Stakeholder Engagement on the Next Policy Framework: What We Heard To Date (2021)

Message from the Minister

Canadian farmers and food processors contribute to our economy by creating the jobs, growing the exports and driving the sustainable economic growth of our country. The pandemic has reminded us all that their work is essential to ensuring our food security.

That is why every five years over the past two decades, the federal Government, along with the provinces and territories, has engaged with farmers, food processors and other stakeholders to develop a policy framework for agriculture that aims to drive growth and open up new opportunities. These discussions help to ensure that investments by governments are targeted to programs and services that will support the advancement of the agriculture and food sector, as well as risk management.

As producers and processors, you are most aware of the challenges facing the agricultural sector, including climate change, the pandemic and the severe drought and flooding we saw in Western Canada last year. At the same time, you are resilient and continue to advance, by opening up new markets and continuing to advance in innovation and sustainable agriculture.

The current framework, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), runs until March 31, 2023. Until then, CAP continues to help the agriculture and food sector be more sustainable and innovative, and to capture new markets – while managing severe pressures brought on by the pandemic and multiple supply chain disruptions largely due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Over the past year, we have begun to set our sights on the next framework, to begin in less than a year's time. We began consultations last June, and I would like to thank everyone who took part -- you, your organizations, your peers in the sector and Canadians. Your ideas and insights, which are summarized in this report, were foundational in helping agriculture ministers to shape a shared vision for the new framework in the Guelph Statement this past November.

The conversation is just beginning. We will continue to listen to the widest possible number of stakeholders across Canada -- producers, processors, youth, women, Indigenous communities, environmental organizations, small and emerging sectors, and all Canadians.

Together, we will make Canada a global leader in with an agriculture and food sector that is sustainable at every level -- environmental, social and economic.

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, PC, MP
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Executive summary

This report offers summaries of what Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) heard during engagement activities with stakeholders and rights holders on the development of the next policy framework (NPF) in the lead up to the announcement of the Guelph Policy Statement by Federal Provincial Territorial (FPT) Ministers in November 2021.

Stakeholders and rights holders provided input through:

  • four virtual National Engagement Sessions on June 7, 9 and 15, and August 6, 2021
  • an Engagement Session with Indigenous groups on August 4, 2021
  • a Consultation with the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council and other youth organizations on August 12, 2021
  • various meetings with sector representatives
  • comments submitted by e-mail to AAFC

To date, AAFC has heard from over 200 participants from about 130 organizations

The Engagement Sessions and other discussions focused on five questions:

  • What should be the top priority for the Next Policy Framework (NPF) (2023 to 2028)?
    • What is new that needs to be considered in the NPF?
  • What are the challenges, both current and emerging, that you see creating pressure for the sector?
    • How can the NPF best advance Canada's environmental and sustainability goals?
  • What is working well with the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) and where can improvements be found?
  • By 2028, if you were to achieve two or three main outcomes under the NPF, what would those be?
  • Other thoughts regarding the NPF?

This report describes what was heard during the consultation process up to December 31, 2021, which informed priority areas discussed by FPT officials and the development of the Guelph Statement. The feedback received represents the first step in the consultation process for the NPF. Ongoing engagement with Canadians and the sector will be critical as FPT governments continue to develop policies and programs for the next framework. AAFC will continue its consultations by seeking input from the sector and interested Canadians through engagement sessions and other meetings with industry representatives in 2022.


In preparation for the development of Canada's next policy framework, FPT governments undertook a series of consultations with Canadians and the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based processing sector (the sector). Beginning in early 2021, efforts were made to engage Canadians and the sector in seeking their ideas for the NPF, understand their experiences under the current CAP, and more specifically gather their perspectives on priorities and outcomes for the NPF.

Consultation to date has occurred through five principal engagement mechanisms (more detailed information can be found in the annexes of this report):

1. National Engagement Sessions

On June 7, 9 and 15, and August 6, 2021, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) held virtual sessions with industry associations. The objective of these sessions was to seek feedback from producers, processors, retailers, youth, women in agriculture, Indigenous communities, and environmental organizations on their priorities for the NPF, opportunities and challenges facing the sector and their experiences with CAP.

2. Engagement Session with Indigenous groups

On August 4, 2021, AAFC held a virtual session with 17 participants from 16 Indigenous organizations. The objective of this session was to seek Indigenous priorities for the NPF, perspectives on opportunities and challenges in the sector and experiences with CAP.

