Alta. research agency looks for proposals

Results Driven Agriculture Research chair Dr. David Chalack made good on an earlier promise last week by announcing the initial call for research proposals to the new entity.

RDAR plans to allocate $4 million in its call and has targeted four priorities: soil health and quality; water quality and efficiency; feed production; and plant and animal diseases and pests. Those areas were identified by RDAR’s advisory committee that includes producer associations, commissions, marketing boards and post-secondary institutions.

As the provincial agriculture department moves to exit agricultural research, it has provided RDAR, which was established in March, with $37 million annually to undertake projects that yield results applicable to farm and ranch use.

The call issued last week is the first foray for the producer-led, non-profit organization said to be arm’s length from government. Proposals are due by Nov. 19, with funding decisions finalized in mid-December.

“This milestone allows RDAR to operate fully, start to fund projects to get the results that matter foremost to Alberta’s producers, while contributing to a strong, vibrant and profitable agriculture industry in Alberta. RDAR is where big ideas grow,” Chalack said in a news release about the research call.

As he has at every recent announcement about agriculture research, Alberta Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen said the new direction puts farmers and ranchers in the driver’s seat to guide research priorities.

The RDAR announcement came in the same week that 247 positions in the provincial Agriculture and Forestry department, about 135 in the primary agriculture sector, were abolished. Some of those given notice did research work or provided support in the fields RDAR has now identified as its initial priorities.

However, Chalack said in a recent interview that a key RDAR objective is to ensure there are no gaps in agricultural research and that programs are delivered in a timely manner.

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