Black swans are swimming faster and they will test Canadian agriculture

Black swan events have transformed agriculture. From the invention of canola to precision agriculture and the emergence of the African Swine Fever (ASF), these extreme and unpredictable events — both good and bad — continue to shape the industry’s future.

Is Canadian agriculture and the agri-food system resilient enough to absorb the potential negative impacts of the next black swan? Or could we be looking at a growth opportunity that would contribute innovation to Canadian farmers, optimizing production and enhancing natural capital.

Whatever happens, Canadian agriculture has to be prepared for a faster pace of evolution and revolution, says Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute president and CEO Don Buckingham.

“Black swans are swimming faster and they will test you.” That was one of Buckingham’s key messages when he addressed Farm Management Canada’s Agricultural Excellence Conference at Fredricton, New Brunswick earlier this week.

(Listen to Bernard Tobin and Don Buckingham discuss the potential impact of future black swans. Story continues after the interview.)

Buckingham noted that black swans usually fall into three categories — natural disasters, technological man-made changes, or social and political events. He feels the next black swan to impact agriculture could likely come from the disaster category with AFS being the most likely culprit.

Buckingham adds that the potential impact of AFS has brought a very strong response from industry and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to keep the disease at bay. “I think we have a lot of work to do to stay resilient so we can meet those non man-made challenges,” he says.

Click here for more coverage of the Agricultural Excellence Conference.


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