Guelph gets new beef research facility

This barn will remain, but most of the rest of the facilities will be demolished at the University of Guelph’s Elora Beef Research Station to make way for new beef research buildings. (John Greig photo)

The federal and provincial governments and the Beef Farmers of Ontario have all announced funding for buildings and programs at the University of Guelph’s renewed beef research station this week.

The funds announced are to help create a completely new cow-calf and heifer research facility next to the current beef research station, and a new cattle finishing facility after the demolition of some of the current buildings.

Research on genomic testing of cows will also be funded by the money announced during an event Thursday at the research station near Elora.

Jeff Leal, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, announced $12.4 million in funding for the project.

“This new facility will develop new methods and best practices for more efficient and sustainable beef production, bolstering what is important to us all, the economic competitiveness of Ontario’s beef sector,” said Leal, lauding the groups and organizations that worked to make the beef research facility happen.

“Ontario will continue to be an international leader in livestock research,” he said.

Stewart Cressman, chair of the Agriculture Research Institute of Ontario — which owns and funds agriculture research facilities in the province — said he knows how difficult it is in other parts of the country and the world to get livestock research facilities funded.

“We are very privileged to have a government that invests in livestock research,” he said, adding that such investments are important for the future competitiveness of Ontario and Canadian agriculture.

Such facilities are also necessary for the university to continue to attract leading researchers from around the world to Guelph, said Daniel Atlin, the university’s vice-president, external.

“This facility will have impacts locally, across the province, nationally and around the world,” he said.

Bringing in top faculty, with top research facilities also attracts students, said Rene Van Acker, dean of the Ontario Agriculture College.

It’s a challenge for the university to attract students to its agriculture programs — despite multiple jobs awaiting each graduate — and facilities like the beef research station will help, he said.

Lawrence MacAulay, federal minister of agriculture and food, announced $2 million in support for a genomic project with Beef Farmers of Ontario to profile cows in Eastern Canada to improve feed efficiency.

A one per cent improvement in feed efficiency can result in annual savings of $11.1 million for the beef sector, he said. It also helps reduce costs at the farm and reduces methane and manure volumes.

In the long term, the facility will help farmers who are dealing with more public pressure on environmental practices, said Joe Hill, vice-president of Beef Farmers of Ontario.

“As an individual farmer it is harder to address these things, but at a research scale, we can sort out where the issues are and how to best manage them at a farm level. It is going to save farmers a lot of time and energy trying to sort through what their options are and how to meet these challenges.”

The facility will help beef producers remain competitive and able to take advantage of trade opportunities, he said.

The beef facility has been many years in planning and is the second major livestock facilities investment at the university, after the large dairy research facility which opened in 2015.

Work is expected to begin this fall on the beef cow research facility, with the feedlot facility after that, and completion expected by sometime in 2018.

— John Greig is a field editor for Glacier FarmMedia based at Ailsa Craig, Ont. Follow him at @jgreig on Twitter.

CNS Canada -- Cash spring wheat bids across Western Canada were narrowly mixed during the week ended Friday, with prices up slightly in some locations and down in others. Spillover from gains in U.S. futures was offset by the bearish influence of the rising Canadian dollar. Depending on the location, average Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat prices were up by $2 to down by $2 per tonne over the course of the week, according to price quotes from a cross-section of delivery points across the Prairie provinces compiled by PDQ (Price and Data Quotes). Average prices ranged from about $224 per tonne in southeastern Saskatchewan to as high as $238 in northern Alberta. Quoted basis levels varied from location to location, ranging from $31 to $45 per tonne above the futures when using the grain company methodology of quoting the basis as the difference between U.S. dollar-denominated futures and the Canadian dollar cash bids. When accounting for currency exchange rates by adjusting Canadian prices to U.S. dollars, CWRS bids ranged from US$177 to $188 per tonne, down by US$2-$5 compared to the previous week. That would put currency-adjusted basis levels at about US$5-$16 below the futures. Looking at it the other way around, if the Minneapolis futures are converted to Canadian dollars, CWRS basis levels across Western Canada range from $6 to $20 below the futures. Average Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) bids were also narrowly mixed on the week. Average CPSR prices came in at about $183-$206 per tonne in Saskatchewan, and $196-$211 per tonne in Alberta. Average durum prices were down by $2-$3 per tonne during the week, with bids in Saskatchewan ranging from roughly $278-$281 per tonne. The July spring wheat contract in Minneapolis, off of which most CWRS contracts in Canada are based, was quoted Friday at US$5.3325 per bushel, up US5.25 cents from the previous week. Kansas City hard red winter wheat futures, traded in Chicago, are more closely linked to CPSR in Canada. The July K.C. wheat contract was quoted Friday at US$4.735 per bushel, up US5.25 cents compared to the previous week. The July Chicago Board of Trade soft wheat contract settled Friday at US$4.74, up by US6.5 cents on the week. The Canadian dollar closed at US78.92 cents on Friday, up by a penny relative to its U.S. counterpart compared to the previous week. -- Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.


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