • The table discussed the results of the environmental scan, noting a broad range of sometimes divergent input. As a result, co-chairs proposed a two-pronged approach, focusing on some short-term actions to build momentum while moving forward with longer-term planning
    • Co-chairs asked members to consider the longer term strategic actions presented at this meeting and put forward possible short-term actions for consideration by the table.
    • The table’s next meetings will focus on determining both short and long-term actions for the table

    December 18, 2020

    • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) sought industry’s input on its policy drivers, principles, and considerations to spur innovation, growth and competitiveness, including how best to position its programs, services, and regulations to support economic recovery and enhance the sector’s resiliency
    • In early 2021, the table will receive the online questionnaire related to CFIA’s engagement exercises on competitiveness and innovation along with details concerning additional engagement sessions
    • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada provided a general overview of the process for the environmental scan that will inform the table’s strategic planning process

    December 7, 2020

    • There was general agreement regarding the proposal for the table, including its mandate and the process for developing its strategic plan to guide its activities over the next 3 to 5 years
    • In advance of the strategic planning session, context-setting information on regulatory policy development in the federal government will be shared to ensure all members are starting from a common understanding

    Members

    Co-chairs

    • Keith Mussar, External Advisory Committee on Regulatory Competitiveness
    • Steven Jurgutis, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

    Sector

    • Aimee Rae, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance
    • Andre Harpe, Grain Growers of Canada
    • Brady Stadnicki, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
    • Bruce Hardy, Myera Group and Function Four Ltd
    • Catherine Filejski, Canadian Animal Health Institute
    • Gordon Harrison, Canadian National Millers Association
    • Ian McFall, Burnbrae Farms
    • Jackie Crichton, Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition
    • John Cranfield, University of Guelph
    • Kate Docking, Fisheries Council of Canada
    • Kim O’Neil, Canadian Meat Council
    • Lee Moats, LLAMM Acres
    • Lisa Campbell, Protein Industries Canada
    • Megan Bergman, National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Council
    • Michi Furuya Chang, Food, Health and Consumer Products of Canada
    • Mike Scheffel, Canadian Seed Growers’ Association
    • Miles Kliner, Sungold Meat/North American Lamb
    • Phyllis MacCallum, Canadian Pork Council
    • Rebecca Lee, Canadian Horticultural Council
    • Sharon Mohammed, Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
    • Steve Leech, Chicken Farmers of Canada
    • Stu Porter, Renewable Industries Canada
    • Tia Loftsgard, Canadian Organic Trade Association
    • Tyler Bjornson, Canada Grains Council
    • Victor Santacruz, Canadian Nursery Landscape Association

    Federal government

    • Brett Maxwell, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Sylvie Millette LeDuc, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Luc Rivard, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Karen Reynolds, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    • William Anderson, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    • Mary-Jane Ireland, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    • Tammy Switucha, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    • Karen McIntyre, Health Canada
    • Marilena Bassi, Health Canada
    • Jason Flint, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency
    • Mark Samadhin, Public Health Agency of Canada
    • James Van Raalte, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

    Provincial government

    • Penny McCall, Federal-Provincial-Territorial Regulatory Assistant Deputy Ministers Table
    • Annie Lafrance, Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ)
  • Sustainability Table

    Mandate (still in discussion)

    The Sustainability Table will support the resilience of the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector over the long term by

    • providing a forum for ongoing and deliberative dialogue between industry, governments and other stakeholders on approaches to address environmental issues facing the sector (such as climate change, biodiversity, water)
    • supporting efforts to improve and demonstrate environmental performance within domestic and global markets, including by leveraging industry-led sustainable sourcing efforts
    • using existing tools and identifying the need for new science-based tools to increase the resilience of the sector to climate change impacts and other environmental issues

    Meeting highlights (table launched December 2020)

    March 9, 2021

    • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) updated the table on recent federal announcements related to the environment, to highlight initiatives that could have an impact on the agriculture and agri-food sector and the work of this table
    • AAFC also presented comments received on the Food Policy for Canada definition of “sustainable food systems,” as well as a draft mandate for the table, shared as part of the survey of members for the strategic planning process 
    • Members identified a number of challenges and opportunities to build the sector’s sustainability including performance measurement, education and knowledge transfer, policy coherence, and others
    • Meeting participants participated in breakout groups to discuss the top strategic opportunities for the table from the survey results. Some topics that were raised included the tracking of sustainability data, land use, biodiversity loss, industry-wide education, incentive programs (carbon offsets and clean initiatives) and connecting policy to implementation
    • Additional clarification on the scope of the table is still required and will be further addressed at subsequent meetings

    January 26, 2021

    • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) updated the table on the recent Federal Initiatives and Announcements: Speech from the Throne (September 2020), Fall Economic Statement (November 2020), Strengthened Climate Plan: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy (December 2020) and Minister Bibeau’s new mandate letter (January 2021)
    • AAFC also presented the comments received on the definition of sustainability that was shared as part of the survey of members for the strategic planning process (AAFC had proposed the definition that was included in the Food Policy for Canada)
    • Members identified a number of challenges and opportunities during breakout sessions. Additional clarification on the scope of the table is still required and will be further addressed at subsequent meetings
    • There were considerable ideas gathered with regard to challenges and opportunities facing the agriculture and agri-food sector along the following themes: benchmarking and indexing; measurement; data collection; education and information exchange; and policy coherence

    December 10, 2020

    • Members were provided with an overview of some thoughts on the table’s mandate and work plan
    • Members raised suggestions and views on potential outcomes of the table, including the importance of building on existing initiatives, using this table to guide or inform the work of the next policy framework (for example, the AgriScience Program, Clusters), and the potential of a national sustainability science cluster initiative as a successful outcome

