Finding federal and provincial agricultural programs and services is just a click away. Featured at this year’s GTEC Conference, AgPal, a new online innovation developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), helps farmers, processors and agri-businesses to more easily find the programs and services that serve their needs.

With the creation of AgPal, clients are now able to find and view programs and services all in one user-friendly place. The tool is structured to grow and evolve to accommodate new information, ensuring it remains effective at meeting the needs of the agriculture and agri-food sector.

In the age of smart phones, AAFC officials felt it was crucial that AgPal be mobile-friendly and easily accessible from anywhere. As a result, the tool has been designed to work on all handheld devices and a mobile strategy is in place to ensure compatibility with software and hardware developments well into the future. Since its launch, feedback and reaction from partners and clients on the functionality and convenience of AgPal have been positive.

Recognizing the importance of continuous service improvement, AAFC created AgPal in response to client feedback. AAFC heard that many Canadian farmers, processors and agri-businesses were either unaware of the federal, provincial and territorial agriculture-based programs and services available to them or ran into difficulties finding information about them online.

Prototypes of AgPal were tested with clients and their recommendations were used in each step of its creation. AgPal was built using open protocols and existing tools to create an environment that allows for maximum participation from partners and easier and more efficient support from IT teams.

Launched in January 2012, AgPal currently features information on all of the agricultural programs and services offered by AAFC, Nova Scotia and Farm Credit Canada, as well as the Ontario Growing Forward programs and services. This one-stop shop database will soon feature the agricultural programs offered by Newfoundland and Labrador, and AAFC is working with Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and New Brunswick to have their programs and services added to the AgPal database.

AgPal is not only simple for clients to use, but easy for our provincial and territorial partners to manage as well. It uses a federated model which allows partners to change and update their own content either within their own environment or within AgPal. Its structure is so adaptable that there is no need for partners to change their content to fit its information model. The tool uses metadata, a well-defined taxonomy, and controlled vocabularies that serve to standardize the information coming from all partners.

The end result is that clients searching and viewing programs and services on AgPal will be provided with consistent and clear information from various sources (federal, provincial, territorial) and will have an easier time finding the right program or service for them.

AAFC remains dedicated to working with its partners and the agriculture and agri-food sector to ensure this user friendly one-stop shop remains relevant and the tool of choice for clients.