Throughout his career as a researcher, superintendent, deputy minister of agriculture and private consultant, Dr. Ernest Mercier has been instrumental in planning and implementing provincial and federal agrifood policies required in transforming the family farm into a viable and profitable enterprise in Quebec.
Dr. Mercier worked toward modernizing marketing legislation to enable farmers to regulate their own production in Quebec and Canada; making basic farm loan and credit available to all efficient family farm owners in Quebec; improving the transfer of scientific research results to agrifood producers in Canada and the world and having producers take responsibility for managing several farm improvement services.
Some highlights of Ernest Mercier’s contributions to agriculture include his post-graduate research on the influence of day length on reproduction efficiency and the shape of the lactation curve of dairy cows in Canadian latitudes (1945-47); the organization of the Quebec Artificial Insemination Centre in 1947 and the initiation of Quebec’s Dairy Herd Analysis Service, which became an important semi-privatized dairy cattle improvement program (1965.) He also initiated the semi-privatization of Quebec’s extension services after studying the close relationship between research, teaching and extension in New York State and the privatization of extension services in France.
Dr. Mercier served as a special advisor to CIDA and as a member of Canadian delegations to FAO and other international conferences. He also was a member of several missions to developing countries. Ernest Mercier has been very active in L’Ordre des agronomes du Québec and the Agricultural Institute of Canada, in addition to being very involved in the local church and several community committees.
Ernest Mercier’s contributions to agriculture at the regional, provincial, national and international levels have been recognized by several organizations including the Québec Order of le Mérite agronomique, the Order of Canada and the Lazare Spallanzani – Italia.