Growing Forward 2 Brings New Focus to Strategic Initiatives

April 2, 2013

 

A complete review of Growing Forward and extensive producer consultations are the basis for Growing Forward 2’s emphasis on research and innovation, competitiveness and market development and industry capacity.

 

Over the last five years, Alberta farmers, ranchers, processors and agribusiness have taken part in many strategic initiatives under the Growing Forward banner.

 

On April 2, 2013, the federal-provincial-territorial framework will transition to a new five-year agreement, known as Growing Forward 2. What’s different? What kinds of priorities and programs will Growing Forward 2 feature?

 

According to Dave Burdek, Executive Director of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s Policy, Strategy and Intergovernmental Affairs Division, the primary difference is a result of a review of Growing Forward and extensive stakeholder input over the last two years.

 

“We heard that industry wants more focused investment going toward a smaller set of policy priorities that will have real impact,” says Burdek. “Growing Forward 2 will reflect an increased focus on three areas -- research and innovation, competitiveness and market development and adaptability and industry capacity -- that are important priorities for our producers and essential to the long-term success of the industry.”

 

Research and Innovation. With Growing Forward 2, there will be new research and innovation activities for agri-food and agri-based products, to help Alberta become a world leader in innovation investment. These programs will effectively create and apply high-value research outcomes. Doing so will capture the full value of research solutions and new knowledge for industry, fostering innovation and supporting commercialization.

 

Competitiveness and Market Development. Under Growing Forward 2, several strategic initiatives aim to strengthen the competitive capacity of Alberta’s producers and processors. This will occur through the adoption of new technology and/or the development of innovative market-driven business solutions for the commercialization of a new product or expansion of an agribusiness. These investments will increase productivity, reduce costs, advance sustainability and lead to the development and commercialization of new products, processes and practices that will make the sector more competitive.

 

Adaptability and Industry Capacity. Even with a steady stream of innovation, and the development of new markets, success will depend on the ability of industry to respond. This third priority area is about strengthening industry’s capacity to adapt to change and acquire new skills to capture new opportunities.

 

Growing Forward 2 is taking place at a national and provincial level, but many of the true drivers are global in nature,” explains Burdek. “As the global population rises and demand for consistency in supply of high-quality food increases, Canadian farmers and processors must be positioned to capitalize on these emerging opportunities. Research and innovation, competitiveness and market development and adaptability and industry capacity – taken together -- hold the promise of growth and profitability for the sector.”

 

Programs available under Growing Forward 2

 

As Burdek notes, farmers, ranchers, processors and agribusiness have asked that Growing Forward 2 programs be organized around three policy priorities. Over the past year, ARD and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada have been working to make this happen.

 

“Many of the programs people know from Growing Forward will be part of Growing Forward 2,” says Burdek. “In some cases, we’ve streamlined the application process or eligibility based on what producers told us. We believe that, overall, Growing Forward 2 has a more responsive and targeted suite of programs.”

 

One example of Growing Forward 2’s more focused and user-friendly programming is the new On-Farm Stewardship Program. This program replaces the three different stewardship programs that existed under Growing Forward, making it easier for producers to apply and participate. The On-Farm Stewardship Program has also tightened its policy theme to focus on outcomes relating to on-farm water resources.

 

Another example is the Agri-Processing Product and Market Development Program. Under Growing Forward 2, there’s greater latitude for companies to identify the kinds of research, marketing, business and coaching assistance they need and that Growing Forward 2 will cost share.

 

“The launch date of Growing Forward 2 is April 2, 2013, and we invite farmers, ranchers, processors and agribusiness to learn more about the three new policy priorities and the new and enhanced suite of programs. If you see a way that these programs can help make your business more successful, sustainable and profitable, we’d like to hear from you. Growing Forward 2 is open for business, says Burdek.

 

A complete and detailed listing of the set of Growing Forward 2 programs is available at www.growingforward.alberta.ca. Each program also has a printed fact sheet available and producers are invited to call 310-3276 (FARM) for more information.

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