Feds to fund ‘Canada brand’ work for malting barley

Malting barley industry groups are up for over half a million dollars in federal funding to develop a "Canadian Malt Barley Brand."

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on Thursday pledged over $575,000 from the federal AgriMarketing program for the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC), the Malting Industry Association of Canada and the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute to "maintain existing markets" through activities such as branding, technical marketing and communications.

The branding is expected to help highlight Canada’s "commitment to quality" in malting barley and to "allow the industry to use a consistent and common marketing strategy with foreign buyers."

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The announcement was made in conjunction with the Alberta Barley Commission’s (ABC) annual meeting Thursday in Banff, Alta., where a key topic was the deregulation of the Canadian Wheat Board’s single marketing desk for barley, expected next summer through legislation already before Canada’s Senate.

"Very soon, western barley farmers will have marketing freedom and control over their own business and our government is making sure they are in the best position to capture future market opportunities," Ritz said in a release.

"Plan ahead"

The one-time lump sum funding is expected to allow the groups in question to "implement long-term international strategies such as international market development," the ABC said in a separate release.

"Barley farmers need markets for their products. The work of groups — like the CMBTC — play an integral role in helping us attract and retain those markets," said ABC chairman Matt Sawyer, a producer at Acme, Alta.

Both Sawyer and CMBTC managing director Robert McCaig reiterated, however, that bodies such as the CMBTC need "stable, long-term funding to be able to effectively plan ahead."

"Only through assured multi-year funding contracts can we plan ahead and provide those services, programs, training and technical support that are essential to increasing our world share of the malting barley trade and provide more opportunity for Canadian farmers," McCaig said in the ABC’s release.

The AgriMarketing program, backed through 2012 by the Growing Forward ag policy funding framework, is meant to support national ag industry associations and technical marketing support groups to develop and set up long-term international strategies.

Integration of the "Canada brand" is mandatory for AgriMarketing funding.

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