MacAulay announces $8 million for diverse field crops research cluster

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Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay has announced just over $8 million in funding for small acreage crop research under the five-year Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership framework.

The new Diverse Field Crops Cluster will focus on crops mainly grown in Western Canada, including camelina, carinata, flax, mustard, and sunflowers, and will be administered by Ag-West Bio Inc.

Combined with industry contributions of over $6 million, the total value of the five-year project will exceed $15 million. Partners include Mustard 21 Canada Inc, Smart Earth Camelina Corporation, Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission, Western Grains Research Foundation, Manitoba Crop Alliance, Nuseed Canada, and Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says the research will focus on benchmarking greenhouse gas emissions produced by small acre crops, understanding how these emissions are impacted by nitrogen fertilizer, development of new oilseed crops that are adapted to lower-quality land, and improved genetic resiliency, yields, and disease resistance in mustard, flax, and sunflowers.

“There is no doubt that our farmers are among the first to feel the impacts of climate change. That’s exactly why we’re supporting this important research to increase the yield and profitability of diverse field crops and make the sector more resilient,” noted MacAulay, in a news release.

Ag-West Bio is a Saskatoon-based not-for-profit organization created in 1989 by the Saskatchewan government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, to accelerate the then emerging ag biotech sector and to support the bioeconomy.

Ag-West Bio also administered the diverse crops research cluster under the previous five-year Canadian Agricultural Partnership that ended in 2023. In 2019, MacAulay announced more than $13 million for the cluster for research focused on flax, camelina, canaryseed, sunflower, hemp, quinoa and mustard.

“Ag-West Bio is grateful for this continued support of the Diverse Field Crops Cluster (DFCC),” said Karen Churchill, president and CEO of Ag-West Bio. “The goal with DFCC is to give farmers viable alternatives to include in their rotations, which will help create an agricultural ecosystem that is more profitable while also being more resilient to climate change. By pooling resources, DFCC can advance these crops much faster.”

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