Priorities Announced for New WGRF Directed Research Program

A key change to WGRF Endowment Fund Policy is the addition of a new process for allocating a portion of the Endowment Fund. The current Letter of Intent (LOI) project application process, which has been in place for some time, will continue. However, a new process is being added alongside the LOI process and will see WGRF becoming more directive with respect to the research it funds. In March of 2010 the WGRF Endowment Fund Advisory Committee which is comprised of WGRF producer Board members and research and industry representatives called upon producers groups, research institutions and other industry groups in western Canada to submit broad research for consideration. Over forty organizations responded. Recently the Endowment Fund Advisory Committee met to review and rank the research priorities submitted.

Six broad research priority categories have been selected as important research areas that will benefit western Canadian producers of all crops.

1. Breeding Tools – This area will include such items as breeding methodology, breeding processes, markers, genomics, etc…that advance the tools breeders have to work with.

2. Post-Harvest Handling to Address Quality/Market Access – A number of problems arise with respect to crops post-harvest which cause economic loss to producers. This area will work to solve problems that diminish crop quality and create market access issues for producers.

3. New Crops and Crop Uses – Opportunities may exist for new crops but also to use existing crops in new ways, whether it is for feed, bio-fuels and other non-food uses, health/nutritional ingredients or other market demands.

4. Pest and Weather Surveillance – This priority area was identified as one where there may be opportunity to enhance, fill gaps, and/or coordinate existing activity. Surveillance and monitoring could include disease, insects, and weeds, as well as weather impacts.

5. Fusarium Head Blight (FHB)/DON/Mycotoxins – FHB was identified as a research problem that requires increased attention, including testing for FHB and DON. This area is increasingly important as FHB continues to advance across the western grain belt.

6. Agronomy – Key aspects of agronomic research identified were a whole farm approach focusing on production and profitability, impacts of fertilizer use, crop sequencing, fungicide application, seeding rates, etc. for different agro-ecological zones in western Canada.

RFP’s are being invited by WGRF this summer for the first three of the six priority categories listed above. The remaining three categories require some preliminary investigation before requesting proposals in order to more precisely identify the research that will best serve producers.

Each year, WGRF plans to approve funding for 5-year Directed Research Program (DRP) projects worth one-half million dollars per year. By 2015 a projected $2.5 million will be spent annually on DRP projects. By 2015, the amount spent on projects under the LOI application process for small projects will also rise to about $825,000. Earnings from Endowment Fund investments are forecast to support these annual spending targets. Co-funding partnerships and optimizing research institution capacity through institutional collaboration will be utilized wherever possible.

WGRF would like to thank all of the groups that submitted research priorities. We look forward to working closely with our industry partners to improve farm profitability in Western Canada through meaningful crop research.

WGRF will be continually updating information on the Endowment Fund as we move forward with the funding process. Please check the WGRF website www.westerngrains.com and click on the Endowment Fund tab for the most current information regarding the Directed Research Program.

For further information, contact:

Terry Scott
Acting Executive Director
Western Grains Research Foundation
Mike Espeseth
Communications Manager
Western Grains Research Foundation

WGRF Endowment Fund Backgrounder

The Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) was created in 1981 by several Western Canadian farm organizations plus a representative from Agriculture Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to administer the $9 million in producer dollars transferred by the federal government from the discontinued Prairie Farm Assistance Act (PFAA). The annual earnings from these funds, called the WGRF Endowment Fund have been invested in crop research projects for the benefit of western Canadian producers and the industry.

In 2000, the Federal Government named WGRF under the Canada Transportation Act as the organization that would receive funds deemed to be in excess of the railway freight revenue cap that governs each of the Canadian railways. Excess funds, plus a penalty, are transferred into WGRF’s Endowment Fund.

About $67 million was received by WGRF for the 2007-08 crop year in relation to the hopper car maintenance portion of the revenue cap formula. This one-time increase in resources available to the Endowment Fund significantly increased the funds available to WGRF to support research in the coming years.

Since its inception, the Endowment Fund has supported a wealth of innovation across Western Canada and provided over $20 million in funding for over 200 projects across all crop types. The WGRF Endowment Fund is completely separate from the wheat and barley check-offs.

For a list of projects research projects funded by the Endowment Fund please visit www.westerngrains.com