3. Consultation with the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council and other youth organizations

On August 12, 2021, AAFC held a virtual session with 38 participants from the Canadian Agricultural Youth Council and 11 other youth organizations. The objective of this session was to seek youth priorities for the NPF, perspectives on opportunities and challenges in the sector and experiences with CAP.

4. Other meetings with sector representatives

Since early 2021, 14 consultations were held with a variety of producer, processor and other organizations involved in the sector.

5. Comments submitted by e-mail

Since early 2021, AAFC has been inviting Canadians to submit written feedback on the NPF. On June 7, 2021, AAFC launched the NPF consultation webpage, also inviting Canadians to share their ideas on the NPF. AAFC has received 27 written submissions to date from organizations offering their recommendations for the NPF, their perspectives on opportunities and challenges in the sector and their feedback on CAP.

Feedback and suggestions captured through these for a provide valuable perspectives and information that helped to inform the Guelph Statement, which was released following the annual conference of FPT Ministers of Agriculture on November 8 to 10, 2021.

In addition to these federal activities, provinces and territories conducted their own engagement on the NPF and have provided AAFC with the results of these consultations.

What We Heard To Date

Connections among priority areas

Stakeholder and rights holder discussions identified many connections between economic objectives, environmental sustainability, markets/trade and science/innovation priorities, as well as social issues (for example, labour, public trust). A few examples included:

  • Sustainability involves environmental considerations, but also extends to market and trade conditions, science, innovation and workforce capacity, and many of these areas often work together to achieve competitiveness;
  • Environmental practices in the sector have economic benefits, including renewable energy generation and efficiencies/waste reduction;
  • Sustainability and innovation go together and come in many different forms;
  • Environmental considerations are often a feature of local food production and are becoming more of a factor in international trade agreements;
  • Environmental sustainability throughout the supply chain (for example, packaging) is also a consideration;
  • A strong and dynamic food system should meet production, export, and security goals;
  • Public trust is linked to environment, not confined to the social realm; and
  • Stimulating local economic development and sustainable rural livelihoods, including for migrant workers and Indigenous communities.

It was also remarked that agriculture is becoming increasingly connected to other sectors, including as a solution to many issues (for example, energy/clean fuels, innovation and investment connecting other ecosystems, climate change, water management, soil quality).

Overall comments on the NPF

Overall feedback endorsed the need for consistency across agricultural policy frameworks, including maintaining support for the economic competitiveness, productivity and the long-term growth of Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector. Agricultural priorities were often labelled as long-term, with any significant changes to priorities and programs under future frameworks viewed as disruptions to the sector; however, some CAP priorities could be expanded or modernized. Additional, overall comments included:

  • Ensuring top priority considerations are forward-looking, focused on environmental sustainability, market development, and innovation.
  • Advancing proactivity in policy and program design.
  • Simplifying program guides and streamlining application processes.
  • Enhancing program access for small farms and organizations, aquaculture, non-food production (for example, fiber crops, hemp) and food processing.
  • Increasing overall funding for the NPF to respond to evolving challenges faced by the sector, as well as take on additional or expanded priorities.

It was noted that the list of issues has grown since past frameworks and there is acknowledgment that some are not within the traditional mandate of FPT ministries of agriculture (for example, labour, food security). While there is some eagerness to take on new priorities, or a perception that there is a need to adapt to changing conditions, there are also recommendations to either increase the total funding for the NPF, or focus on fewer areas to avoid spreading the budget too thin, including potentially limiting capacity to measure and report on results.

Environmental sustainability and climate change

The environment was discussed as the biggest challenge or risk, a critical area needing sectoral approaches and to devote research and innovation efforts. Several participants also saw evolving trade dynamics surrounding environmental policies to be a risk. Many recommended that producers, processors, stakeholders and rights holders be involved in developing new environmental initiatives, as well as in defining sustainability in the sector. Also noted was the need to support producers and processors with implementing new or additional environmental practices, including keeping up with evolving regulations.

While there was general agreement on its importance, there were a range of differing perspectives on the environment and climate change including, for example, the need for environmental goals similar to other sectors; incorporating environmental considerations or best practices into food production activities; and recognizing the need to support the sector in pursuing environmental goals in the framework, but some concern around funding exclusively through the NPF. Discussions were far ranging, but pointed to the need for this to be addressed as a key priority in the NPF.

