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Thirteenth meeting of the Special Crops Value Chain Roundtable: Record of decision

December 13 to 14, 2017 – Winnipeg, Manitoba

Key decision points

  • measure the value of the special crops sector in non-economic terms and to develop the narrative to communicate this value
  • identify how to collectively engage in food policy discussions
  • establish information reporting processes and information transfer between sector members and industry working groups

A full listing of action items / decisions may be found in Annex A.


  • The Co-Chairs welcomed approximately 14 industry participants and four provincial representatives who attended in-person and via WebEx.
  • Health Canada (HC) and Statistics Canada (SC) delivered presentations that facilitated the strategic planning session of the sector.
  • Representatives across the sector provided their sector’s short-term priorities over the next six months.

Federal government updates

  • Updates on the following federal initiatives were provided:
    • A Food Policy for Canada envisions a whole-of-government approach to address the four themes which include: increasing access to safe and nutritious food; improving health and food safety; conserving our soil, water, and air; and growing more high-quality food.
    • The Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table, was launched in October 2017 with 15 industry members covering the diverse agriculture and food sector. Members of this table are eager to start engaging with all the sectors. Information related to the Economic Strategy Tables can be accessed through the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada website.
    • Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s (CAP) federal program was announced on November 24, 2017 at Agribition. The Clusters component has launched and is accepting applications until February 1, 2018. Federal program details and application forms will be available in early 2018.

Sector updates

Members were asked to provide an overview of their priorities over the next six months. Sector updates were provided by the buckwheat, sunflower, mustard, flax, quinoa, seed growers, and grass and forage representatives.

Sector priorities were as follows

The priority is buckwheat research in health benefits of lowering blood glucose levels, attracting young people with the energy to keep the buckwheat growers association going and resolving transportation issues associated with shipping low volumes of grain.
Focused on the diversified field crops cluster and research in general, building their portfolio at Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission. Market access in China, South Korea and Mexico is a focus. Production in Kazakhstan is increasing and they could be a potential competitor. Another focus is on identifying and understanding where the flax sector fits in with the national food policy.
Grass and forages
Focus is on carbon sequestering and its monetary value, forage research and maximizing productivity of grass lands. Priority markets for forage exports are China, the Mid-tle East, specifically Saudi Arabia because of drought conditions. Another priority of the forage industry is improving communications and knowledge transfer.
CAP program funding and figuring out how to maintain continuity in funding. The sector is launching hybrids for the first time. Significant resources were invested into their development resulting in increased cost which is a challenge. They are focused on identifying ways to innovate faster. Agronomics is a challenge, weed control and crop management is a challenge.
Quinoa is focused on cluster funding. Privately funded research will focus on the development of new varieties, research in starches, pests and pheromones that attract pests. Quinoa is not currently classified as a grain, however, quinoa will be classified as a cereal in spring 2018. Until then, there are no pesticides available for use until quinoa is registered as a cereal. By 2019 they would like to be registered, have access to pesticides, MRLs and certified seed production.
Seed growers
Seed growers are focused on pedigree seed success and working with CropLife Canada and other groups including consultants to collaboratively shape the seed industry moving forward.
Focused on funding for the diverse field crop cluster and provincial funding from the innovation stream. Minor use registration for fungicides and bird deterrents are also a focus.

Diversified field crops cluster update

  • The Diversified Field Crops Cluster representing seven crops (camelina, canary seed, flax, hemp, mustard, quinoa and sunflower) will be submitting a science cluster project to AAFC in the coming weeks. The proposal will comprise of 27 projects (10 breeding, 2 crop management, 3 production agronomy and 11 value-added) with requests of $26 million.

Healthy Eating Strategy

  • Health Canada launched the Healthy Eating Strategy in October 2016 to help Canadians make heathier choices. The strategy includes four pillars: better nutrition information, improve food quality, protect vulnerable populations and improve food access and availability. Roundtable members discussed the need to identify how to collectively engage in the food policy discussion.

Strategic planning

  • Roundtable members engaged in discussing their sector’s needs and how the table can collectively move forward in the next priority for the sector. Members discussed the need to identify and track non-quantitative measures and develop the narrative on the value of the special crops sector. This discussion stemmed from talks on how to improve the economic sector profile and what value the sector added to the food policy. The contribution of the sector has not been tracked. Members agreed that they need to identify non-economic measures to effectively communicate the value of the sector in terms of environmental contributions to healthy foods, and to identify how to collectively engage in the food policy discussion.

Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council

  • The Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC) provided an overview of the labour challenges, gaps, and outlook of the agricultural workforce which are familiar to roundtable participants.
  • Visit the CAHRC website to access resources and other tools.

Public Trust Steering Committee

  • The National Manager provided an update on the industry-led Public Trust Steering Committee (PTSC), noting that the PTSC is now in the implementation phase of its mandate. Accomplishments to date:
    • Reached out to all the national value chain roundtables as well as provincial and regional public trust organizations to assist in the formation and advancement of public trust initiatives.
    • Interfacing with national amplifier groups to ensure alignment.
    • Initiating the development of a public trust communications plan.
    • Developing a funding model for extended funding of the program.