    Members

    Co-chairs

    • Mary Robinson, Canadian Federation of Agriculture
    • Matt Parry, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

    Sector

    • Alice Feuillet, Equiterre
    • Andrew Hammermeister, Dalhousie University
    • Blaine McLeod, Dairy Farmers of Canada
    • Carmen Wakeling, Certified Organic Associations of British Columbia
    • Carolyn Callaghan, Canadian Wildlife Federation
    • Casandra Cotton, Fertilizer Canada
    • Cher Mereweather, Provision Coalition
    • Chris Anderson, Protein Industries Canada
    • Dean Dias, Cereals Canada
    • Eric Ritchie, McCain Foods
    • Erin Gowriluk, Grain Growers of Canada
    • Fawn Jackson, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
    • Ghalia Chahine, L’union des producteurs agricoles
    • Gord Kurbis, Canada Grains Council
    • Jeffrey Fitzpatrick, Cargill
    • Jennifer Lambert, Loblaws
    • Jennifer O’Donnell, BioNB
    • Monica Hadarits, Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
    • Paul Thoroughgood, Ducks Unlimited Canada
    • Rebecca Lee, Canadian Horticultural Council
    • Susie Miller, Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops
    • Tim Faveri, Maple Leaf Foods
    • Tim Kennedy, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance

    Federal government

    • Susan Martin, Environment and Climate Change Canada
    • Darlene McBain, Farm Credit Canada

    Provincial government

    • Thom Hagerty, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Consumer Demand and Market Trends Table

    Mandate

    The mandate of the Consumer Demand and Market Trends Table is to

    • better understand domestic and international consumer values, preferences, and expectations
    • identify key, value-add domestic and international consumer market trends and growth opportunities
    • identify approaches to building public trust for key consumer concerns

    Meeting highlights (table launched April 2021)

    June 22, 2021

    As part of its strategic planning process, the table identified a number of strategic challenges and opportunities:

    • Assurance/regulatory systems related to meeting consumer demand and public trust
    • Consumer engagement with performance metrics (more two-way dialogue, than information only)
    • Increasing value-added production by removing key impediments to success, such as regulatory barriers; and lack of labour and processing facilities
    • Definition of local and re-building Canada Brand Program
    • Innovation and technology — identify where the sector can participate with innovative products
    • More nimble/improved data collection (such as artificial intelligence technologies):
      • to identify evidence-based emerging trends and consumer demand as well as data on consumer behaviour versus perceptions; and
      • to collect data for the sector and consumers that enables evidence-based decision-making (such as data to support assurance systems)
    • Non-food opportunities (such as industrial bioproducts)
    • Canadian geography is vast and diverse—improved logistics, especially railways (also relates to increasing value-added production)

    May 14, 2021

    • The table finalized its mandate statement and agreed to establish an interim Steering Committee to help plan the table’s strategic planning sessions in conjunction with the facilitator
    • Through breakout groups, participants identified information needed to inform the table’s strategic planning session
    • While some of this information may be readily available, several of these information needs will likely translate into more detailed environmental scans conducted in the forum’s first year to help inform subsequent activities

    April 20, 2021

    • Members reacted positively towards the table proposal in general and shared perspectives and ideas for the table’s work, particularly in light of COVID-19 experiences. While in agreement with it, members cautioned that the mandate would need to be narrowed in order to focus on meaningful work, and a common understanding of certain key topics such as public trust would be helpful
    • Several members suggested an initial focus on domestic market opportunities, given the current situation and already healthy export numbers
    • The table will re-visit its mandate statement at its second meeting in light of the discussions at its inaugural meeting, along with responses to a survey circulated to members in advance of the table launch

    Members

    Co-chairs

    • John Jamieson, Canadian Centre for Food Integrity
    • Justine Akman, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

    Sector

    • Andrew Lively, True North Seafood
    • Blair Roth, Viterra
    • Brian Read, Kinder Foods
    • Caleigh Hallink-Irwin, Canadian Horticulture Council
    • Clinton Monchuk, Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan
    • Darlene Stein, National Sheep Network
    • Dave Carey, Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance
    • Don Holdsworth, Clearwater Seafoods
    • Erin O'Hara, CropLife Canada
    • Guillaume Pasquier, Canadian Agricultural Youth Council
    • Jana Sobey, Sobeys
    • Jennifer Woodland, Nuu-cha-nulth Seafood
    • John Cranfield, University of Guelph
    • Kevin Groh, Loblaws
    • Kevin Hachey, McCain Foods
    • Kim De Lallo, Canada Organic Trade Association
    • Lauren Van Den Berg, Restaurants Canada
    • Lisa Bishop-Spencer, Chicken Farmers of Canada
    • Mary Ann Binnie, Canada Pork Council/Canada Beef/Canadian Meat Council
    • Ryder Lee, National Farm Animal Care Council
    • Sandy Marshall, BioIndustrial Innovation Canada
    • Shelley Revering, Federated Cooperatives Limited
    • Sue Lewis, Canadian Produce Marketing Association

    Federal government

    • Jessy El-Choueiry, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Warren Goodlet, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Dominique Richer, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Donald Boucher, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    • Cindy St-Germain, Statistics Canada

    Provincial government

    • Brady Kapovic, Federal-Provincial-Territorial Public Trust Working Group
    • James Kettel, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

Other forums within the SET model

Contact us

Industry Engagement Division
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
1341 Baseline Road, Tower 5, 4th Floor
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0C5
Telephone: 613-773-1741
Facsimile: 613-773-0200
Email: aafc.roundtable-tableronde.aac@canada.ca