Ottawa, ON – A renewed agreement between Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) will deliver greater opportunities for the Western Canadian wheat and barley farmers, says Andy Mitchell, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
AAFC will invest $24.5 million in wheat research and $3.15 million for barley over the next five years, and the WGRF will provide an additional $12.5 million.
The agreement follows the original 10-year agreement signed in 1994, which saw producer check-off money invested in the development of new wheat and barley varieties suitable to Western Canada.
The wheat and barley research funded under this agreement will address specific business risk issues identified by the industry. For wheat, these include midge fly and fusarium in the Eastern Prairies; leaf diseases, stem fly, midge fly, heat and drought in the semi-arid regions; and sprouting in the Northern Prairie regions.
Barley research funding will focus mostly on developing two and six-row malting varieties, and about 30% of the funds will be devoted to feed, forage and hulless food types.
“This partnership is important to western crop producers and all Canadians,” says Keith Degenhardt, WGRF chair. “It provides a sound business plan for variety development, ensures producers are full partners in the process and lays the long-term groundwork for a stronger industry.”
Some recent successes from the initial agreement include the hard red spring wheat variety, AC Superb, which yields 25% higher than the check varieties, and AC Snowbird, a new hard white type that allows Canadian growers to compete with other countries in this new market. Barley research has yielded Millhouse, a variety that can be milled like wheat and blended into breads, bagels and noodles.