Genetically Modified Disclosure Working Group update

  • A cross-sectoral Genetically Modified (GM) Labelling Working Group has been established to understand how the United States GM labelling and disclosure rule will impact market access for Canadian producers.
  • Information on Bill S764 and GM Disclosure will be prepared for the associations to distribute to processors and others along the value chain

Northern Quinoa

  • Northern Quinoa, a major Quinoa producer, has been growing Quinoa in Canada since 1992. Northern Quinoa is a vertically integrated company, investing in research and development and has the Plant Breeder’s Rights to the only registered variety of quinoa seed in Canada.

Statistics Canada: field crop surveys

  • Statistics Canada provided a presentation on how field crop surveys are collected and disseminated. Data suppression due to confidentiality requirements of the "Statistics Act" was discussed.

Outlook and data challenges for the special crops sector

  • AAFC provided an outlook and overview of data sources for Special Crops. The limitations in data available to the special crops sector further emphasized the need to identify non-economic measures to communicate the value of the sector.


  • The next meeting date is to be determined.
  • A conference call will be planned early in 2018 with the steering committee to establish information reporting processes and information transfer between sector members and industry working groups and to follow up on Action Items identified in Annex A.
  • Work will begin to select a new Industry co-chair

Annex A: Action items and recommendations

Meeting / Item Number Action Items Responsibility Next Steps / Timelines
13-1 AAFC to arrange a teleconference providing details on CAP programming following the next announcement expected early in 2018. AAFC Early 2018 – post announcement
13-2 Arrange an update by Health Canada on the regulatory consultations in April 2018 AAFC April 2018 – post announcement
13-3 Establish Special Crops Collaboration Working Group to set priorities for the development of the special crops sector. Industry June 2018
13-3.1 Industry-Redesign and produce 2017 Special Crops Economic Sector Profile to include non-economic drivers. Industry June 2018
13-3.2 Develop a strategy to assist special crops in market development. Potentially engage both AAFC’s Market Access Secretariat and trade commissioners posted abroad to increase the special crops sector profile. Work could include developing and building capacity in regions where special crops may find a niche market. Industry with support from AAFC On-going
13-4 Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council to provide members with the link to their newsletter resource CAHRC Completed
13-5 Prepare information on Bill S764 and GM Disclosure for the associations to distribute to processors and others along the value chain Industry April 2018 -post announcement
13-6 Conduct a conference call in early 2018 with the representatives of the steering committee to establish information reporting processes and information transfer between sector members and industry working groups. Industry-with support from AAFC Completed: Jan 18, 2018

Annex B: Participants


  • Kelly Dobson – National Sunflower Association of Canada (NSAC)
  • Ray Edwards – Director General - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

Industry members

  • Cedric MacLeod – Canadian Forage and Grassland Association
  • Connie Kehler – Herb, Spice and Specialty Agriculture
  • Dan Bolton – Northern Quinoa Production Corporation
  • Darcelle Graham – National Sunflower Association of Canada
  • Doug Miller – Canadian Seed Growers Association
  • Greg Sundquist – Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission
  • Kevin Hursh – Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission and Canary Seed Development
  • Lorne Kyle – Buckwheat
  • Pete Desai – Mustard 21

Provincial government members

  • Dale Risula – Sakatchewan Ministry of Agriculture (by phone)
  • Laurie Adrien – OMAFRA (by phone)
  • Manjula Bandara – Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (by phone)
  • Tim Hore – Manitoba Agriculture

Federal government members

  • Bill May – AAFC
  • Melonie Stoughton – Canadian Grains Commission
  • Sonya Agbessi – Health Canada

Industry observers

  • Clément Hacault – Zeghers Canada
  • Wayne Thompson – Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission

Federal government observers

  • Cally Dhaliwal – AAFC
  • Deborah Sussman – AAFC (by phone)
  • Katrin Nagelschmitz – AAFC (by phone)
  • Ning Wang – Canadian Grains Commission
  • Pierre Cormier – AAFC
  • Tami Kowal-Denisenko – AAFC


  • Jarett Goodwin – AAFC
  • Moni Heise – AAFC
  • My-Tu Kaan – AAFC
  • Patricia Korosi – AAFC
  • Ron Gerold – AAFC (by phone)
  • Steve Desroches – AAFC

Guests / speakers

  • Alfred Aziz – Health Canada (by phone)
  • Bobby Morgan – AAFC
  • Chris Beckman – AAFC
  • Deborah Sussman – AAFC (by phone)
  • Fred Olsen – AAFC
  • Frédéric Bédard – Statistics Canada (by phone)
  • Gail-Ann Breese – Statistics Canada (by phone)
  • Janet Krayden – Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (by phone)
  • Katrin Nagelschmitz – AAFC (by phone)
  • Myrna Grahn – Public Trust Steering Committee
  • Stephen Boyd – Statistics Canada (by phone)
  • Tami Kowal-Denisenko – AAFC
  • Yves Gilbert – Statistics Canada (by phone)
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