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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada
Department overview
Formed1868; 156 years ago (1868)
Minister responsible
Department executive
Child agencies Edit this at Wikidata

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC; sometimes Ag-Canada; French: Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada)[NB 1] is the department of the Government of Canada responsible for the federal regulation of agriculture, including policies governing the production, processing, and marketing of all farm, food, and agri-based products. Agriculture in Canada is a shared jurisdiction and the department works with the provinces and territories in the development and delivery of policies and programs.

The minister of agriculture and agri-food (currently Lawrence MacAulay) is responsible for the department to Parliament. While the minister is head of the department, and provides policy/political direction, the day-to-day operations of the department are managed by the deputy minister (currently Stefanie Beck), who is a public servant.[1]


The Department of Agriculture for Canada was formed in 1867. It was organized under the Department of Agriculture Act, which was passed by Parliament and given royal assent on 22 May 1868.[2]

The first minister of agriculture, Jean-Charles Chapais,[3] and his deputy, Dr. Joseph Charles Taché, were soon presenting important Bills to the House of Commons for the protection and improvement of Canadian agriculture. One of the first Bills was an Act Respecting Contagious Diseases of Animals, passed in 1869. This law gave the chief veterinary inspector, Dr. Duncan McEachran, who was also the dean of medicine at McGill University, authority to prevent the introduction of animal diseases into Canada.[2]

Other responsibilities

In addition to agriculture, the minister and the department had many other wide-ranging national responsibilities including immigration, public health, censuses and statistics, patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Over time, these other responsibilities were transferred to other departments. For example, the collection of statistics was transferred to the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (now Statistics Canada) in 1918, and healthcare in Canada was transferred to the Department of Health when it was created in 1919.[4]

Portfolio organizations

Today, organizations for which the minister of agriculture and agri-food is responsible for include:

In 2013, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was moved from the Agriculture Portfolio to the Health Portfolio.[5]


Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is responsible for a number of laws related to agriculture and food in Canada.[6]

  • Agricultural Marketing Programs Act
  • Agricultural Products Marketing Act
  • Animal Pedigree Act
  • Canada Grain Act
  • Canadian Agricultural Loans Act
  • Canadian Dairy Commission Act
  • Canada Grain Act
  • Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Act
  • Experimental Farm Stations Act
  • Farm Debt Mediation Act
  • Farm Credit Canada Act
  • Farm Income Protection Act
  • Farm Products Agencies Act
  • Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act


Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Saskatoon Research Centre on the Campus of the University of Saskatchewan

As part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Science and Technology Branch (French: Direction générale des sciences et de la technologies) has the mandate to propose solutions and opportunities based on science to support competitiveness and the sustainability of the agriculture and agri-food sector. It is also in the Branch's mandate to provide scientific information to inform departmental and governmental decision processes.

Under the Experimental Farm Stations Act dating back to 1886, farm stations across Canada were established, including the Central Experimental Farm.[7] The officers of these stations had the duty of conducting research in a number of specific areas pertinent to agricultural productivity and conservation, and of making the results of such research known by publication.

Today, the Science and Technology Branch includes a national network of 20 Research and Development Centres and 30 satellite research locations.[8] The Science and Technology Branch has approximately 2,200 employees, including some 400 research scientists.

The goal of all activities is to address the major scientific challenges facing 21st century agricultural production systems:

  • Increasing agricultural productivity,
  • Enhancing environmental performance,
  • Improving attributes for food and non-food uses,
  • Addressing threats to the agriculture and agri-food value chain.[9]

Industry support

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is also responsible for supporting corporate and local agricultural producers and suppliers. They do this through a variety of programs and services including Agri-Geomatics which develops products and services for internal and external users, and program facilitation.

The department supports market growth through its market access and trade negotiation activities, and it works with Canada's provinces and territories to promote Canadian products. The department also supports industry by focusing on science and technology advances and helping producers mitigate risks.[10]

Notable people


Cereals and Pulses

  • Vern Burrows (1930-2020), international authority on oat breeding and utilisation

Climate Change, Sustainable Agricultural Practices, and Nutrient Cycling

Earth Observation

Food Processing

  • Joyce Boye, specialist in value-added food processing, food safety and food quality
  • Mary MacArthur (1904-1959), researcher on the processes of dehydration and freezing of fresh foods, first woman to be named as fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada (1952)


Pest Management

Plant Genetics


Mycology and Plant Pathology

  • Yolande Dalpé (1948), first mycologist in Ottawa to study the taxonomy of mycorrhizal fungi

Oil Seeds

Soil Fertility

See also


  1. ^ Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food (2009-06-18). "Organization Structure". Retrieved 2023-02-21.
  2. ^ a b Anstey, T.H. One Hundred Harvests: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada, 1886-1986. Canadian Government Publishing Centre. ISBN 0-660-12036-4.
  3. ^ Désilets, Andrée; Skikavich, Julia. "Jean-Charles Chapais". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  4. ^ "Canada's Health Care System [Health Canada, 2011]". Health Canada. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  5. ^ "Canadian Food Inspection Agency Joins Health Portfolio [Health Canada, 2013]". Health Canada. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
  6. ^ "Acts and Regulations > Neutral > About Us". Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
  7. ^ "Central Experimental Farm". Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. February 5, 2009.
  8. ^ "Research centres and collections". Research Centres;Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ;Government of Canada. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Agricultural Innovations 2018" (PDF). Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Ministerial Transition Books - Binder 2 Overview of the department and sector". Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. 6 March 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2021.


  1. ^ Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is the applied title under the Federal Identity Program; the legal title is Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food (French: Ministère de l’Agriculture et de l’Agroalimentaire).
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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
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