The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau
Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Government of Canada
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, shares her insight on what it means to be a woman in agriculture and what’s next for the industry.
What does women’s leadership mean to you?
While serving as Minister of International Development, I met so many women leading change under the most extreme challenges. I knew I had to join them in standing up for women, abroad and at home. Today, as Canada’s first female federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, I’m passionate about having more women as CEOs of food or farm businesses, in boardrooms, and in science. The full participation of women is critical to the future of the sector.
What advice would you give to young women who are just entering the agriculture field
I recently held a virtual roundtable with 14 really impressive female entrepreneurs in agriculture from across Canada. We discussed their personal experiences and identified gaps that prevent women’s full participation in the sector. I truly believe that if women had the tools and mentorship they need to be empowered and succeed, the sky’s the limit. Through our new Canadian Agricultural Youth Council, we’re bringing bright young women and men to the leadership table.
What challenges do women still face in the agriculture industry?
I was an entrepreneur before I entered politics. For 20 years, I‘ve been a co-owner of a campground in my region. I know the barriers women can face as business leaders, be it mentorship opportunities, access to loans, or juggling childcare and family. It can seem so overwhelming! I’m very proud of the new Women Entrepreneurship Program which, through Farm Credit Canada, has already helped over 1,400 women to realize their business ambitions.
What role will the agriculture industry play in Canada’s road to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?
This year, Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector has proven its strength and resilience in the face of a global pandemic. As a leading driver of jobs, GDP, and exports, it now has an opportunity to be at the centre of the relaunch of our economy. Our vision is for a world-leading industry that’s sustainable economically, socially, and environmentally.
What excites you about the future of the agriculture industry?
There are so many exciting elements, not only on the horizon, but already happening today! Canada has all the right ingredients to be a world leader in sustainable agriculture, from our innovative crops and technologies to our strong culture of science, and, of course, our world-class producers — women and men alike. The possibilities are truly endless.