Research foundation plans record $18 million in spending

The Western Grains Research Foundation is increasing the amount it spends on agricultural research to a record $18 million this year.

It is the most the organization has ever budgeted for research spending in a single year and more than double the amount that it spent in 2013.

“Western Grains Research Foundation experienced a tremendous amount of growth this past year,” said foundation chair Dave Sefton.

“As producers, we should all be very proud of this investment in the future of our industry.”

The foundation’s research spending budget has increased significantly in the past two years.

It spent $7.3 million in 2013 and $13.3 million last year.

This year’s budget makes the foundation the largest producer-funded organization that supports agricultural research in Canada.

It was founded in 1981 with a mandate to invest in agricultural research projects that benefit western Canadian field crop producers.

Its income is derived partly from a mandatory 48 cent per tonne refundable producer checkoff that is applied to wheat and barley produced in Western Canada.

Of that amount, the foundation receives 30 cents per tonne, the Canadian International Grains Institute receives 15 cents per tonne and three cents is spent on administration.

Barley check-off rates are 56 cents per tonne, with the foundation receiving 50 cents per tonne and the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre receiving three cents per tonne.

The foundation also manages an endowment fund valued at $119 million.

Most of that money — about $80 million — was recovered from Canada’s major railway companies after the Canada Transportation Agency determined that they had exceeded railway revenue caps for moving western Canadian grain.

All principal investments in the endowment fund are retained, meaning the fund has grown over time. Investment earnings from the fund are used to support research in all crop types grown in Western Canada, not just wheat and barley.

Sefton, a grain producer from Broadview, Sask., was re-elected chair of the foundation at its March 10 annual meeting in Edmonton, and Keith Degenhardt, a grain producer from Hughendon, Alta., was re-elected vice-chair.

Malcolm Odermatt replaced Martin Moore as the British Columbia Grain Producers Association representative and Dale Hicks replaced Garth Butcher as the Western Winter Cereal Producers representative.

Contact brian.cross@producer.com

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