The Western Grains Research Foundation has announced it will be investing $21.4 million in Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s wheat and barley breeding programs over the next five years — the largest-ever industry investment in AAFC research.
Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Keith Degenhardt, vice-chair of WGRF, made the announcement in Saskatoon on Monday morning.
$20 million will go toward wheat breeding ($4 million/year) with another $1.4 million to be invested in barley breeding at AAFC Research Centres in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. As WGRF executive director Garth Patterson explains in this interview, the federal government will be contributing approximately $20 million per year.
Check-off investments of over $90 million since 1994 have resulted in the development of 120 wheat and barley varieties, noted Degenhardt. The WGRF is the largest financial partner in AAFC’s variety development research, having partnered with AAFC through a series of agreements going back to 1994.
According to AAFC, more than 80 per cent of insured durum wheat acres and 66 per cent of hard red spring wheat acres in western Canada are planted with AAFC-developed varieties.
“The substantial investments made by producers into wheat and barley breeding since 1994 has aided in the development of the most popular varieties grown on the prairies today,” said Degenhardt. “Varieties like Lillian, Strongfield, Carberry, and Unity VB have offered not only higher yields but improved end use properties, and better disease and insect resistance compared to those previously grown in farmers’ fields.”
MacAulay noted the deal provides stability to AAFC’s breeding programs.
“Producer check-offs have played a vital role in funding long term research. It takes on average ten to thirteen years for a new variety to become commercially available,” said the minister. “Breeding programs require long-term stable funding in order to operate effectively and this is exactly what WGRF funding has provided.”
More to come.