Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles
- Sustainable and effective member Associations who are respected leaders in applied agriculture research and extension.
- To collaborate with member associations and partners to enhance delivery of reliable and unbiased applied agricultural research and extension.
- Foster a spirit of community and active participation among members.
- Advocate and promote with a unified voice on behalf of member associations to all partners.
- Create an environment of transparent and effective information flow to and between members.
- Listen and learn from members and stakeholders to gain understanding of their views and perspectives.
- Disseminate relevant information to members and stakeholders.
- Strengthen and develop its member associations.
- Recognize and support the importance of attracting, developing and retaining quality individuals involved in ARECA and member associations.
- Facilitate the development of quality control measures and standard operating procedures.
- Coordinate training of staff and board members.
- Coordinate administration for projects and programs.
- Facilitate coordination and sharing of resources and expertise between associations.
- Professionally conduct business in a transparent, accountable and financially responsible manner.
Applied research associations and forage associations have been an important part of Alberta's agricultural landscape for many years. All of them were initiated by producers for producers, and exist to preserve the sustainability of rural Alberta.
Applied research associations have been quite effective at addressing local concerns and identifying opportunities in local agriculture. Through time, they have developed partnerships to extend the impact of their work. Initially funded solely by membership and local municipalities, associations were limited to simple demonstrations and relied extensively on producer co-operation to carry out projects.
A major step for applied research in the province came in 1983, when the Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AAFRD) Plant Industry Division brought in the Applied Research Program. This allowed groups to access up to $100,000.00 of matching funds to help develop infrastructure and expertise through hiring of permanent staff.
This fund allowed groups to carry out applied research in a reliable and timely fashion, further growing their partnership opportunities with private and public industry, again for the benefit of local producers. Another important step occurred when groups began coordinating projects across agricultural regions, again increasing the impact of programs.
The forage associations have a similar history, but have remained more demonstration and extension focused, achieving a significant impact for the forage and livestock industry through increased awareness and producer adoption of best management practices. The Forage Association Program as a whole had roughly $300,000 available for all forage associations. In order to maximize the impact of available funds and deal with common issues more effectively, the Alberta Forage Council was formed to facilitate co-operation and increase industry partnership opportunities.
The Applied Research Association and Forage Association Programs were terminated in 2002, and a new program-based fund called the Agriculture Opportunity Fund was initiated by AAFRD in 2003. This $1.5M matching fund allowed both applied research and forage associations to apply for funding based on program delivery, without a set limit.
The eligibility for applicants was also expanded to increase the potential impact of the fund. Seeing this opportunity and other benefits of cooperative initiatives, the Alberta Forage Council extended its membership to include applied research associations and was renamed the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA).
ARECA is responding rapidly to issues and opportunities in the agriculture industry, with programs focused on providing measurable benefits for producers and working towards the overall health of rural Alberta. With our partners, we are working together to help ensure the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture in Alberta.