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Ted Bilyea

Ted Bilyea

Interim President & CEO, Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI)

To build for the future, Canadian agri-food policy must be relentlessly focused on resiliency, competitiveness, and environmental sustainability.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for Canadians, forcing us all to rethink our relationship with food. Consumers are learning more about how a meal reaches their family table while producers and processors deal with bottlenecks and vulnerabilities in their supply chains. Both the essential status, and the fragility of, our local and global agri-food system has been laid bare for all to see. And it doesn’t stop there.

More shocks are sure to come as climate change accelerates, international trade becomes more unstable, and the relentless need to ensure Canada and the world have access to safe, healthy, and affordable food continues unabated. Simply reacting to these complex and ever-quickening events will only leave Canadian farmers and consumers further behind.

COVID-19 has reinforced the urgent need for an agri-food rethink in this country — guided by evidence-based policies and strategies, to build a stronger, more resilient, and more competitive Canadian food system in an ever-changing global context.

CAPI defining Canada’s recovery — and its future

Thankfully, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) has a head start in this crucial project. CAPI is an independent policy think tank for Canada’s agri-food sector that brings insight, evidence, and creative solutions to agri-food policy makers. Founded in 2004, CAPI provides a space for objective and neutral — yet difficult — conversations, provocative research questions, and challenges the status quo.

Well before COVID-19, CAPI assembled some of Canada’s top agri-food policy minds to examine and address the coming uncertainties of climate change, animal diseases, and major trade disruptions. By drawing on this work and the lessons learned from this current crisis, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to define a new Canadian agri-food policy regime and strategies that move our food system towards long-term sustainability, resilience, and growth. But we can only do that with a concerted, coordinated effort across government, industry, academia, and the family farm. 

CAPI has the capacity, the network, and — with our collective stakeholders — the brainpower to equip Canada’s policy makers and industry leaders with what they need to make the policy decisions that will define our nation’s recovery and its resilient successful future. There are no off-the-shelf solutions to these tough problems. Instead, the entire food system must draw together to find solutions.

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