Plans and funding for a $25 million “Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence” were announced at the University of Saskatchewan on Thursday.
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Saskatchewan ag minister Lyle Stewart were in Saskatoon to announce $10 million in funding for the centre under Growing Forward 2. The U of S has committed $7 million for construction costs, in addition to providing the land. The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association is also investing $1 million in the centre, which will serve as a hub for coordinating livestock and forage research, training and outreach.
“This centre will facilitate research needed to keep improving our industry competitiveness, profitability and resilience,” said SCA chair Bill Jameson. “The valuable knowledge generated here will impact livestock and forage producers throughout the province and across the country.”
The centre will have its physical home in two locations: a new Beef Cattle Research and Teaching Unit on a 1,760 acre property near Clavet, and the Forage and Cow-calf Research and Teaching Unit to be located at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s existing 2,360-acre research farm near Floral, east of Saskatoon.
According to the university, components of the centre are expected to be in operation by 2018. The Floral facility will be home to “an experimental station for forage crop production studies” and a breeding herd of up to 500 cows.
The president of the Saskatchewan Stockgrowers Association called it “a very big deal for producers.”
“Our governments have made a far-sighted investment in our industry, one that will pay dividends for many years to come,” said Doug Gillespie, noting the centre will be critical in reaching the Saskatchewan Livestock Strategy target of a 25 percent increase in annual livestock farm receipts.
“This gives us the means to work together as an industry to expand our research capacity and become ever more competitive,” he said.