Mr. Speaker, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s, AAFC, Nappan Research Farm is in full operation with both animal and crop research underway. In June 2007, AAFC organized consultations through a workshop on priorities for organic agricultural research in the Atlantic region that was held at Nappan with representatives from the provincial governments of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and organic producers from across the region. The consensus among participants was that an organic research strategy is needed, and Nappan could play an important role, as a certified organic farm, in this strategy that will seek to expand organic research in Atlantic Canada.
a) As part of that strategy, Nappan could become a hub for organic research undertaken by scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and collaborating organizations or institutions. There are currently two professional staff located at Nappan, a soil scientist and a part-time livestock biologist. The soil scientist will re-locate to AAFC’s research centre in Kentville, Nova Scotia in April of 2008 placing him within a group of professionals in complementary disciplines, thus facilitating research for the benefit of agricultural producers. The part-time livestock biologist will also likely relocate to the Nova Scotia agricultural college in Truro sometime in 2008. These relocations make good business sense in building critical masses of scientists that focus on specific research questions. In the meantime, a human resources plan will be developed to meet new proposed scientific directions for Nappan.
b) A full complement of technical and support staff remain in place at Nappan; a competitive process to staff a new herdsman position is now underway. The near term plans are thus to ensure the technical capacity at Nappan and support the concept of the farm as a facility to undertake integrated crop/livestock organic research. Meanwhile discussions are underway with the Atlantic provinces in the context of growing forward, the federal government’s new agricultural policy initiative to define programs, roles and responsibilities to support agricultural innovation. These discussions will include resources such as Nappan.
AAFC has approved a number of health and safety projects that range from the repair of electrical distribution system to the replacement of feed mangers as identified by a Canadian Council on Animal Care report conducted in fiscal year 05/06. AAFC is also acting on a number of other issues as a result of a building condition report, and over the past three years the Department has spent approximately $300K in infrastructure costs for the continued safe operation of the farm.
c) The AAFC’s science and innovation strategy seeks to build science and innovation capacity to create new growth opportunities for Canadian agriculture, and other sectors of the economy. AAFC is implementing the strategy, and exploring options and opportunities with provincial governments, universities, private sector and communities to position AAFC science activities and resources with a critical mass.
With respect to the Atlantic region, a university/industry/AAFC /provincial consultation took place on June 12, 2007 to discuss priorities for organic agriculture in the Atlantic region, including Nappan. Following these consultations, the Nappan experimental farm has been identified as a potential key research site for conducting an enhanced program with partners such as the Nova Scotia agricultural college in Truro, Nova Scotia, in organic research for livestock and crops for which there are new markets and increased consumer demand. Plans centred on AAFC’s science and innovation strategy including the engagement of Nappan as an organic experimental farm are being developed. In these plans, Nappan could become a facility resourced with technical personnel and a farm crew supporting on-site experiments. The existing research infrastructure at the Nappan experimental farm could be well suited to this unique role.