SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Esmeralda Swartz, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Glenn Rossman, Pat Romanski

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Minister Ritz Welcomes First Meeting of Agri-Innovators on Innovation and Growth

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 11/30/12 -- Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz welcomed the first meeting of the new Agri-Innovators' Committee today. Announced by the Harper Government in September to complement the renewed focus of Growing Forward 2 on innovation, the Agri-Innovators Committee will begin discussions on key areas of focus for advancing innovation in the agricultural sector.

"Innovation has shown it helps increase productivity, reduce costs, and advance sustainability in the agriculture sector-a sector that helps create jobs and economic growth for Canada," said Minister Ritz. "The work of this committee will be integral in providing industry advice and expertise to ensure investments made by governments generate the results and returns needed by Canadian producers and processors in a global economy."

The Committee is the first national body to provide advice to the Minister on agricultural innovation. The Committee comprises successful innovators with a broad range of expertise and skills, representing many agricultural sectors from across Canada.

"As co-chair of this new committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the sector to explore ways to ensure the long-term prosperity of the sector," said Travis Toews, Co-chair of the Agri-Innovators' Committee and former President of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association. "This committee will provide a useful forum for experts in the industry to share our experiences and engage in discussions on how to enable competitiveness and productivity through innovation."

A number of food processors and producers on the Committee have also been invited to attend the Agri-Processors/Producers' Summit in Toronto on November 30, where they will discuss opportunities to enhance innovation and improve the efficiency of the supply chain. The Summit is a joint initiative by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Backgrounder

Terms of Reference - Agri-Innovators' Committee

1. INTRODUCTION

Canadian producers are well positioned to take advantage of expanding opportunities in domestic and global markets. Agricultural policy in Canada is being fundamentally transformed with an increased focus on proactive and strategic investments. A critical element of this transformative agenda is prioritized funding for activities along the innovation continuum that will increase productivity, reduce costs, and advance sustainability. Greater government-industry-academic collaborations will drive new areas of scientific discovery based on the required applied science, technology and development, and knowledge transfer activities. This will ultimately lead to the development, commercialization, and adoption of new products, processes, technologies, and practices throughout the sector. A broad cross section of expertise on the innovation needs of the sector will be necessary to ensure that innovation investments lead to results for the sector and positively impact farmers' returns. Further, coordinating the efforts of various stakeholders within the Canadian agri-innovation system is key to efficiently and adequately address the needs of the sector. The Agri-Innovators' Committee (the Committee) is being established as an important means of acquiring such industry input.

2. MANDATE

The Agri-Innovators' Committee will advise the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food on issues consistent with the Minister's responsibilities and relevant to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) mandate and priorities. The Committee will provide advice on various aspects of innovation for the sector, with a view to accelerating the development and adoption of innovation to make the sector more profitable, competitive, and sustainable.

3. RESPONSIBILITY


--  It is proposed that the Committee focus on innovation for the sector and
    provide the Minister and the Department feedback and advice on issues
    relating to innovation in the sector, including, but not limited to: 

    --  key objectives under AAFC's Growing Forward 2 (GF2) policy and
        programs framework: 
        --  positioning Canada as a world leader in agricultural innovation
            investment; 
        --  helping the sector become more competitive in domestic and
            international markets; and 
        --  facilitating adaptability and sustainability for the sector. 
            
            
    --  maximizing support for innovation in the sector (including financial
        support, infrastructure changes, knowledge transfer, science and
        research);
        
        
    --  AAFC's innovation frameworks and strategies; 
        
        
    --  mechanisms for collaborating, communicating, and consulting with
        stakeholders, other government departments, provincial-territorial
        governments, academia, and industry to address current and future
        needs and gaps (e.g., ensuring regulatory frameworks do not inhibit
        innovation) as well as the appropriate roles and responsibilities of
        various stakeholders and how to integrate them within a coordinated
        innovation system. 

