New solutions could be on the way for some of Ontario’s livestock and crop producers challenges, courtesy of a $343 million funding injection into the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance by the provincial government.
The funds, announced Wednesday, will extend the life of the research agreement between the University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario.
“The renewal of this landmark agreement enables U of G researchers to continue to successfully create and apply groundbreaking, globally relevant innovation to address the challenges and opportunities in the agri-food sector and rural communities,” said Malcolm Campbell, the U of G’s vice-president of research, in a news release.
“By working together, our university and government generate impactful discoveries and innovations, train the talent for tomorrow, and continue to create an equitable, prosperous and sustainable agri-food sector for Ontario, Canada and the world.”
The government funding is to flow over a five-year period, beginning April 1.
Through the alliance’s efforts, the platform provides opportunities for skilled talent development, optimization of the province’s network of research centres to develop on-farm solutions for issues faced by livestock and crop producers, and manages threats to food production and food security.
“The future of the province’s agri-food sector is bright and through this investment we continue to enable Ontario to be a world leader in agri-food research and innovation,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, in the release. “By continuing our long-standing partnership with the University of Guelph, our government is demonstrating its commitment to Ontario’s agri-food research infrastructure, providing knowledge transfer and research-driven results to farmers to boost their competitiveness now and in the future.”
The renewed agreement reflects principles of Indigenization, equity, diversity and inclusion, value for money, leadership, innovation and excellence, the news release explains.
Examples of research and innovation stemming from the alliance include a program that helps dairy producers decrease their carbon footprint, U of B-bred soybean varieties that account for nearly half the food-grade soybeans grown in Ontario, avian influenza testing services for poultry producers, and development of the In the Know mental health literacy training program now delivered by the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and is licensed in five provinces across Canada.