A Proactive Scientific Research Agenda

The Simpson Centre’s aim is to create, curate, and disseminate research that informs public and stakeholder dialogue about agriculture and agri-food in Canada. To that end, we have established research topics that support public conversations, decision-making and future-focused policymaking.

Using scientific research and forecasting, the Centre is addressing the strategic needs of Canadian food security, while paying attention to the uncertain risks of global supply chains, extreme weather events, availability of water, inputs and labour, in the perspective of long-term planning and adaptive policymaking. The role of scientific experts in moderating discussions about agriculture is a key ingredient in achieving a sustainable and resilient food system.

Research Topics

Trade Policy

Canada is poised to be the breadbasket for vast numbers of people entering the middle class in Asia. The potential for exports is enormous. This could be Canada’s, and especially western Canada’s, next big thing. So we need to be ready. That means making good on trade agreements, upping our game in terms of international representation at trade summits, and working on-the-ground abroad to pitch our agri-food and agri-businesses. The issues that require immediate research attention are:

  • The US-China trade war – its impact on Canada and how Canada can establish its own, advantageous trade agenda with China.
  • The WTO and Agreement on Agriculture has benefited Canadian agri-food but has stalled. How can Canada re-exert itself to take full advantage of the WTO.
  • CETA was implemented in September 2017 and was a historic agreement on many fronts including removal of trade irritants. Nonetheless, the agreement has so far been a disappointment. EU agri-food exports to Canada grew by four percent from 2017 to 2018. However, Canadian exports to the EU have stagnated. In part, the explanation for this imbalance has been non-tariff barriers including food safety rules and regulations. The Research will provide focused prescriptions to overcome these challenges.
  • Trade diversification – Canada is simply too dependent on two major export markets – the US and China. This research will engage Canada’s foreign affairs experts to provide advice on how to aggressively engage with our prime emerging markets, with a focus on Asia outside of China.

Environment and climate change

Agriculture is a major user of resources and a contributor to greenhouse gases (GHGs). At the same time, Canada’s responsible and sustainable agricultural practices are at the forefront of mitigating environmental impact – potentially making agriculture a net contributor to GHG reductions and sustainable food production.

Topics include:

  • Canadian agriculture and carbon capture – best practices in agriculture to capture GHG’s and mitigate overall environmental impacts.
  • Understanding an applying global trends in food production – as the global middle class grows, so does interest in sustainable, humane and organic agricultural practices. How can Canada take the lead in implementing these practices, and thereby create a competitive advantage for Canadian producers in a globalized agri-food market?

Agriculture as a major resource sector

Are Canadians fully aware of the vast economic contributions that agriculture and livestock farming make to current and future Canadian prosperity?

  • Modeling and calculating the contribution of agri-food and agri-business to the Canadian economy.
  • Demonstrating the growth potential, in dollars, cents and impact across Canada (including in urban centres) of the Canadian agri-food and agri-business sector.

Food and agriculture technology

Some of the biggest recent irritants to the grain and livestock expert sectors have come from real or perceived quality issues. Technology is key to addressing and mitigating these issues.

  • Block-chain and quality control – blockchain technology is about much more than e-currency. It has applications to any complex industry that requires multiple inputs and control tracking through a complex supply chain. How can Canada become a global leader in the application of blockchain, and other technologies, to agricultural production and exports?