--  The Committee will consider issues presented by the Minister and the
    Minister may direct the Committee to consider and provide advice on any
    issue consistent with the mandate of the Committee. That advice may be
    provided in writing or verbally, depending on the preference of the
    Minister. The advice provided will not be binding on AAFC or the
    Government of Canada. 

--  Members can request briefings from the Department in relation to any
    issue within the mandate of the Committee. 

4. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE MINISTER AND CO-CHAIRS


--  The industry co-chair, in consultation with the AAFC co-chair, will
    prepare a general work plan for the Committee to respond to the
    Minister's request for advice. 

--  The co-chairs and Minister will meet, when there is mutual agreement
    that a meeting is required, and the co-chairs will ensure that the
    Minister has the opportunity to meet with the Committee annually. 

5. COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP


--  The Minister shall name an advisory committee of no more than 15
    members, excluding ex-officio members. 

--  The advisory committee will endeavor to include no more than one
    representative from each province and/or territory and to have a
    balanced regional representation of various commodities and/or sectors. 

--  Members will serve for a term not exceeding two (2) consecutive years. 

--  Members of the Committee will serve as individuals and not as
    representatives of organizations or interest groups. Members are
    expected to contribute their own expertise, experience, and good
    judgement when providing analysis and advice. 

--  The Minister may renew the terms of appointment of any member for one or
    more further terms to a maximum duration of appointment within the five
    (5)-year framework (2013-2018). 

--  The Minister may name any person with relevant knowledge or experience
    to the Agri-Innovators' Committee, including but not limited to persons
    from the agriculture and agri-food sector and from the research and
    academic community. 

--  The Minister shall name one member of the Committee as co-chair
    representing the sector, and AAFC's Deputy Minister will act as a co-
    chair. 

6. MEETINGS


--  It is expected that the Committee will meet in person two to three times
    a year. The co-chairs may determine the time and place at which the
    Committee will meet and the scheduling of any additional meetings,
    including teleconferences. 

--  Meeting agendas will be determined by the co-chairs in consultation with
    the Minister. 

--  The Committee will establish rules and procedures under which meetings
    will be conducted. To the extent possible, the Committee shall operate
    on a consensus basis. 

--  A quorum of 50 per cent of members is required for the Committee meeting
    to proceed, and the co-chairs or their designates will preside at all
    meetings. 

7. CONFLICT OF INTEREST


--  Members will perform their duties and arrange their affairs in such a
    manner that public confidence in the integrity, objectivity, and
    impartiality of the Committee are conserved. 

--  Any conflict of interest shall be reported in writing to the co-chairs
    who shall cause them to be kept in a registry to be maintained for this
    purpose by the Secretariat. 

--  Committee members will recuse themselves from committee proceedings as
    required, to avoid any real or perceived conflict of interest. 

--  The co-chairs shall also disclose any conflict of interest and cause
    them to be recorded by the Committee secretariat. The co-chair will
    recuse him/herself from the Committee's proceedings as required to avoid
    any real or perceived conflict of interest. 

8. CONFIDENTIALITY


--  Any privileged information divulged or obtained during meetings or
    provided in support of such meetings, including privileged information
    obtained from committees established by AAFC or during meetings with
    AAFC management, shall be protected and maintained as confidential and,
    without limiting the generality of the foregoing, shall not be discussed
    in media interviews, external meetings, or other public forum until such
    time as this information has been officially released by the Minister
    for public use. 

--  Committee members will be required to sign confidentiality and conflict
    of interest agreements. 

9. FEES AND EXPENSES


--  Each member shall be reimbursed, consistent with guidelines set forth by
    the National Joint Council Travel Directive, for reasonable travel and
    living expenses incurred while performing committee duties while absent
    from his or her ordinary place of residence. 

10. SECRETARIAT SUPPORT


--  A secretariat within AAFC will be responsible for providing secretariat
    support to enable the effective functioning of the Committee. 

--  The Secretariat shall be responsible for administrative support on
    matters such as coordinating committee meetings and processing travel
    claims within Treasury Board guidelines. 

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