When I opened the Canadian Food Insights Magazine article “Cultivating Canada’s Dairy Dairy Sector” (volume 2 issue 1 spring 2014 http://cifst.dgtlpub.com/) I was delighted. Author Lindsay Grummet did a good job bringing to light the importance of research investments in the Canadian dairy industry, our critical network of scientists and partners and our dairy farmers’ proud work to adopt new knowledge and apply it on their farms; use new technologies to advance, innovate, be more efficient, more productive and farm sustainably to remain among the top dairy producers in the world.
I could use a number of examples to illustrate why I say “remain” among the top producers in the world like the quality of our milk, our environmental performance, our leadership in animal care but I will focus on research. Research is an important part of the innovation equation and yet it’s one that is often overlooked. I’ve seen eyes glaze over at the mention of “research” in some circles. Research cycles can be long. New discoveries in the natural world take time. And the process to publish scientific findings is arduous. But all of it is necessary. I deeply admire the tenacity, persistence, patience and passion of our Canadian dairy scientists. They spend years (some a lifetime) working to resolve issues and answer industry questions to help farmers become even better at what they do.
I have even more admiration for dairy farmers. They have long understood the importance of investing in research for close to three decades now in Canada. And dairy farmers’ investments in research at the national level are the tip of the iceberg. They also invest in research programs at the provincial level on infrastructure and extension to tackle regional issues and deliver results on farms locally. Partners working in dairy nationally, including the federal government and Dairy Farmers of Canada, will have invested close to $30 million in pan-Canadian research between 2010 and 2018. There are more than 150 scientists involved in these projects and the students being trained will near the 200 mark, all in institutions and research centres from across the country. This is innovation at its best: it creates jobs; it generates new knowledge, new technologies and better management practices on our farms; and it trains and prepares our next generation of dairy science leaders to tackle complex issues well into the future.
Our Canadian dairy research innovation equation is as much about the people and talent in our research community and the professionalism of our dairy farmers in applying new information on farms. Our research community has long understood that talent, collaboration, vision and hard work = Dairy Excellence and Innovation in Canada.