What Canadian agriculture could learn from the U.S. about respect and collaboration


Canada and the U.S. are unique, different, and not at all the same in many ways, but these two countries also have a laundry list of things in common. There’s also the trade relationship that exists, where plenty of products — agriculture and otherwise — flow both north and south freely.

Some of where we are different, however, says Kim McConnell, could be hurting the growth of agriculture in Canada.

This week, McConnell hosted a fireside chat with Ted McKinney, CEO of National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and former USDA trade undersecretary in the Trump administration. The “Future of Agriculture” event was hosted by the Canadian Agri-Food Automation & Intelligence Network in the lead-up to Canada’s Ag Day in Ottawa.

What was very apparent from that chat, McConnell says, is where Canada and the U.S. differ on agriculture’s profile at the national level and the scale of cooperation and collaboration across provinces.

McKinney shared how states work together on the agriculture file in a non-partisan way, and was surprised to learn at how low-standing agriculture leadership held in Canadian federal politics.

Non-partisanship exists in Canadian agriculture too; one only has to look at the House of Commons’ Standing Committee for Agriculture and Agri-Food, but McConnell feels there’s an opportunity for more collaboration and coordination between provinces. As for Canadian agriculture’s lack of respect at the highest level of government, well, McConnell agrees that it needs to change.

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