NEW FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR ONTARIO RESEARCH
grain farmers are looking to make the most of two new programs offered through the Growing Forward suite of programs launched by the federal government in 2009. With proposed partnerships to both programs, Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) has the potential to participate in $14 million worth of funding for research that will benefit Ontario grain farmers.
“One of our research goals at GFO is to leverage farmer investments as best as possible,” says Crosby Devitt, Manager of Research and Innovation. “These two programs present important opportunities for agricultural research and, on behalf of our farmer-members; it’s a top priority for GFO to secure this funding.”
Crosby continues to explain that “we have made a request to the federal government to partner with us on research that is critical to the long term future of Ontario grain farmers.”
Preparation of these requests involved developing specific strategies along two main themes: insect and disease management for corn, soybeans and wheat; and enhanced public sector breeding programs.
creating management tools
The first program, focused on the utilization of agricultural products, is a project-based funding opportunity. GFO has proposed a $3 million partnership with the Developing Innovative Agri-Products (DIAP) program. The proposed partnership is focused on disease and insect pest management and creating management tools to help farmers.
“Through the development of the insect and disease management research strategy, the top current and emerging issues facing corn, soybean and wheat farmers in the province were identified,” says Devitt. “Working with scientists, projects have been designed with the end goal of providing Ontario farmers with improved management tools.”
breeding and genetics cluster
The second Growing Forward program GFO is looking to partner with is the Agri-Science Clusters program. Devitt explains that, “unlike DIAP, this is a program-focused opportunity – as opposed to project-focused – and is collaborative and national in scope.”
In collaboration with six additional partners, GFO has submitted a proposal to create an academic cluster focused on breeding and genetics. The proposed partnership is value-chain oriented which ensures the research conducted benefits the entire value chain from input suppliers to farmers to processors to consumers.
“Through development of the strategy to increase public sector breeding capacity, we have identified targets for each crop and developed a partnership with organizations which resulted in an Eastern Canadian strategy,” explains Devitt.
Compared to the DIAP proposal currently under review, the scope of this proposal is much larger. Along with the large number of collaborators, this cluster will also focus on several different crops. In addition to corn, soybeans and spring and winter wheat, the goal of this cluster is to improve the genetics and breeding of oats and barley as well.
If this partnership is accepted the collaborators of the cluster will have $11 million over three years to invest in breeding and genetics. Funding for research conducted within the cluster is determined by partner priorities and industry needs.
“We put a lot of effort into putting these proposals together and we are optimistic about the outcome,” says Devitt. The proposals are currently being reviewed; stay tuned for updates on their status. •