Markets and trade

Market development was often mentioned as a key priority, including the need to focus on food production, develop markets for agricultural commodities and value-added products, and encourage investment in the sector. Canada's reputation for high quality food needs to be maintained throughout the NPF. Markets and trade were frequently raised topics, with participants highlighting that pressures that have grown (for example, geopolitical risks, rising input costs) and barriers remain (for example, interprovincial trade) that producers and processors need to overcome to seize opportunities that present themselves in export and domestic markets.

Finding efficiencies, including increased technology adoption, lowering the costs of production, and having sufficient access to labour, were all mentioned as elements necessary to being more competitive in international and domestic markets. There were also some recommendations to better publicize Canada's regulations and increase industry standards to help improve trade dynamics.

International and domestic trade were about equally discussed. While some participants were eager to expand international markets, some were just as ambitious to develop domestic markets. While the need to maintain beneficial trade agreements towards Canada's export goals was seen as critical to competitiveness, domestic markets were also seen as being critical to improve food security and create job opportunities.

Value-added/ food processing

There were several calls to accelerate value-added production, noting that it does not make sense to ship Canadian products away for processing and buy them back, as well as the highlighting the opportunities for Canada to expand its export markets.

Food supply chain

The food supply chain was mentioned in terms of risks and desires for greater efficiencies, productivity and competitiveness. As some issues during the pandemic were noted, there were suggestions for enhanced or targeted support of supply chains, including at the abattoir, food processing and regional/provincial levels.

Science and innovation

Many noted the need to continue or improve existing progress in Canada to remain productive and competitive, expand funding towards current challenges and opportunities (for example, climate change, value-added production), and be more collaborative, including information-sharing within the sector as well as with other sectors. Some pointed out that less innovation and technology compared to global competitors puts Canada at a disadvantage and causes reliance on labour to compensate. Others raised lack of broadband internet as being an issue which limits communications in rural communities, including access to data and data management, which are key to farm management decisions. Both high- and low-tech can assist in moving the sector forward. Technology should be more accessible to farmers, as should information on appropriate technology adoption and its benefits, depending on farm business and other production factors. Recommendations also included further developing rural infrastructure and a continued emphasis on research and innovation, both in terms of ensuring science-based decision making and enabling market opportunities.


There was some concern over ensuring that regulations evolve with advancements (for example, markets, science, environmental), and not constrain growth. Regulations and policies could also be better aligned (for example, fostering a culture of innovation). Regulations should both meet the economic needs of the sector and the public good.

Some recommended more support to help small farms and organizations adapt to new regulations, while a major barrier encountered by many Indigenous businesses has been regulatory. The lack of a viable, accessible pathway for traditional foods to be sold commercially is a major economic hurdle to communities leveraging lands and rights that they already possess and using them for economic development and sources of income.


Labour was mainly discussed in terms of shortages, and the need for promoting agricultural careers to youth, new entrants to the sector and under-represented groups, as well as increasing succession planning as a means of renewing rural communities. A few mentioned automation/innovation as possible solutions (that is, decreasing total job vacancies, but offering skilled job positions), while young farmers proposed raising awareness of the range of careers across the sector and supporting new entrants from outside the sector with information on available programs and funding for training and equipment.


Other recommendations included increasing access for women, youth and under-represented groups to land and farming supports. There were calls for skills training, agricultural advisory services and partnerships between Indigenous communities and post-secondary/research institutions, and funding for Indigenous People. Moreover, non-formal education was also recognized as important, such as preserving and transmitting Indigenous knowledge concerning agriculture and the environment.

Data, program results and performance measurement

Responses reflected on the importance of performance measurement and transparency, noting that a greater ability to access the results of programming would help them with business decisions and thus recommend that more data and program results be made publically available.

Performance measurement recommendations ranged from calls for clearer targets, to provincial/territorial flexibility on targets, to overall strong focus on results measurement without necessarily requiring prescriptive targets.

Public trust, awareness and collaboration

Securing public trust in the agriculture and agri-food sector was viewed as important by participants. Public trust ideas were repeatedly explored around more collaboration (for example, among sectors across the economy, between government and industry, and others across the supply chain) to better tell the story of the work being done throughout the agriculture and agri-food (for example, to increase public awareness on where food comes from, dispel myths about the sector, highlight where the sector is presently taking environmental action), which would in turn serve to improve food education, sustainability and labour issues.

