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44th Parliament, 1st Session
(November 22, 2021 - Present)
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The Standing Orders of the House of Commons give all standing committees the mandate to exercise certain general powers. Standing Order 108(2) gives committees the power “to study and report on all matters relating to the mandate, management and operation of the department or departments of government which are assigned to them.” For a more detailed overview of parliamentary committees, please consult Our Procedure.

The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food may examine any issue related to Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry. It is a public forum where specific events or initiatives affecting the sector can be addressed.

More specifically, the Committee focuses on bills, expenditures and activities of the organizations that are part of the Agriculture and Agri-Food portfolio:

The Committee also examines the activities of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that fall under the responsibility of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food,[1] and the activities of other organizations that are independent of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, such as the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). An important part of the Committee’s mandate is to study and vote on the items for the various agencies in the Agriculture and Agri-Food portfolio included in the government’s main and supplementary estimates.

[1] The CFIA was moved to the Health portfolio in October 2013, but the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food continues to be responsible for the CFIA's non-food safety agricultural activities.

The parliamentary reforms implemented in the early 1980s (resulting from the Lefebvre Committee in 1982-1983 and the McGrath Committee in 1984-1985) gave standing committees the power to investigate any matter of interest in their respective fields. As matters of interest in agriculture are dictated by natural phenomena and major developments in politics and science, occasionally issues are re-examined.

Over the years, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food has studied a range of topics and events. The following topics have regularly returned to the Committee and have been the subject of more than one report:

  • The successive federal-provincial-territorial agreements on agricultural funding (the Agricultural Policy Framework, Growing Forward, Growing Forward 2 and the Canadian Agricultural Partnership);
  • International trade including the negotiation of bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements and trade disputes affecting market access for Canadian agricultural commodities;
  • Interprovincial trade barriers that may affect the trade of food and beverages;
  • The impact of animal diseases on the livestock sector, notably Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE or “Mad Cow Disease”) and African Swine Fever (ASF);
  • Environmental issues as they relate to agriculture such as the impact of climate change or soil and water conservation;
  • Encouraging the participation of underrepresented or underserved communities, such as Indigenous peoples and youth, in Canadian agriculture;
  • Transportation of agricultural commodities, including grain transportation in Canada, which experienced backlogs in 2013 and 2018;
  • The use of biotechnology in farm production and the public debate over genetically modified food; and
  • Developments in supply management in the structured marketing context.

In the execution of its functions, each committee is normally assisted by a committee clerk, one or more analysts and a committee assistant. Occasional assistance is also provided by legislative clerks and lawyers from the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel. These individuals are non-partisan and serve all members of the committee and representatives of all parties equally.

Committee Clerk

The clerk performs their duties and responsibilities under the direction of the committee and its Chair. As an expert in the rules of the House of Commons, the clerk may be requested to give advice to the Chair and members of the committee should a question of procedure arise. The clerk is the coordinator, organizer and liaison officer for the committee, and as such, will be in frequent contact with members’ staff. They are also responsible for inviting witnesses and dealing with all the details regarding their appearance before the committee.

Committee Assistant

The committee assistant provides a wide range of specialized administrative services for the organization of committee meetings and the publishing of documents on the committee’s Website. The committee assistant works with the clerk to meet the needs of the committee.

Committee Analyst

The Library of Parliament’s analysts, who are subject-matter experts, provide authoritative, substantive, and timely research, analysis and information to all members of the committee. They are part of the committee’s institutional memory and are a unique resource for parliamentarians. Supported by research librarians, the analysts work individually or in multidisciplinary teams.

Analysts can prepare: briefing notes on the subjects being examined; detailed study plans; lists of proposed witnesses; analyses of an issue with a list of suggested questions; background papers; draft reports; news releases; and/or formal correspondence. Analysts with legal training can assist the committee regarding any substantive issues that may arise during the consideration of bills.

OTHER RESOURCES AVAILABLE AS REQUIRED

Parliamentary Counsel

Within the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, parliamentary counsel (Legislation) are available to assist members who are not in Cabinet with the preparation of private members’ bills or of amendments to government bills or others.

At various stages of the legislative process, members may propose amendments to bills. Amendments may first be proposed at the committee stage, during a committee’s clause-by-clause review of a bill. Amendments may also be proposed at the report stage, once a bill returns to the House.

Once a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides the name of the parliamentary counsel (Legislation) responsible for the drafting of the amendments for a particular bill to the members.

Legislative Clerk

The legislative clerk serves all members of the committee as a specialist of the process by which a bill becomes law. They are available to give, upon request from members and their staff, advice on the admissibility of amendments when bills are referred to committee. The legislative clerk organizes the amendments into packages for committee stage, reviews all the committee amendments for procedural admissibility and prepares draft rulings for the Chair. During clause-by-clause consideration of bills in committee, a legislative clerk is in attendance to assist the committee with any procedural issues that may arise. The legislative clerk can also provide members with advice regarding the procedural admissibility of report stage amendments. When a bill is sent to committee, the clerk of the committee provides to the members the name of the legislative clerk assigned to the bill.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO)

The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) is an officer of Parliament created by the Parliament of Canada Act who supports Parliament by providing analysis, including analysis of macroeconomic and fiscal policy, for the purposes of raising the quality of parliamentary debate and promoting greater budget transparency and accountability.

The Parliament of Canada Act also provides the PBO with a mandate to, if requested by a committee, estimate the financial cost of any proposal over which Parliament has jurisdiction. Certain committees can also request research and analyses of the nation’s finances or economy, or of the estimates.

Further information on the PBO may be found at: https://www.pbo-dpb.gc.ca/en/.

In addition to its regular examination of the main and supplementary estimates and the mandate letter of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Standing Committee also undertakes studies on policy issues of interest to Canadian agriculture. The Committee may choose to report the findings of these studies to the House of Commons with policy recommendations for the federal government. Some studies do not lead to such a formal report, but instead allow representatives of federal departments and agencies, agricultural stakeholders, and others to provide information to the Committee on an issue of concern.

As part of the legislative process, the House of Commons may also refer bills or clauses of bills related to agriculture to the Committee for its consideration and amendment.

The lists below provide an overview of the Committee’s work during the 42nd and 43rd Parliaments, including reports it tabled in the House of Commons, studies and activities it undertook that did not result in a report, and legislation it considered.

Reports tabled in the House of Commons:

Studies and activities that did not lead to a substantive report: Legislation: