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Federal Dollars Go Into Dairy Research

Dairy Farmers of Canada plans to spend $11.7 million on research projects across the country that will focus on the health and nutritional benefits of dairy products and ways to improve animal productivity through health and breeding.

The research money will be awarded to clusters of scientific and technical expertise at universities and agriculture schools across the country, says Shelly Crabtree, spokeswoman for DFC. Her organization has selected the areas for research and will co-ordinate the projects once they’re approved by Agriculture Canada for funding.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced last month that Ottawa would contribute $8.7 million for the research projects. DFC will kick in $3 million.

The research clusters will complement work done for the Canadian Quality Milk Program and the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Dairy Cattle, which set standards for the care of dairy animals.

DFC President Jacques Laforge says the federal research assistance reinforces “the strong partnership between producers and government. “The success of our agricultural model is built on this partnership and as a result of supply management and the stability it provides, our industry remained steady during a devastating global economic and food crisis.”

A DFC background paper says the research cluster approach “is a way to maximize the impact of the government’s investments in science and innovation by focusing on Canada’s agricultural strengths and attracting industry investment.”

The dairy cluster will bring together the best scientific and technological expertise to do more research into the nutritional qualities of dairy products and to find ways to improve animal productivity through better breeding techniques, in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.”

Research will focus on strategic issues that the dairy sector has identified as priorities, to ensure the industry is well positioned to meet future challenges and continues to grow, DFC says. The goal is to make dairy foods be better able “to improve the health status of consumers and might even be used to address certain public health issues while being developed according to sustainable development principles.

DFC wants the research to identify “health benefits associated with milk and dairy products leading to adequate consumption and beneficial health outcomes for the public with economic benefits to both the agricultural and health sectors in Canada.

“Dairy products are nutrient-rich foods, which contribute to the healthy diet of Canadians. Health claims involving biological functions or reducing the risk of chronic diseases will be central to food concerns and ultimately industry growth.”

The research will also look at making dairy production environmentally sustainable, the paper says. “Sustainable development will unquestionably be at the root of any technological development and innovation in the sector. It is important for the dairy industry to be in a position to demonstrate that the environmental costs of dairy production and processing are in balance with the nutritional properties of dairy products in maintaining the health and well-being of Canadians.”

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