LACOMBE, ALBERTA -- (Marketwired) -- 07/09/13 -- Barley farmers will benefit from key investments in science and innovation that will improve the competitiveness of the barley sector, with the support of the Harper Government. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced today an investment for the Alberta Barley Commission (ABC) to lead a new research cluster of industry experts, government scientists and universities to help increase demand for Canadian barley.
"Our Government remains focused on the economy and our barley industry plays a key role in driving jobs and economic growth," said Minister Ritz. "This investment will allow businesses and experts to collaborate to bring new ideas from the lab to the marketplace, creating new economic opportunities for our barley growers and processors and helping them thrive in the global marketplace."
This investment of $8 million will help develop cost-effective and environmentally-sound crop production practices which combine the most effective methods for weed and disease control so that barley breeders can reduce input costs and maximize their profits. It will also support research focused on breeding new barley varieties which will help producers increase their yields and offer high-quality crops to a variety of markets such as the malting industry.
Additionally, work done under this cluster will help food manufacturers incorporate more "heart-smart" barley into their food products and discover new barley varieties that maximize the cholesterol-lowering attributes sought by consumers. This has the potential to increase consumer demand for barley food products, giving farmers incentive to grow more food-grade barley and opening up new market opportunities for both producers and processors.
"Agriculture Canada's investment in barley is historic in that it shows the government's commitment to the future of agriculture in Canada," said Matt Sawyer, Chair of ABC. "We have pledged farmer and industry funding that will work with the federal government's contributions to help us develop innovative programs that will grow our industry, and its profitability."
While industry leadership and investment are key to the success of the initiative, the cluster will also involve Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists who collaborate with partners on industry priorities. This investment in the barley sector builds on previous AAFC work under the first Growing Forward, on barley breeding, pathology and agronomy to develop new varieties and integrated crop management strategies to help producers compete in the marketplace. Collaborative efforts between government and industry will facilitate access and knowledge of the research by producers, industry agronomists and commodity-based organizations.
The Canadian barley industry plays a vital role in growing the economy. Canadian barley, known around the world for its high quality and superior characteristics, generated over $470 million in exports last year and returns of $729 million at the farm gate.
The cluster is supported under the AgriInnovation Program, a five-year initiative of up to $698 million that is designed to serve as a catalyst for innovation by supporting research, development, commercialization, and adoption of innovative products, technologies, and services. The terms of this investment are subject to the signing of contribution and collaboration agreements.
Today's announcement took place at AAFC's Lacombe Research Centre, where a good part of the cluster's work will take place, in collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan, industry and other players.
The new Growing Forward 2 policy framework, which came into effect on April 1, 2013, will continue to drive innovation and long-term growth in Canada. In addition to a generous suite of business risk management programs, governments have agreed to invest more than $3 billion over five years in innovation, competitiveness, and market development.
For more information on the Growing Forward 2 agreement and the AgriInnovation Program, please visit www.agr.gc.ca/growingforward2.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
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