Oat growers backed to rebuild horse feed market

Prairie oat growers have picked up federal funding in a multi-pronged bid to restore the "lost" horse feed market in North America for their product.

Western Economic Diversification Canada on Monday pledged an investment of $195,000 in a three-part export development initiative through the Prairie Oat Growers Association.

"POGA’s research has identified the market segments where we need to concentrate and we are looking forward to putting our plan into action," association president Bill Wilton of Winnipeg said in WD’s release.

The largest component, WD said, is expected to bring together equine industry experts to "raise awareness" of western Canadian oats amongst the U.S. equine feed industry through oat research projects.

One of POGA’s stated policy goals is to "recapture" market share in the U.S. equine feed market by 2018, through what it’s dubbed the Equine Feed Oat Project.

The initiatives being funded are meant to help "regain the lost equine feed market in North America and increase the demand for Canadian oats," Wilton said.

POGA said it’s found transportation costs to be a "barrier" to oat exports, and will put some of the funding into a meeting of "transportation stakeholders" on ways to reduce transportation costs.

Thirdly, the WD funding will go toward POGA’s participation in two trade missions to Mexico to build the international export market for oats, the government said.

POGA in December picked up a $100,000 investment through the federal/provincial Growing Forward framework’s AgriMarketing program for the same general export development plan: to "increase export of oats and oat products to the U.S. equine market and educate horse owners and equine advisors on the benefits of Canadian oats for equines."

"Oat exports declined by 700,000 metric tonnes from 1994 to 2011, and it’s critical to Canadian oat producers that we reclaim that market," Wilton said in the government’s release last month.

"The AgriMarketing funding is imperative for producer-funded commodity groups that have no advocate to expand markets in agriculture products like oats."

Related story:
Prairie oat prices drop, following futures markets, Dec. 21, 2012

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