How CAP is working

There was general endorsement of the CAP objectives and continuing with these into the future. Responses to the question “what is working well with the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) and where can improvements be found” indicated a critical need for continuing framework investments in the sector, with some desires to increase funding for Business Risk Management programs, streamline application and administrative processes, and enhance information sharing to enable the wider sector to learn from program and project results. For example, AgriMarketing, AgriScience research clusters and support for the supply managed sectors were seen to be currently working well. While the recent changing of the reference margin limit on AgriStability was well-received, the program could be expanded to better assist all commodity groups and simplify its administrative processes.

Federal programming was seen as an important way to provide targeted support to the sector in adverse circumstances (for example, drought, floods), as well as in important areas such as market access and innovation. A desire for more flexibility in programs to respond to changes in market conditions and related challenges experienced by the sector was expressed by some. While some indicated that flexible FPT cost-shared programs are key to addressing regional needs, others indicated that national administration facilitates consistent program delivery. Desired areas of collaboration between FPT governments include support for competitiveness, sustainability, public trust.

A desire for more equitable program access was discussed for smaller organizations that may be at a disadvantage to larger organizations in terms of economic return and other considerations when applying for funding, as well as for aquaculture, hemp and food processing.

Application and agreement processes sometimes create a greater burden for small farm operations and non-profit organizations. Program refinements were also requested, such as advance notice of intake periods enabling prospective applicants to better plan their project proposals, including time-sensitive elements, and more flexibility to move funds from one fiscal year to another.

It was acknowledged that programs are generally easy to navigate for experienced farmers, but for young or new farmers they can be challenging to navigate, access and obtain funding. Often it depends on which province is administering the program in question.

Future engagement

This report describes what was heard during the consultation process which informed the creation of the Guelph Statement. AAFC will continue its consultation seeking input from the sector and interested Canadians, which will include targeted engagement focusing on the priority areas outlined on the Statement.

A number of engagement activities will be used to achieve this objective, including:

1. National Engagement Sessions

National Engagement Sessions will be planned to solicit feedback from stakeholders on the priorities identified in the Guelph Statement. Information on the sessions will be communicated to the sector and through the NPF consultation website: Share ideas: Next Agricultural Policy Framework.

2. Other meetings with sector representatives

FPT governments and officials will continue to meet with the sector in a variety of settings during the development of the next policy framework, including targeted sessions with youth and Indigenous groups. These meetings will provide valuable feedback on the direction and priorities being considered.

3. Comments submitted by e-mail

Canadians will be invited to submit their feedback on the Guelph Statement through the NPF consultation website: Share ideas: Next Agricultural Policy Framework.

Annex A: Industry, Indigenous groups and Youth at the Engagement Sessions

Organizations that participated in the virtual National Engagement Sessions, Engagement Session with Indigenous groups, and Youth Consultation include:

Environmental organizations

  • Ducks Unlimited (Canada)
  • Équiterre
  • Farmers for Climate Solutions

Financial institutes

  • Credit Union Central of Canada

Industry associations

  • Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick
  • Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan
  • Alberta Federation of Agriculture
  • British Columbia Agriculture Council
  • British Columbia Blueberry Council
  • Canada Grains Council
  • Canada Mink Breeders Association
  • Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance
  • Canadian Bison Association
  • Canadian Canola Growers Association
  • Canadian Cattlemen's Association
  • Canadian Cervid Alliance
  • Canadian Federation of Agriculture
  • Canadian Forage and Grassland Association
  • Canadian Hatching Egg Producers
  • Canadian Honey Council
  • Canadian Horticultural Council
  • Canadian Nursery Landscape Association
  • Canadian Organic Growers Association
  • Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance
  • Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council
  • Canadian Pork Council
  • Canadian Sheep Federation
  • Canola Council of Canada
  • Cereals Canada
  • Chicken Farmers of Canada
  • Fertilizer Canada
  • Flax Council of Canada
  • Flowers Canada Growers
  • Grain Farmers of Ontario
  • Grain Growers of Canada
  • Keystone Agricultural Producers (Manitoba)
  • National Cattle Feeders' Association
  • National Sheep Network
  • Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture
  • Ontario Federation of Agriculture
  • Organic Federation of Canada
  • Prairie Oat Growers Association
  • Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture
  • Pulse Canada
  • Seed Corn Growers of Ontario
  • Territorial Agrifood Association
  • Turkey Farmers of Canada
  • Yukon Agricultural Association

