Federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz was on hand at Brandon’s Ag Days yesterday to announce more than $3.7 million in funding awarded to projects spearheaded by the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA). The funding is targeted at varietal development and to help oat producers sell more of their crop in the global marketplace.
POGA will receive more than $3 million from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) AgriInnovation Program for three research projects:
- Up to $2,905,829 for scientists to pursue collaborative research to develop new oat varieties targeted specifically for cultivation in the Canadian Prairies. These new varieties will be high-yielding, with enhanced resistance to disease.
- Up to $151,500 to create a new method of identifying genes for use in oat improvement. With the ability to identify desirable traits in oats, breeders will be able to create higher-value varieties, leading to increased commercial opportunities.
- Up to $109,500 to evaluate how oat beta-glucan improves the responsiveness of the immune system in horses. The beta-glucan fiber found in oats has been proven to deliver numerous health benefits to humans and is expected to do the same for horses, which may lead to increased exports of Canadian oats to markets abroad.
POGA will also receive an investment of up to $600,000 from AAFC’s AgriMarketing Program to help oat producers gain a foothold in the American equine market through the development of targeted marketing activities to promote Canadian oats as high-quality feed for horses. Activities include a multimedia advertising campaign to increase awareness of Canadian oats as healthy equine feed and attendance at trade shows and conferences where POGA can hold face-to-face meetings with equine experts, such as veterinarians and nutritional researchers.