Grow­ing money

Fed­eral funds go­ing to P.E.I. to fix agri­cul­ture re­search build­ings, pay for on-farm crop re­search

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - THE GUARDIAN

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is putting money into fix­ing up its agri­cul­ture re­search fa­cil­i­ties on P.E.I. and also in­vest­ing more in crop re­search for the re­gion.

Out­side on the lawn of the re­search sta­tion in Char­lot­te­town Wed­nes­day, Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Gerry Ritz an­nounced $2 mil­lion to im­prove the lab­o­ra­to­ries of the Crop and Live­stock Re­search Cen­tre on Univer­sity Av­enue in Char­lot­te­town.

A fur­ther $2 mil­lion will go to­wards ex­pand­ing the green­houses at the Har­ring­ton re­search farm.

There is also a third fund­ing pro­gram to fix ven­ti­la­tion at re­search sta­tions, plus fix­ing roofs, park­ing ar­eas and road­ways.

In a sec­ond an­nounce­ment, soy­beans, corn for grain, bar­ley and wheat are get­ting at­ten­tion, as al­most $800,000 is be­ing given to re­search pro­moted by the At­lantic Grains Coun­cil to im­prove qual­ity and out­put in the three Mar­itime prov­inces.

The re­search looks at real fields on vol­un­teer farms, test­ing for ef­fec­tive fungi­cide use, and study­ing farm­ing and weather Ben­nett Crane, left, grad­u­ate stu­dent, and Michelle Tren­holm, sum­mer stu­dent, demon­strate DNA ex­trac­tion to fed­eral cab­i­net min­is­ters Gerry Ritz and Gail Shea. The Crops and Live stock Re­search Cen­tre in Char­lot­te­town re­ceived $2 mil­lion to­wards mod­ern­iz­ing ex­ist­ing lab­o­ra­tory fa­cil­i­ties. fac­tors that might af­fect yields.

Such ques­tions as the space be­tween rows, the va­ri­eties planted and the des­tiny of seed­ing in pounds per acre are be­ing stud­ied.

The study is jointly funded be­tween farm­ers and gov­ern­ment. Farm­ers con­trib­uted vol­un­tar­ily to a re­search fund and helped cre­ate a pri­or­ity list of re­search ques­tions.

Eg­mont MP Gail Shea said agri­cul­ture re­mains a strong fac­tor in the Is­land econ­omy.

“With about a half a bil­lion dol­lars in farm cash re­ceipts (agri­cul­ture ac­counts) for about half of the ex­ports off of P.E.I.,” said Shea.

“There is a con­stant chal­lenge to stay ahead of the curve with the scope and com­plex­ity of the (agri­cul­ture)” in­dus­try, said Ritz.

“This is the first time com­mer­cial re­search tri­als have been un­der­taken in At­lantic Canada of this size and scope,” he said of the corn and soy­bean re­search.

The re­search fund­ing rep­re­sents a “key step for­ward in our new role of co-or­di­nat­ing pro­ducer-led re­search in the re­gion,” said Allan Ling,At­lantic Grains Coun­cil chair­man. There are 137 farms on P.E.I. that are grow­ing soy­beans, corn for grain, bar­ley or wheat cash crops. Soy­beans ac­count for the ma­jor­ity, at 77 farms. Acres planted in 2015: Bar­ley – 60,000 Soy­beans – 58,000 Wheat – 27,000 Corn (2013) – 7,000 Farm cash re­ceipts on P.E.I. for soy­beans, corn for grain, bar­ley and wheat $36.3 mil­lion last year. Soy­bean acreage is 90 per cent GMO, or ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied, but none ever goes to hu­man food. All GMO only goes to live­stock through com­modi­ties mar­ket. Se­vita In­ter­na­tional an­nounced last week it will re­main on P.E.I. work­ing with farm­ers to pro­duce non-GMO, food-grade soy­beans for ship­ment over­seas to Ja­pan. Re­search will not cre­ate new GMO for its corn and soy bean re­search but will use ex­ist­ing GMO va­ri­eties. There will also be re­search on new tech­niques to sup­press or en­hance plant genes as a way to cre­ate spe­cific ben­e­fits, like higher yield or health­ier prod­uct. That used to take 10 years or more through se­lec­tive breed­ing.

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

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