What does The Barton Report mean for agriculture?May 2, 2017Hub EditorialThere's lots of buzz around something called "The Barton Report", and for good reason. It speaks to unleashing the potential of key sectors and points to agriculture and food as one of them. This kind of attention is a bonus for agriculture — and now we need to take advantage of it.What is The Barton Report?The Barton Report is actually the short name for a comprehensive set of recommendations from the federal government's Advisory Council on Economic Growth. The Advisory Council was set up by Finance Minister Bill Morneau with a goal to come up with "bold ideas that will significantly improve Canada's economic growth trajectory". Its chair is Dominic Barton, which is where the "Barton Report" name comes from. What does it say about agriculture?In its second set of recommendations released in February, agriculture is identified as a sector where Canada has the potential for substantial growth and export improvement. The report mentions expanding populations around the world, a rising protein demand in Asia, and a need for trusted markets.As the world's fifth-largest agricultural exporter, Canada has the opportunity to become the trusted global leader in safe, nutritious, and sustainable food in the 21st century. The report says that Canada has the potential to become the second largest exporter in the world.What do the recommendations mean?This is a huge endorsement for Canadian agriculture and based on thorough analysis. Agriculture's strengths are a trusted food supply, resource availability, arable land position, and strong research clusters. Also, the global opportunities are around exploding emerging market demand and growing global supply constraints in land, water, energy, and carbon emissions. Not only was agriculture identified as one of six sectors with high potential, it was recommended that this sector be used as a pilot to test a new approach to focused sectoral development. The 2017 federal budget referred to the work of the Council and set an ambitious target to grow Canada's agri-food exports from $55 billion in 2015 to at least $75 billion by 2025, supported by key actions.Now what? This is, after all, just another report; and without action, it will stay just another report. It's up to the agriculture community to push this ahead. We have been handed a platform to move on, so we need to move. Follow the recommendations from The Barton Report, galvanize the sector, and agriculture should see continued growth and prosperity ahead. To read Dominic Barton's report to the federal government, visit the Canada Budget website. This Globe & Mail article by Barton also outlines how Canada can grow its food production in the years to com.