Oat producers got a much-needed shot in the arm yesterday during Manitoba Ag Days at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.
Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz announced the federal government will invest more than $3.7 million in the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) to help producers market their crop in the global marketplace.
"Our government remains committed to growing the economy, and oat growers play a vital role in creating jobs and keeping our economy strong here in Manitoba and across Canada," Ritz said. "By providing farmers with the tools they need to succeed, this investment will help grow consumer demand for oats and expand market opportunities."
The majority of the money will be spent on three research projects with the bulk, up to $2.9 million, going to scientists charged with pursuing research opportunities to develop new oat varieties targeted specifically for the Canadian Prairies.
About 90 per cent of the country’s oats are grown in the west, helping make Canada the largest exporter of the crop in the world.
The new varieties are expected to increase yields and provide a new level of resistance to disease.
The money will also aid researchers trying to identify genes for use in oat improvement and researchers evaluating how beta-glucan in the crop improves the immune systems in horses.
The government will also invest $600,000 to help producers gain a foothold in the American equine market through targeted marketing activities that promote Canadian oats as high-quality feed for horses.
"POGA appreciates Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's continued support of research and market development for Canadian oats," said Bill Wilton, president of the Canadian Food Exporters Association.
"With POGA advocating for western Canadian oat growers, and government and industry supporting grower initiatives, we have a strong partnership to advance the quality of our product and increase oat sales in our target markets. We are confident that the projects made possible by this funding will be a huge benefit to oat producers."
The funding is part of the AgriInnovation Program, which is a five-year, up to $698-million initiative under Growing Forward 2 that supports research, development, and knowledge transfer in agriculture.
» Brandon Sun