Industry development

  • Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council
  • Canadian Agricultural Safety Association
  • Farm Management Canada
  • Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec/ Union des producteurs agricoles
  • Food Processing Skills Canada
  • National Farmers Union

Indigenous groups

  • Anishinabek Nation
  • Assembly of First Nations
  • Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
  • Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations
  • First Nation Growers
  • First Nations Agriculture Association of British Columbia`
  • Indigenous Services Canada
  • Indigenous Works
  • Manitoba Metis Federation
  • Metis Nation British Columbia
  • Metis Settlements General Council
  • National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association
  • Native Council of Prince Edward Island
  • Okanagan Band
  • Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation
  • Wiikwemkoong Agricultural Resources Program

Producers/ processors/ consultants

  • Agriculture, Food and Regulation Consulting
  • Agrinomics I.T. Consulting Ltd.
  • AGT Foods
  • Ashwell Group/AACG
  • Boxall Agri Farms
  • Cargill Canada
  • Ingredion Canada
  • T Bjornson & Associates Consulting

Processing associations

  • Canadian Beverage Association
  • Canadian Bottled Water Association
  • Canadian Veal Association
  • Dairy Processors Association of Canada
  • Food and Beverage Canada
  • Food Processors of Canada
  • Pet Food Association of Canada
  • Wine Growers Canada

Research/ innovation/ policy influence

  • Agriculture Institute of Canada
  • Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute
  • Canadian Beef Breeds Council
  • Canadian Cattle Identification Agency
  • Canadian Centre for Swine Improvement
  • Canadian Grain Commission
  • Canadian International Grains Institute
  • Canadian Livestock Genetics Association
  • Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre
  • CropLife Canada
  • Farm Credit Canada
  • Food Secure Canada
  • Institute of Agri-Food Policy Innovation
  • Inter Pares
  • National Farm Animal Care Council
  • Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission

Retailers/ consumers

  • Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions
  • Food & Consumer Products of Canada
  • Retail Council of Canada


  • Canada Organic Trade Association
  • Canada Pork International
  • Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance
  • Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance
  • Canadian Produce Marketing Association
  • Canadian Swine Exporters Association
  • Soy Canada (formerly Canadian Soybean Exporters Association)

Young farmers

  • Alberta Young Farmers and Ranchers
  • Canadian Agricultural Youth Council
  • Canadian Young Farmers Forum
  • Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers' Program
  • Cattlemen's Young Leaders
  • Chicken Farmers of Canada Young Farmers Program
  • Junior Farmers Association of Ontario
  • La fédération de la relève agricole du Québec
  • Saskatchewan Young Ag Entrepreneurs / Agriculture in the Classroom
  • Syndicat de la relève agricole de l'Estrie
  • Young Agrarians
  • Young Cattlemen's Council

Provincial/ territorial observers

  • Alberta - Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
  • Manitoba - Agriculture and Resource Development
  • Newfoundland and Labrador - Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture
  • Ontario - Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Québec - Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation
  • Saskatchewan - Ministry of Agriculture

Annex B: Overview of written submission results

Throughout the consultation process, AAFC has been inviting Canadians to submit written feedback on the NPF. The NPF consultation webpage launched on June 7, 2021, has also been inviting Canadians to share their ideas on the NPF.

As well as written feedback from individuals, AAFC has received written submissions from 27 organizations offering recommendations for the NPF to date.

Written submissions from organizations to date:

  • Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan
  • Beef Farmers of Ontario
  • British Columbia Agriculture Council
  • Canada Organic Trade Association Alliance
  • Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance
  • Canadian Canola Growers Association
  • Canadian Cattlemen's Association
  • Canadian Federation of Agriculture
  • Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance
  • Canadian Horticulture Council
  • Canadian Young Farmers' Forum
  • Cereals Canada
  • Chicken Farmers of Canada
  • Egg Farmers of Canada
  • Équiterre
  • Farmers for Climate Solutions
  • Grain Growers of Canada
  • Groupe multiconseil agricole Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean
  • National Cattle Feeders' Association
  • National Sheep Network
  • Prairie Oat Growers Association
  • Producteurs de Grains du Québec
  • Producteurs et productrices acéricoles du Québec
  • Union des producteurs agricoles
  • Vineland Research and Innovation Centre
  • Young Agrarians
  • Young Cattlemen's Council