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OUR WORK
As an independent, non-partisan policy catalyst, CAPI brings insight, evidence and balance to emerging issues.
We provide a neutral place to hold dialogues and generate perspectives among leaders across the food system.

Advancing a policy dialogue

Ideas and Principles for the Destination Project

A series of research papers was developed to obtain an independent perspective on the viability of farms in Canada and on the critical policy issues facing the Canadian agri-food sector. The documents served as background material for the Leadership Panel on Viability to identify ideas and principles for the destination project.

The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) commissioned the production of these papers in the spring of 2010. The final papers were published in February 2011.

Series I: Understanding the Structure of Canadian Farm Incomes
This series of 10 papers prepared for CAPI by the George Morris Centre. These papers highlight key issues relating to farm viability in Canada. The papers draw from the knowledge base of existing research, in order to gather observations on relevant issues and help frame the context for CAPI's future farm viability research.
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Series II: Addressing Issues and Perspectives on Policy Options
This series of seven research papers examines current policy issues and opportunities within Canada and other countries. The papers address the policy rationale for goals and objectives, the impact of intervention and an analysis of competitive advantages and disadvantages facing the agri-food industry.

1 – Policy Context and Rationale for Intervention in the Agri-Food Sector By Shelley Thompson, SJT Solutions
This project examined the supporting rationale for the policy goals, objectives and instruments in use today in the sector. The paper looks at the major opportunities available to the sector, and which could be addressed through public policy.
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2 – An Overview of Policy Goals, Objectives and Instruments in the Agri-Food Sector By Grace Stogstad, University of Toronto
This project articulated the current policy goals and objectives for the agri-food sector, how they have evolved and how policy instruments have changed over time.
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3 – Policy Goals, Objectives, and Instruments in Other Jurisdictions
By Harry de Gorter and Erika M. Kliauga, Department of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University
This project performed a comparative analysis of the policy objectives and associated policy instruments of Canada's agri-food sector and its chief competitors.
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4 – Benefits and Distribution of Government Spending in the Agri-Food Sector By Shelley Thompson, SJT Solutions, and Stephen J. Clark
This project examined the net impact on each segment of the agri-food sector of intervention through policy instruments.
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5 – Competitiveness of the Agri-Food Sector
By David Sparling, Richard Ivey School of Business, and Shelley Thompson, SJT Solutions
This project examined the competitive position of Canada's agri-food sector in both domestic and export markets for the major supply chains of grains (and oilseeds), horticulture, livestock, dairy and poultry. It provided a perspective on potential policy options to support a competitive agri-food policy chain.
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6 – Regulations helping Canadian Agri-Food Competitiveness:
A Summary

By Darrell Toma, Bernard Vincent and Justin Toma, Toma & Bouma Management Consultants
This project analyzed how the policy instruments of government regulations and standards have contributed to the success and competitiveness of Canada's agri-food sector supply chains.
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7 – Analysis of Returns to Program Spending in the Agri-Food Sector
By Shelley Thompson, SJT Solutions
This project assessed the returns (or benefits) of program spending in relation to taxpayers costs, in order to judge the merits of these allocations.
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Farm Income

The availability of detailed performance measuring tools is generally recognized as the basis for making good business management and public policy decisions. In 2008, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) undertook a project to assess the adequacy of current farm sector measures of financial performance and the need to develop more insightful measures of farm sector performance.

Following a series of five consultations with more than 120 stakeholders across Canada, CAPI published the report Measuring Farm Profitability and Financial Performance. A steering committee representing academia, the accounting profession, financial institutions, producers, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Statistics Canada provided guidance for the project.

This report indicates that financial performance of the farm sector is not adequately represented by the traditionally used aggregate measure of net farm income. Rather, financial performance of the farm sector is better represented through farm financial performance measures that are reported on a more disaggregated basis, such as for grain and oilseed operations or poultry operations in a certain size category. Stakeholders agreed that more detailed information on net farm income, and other measures of farm sector financial performance — such as return on assets employed, gross margin and contribution margin — would provide decision-makers and policy-makers with a more precise view of farm-level profitability and farm sector performance. This report lists a broad variety of key performance measures identified by the stakeholders that should be published on a regular basis.

More recently, Statistics Canada and AAFC have started to provide farm income statistics and forecasts of farm income on a more disaggregate basis. As well, data is now available to allow for computation of a number of useful farm sector performance measures on a disaggregated basis by farm type, such as for farms where the major business enterprise is hog or beef production.

