Alberta rolls out revamped ag research funding and delivery model

Devin Dreeshen, Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, has announced the creation of Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR), a non-profit, arm’s-length agriculture research organization.

The creation of RDAR is the result of consultation with farmers, industry, and key partners in the agricultural sector, the province says. It was established so that farmers, in collaboration with others involved in research, are best positioned to determine agricultural research priorities.

RDAR will replace previous research models, such as the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) and the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund (ACIDF).

The new model is designed to reflect the priorities of farmers and ranchers and to ensure that agriculture research in Alberta achieves outcomes that can be applied in the field and on the ranch.

The arm’s length group will have a regionally-representative advisory board that will assist an interim board to determine value, profitability, and areas of focus.

“We will make sure farmers direct research priorities. RDAR will ensure Alberta’s agriculture industry has more financial flexibility and autonomy to fund longer-term projects. Governments shouldn’t force an ideology on research priorities – research priorities should be determined by industry. Research can be a massive springboard for economic growth, and, with the right focus, RDAR can achieve that for Alberta’s farmers and ranchers,” says Minister Dreeshen.

Research funding will begin flowing by September 2020 and achieve full operational capacity by March 2021. $2 million in funding through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership will be provided this year to support initial operations.

Dr. David Chalack has been named as interim board chair. Dr. Gerald Hauer will serve as interim CEO, and Clinton Dobson will act as interim research director.

Related:

Alberta cuts over 40 positions from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Industry Reaction

Industry reaction is optimistic, though most groups are still waiting to hear as to what the funding level will be of this new organization.

Alberta Beef Producers:
“We are pleased to see research directed by an arm’s length organization that hopefully will be able to make long term commitments free of government fiscal year challenges and election cycles. We are happy that it will be led by a board elected by farmers through their boards and commissions and that research will reflect the priorities of farmers and ranchers. We are not clear on how much research funding will be available to this organization, but the producer direction should be good fall all research priorities, including those of cattle and beef producers.  We are wondering why the organization needs $2 million in operational funding to get established.” — Rich Smith, executive director

Alberta Milk:
“We appreciate the Government of Alberta taking action on the agriculture research file and we look forward to working with RDAR. We really don’t know enough about the RDAR structure or the process to be able to comment at this time on the potential impact on our research priorities.We’re looking forward to learning more, specifically regarding the actual dollars allocated per fiscal year to the funding of research projects.” They also note that Dr. Chalack has been part of the dairy industry.

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