The Canadian barley industry recently got $8-million worth of good news when federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced investment funding for a Barley National Research Cluster led by the Alberta Barley Commission.
“Innovation of course is critical to a competitive industry,” Ritz said during the announcement following a crop walk event at the Lacombe Research Centre. The funding falls under Growing Forward 2’s AgriInnovation Program.
The research cluster will bring scientists, industry and universities together to move research forward. “A good part of the cluster’s work will happen right here at Lacombe,” Ritz said. “It’s all about partnerships and linkages to get the most bang for research dollars. Your industry can and will be a world leader in quality and supply.”
Ritz said the end of the single-desk era means more opportunities for barley and the money would help develop crop production practices that combine effective methods for weed and disease control to try and keep input costs down.
Alberta Barley Commission chair Matt Sawyer said in putting the proposal together, his organization targeted researchers that presented concrete plans.
“We were very careful to ensure we focused on new research, new innovations and new ideas to move our industry forward,” Sawyer said. The funding will help drive research into a few different areas. Sawyer said there would be a drive to develop unique varieties to help improve feed quality, to expand and maintain Canada’s excellent reputation and market for great malt barley and to promote human consumption of barley.
“This is a historic day for our barley industry as we’ve never received such a large cluster of national funding. This $8 million in AgriInnovation Program money is exactly the shot in the arm barley research needs in Canada,” Sawyer said.
The Alberta Barley Commission will work closely with the Barley Council of Canada on project management, Sawyer said.