By Nancy Carlson, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
The Saskatchewan agricultural industry is broad and diverse, and has an impact that reaches throughout the province. Consulting with such a large industry on important issues can be a challenge, so online surveys are a valuable tool for collecting feedback.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture conducted an online survey from November 14, 2016 to January 31, 2017 on the Next Policy Framework (NPF). This survey is part of a broader stakeholder engagement process that includes several in-person events and meetings with industry.
One central event was held in June 2016 to lay out the high-level priorities and issues to be addressed in the NPF. The online survey was the next milestone in the process and solicited feedback on the type of activities most important for NPF programs. This information will be used to develop the program suite that will come into effect on April 1, 2018, after the expiry of the current framework, Growing Forward 2.
The 887 responses to the survey came from a range of stakeholders, with almost 75 per cent identifying as producers. Processors, researchers, agribusinesses, consumers, municipal government and environmental organizations also responded to the survey.
Survey respondents were able to choose three priorities that they considered the most important, and then select their priorities from a list of activities government could fund. Almost 80 per cent of respondents selected Markets and Trade, confirming how important this area is to the sector. Forty to 50 per cent of respondents selected Science, Research and Innovation; Risk Management; Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change; Value-Added Agriculture and Agri-Food Processing; and Public Trust within their top three priorities.
Some of the activities that received the most support for government funding included trade advocacy/market access lobbying, farm business planning, disease surveillance and control, basic and applied research, water protection and management, access to domestic retail and food service markets and agriculture awareness events.
The budget for the NPF is not yet confirmed. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, new priorities emerge and data received through this survey will help to provide insight into the highest priorities of the industry, so the NPF program suite can be designed to best meet these priorities. Further consultations will build on these results to assist with the program design process.
A report further detailing the survey results can be found at on our main Growing Forward 2 web page.