Canada: Govt invests $17 mil in ag researchers

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart announced $17.25 million in funding over the next five years for 13 strategic research chairs. These world class research chairs will help ensure that Saskatchewan has the capacity to further develop new crop varieties, expand the sector’s knowledge and enhance technologies to grow the agriculture industry.

“Our government remains committed to supporting research and innovation, because it generates long-term economic growth and prosperity,” said Minster Ritz. “This investment in human capital will go a long way in attracting even more cutting-edge agricultural research here in Saskatchewan.” 

“This funding ensures that we have highly-qualified scientists whose work in the lab transfers to results in the field,” Stewart said.  “Their research provides Saskatchewan producers with the tools and information to be industry leaders, increase production and continue producing safe, reliable products to feed a growing world population.”

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture’s Strategic Research Program focuses on four areas: crop genetic improvement; livestock development; food and bioproducts development, and soils and environment.  Each chair consists of a scientist and a technician who reside at the University of Saskatchewan.  The program assures stable funding to facilitate the recruitment and retention of the best research personnel.  The chairs are responsible for attracting project funding from programs offered by public and private sectors to support their respective research program.

“This investment provides security for our researchers and allows us to attract world-class scientists,” University of Saskatchewan President Dr. Ilene Busch-Vishniac said.  “We are very proud of our research program and are pleased to continue this partnership that helps Saskatchewan remain the hub of agricultural research in Canada.”

This funding includes the creation of a new forage research chair in 2013, as a result of feedback from industry groups. Since 2007, the federal and provincial governments have committed $35 million to the Strategic Research Program.
The Strategic Research Program was introduced in 1986 through a series of five-year agreements.  A recent evaluation, conducted by KPMG, has concluded that Saskatchewan’s research programs produce $9 in benefits to producers for every dollar invested by the provincial government. 

Funding for the Strategic Research Program is provided under the federal-provincial Growing Forward 2 framework, a five-year, $3-billion investment in innovation, competitiveness and market development, which includes $2 billion cost-shared on a 60:40 basis for programs delivered by provinces and territories (a 50 per cent increase in cost-shared funding), as well as $1 billion for federal-only strategic initiatives.  

For more information on the program and Growing Forward 2 please visit the Saskatchewan Agriculture website here or the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada website Growing Forward 2 here.

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