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Apr 25

Despite concerns of industry, funders and researchers AAFC has halted research activities until further notice

Posted on Apr 25 By: Victoria Decker

The following press release was issued on April 23, 2020 to AAFC expressing concerns from The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition and the Canadian Barley Research Coalition.

Western wheat and barley commissions concerned about 2020 research activities

Saskatoon, SK; Calgary, AB; Carman, MB (April 23, 2020) – The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) and the Canadian Barley Research Coalition (CBRC) are asking Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to continue important wheat and barley research activities at AAFC’s western Canadian research stations in 2020.
 
Urgent action is required to save the 2020 AAFC field, lab, and greenhouse activities for wheat and barley research projects. This farmer-funded research is critical to the competitiveness of Canada’s agriculture industry and cancelling project activities will have repercussions. Many of the current projects funded by the CWRC, CBRC, and individual crop commissions are multi-year, multi-site, and multi-cooperator endeavors. The impact of disruptions to this work needs to be considered on a project-to-project and program-to-program basis to minimize the loss of both future productivity and the potential contributions of previous projects. 
 
Given the complexity of the situation, it is necessary to evaluate the level of risk and develop safety protocols on a regional basis. Prairie universities have established plans that will allow them to safely continue their research activities in 2020. Private research institutions have also put plans in place to conduct field research this year with appropriate measures to ensure employee safety.
 
“We are facing an unprecedented situation with respect to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety of researchers and other staff is our top priority,” said CWRC Chair Jason Lenz. “The universities and private plant breeders have found safe options to conduct their research. We’re confident AAFC can also create a plan to continue critical research and provide clarity to western Canadian farmers.” 
 
“As funders and partners in research, with a goal to support the agriculture industry, we will assist researchers wherever we can,” says CBRC Interim-Chair Jason Skotheim. “We are requesting that AAFC consult our member organizations to explore opportunities, communicate contingency plans and discuss any potential required adjustments in contract terms and conditions as soon as possible.”
 
Going forward, both the CWRC and CBRC will remain committed to minimizing the impact of the pandemic on the current and future success of the industry while maintaining appropriate measures to ensure health and safety. 
 
The CWRC is a collaboration of the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, the Alberta Wheat Commission, and Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association. The CBRC is a collaboration of the Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission, the Alberta Barley Commission and Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association. 

For more information, please contact:  

Delaney Seiferling
Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission
P: 306-250-1099
dseiferling@saskbarleycommission.com

Victoria Decker
Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions
403-219-7906
vdecker@albertawheatbarley.com

Kate Menold
Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association 
204-807-1912
kate@mbwheatandbarley.ca

Dallas Carpenter
Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission
306-801-2643
dallas.carpenter@saskwheat.ca 
 

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