Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

September 16, 2013 10:23 ET

Harper Government Invests in Dairy Research and Innovation

EMBRUN, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Sept. 16, 2013) - Canadian dairy farmers will benefit from increased investment in research and innovation with the support of the Harper Government. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Parliamentary Secretary Pierre Lemieux (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell) announced today an investment for Dairy Farmers of Canada to lead a research cluster to keep the Canadian dairy sector profitable and sustainable for the future.

"The dairy industry is a key economic driver, creating thousands of jobs across Canada and providing families with high-quality and nutritious food products," said Minister Ritz. "Today's investment will empower the dairy industry to conduct innovative research that will keep them competitive for years to come."

This investment of $12 million will bring together scientific expertise for research in key areas such as sustainable milk production, dairy genetics and genomics, and the nutrition of milk products. This research will help increase the competitiveness of the sector by improving productivity and animal health and welfare. The research will also help bring innovative and competitive dairy products with health benefits to the market.

"Research continues to be a strategic investment priority for dairy farmers," said Wally Smith, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada. "Our research priorities are focused on driving innovation and increased productivity on the farm while contributing to the health and well-being of Canadians. We welcome the investment of the federal government, which leverages farmers' investment in the dairy cluster, our network of dedicated industry and academic researchers who are committed to Canadian dairy excellence."

Dairy Farmers of Canada is working closely with the Canadian Dairy Network and the Canadian Dairy Commission to invest over $6 million in addition to the Harper Government's funding to support cutting edge research to strengthen this key sector.

The research cluster will support what industry has identified as the highest priority research, done by the best Canadian experts in research centres across the country. Agriculture Canada researchers will collaborate on several priorities, including research that leads to genetic improvement for dairy cattle productivity and profitability, establishing innovative practices for sustainable milk production, and gaining a better understanding of the link between dairy foods and nutrition.

Canada is leading the way in dairy genetics and the results of research have helped to significantly improve milk production per cow over the last 30 years. This has helped to open markets in the Middle East, Pacific Rim and South America, with exports of over $110 million in dairy genetics last year.

The research will build on an earlier investment of $7 million made through Growing Forward for a dairy cluster that focused on the health benefits of dairy products and ways to improve animal productivity through health and breeding. Previous research found new practices to help improve the health of dairy cattle and the safety and quality of milk by better understanding how to prevent infections caused by mastitis - an inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue that impacts milk production and is costly to the sector.

The cluster is supported under Growing Forward 2, as part of AAFC's AgriInnovation Program, a five-year initiative of up to $698 million that is designed to serve as a catalyst for innovation by supporting research, development, commercialization, and adoption of innovative products, technologies, and services. The terms of this investment are subject to the signing of contribution and collaboration agreements.

The new Growing Forward 2 policy framework, which came into effect on April 1, 2013, will continue to drive innovation and long-term growth in Canada. In addition to a generous suite of business risk management programs, governments have agreed to invest more than $3 billion over five years in innovation, competitiveness, and market development.

For more information on the Growing Forward 2 agreement and the AgriInnovation Program, please visit

Contact Information

  • Media Relations
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario

    Jeff English
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
    Follow us on Twitter @AAFC_Canada

    Therese Beaulieu
    Assistant Director, Strategic Communications
    Dairy Farmers of Canada