The federal and provincial governments have announced $3.1 million in support over three years for applied research on sustainable beef production at two sites near Brandon.
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron Kostyshyn and Brandon-Souris MP Larry Maguire were on hand at the Manitoba Beef Producers annual general meeting here last week to announce support for the project.
“The Manitoba Beef Producers will lead this project which will be focused on launching a research program on beef and grassland management and establish a demonstration farm in order to share knowledge with producers and other stakeholders about grassland management, animal feed efficiency and herd health and it will also create an industry-led committee to co-ordinate these industry-led projects,” said Maguire.
“Working together with a focus on farm-level research will create valuable information for producers and result in the greatest benefits for the long-term future of the beef sector in Manitoba,” said Kostyshyn.
One of the sites to be developed is the old Johnson farm west of Brandon and another will be on a demonstration farm north of the city.
Once established, the new sites will offer producers a location to visit, the ability to see practices first hand and evaluate procedures for themselves.
Along with Manitoba Beef Producers, the project will also include a partnership with MAFRD, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ducks Unlimited and the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association.
“This really comes at a critical time in our industry as we are looking to grow and find better ways to do what we do,” said Manitoba Beef Producers president Heinz Reimer. “This has been a long time in the making for us. We have worked with the minister’s staff for a number of years and we are very pleased that it has finally come to fruition.”
Ducks Unlimited Canada is providing the land for the farms.
“All of the practices that will be promoting proper grass management, grass selection and any kind of intensive equipment displays will occur on our land,” said DUC’s Ken Gross. “Producers will have a place they can come to and view the most innovative practices and any new management techniques.”
Gross said an advisory committee has been tasked with determining the practices that will be examined. The process of surveying producers for what they would like to see explored began last week.
“There is a lot of interest in cover crops, polycrops, bale grazing and swath grazing. There is also a new product called Batt-Latch that is actually a timed gate so that cattle can move without the producer having to be there,” said Gross.
“Producers will be able to come and discuss what has worked and what hasn’t. It is all about keeping the industry profitable and I believe that this will certainly take some of the risk out of trying new practices for producers.”
Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association chair Jim Lintott said the best part of the project is that the whole industry is involved.
“It’s not just one sector. Everyone is at the table and we can discuss similar ideas, meld that into one really good idea, spend less funds getting there and have more funds to do a better job and get better results.”
Next steps include assembling an advisory committee, surveying producers and developing the site, which will include new infrastructure on the demonstration farm to accommodate an education centre.
Project leaders hope to have the demonstration farm ready for producer and public interaction by the summer.
“I look forward to inviting all of you to a grand opening and a tour to highlight the work that we will be doing as part of the initiative,” said Ramona Byth, a representative from the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. “We believe the ideas tested, research conducted and the coming together of producers, industry and the public will have great value to producers here in Manitoba and beyond our borders.”
Funding for the project will be provided under the Growing Forward 2- Growing Innovation — Capacity and Knowledge Development program.