Project Leads: Talan Iscan and Kathleen Kevany

Project: Aligning Canada's agriculture production incentives to encourage transition to healthier and more sustainable diets


Building healthier, climate-resilient food systems

Current estimates indicate that a transition to more sustainable agricultural practices will be necessary to both combat the harmful effects of climate change and disruptive levels of diet-related illnesses, and to support global food security. However, despite the environmental and health benefits, we are not seeing financial incentives and subsidies that support more production of plant-based foods.

The project will analyze how agricultural subsidies align with the nutrition recommendations outlined in Canada’s Food Guide. Currently, the guide recommends eating a primarily plant-based diet to “promote overall nutritional well-being". But preliminary research suggests that agricultural support programs fall short of the production of plant-based foods at the scale needed to provide Canadians with healthy and affordable food choices.

Photo Source: Canada's Dietary Guidelines

Designing informed agricultural policy

The outcomes of this research will help to develop policy recommendations intended to reduce the sector’s climate impact and to encourage healthy diets, while ensuring an economically sustainable transition for agriculture producers.

Detailed Project Description

This project will study the impact of agricultural subsidies and incentives on Canada's food production and consumption, and the relationship between those impacts and healthy sustainable diets. This includes:

  • Analyzing how Canada and other industrial nations vary in the incentives and protections they offer within their food systems.
  • Assessing Canada's agricultural subsidies to determine if they are aligned with the recommendations of Canada's Food Guide.
  • Assessing how transitioning to healthier and more sustainable diets would affect Canada's international trade in agricultural goods.
  • Assessing the influence of agricultural subsidies on healthy diets.

Projected Policy Outcomes

The project will inform agricultural policy recommendations to support climate mitigation, food security, and increased innovation in the market of plant based foods. These policy outcomes will aim to:

  • Support climate mitigation by enabling the transition to more sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Aid in the production of produce and plant-based proteins.
  • Increase efficiency of food production and enable loss of inputs, reducing food waste and resulting in more affordable food for consumers
  • Increase food sovereignty and security for Canadian communities by supporting increased local and regional production of healthier foods
  • Encourage innovation in the plant-based foods industry and drive entrepreneurship and increased economic activity in this area
  • Encourage healthier diets by aligning the production and availability of food with the diet recommended by Canada's Food Guide


Project Leads


Dr. Talan Iscan


Department of Economics

Faculty of Science, Dalhousie University


Research Themes


Rural Economic Development