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Western Canadian farmers invest in variety development research

WGRF will work together with the Ministry of Agriculture

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

A multimillion dollar investment by the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) will help fund Canadian wheat and barley development.

WGRF will invest more than $21 million over the next five years to support the Ministry of Agriculture’s western wheat and barley breeding programs until 2020 in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Approximately $20 million will be used for wheat breeding research and $1.4 million to fund wheat breeding initiatives.

The investment is a result of farmer check-offs on wheat and barley and represents the largest industry investment into government agricultural research.

In a statement, Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay said it can take up to 13 years for a new variety to become available and WGRF’s investment will provide research facilities with the funding to continue working on new varieties.

The research will also investigate:

  • Potentially devastating wheat and barley diseases including Fusarium Head Blight
  • Enhancing insect resistance
  • Environmental stresses including drought and flooding
  • Developing genetic markers for plant breeding selection

Research from the University of Saskatchewan says farmers could expect a good return on investment. It states that for every check-off dollar invested into wheat and barley has returned $20.40 and $7.56 respectively.

“Check-off investments of over $90 million since 1994 have resulted in the development of 120 wheat and barley varieties,” Dr. Keith Degenhardt, Vice-Chair, WGRF said in a release. “Our new investment of $21.4 million provides stability to AAFC wheat and barley research until 2020 and ensures that AAFC (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) will continue to develop new varieties for many years to come."

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