by MATT MCINTOSH
The federal government announced last week that it will invest up to $512,700 into breeding and marketing initiatives for Ontario Asparagus, and it’s an investment that Asparagus Farmers of Ontario and their affiliated company Fox Seeds Inc., will match.
“Investments in research initiatives are necessary for the industry to continue growing,” said Bernie Solymar, executive director of Fox Seeds Inc. and Asparagus Farmers of Ontario.
Diane Finley, Haldimand-Norfolk MP and regional minister for southwestern Ontario, made the announcement in Simcoe on January 24.
“Asparagus is an extremely important crop for us in southwestern Ontario, and this investment will help increase our competitiveness both here in Canada, and abroad,” she said in the news release following the announcement.
According to the release, the money will be used for research projects that work to develop new hybrids, specifically ones that can be grown in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba.
It also supports projects focused on providing producers with “reasonably priced seeds in a timely manner.”
The funding committed by Asparagus Farmers of Ontario and Fox Seeds Inc. will be going to the same projects. Most of which, says Solymar, are run through partnerships with the University of Guelph.
“Some varieties that have been developed through our research programs at the University of Guelph have done really well in Ontario, and in Michighan,” he says. “The government’s investment will help to propel that success.”
Fox Seeds Inc. was created by Asparagus Farmers of Ontario in 2012. It is a separate, for-profit company that is “at arms length” to the grower organization, says Solymar. Asparagus Farmers of Ontario’s website explains that the company pays royalties to the University of Guelph in exchange for the rights to grow and sell the hybrids produced by their breeding program.
The government funding comes as part of Growing Forward 2, under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriInnovation Program. BF