Terms of Reference - Agri-Innovators Committee

1. Introduction

Canadian producers are well positioned to take advantage of expanding opportunities in domestic and global markets. Agricultural policy in Canada is being fundamentally transformed with an increased focus on proactive and strategic investments. A critical element of this transformative agenda is prioritized funding for activities along the innovation continuum that will increase productivity, reduce costs, and advance sustainability. By facilitating greater government-industry-academia collaborations, the required applied science, technology and development, and knowledge transfer activities will be undertaken to drive new areas of scientific discovery and ultimately lead to the development, commercialization and adoption of new products, processes, technologies and practices in the sector. A broad cross section of expertise on the innovation needs of the sector will be necessary to ensure that innovation investments leads to results for the sector and positively impacts farmers' returns. Further, coordinating the efforts of various stakeholders within the Canadian agri-innovation system is key to efficiently and adequately address the needs of the sector. An Agri Innovators Committee (the Committee) is being established as an important means of acquiring such industry input.

2. Mandate

The Agri-Innovators Committee will advise the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on issues consistent with the Minister's responsibilities and relevant to AAFC's priorities. The Committee will provide advice on various aspects of innovation for the sector, with a view to accelerating the development and adoption of innovation to make the sector more profitable, competitive and sustainable.

3. Responsibility

  • It is proposed that the Committee focus on innovation for the sector and provide the Minister and the Department feedback and advice on issues relating to innovation in the sector, including, but not limited to:
    • the strategic direction and priorities of AAFC as reflected in its key planning documents;
    • key objectives under AAFC's Growing Forward 2 policy and programs framework:
      • positioning Canada as a world leader in agricultural innovation investment
      • helping the sector become more competitive in domestic and international markets
      • facilitating adaptability and sustainability for the sector
    • maximizing support for innovation in the sector (including financial support, infrastructure changes, knowledge transfer, science and research);
    • AAFC's innovation frameworks and strategies; mechanisms for collaborating, communicating and consulting with stakeholders, other government departments, provincial-territorial governments, academia and industry to address current and future needs and gaps (i.e., ensuring regulatory frameworks do not inhibit innovation) as well as identify appropriate roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders and integrating them within a coordinated innovation system.
  • The Committee will consider issues presented by the Minister and the Minister may direct the Committee to consider and provide advice on any issue consistent with the mandate of the Committee. That advice may be provided in writing or verbally, depending on the preference of the Minister. The advice provided will not be binding on AAFC or the Government of Canada.
  • Members can request briefings from the department in relation to any issue within the mandate of the Committee.

4. Responsibilities of the Minister and Co-Chairs

  • The industry Co-Chair, in consultation with the AAFC Co-Chair, will prepare a general work plan for the Committee to respond to the Minister's request for advice.
  • The Co-Chairs and Minister will meet, when there is mutual agreement that a meeting is required, and the Co-Chairs will ensure that the Minister has the opportunity to meet with the Committee annually.

5. Committee Membership

  • The Minister shall name an advisory Committee of not more than fifteen members, excluding ex-officio members.
  • The advisory Committee will endeavor to include no more than one representative from each province and/or territory and to have a balanced regional representation of various commodities and/or sectors.
  • Members will serve, for a term not exceeding two (2) consecutive years.
  • Members of the Committee will serve as individuals and not as representatives of organizations or interest groups. Members are expected to contribute their own expertise, experience and good judgement when providing analysis and advice.
  • The Minister may renew the terms of appointment of any member for one or more further terms to a maximum duration of appointment within the five (5) year framework (2013-2018).
  • The Minister may name any person with relevant knowledge or experience to the Agri-Innovators Committee, including but not limited to, persons from the agriculture and agri-food sector and from the research and academic community.
  • The Minister shall name one member of the Committee as Co-Chair representing the sector, and AAFC's Deputy Minister will be appointed as a Co-Chair.

6. Meetings

  • It is expected that the Committee will meet in person, two to three times a year. The Co-Chairs may determine the time and place at which the Committee will meet, and the scheduling of any additional meetings, including teleconferences.
  • Meeting agendas will be determined by the Co-Chairs in consultation with the Minister.
  • The Committee will establish rules and procedures under which meetings will be conducted. To the extent possible, the Committee shall operate on a consensus basis.
  • A quorum of 50% of members is required for a Committee meeting to proceed and the Co-Chairs or their designate will preside at all meetings.

7. Conflict of Interest

  • Members will perform their duties and arrange their affairs in such a manner that public confidence in the integrity, objectivity, and impartiality of the Committee are conserved.
  • Any conflict of interest shall be reported in writing to the Co-Chairs who shall cause them to be kept in a registry to be maintained for this purpose by the Secretariat.
  • Committee members will recuse themselves from Committee proceedings as required to avoid any real or perceived conflict of interest.
  • The Co-Chairs shall also disclose any conflict of interest and cause them to be recorded by the Committee secretariat. The Co-Chair will recuse him/herself from Committee proceedings as required to avoid any real or perceived conflict of interest.

8. Confidentiality

  • Any privileged information divulged or obtained during meetings or provided in support of such meetings, including privileged information obtained from committees established by AAFC or during meetings with AAFC management, shall be protected and maintained as confidential and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, shall not be discussed in media interviews, external meetings or other public forum until such time as this information has been officially released by the Minister for public use.
  • Committee members will be required to sign Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest agreements.

9. Fees and Expenses

  • Each member shall be reimbursed, consistent with guidelines set forth by the National Joint Council Travel Directive, for reasonable travel and living expenses incurred while performing Committee duties while absent from his or her ordinary place of residence.

10. Secretariat Support

  • A Secretariat within AAFC will be responsible for providing secretariat support to enable the effective functioning of the Committee.
  • The Secretariat shall be responsible for administrative support on matters such as coordination of Committee meetings and processing travel claims within Treasury Board guidelines.
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