Agribition kicks off with funding announcements, refurbished barn

The federal and provincial governments kicked off Canadian Western Agribition Nov. 19 by announcing several financial commitments to the annual Regina show and officially opening a refurbished commercial cattle barn.

David Anderson, parliamentary secretary to the federal natural resources minister and for the Canadian Wheat Board, said $147,000 through the AgriMarketing Program would help the show promote itself in foreign markets and beef up its International Business Centre.

He also announced $100,000 under the Livestock Auction Traceability Initiative “to assist show organizers to track movement of livestock.”

The money is used to ensure all animals at Agribition have radio frequency identification tags and that their movement entering and leaving the show is tracked with mobile readers.

Anderson said Canada is a leader in traceability and the practice is critical to maintaining international market access.

The Saskatchewan government announced $56,000 for Agribition’s new Incoming Buyers Program. The money comes from the agriculture ministry’s International Market Development Program.

Agriculture minister Lyle Stewart said the money, which leveraged additional support from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and the Canadian Beef Breeds Council for a total $111,500, will provide travel incentives for international guests.

He said the government recently announced its intention to increase exports to $15 billion by 2020 and Agribition has a role to play in that.

Helping pre-qualified buyers with up to 50 percent of their costs of getting to the show is well worth it, he said.

“This show generates about $27 million a year usually,” Stewart said. “Other major shows of this magnitude have similar programs.”

Stewart and Anderson, along with Regina mayor Michael Fougere, Agribition chief executive officer Marty Seymour and Agribition president Bryan Hadland, cut a ribbon to officially open a new sale arena in the commercial cattle barn.

Seymour said a world-class beef show needed a better facility in that barn.

About 140,000 people attend the show each year. More than 800 international visitors from 70 countries are expected this year.