CAPI's report identifies 13 performance indicators that should be published on a timely and regular basis, as suggested by the participants of the consultations. CAPI also noted that to achieve the desired outcome, stakeholders should become engaged in promoting the need to publish these indicators. Notably, producer groups, associations and governments will need to collaborate on developing appropriate financial performance measures that will encourage benchmarking and improve the competitiveness of the Canadian agricultural sector.

CAPI's findings have been forwarded to Statistics Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for their consideration.

Regulatory Reform

Achieving regulatory efficiency and effectiveness is a matter of considerable attention across the agri-food value chain and in government. CAPI offers one approach to help advance regulatory change. In 2009, CAPI published the findings of a project aimed to advance the need for a more flexible regulatory system. CAPI's findings were published in a discussion paper called Regulatory Reform in Canada's Agri-Food Sector. The discussion paper synthesizes CAPI's findings and reflects consultations CAPI held on regulatory reform with Treasury Board officials and representatives of regulatory agencies in the agri-food sector. The discussion paper was made public at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Horticultural Council in March 2009.

In addressing regulatory reform, CAPI's objective is not about amending specific regulations. The CAPI report is focused on the regulatory process. After many years of effort to modernize the regulatory structure, CAPI believes this process can be enhanced by addressing regulatory issues and solutions jointly with senior decision-makers in regulatory agencies, government and industry. CAPI is advancing the concept of blue ribbon panels as a tool to help modernize the regulatory environment. The CAPI discussion paper suggests that facilitated discussions among industry and regulators is a valid approach to advance regulatory change.

CAPI also identified regulatory issues as part of a larger work on competitiveness, Moving Forward on Vision and Action for Canadian Agriculture, published in February of 2007.

Rural Renaissance

In 2008, CAPI undertook a project to encourage a renaissance in rural economies in Canada, both in the agri-food sector and other areas. The project was called Growing Canada's Rural Economies. The cornerstone of this project was a one-day symposium that CAPI hosted in Winnipeg. The objective was to consult with experts who could help the Institute identify what is currently known on this issue, and highlight topics that should be addressed to stimulate a rural renaissance. Based on the symposium, CAPI produced a report — Growing Canada's Rural Economies — that identifies the major themes emerging from the symposium:

  • Diversification: As agriculture plays a less significant role in rural economies, local communities must diversify;
  • Community support: Government support needs to shift from a sector-based approach that favors traditional agriculture to one based on the unique geography of each region;
  • Infrastructure: For value-added activities to occur, rural communities need the appropriate infrastructure, particularly in transportation and broadband internet;
  • Entrepreneurship: Must be encouraged. This means relaxing regulations for small businesses, and empowering people to become leaders;
  • Research: Needed in many areas. Should the "cluster" approach to economic development be encouraged? Why do some rural areas prosper and grow while others fail?
  • Environment: Rural communities must consider environmental impacts, and develop sustainable technologies and living patterns. Sustainability is an economic opportunity. For example, in rural Quebec, wind power presents a great opportunity.

Available publications


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The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute    •    960 Carling Avenue, CEF Building 49, Room 318    •    Ottawa, ON K1A 0C6
info@capi-icpa.ca    •    Telephone: 613-232-8008 or toll-free 1-866-534-7593    •    Fax: 613-232-8008
The State of Canada's Processed Food Sector:
Trade Balance
(2012)
Report prepared by Douglas Hedley, PhD, and CAPI
+ Download PDF
Canada's Beef Food System:
A Roadmap for Dialogue on Strategy
(2012)
A CAPI report
+ Download PDF
Canada's Agri-Food Destination:
Update
(2011)
A CAPI report
+ Download PDF
+ Web material
Canada's Agri-Food Destination:
A New Strategic Approach
(2011)
A CAPI report
+ Download PDF
+ Web material
Building Convergence:
Toward an Integrated Health and Agri-Food Strategy for Canada
(2009)
Prepared for CAPI by The McGill World Platform for Health and Economic Convergence, authored by Dr. Laurette Dubé, Paul Thomassin and Janet Beauvais.
+ Download PDF
Adapting Agriculture to Climate Variability:
Executive Summary
(2010)
A conference summary prepared by Gary Lemme, David McInnes, and Tony Szumigalski
+ Download PDF
Advancing a Policy Dialogue:
Series I: Understanding the Structure of Canadian Farm Incomes
(2010)
Prepared by the George Morris Centre for CAPI
+ Download PDF
Leaders Summit on Food for a Healthy and Prosperous Future (2010)
Prepared by CAPI
+ Download PDF
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