The province will also provide $1.65 million in support over five years
By Diego Flammini
An Ontario university will soon control many aspects of a northern agricultural research facility.
On Dec. 8, the provincial government transferred the operating and research programming responsibilities of the Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Station to Lakehead University. Ontario will still own the station.
The government is providing $1.65 million in financial support to the research station over five years, Bill Mauro, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan, announced in a Dec. 8 statement.
There are 1,985 farms in Northern Ontario, according to the 2016 Census of Agriculture. And the investment shows farmers in the region that the government is committed to helping them flourish.
“By investing in research and innovation, we are boosting the competitiveness of Ontario’s agri-food sector and ensuring that our farmers in Northwestern Ontario have the tools and resources they need to succeed,” Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, said in the statement.
The facility, used by researchers to conduct crop trials and farm management experiments, will be re-named the Lakehead University Agricultural Research Station.
Members of the local ag community are excited about the potential opportunities with a university-run facility.
“I see opportunities that students will be working more with agriculture and farmers in the area, especially students who may not have worked with farming in the past,” Andrew Brekveld, a Thunder Bay-based director with the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, told Farms.com today.
Lakehead University doesn’t currently offer any ag-specific programming but operating its own agricultural research station could lead to the development of a baseline program, Brekveld says.
“I definitely think (Lakehead’s inclusion) could lead to some sort of basic agriculture training,” he said. “It wouldn’t be as big as a diploma or degree, but it could provide some basic ag knowledge to students who want it.”
Lakehead University will provide a stable source of funding for the research site, which faced financial challenges in the past.
Farms.com has reached out to Lakehead University for comment on its newly acquired research station and its plans for the facility.