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Futureproofing Canadian agriculture takes partnership

 

At BASF we often say that farming is the biggest job on earth. Looking at it that way, there’s no way any one company or organization could ever take it on alone.

 

Our sector continues to face significant challenges: along with simply growing enough food for a ballooning world population, every part of the value chain is contending with the impacts of weather volatility, rising food prices and global trade uncertainty, while also responding to consumer concerns about how their food is grown.

 

Some of these challenges will be out of our control, but in many cases, our industry can create solutions and influence positive change – especially if we continue working together. That’s why partnership is a cornerstone of our business at BASF, and remains more important than ever as we work to future-proof our industry.  

Fueling innovation through partnership

Farmers are our strongest partners – we only succeed if they do. And we know that the longevity and success of the agriculture industry demands a responsible approach to innovation to ensure successful farms for generations to come. Bringing these kinds of innovations to market takes time, investment, and most importantly, collaboration. We could not deliver solutions for any crop without strong collaboration.

 

One way we’re showing our commitment to collaboration is in how we work with farmers to help solve the agronomic challenges of today and tomorrow. We do this by continuing to advance innovations like improved clubroot resistance, increased defense against pod shatter, and better standability to help Canadian growers get the most out of every acre of canola.

 

We took the same approach when developing Facet® L, a quinclorac herbicide used to control cleavers in canola. We worked closely with the Canola Council, Canada Grains Council, the CODEX Alimentarius Commission and farmers to help establish the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL), ensure proper product stewardship, and allow for exports of Canadian grains.

 

Industry coalitions and partnerships provide important resources for farmers, and help drive advocacy for policy change on their behalf through initiatives like Advancing Agriculture, a collective effort supported by representatives from Canada’s agricultural community to advocate on issues impacting the sector, and Keep It Clean, which provides resources to farmers in support of growing market-ready crops, helping protect Canada’s reputation as a trusted supplier of canola, cereals and pulses. Another example is Manage Resistance Now, which is a joint industry initiative speared by CropLife that we’re proud to be a part of. The site acts as a resource for farmers and industry to proactively manage herbicide, insecticide, and fungicide resistance to help achieve better yields. 

 

BASF has had long-running and successful partnerships with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientists, who have supported the research and development of new insecticide products including Broflanilide, the active ingredient in Teraxxa® F4 and Cimegra®. For the past eight years, three AAFC scientists (Dr. Christine Noronha in Charlottetown, PEI, Dr. Bob Vernon and Dr. Wim Van Herk in Agassiz, BC) worked with BASF in the testing and research data collection for Broflanilide. The partnership enabled BASF to bring a significant innovation to the Canadian market that enables the successful management of wireworm.

 

Then there’s our 25-year partnership with the Crop Development Centre (CDC) at the University of Saskatchewan – one of the longest standing public-private partnerships in agriculture. Our work together has helped bring new innovations to market and resulted in a system-change for Canadian agriculture, especially for pulse growers. This key partnership has helped us stay focused on turning research and development into action, ultimately giving producers choice by introducing multiple varieties that enable a sustainable, healthy crop rotation for farmers.

 

As we marked 25 years of partnership in late 2020, BASF also pledged $100,000 to a new, world-class Enhanced Breeding Facility at the CDC. That adds to a $125,000 investment in the Pulse Crop Field Lab in 2005 and $200,000 towards the Grain Innovation Lab in 2009.

Advocating for the future

Along with working with leaders in research and development to create the solutions growers depend on, partnerships are also an essential part of advocating for our industry, and for educating and informing the public about the importance of advancements in modern agriculture. Initiatives like Nature Nurtured, which connects Canadians with digestible information on gene editing, and the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity’s annual public trust research looking at consumer perspectives on Canada’s food system, underscore the industry’s efforts to help consumers better understand the science behind their food.

 

BASF’s longstanding partnerships with organizations including 4-H, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture are not only critical to engaging with important stakeholders, but for futureproofing our sector.

 

Partnerships like these give our industry a clear, consistent voice as we advocate together up and down the value chain and across the farming spectrum, to ultimately remove barriers and inspire consumer confidence in Canada’s agricultural products. They also allow us to be a voice for farmers and give them much-needed support, both within the industry and outside of it. Together, we are advocating for the things that matter most for farmers and their communities and remain in their corner on key issues like sustainability and carbon emissions.

 

It’s exciting to see the passion for working together within Canadian agriculture among private companies, research organizations, industry associations and government. Moving forward, we’re committed to building on this momentum, so Canada can remain a strong centre for research, innovation, and advocacy in our sector. We’re proud of the partnerships we’ve already established, and look forward to fostering even more in the years to come.