Barley industry gets $8 million boost – AIP grant money to fund new barley research
The future of barley received a gigantic boost this summer courtesy of a major announcement from the federal government.
On July 9, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) announced that the Canadian barley industry was the recipient of $8 million to fund 27 new and innovative projects under the Barley National Research Cluster.
“This is an exciting development,” said Alberta Barley Chairman Matt Sawyer. “An investment in innovation of this magnitude with a focus on results- oriented research is exactly what the industry needs at this time.”
The cluster is supported under the umbrella of the federal government’s AgriInnovation Program, a five-year $698 million initiative designed to support innovation within the Canadian agricultural industry. This is the first time Canada’s barley industry has put together such a comprehensive program with impact from coast-to-coast.
“The results of this research will definitely have a positive impact on the profitability of the barley industry,” added Sawyer.
With a program of this size, it is important to have key partnerships across the industry to move the work forward. One of those partners is the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF), a farmer funded non-profit organization investing in crop research that benefits western Canadian producers. WGRF is a project funder along with Alberta Barley, the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute, and Rahr Malting Company.
Western Grain Research Foundation Executive Director Garth Patterson echoed Sawyer’s sentiments about the long-term benefits of the barley cluster funding.
“Research is what keeps western Canadian farmers a step ahead,” said Patterson.
Patterson expressed his gratitude for the sizable financial commitment from the federal government. With so many projects on the go, he explained the importance of having a collaborative research strategy to benefit producers throughout Western Canada.
“We can do more by working together,” said Patterson. “We will be investing in research institutions and researchers with track records who produce results for farmers.”
While this funding announcement created waves of excitement throughout the barley industry, researcher Aaron Beattie, a barley and oat breeder at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre, was ready to get down to work.
Beattie said the additional funding will allow researchers to make significant progress on many current projects.
“This will allow us to maintain and, in some cases, increase our breeding efforts towards goals we are already working towards,” he said.
While Beattie explained that he is always dedicated to producing tangible results for barley producers, more time and money can now be devoted to important areas of innovation, such as improving crop yields and combating disease.
With these innovations on the horizon, the additional funding will also allow researchers to focus more on agronomy to produce higher yielding crops with better lodging resistance.
“Everything we do is geared towards producing varieties with value to the producer and end-user,” said Beattie. “The varieties coming forward will show yield improvements, better resistance to lodging and improved genetic disease resistance.”
The cluster of projects will be administered through Alberta Barley’s research department. For updates, visit www.albertabarley.com.