by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Pierre Lemieux, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, visited the annual meeting of the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) in Woodstock on Monday to announce $10.3 million in funding for a grains breeding project led by the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance under Growing Forward II. Seven million comes from the government, the rest from industry.
A GFO news release said the five-year initiative “will bring together researchers from the public and private sectors to enhance the genetics of grain corn, soybeans, oats and barley in order to produce high-yielding, low-input, disease-resistant varieties.”
Lemieux said corn and soybean production brought a record $4.5 billion to the farm gate in Canada last year, generating nearly $2 billion in exports. He told GFO delegates that over the past century, corn yields have quadrupled.
“Today the crops coming off Canadian grain fields go well beyond food,” he said. “They can be found in everything from the grain bin to the gas tank.” As an example of the use of crops beyond food, he said Ford is considering using soybeans in the manufacture of all its car seats.
Lemieux credited leading-edge genetics coming out of the research community for the growth in crop uses. “Innovation is what is driving the competitiveness of our industry,” he said.
Barry Senft, Grain Farmers’ CEO, said in a news release, “Any promising varieties that are developed as a result of this research are expected to be commercialized, ensuring our farmers will remain competitive.” BF