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Canadian agriculture and energy: leaders in innovation, collaboration and security

Both industries are economic and environmental leaders.

The agriculture and energy industries have more in common than you might think.

Both are national in scope and are essential to Canada’s economy, both are continually finding ways to operate with less environmental impact. And both have increasing roles to play in global security and prosperity.

Vital economic drivers

Through its multi-billion-dollar national supply chain, oil and natural gas is truly a national industry. The oil and natural gas sector contributes $100 billion annually to the country’s GDP and provides more than 500,000 direct and indirect jobs including suppliers and manufactures across the country. Export of Canada’s oil, natural gas, and refined products contributed $112.6 billion to Canada’s economy in 2020.

Read more: Who should supply the energy the world needs?

Similarly, agriculture is a mainstay of Canada’s economy, furnishing our daily food and because it’s the base of many industries and much of Canada’s trade. In 2020, Canada exported nearly $74 billion in agriculture and food products. Canada is the fifth-largest exporter of agri-food and seafood in the world, exporting to over 200 countries. The domestic market is also critical for the performance of the sector.

	Composition with variety of organic food products on kitchen table

In 2019, Canadians spent $244 billion on food and beverage products.

Innovation and collaboration

Producers in both industries have a clear line of sight to reducing environmental impacts. Like those who work the land, Canada’s natural gas and oil producers have a keen understanding of what it means to actively reduce impacts on air, water and land.

Ongoing environmental performance improvement has always been critical to maintaining a responsible, vibrant and competitive energy sector in Canada. For decades, the industry has been reducing emissions, managing water more effectively, reclaiming disturbed land faster and enhancing biodiversity. Like agriculture, the energy sector relies on innovation and advanced technologies that not only boost efficiency of individual sites and operators but also offer industry-wide improvements through collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Read more: How oil sands companies work together to reclaim land

The high degree of collaboration among energy producers is a hallmark of Canada’s oil and natural gas industry. Numerous organizations facilitate research, develop new technologies, share best practices and provide funding for environmental initiatives.

For instance, the Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) connects more than 1,350 energy-related companies for data and knowledge sharing, and funding for specific initiatives from clean fuels to new hydrocarbon development technologies. Another prominent organization is Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) – since 2012, member companies have jointly invested $1.8 billion to develop more than 1,100 shared technologies to advance emissions reduction, mine tailings management, even collecting and ‘banking’ seeds from native plant species for future use in land reclamation.

Secure and reliable supply

Agriculture and energy are innovative industries and major economic drivers that keep Canadians employed – plus our products and commodities make a difference to importing countries that need a secure supply of energy and food.

Read more: Petroleum in real life: fertilizer, food and fuel

Current world events, from energy shortfalls in Europe and elsewhere to Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine, highlight the global significance of energy security. The opportunity to help improve and stabilize global energy security is not just a tremendous opportunity for Canada’s oil and natural gas sector, it could also be considered an obligation to assist our allies and trading partners. The same could be said about supplying high-quality agricultural products to a hungry world, especially as supplies of staples such as wheat are coming under pressure due to blocked supplies from Ukraine.

Canada has a clear advantage with it comes to offering safe, reliable, responsibly produced energy and agricultural products to global markets. As a nation, we are poised to play an ever-larger role.