New Fund Supports Agricultural Innovation

The federal government has announced a $50-million Agricultural Innovat ion Program (AIP) which will boost the development and commercialization of innovative new products, technologies and processes in the agricultural sector.

The Agricultural Innovation Program, announced in Budget 2011 as part of the Next Phase of Canada s Economic Action Plan, will support industry-led science and technology that bridges the gap between ideas and products in the marketplace.

Canadian companies need cutting-edge innovative value-added products and technologies to be able to compete globally, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said during a speech to the mid-term convention of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities. This investment will help us not only encourage new innovative ideas, but also turn them into profitable opportunities for farmers and the entire agriculture sector.

AIP is a national program but will provide support for local initiatives to help address specific pre-commercialization issues or opportunities. The investment will help leverage private-sector resources, which are vital to ensuring prosperity and competitiveness of our agriculture sector.

Commodity groups welcomed the announcement.

With the end of the wheat and barley monopoly, there is a real and immediate need to get working on a national value chain, said Richard Phillips, executive director of the Grain Growers of Canada. This program will be very valuable in helping growers and other industry players get organized and ensure we support wheat and barley going forward. Other industry value chains like pulses and beef have been very successful.

The Grain Growers of Canada have lobbied hard over the last several years for more investment in the agriculture sector, said Phillips. This model looks like it will attract significant private-sector and entrepreneurial dollars to the table and that means even more research and innovation will be created.

JoAnne Buth, president of the Canola Council of Canada said the program has great potential for driving continued innovation in the canola industry.

Canola is an innovation-driven crop, so we are a good fit for this type of program, says Buth. Our existing research programs, together with potentially further research under this program will be important to continued growth in our industry.

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