News Release Article from  Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Canada's Strong Variety Development Research Supported by Record Investment from Farmers

February 8, 2016 – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay and Dr. Keith Degenhardt, Vice-Chair of the farmer-funded Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF), announced today their renewed commitment to wheat and barley variety development in Canada. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and the WGRF have signed a new five-year research support agreement for AAFC wheat and barley breeding.

Under this renewed partnership with AAFC, WGRF will invest more than $21 million to support AAFC's western wheat and barley breeding programs until 2020. These funds, derived from farmer check-offs on wheat and barley sold in western Canada, represent the biggest ever industry investment in AAFC research. It will underpin AAFC's scientific capacity in plant pathology and physiology, entomology and grain quality and will enable specialized research equipment upgrades in support of all disciplines.

This partnership with WGRF will support AAFC research on:

  • Potentially devastating wheat and barley diseases, such as Fusarium Head Blight;
  • Enhancing insect resistance;
  • Environmental stresses, like drought and flooding; and
  • Developing genetic markers for plant breeding selection.

Quick Facts

  • AAFC plays a key role in crop improvement as the single largest provider of wheat variety development in Canada. More than 80 per cent of insured durum wheat acres and 66 per cent of hard red spring wheat acres in western Canada are planted with varieties developed by AAFC.
  • The WGRF is the largest financial partner in AAFC variety development research. The WGRF's investment dollars are derived from the 30 cents per tonne check-off received from farmers on wheat and 50 cents per tonne on barley sold in western Canada.
  • AAFC and the WGRF have collaborated on western wheat and barley varietal development through a series of agreements since 1994.
  • A University of Saskatchewan study commissioned by the WGRF estimated that every check-off dollar invested in varietal development of wheat and barley returned $20.40 and $7.56, respectively, in value for farmers.


"Wheat and barley contribute billions of dollars annually to Canada's economy. This substantial investment in wheat and barley variety development will advance innovation, giving Canadian grain farmers a competitive edge to meet world demands for food and feed."

- Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

"The benefits of investing wheat and barley check-offs into breeding are clearly recognized and valued by farmers and the Federal government. Check-off investments of over $90 million since 1994 have resulted in the development of 120 wheat and barley varieties. Our new investment of $21.4 million provides stability to AAFC wheat and barley research until 2020 and ensures that AAFC will continue to develop new varieties for many years to come."

- Dr. Keith Degenhardt, Vice-Chair, Western Grains Research Foundation

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