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Federal research farm to reopen in Quebec

Frelighsburg farm shuttered in 2012

A federal experimental farm shuttered by budget cuts in 2012 is poised to reopen next year in Quebec’s Monteregie, for joint research work with other ag sector stakeholders.

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay on Friday announced Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Frelighsburg Experimental Farm, about 80 km southeast of Montreal, will reopen in the spring, taking on research in collaboration with “governments, universities, growers and grower associations.”

The farm, a satellite site of AAFC’s Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Research and Development Centre, is to focus on “the development of new, clean technologies to help protect Canada`s water and soil resources.”

The Frelighsburg farm, which the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu centre acquired in 1969, was home to a federal experimental orchard for cultivation of fruits and berries.

When it reopens, AAFC said Friday, researchers at the farm will collect information on fruit varieties that can withstand extreme and unusual temperature fluctuations, “to help increase crops’ resiliency to climate change.”

The farm, which will be one of three managed by the St-Jean research centre, will also be used to develop “new techniques and tools in active biovigilance, precision farming and crop management.”

“It is great that Frelighsburg Experimental Farm will once again be home to innovative research that will help the government of Canada advance its ambitious goals to spur innovation; protect the environment, especially regarding water management; and grow the economy in the agriculture sector,” local MP Denis Paradis said Friday in a federal release.

The previous Conservative government’s closure of the farm, whose research work was moved to the St-Jean centre’s sites at L’Acadie and Ste-Clotilde, came under criticism from opposition MPs, noting the farm’s “important research” on plant diseases, insects and genetic improvement of apple trees.

“In the case of the Frelighsburg farm, permanent jobs and a number of student jobs were eliminated, but most importantly, we lost 40 years of scientific data and we are compromising the future of an important agricultural sector,” then-NDP MP Laurin Liu told the Commons in 2013.

According to La Terre de chez nous, the farm news arm of Quebec’s Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), quoting an AAFC spokesperson in 2014, the Quebec agriculture ministry had entered talks to buy about 250 acres of the Frelighsburg farm, while Environment Canada planned to continue to use another 80 acres. — AGCanada.com Network

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