New OMAFRA/UofG Partnership Announced

The Canadian Press
April 29, 2008
By The Canadian Press
April 29, 2008, Guelph, Ont. - The provincial agriculture ministry (OMAFRA) has entered into a new 10-year research and education partnership with the University of Guelph.|
Minister Leona Dombrowsky said Monday the department has committed to spending $300 million over the first five years.

``We will continue to work closely together,'' Dombrowsky told an audience of university, farm and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs representatives at the campus Arboretum Centre.

The deal comes as a successful decade-long ``enhanced partnership'' between the Guelph-based ministry and university is coming to a close, she said.

Welcoming the news was Ontario Pork director Stewart Cressman, a pork, beef and crop producer from just west of Kitchener, Ont., who has seen beef prices plunge in recent years because of BSE, or mad cow disease.

The high Canadian dollar hurts pork and beef sales, he said. The only bright spot has been the skyrocketing price of his wheat.

``It was the best of times, the worst of times,'' Cressman said.

To thrive in the years ahead farmers have to turn basic commodities into more valuable finished products - like the
healthy-alternative omega-3 eggs and milk already developed locally, Cressman said.

``We have to go beyond commodities,'' he said, and thinks the new agreement could help accomplish this.

``This is a great day for agriculture in the province,'' Cressman said.

University president Alastair Summerlee called the agreement renewal an ``astonishing'' achievement that helps the country meet food, animal disease and environmental challenges.

Dombrowsky acknowledged farmers were concerned the ministry-university partnership wouldn't be renewed because it was a long time coming as details were ironed out.

The outcome was never in doubt, she said, because the success of farming affects rural Ontario.

``When farmers do well, the places where they live do well,'' Dombrowsky said.

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