HAGERSVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 3, 2013) - Parliamentary Secretary Pierre Lemieux, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced today an investment of $1,195,000 to Armstrong Milling Company for the purchase of new equipment that will help the company prolong the shelf life of its products and reach new markets worldwide.
"Our government is pleased to make targeted repayable investments that help producers use innovative technology to stay competitive in today's markets, while keeping the sector strong and sustainable," said Parliamentary Secretary Lemieux. "This investment has helped Armstrong Milling Company increase their production capacity to be better equipped to meet market demand, and will also increase the bottom line for farmers."
"The advancement of the agriculture sector is a top priority for our government," said Member of Parliament Diane Finley (Haldimand-Norfolk). "This investment is another way we are helping producers to innovate in order to stay ahead of the pack, increase their competitiveness, and strengthen our economy."
The investment was used to purchase advanced mixing and packaging equipment, enabling the automation of a labour-intensive process in which each ingredient is weighed. The computer-managed packaging equipment uses a gas-flushing system to remove oxygen from the packaging, extending the product shelf life from 4 to 18 months. This will be the first time this innovative technology will be used in the packaging of bird food in Canada, and this will allow the firm to access new global markets.
These improvements will increase the demand for agricultural products such as corn and wheat. This project will also assist the firm's efforts to become the first and only bird food manufacturer in North America to achieve Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 3 certification. This is a globally recognized certification that can be displayed on product offerings, which enhances consumer confidence and product marketability. Achieving SQF Level 3 will provide Armstrong Milling Company with access to new retailers who require this certification.
The President of Armstrong Milling Company, Ken Zantingh, stated, "Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada funding will assist in expediting the company's growth expansion plans. This increased growth will benefit Canadian farmers due to greater demand for agricultural commodities."
"With our facility expansion and equipment upgrades, our plan is to double bird food processing sales," stated John Neal, Armstrong's financial controller. This increased growth is also projected to create 26 additional full-time jobs consisting of production, technical, managerial, and administrative positions.
This project was funded under the Agricultural Innovation Program-an initiative of up to $50 million that was announced as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan 2011. This program, which came to an end on March 31, 2013, was part of the Government's commitment to help Canada's agricultural sector benefit from cutting-edge science and technology.
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. The new AgriInnovation Program is 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.
For more information on the Growing Forward 2 agreement and the new AgriInnovation Program, please visit www.agr.gc.ca/growingforward2.