A $14 million federal investment into research and innovation should help keep Canada’s beef industry competitive in the world market, said Gerry Ritz the Agriculture Minister, at news conference on Tuesday.
Ritz explained that the federal funding will be spread over five years and managed by the Beef Cattle Research Council, which is a division of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. The money will be utilised to help fund research in beef quality and safety, animal health and welfare, feed production, and environmental sustainability.
"Globally, consumers are becoming much more educated about food, and conscientious about how they choose to spend when it comes to feeding their families," Ritz said. "A big part of our ongoing success in keeping Canada's beef sector ahead of the pack are these strategic investments in science, innovation, and of course traceability."
An additional, $1 million is being contributed by provincial governments and the beef industry will contribute $5 million that was raised by the $1 per head check of program producer pay when they market their cattle.
Five years ago the government invested $8.7 million in the beef research program, during the first phase of the “Growing Forward” framework.
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"This is tremendous news for us in the cattle industry," said Canadian Cattlemen's Association president Martin Unrau. "Research is crucial to the competitiveness of Canada's beef cattle industry."
Over $2 billion in live cattle and beef were exported by Canadian producers to global markets. Canadian producers still face challenges in the global market even 10 years after the discovery of BSE in a Canadian cow. Mexico, Korea, and Japan still refuse to accept Canadian product from animals over 30 months in age. Additionally, Canada is losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually in beef exports to the U.S. as a direct result of the Country of Origin Labeling program.
Ritz says science based research will give the beef industry the leverage it needs to increase trade among those international borders as it tries to build new markets around the globe.
"We want to make sure our domestic consumers are confident in our food system as well," said Ritz.