This summer, the College of Agriculture and Bioresources announced a new Beef Industry Integrated Forage Management and Utilization (IFMU) Chair — a continuing status faculty position — to address a gap in forage research.
“Limited investment in research and development in previous years has held back advances in forage management and utilization compared to annual cropping systems,” said Dr. Angela Bedard-Haughn (PhD), dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources. “We are about to change all that with this new collaboration.”
The Beef Industry IFMU Chair position is funded through a collective of producer groups, the federal and provincial governments, and others with an interest in realizing the true potential of forage crops, which will require a long-term commitment.
The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) contributed $2.5 million to this initiative, affirming the industry is increasingly seeing forages as a high-value feed source.
“The Chair will help to address concerns by producers searching for expanded forage management information,” said Matt Bowman, BCRC chair and a producer from Thornloe, Ont. “We need the science to better manage complex forage systems, implement effective utilization strategies, and understand the associated environmental benefits.”
“Forage production and utilization are the foundation of beef cattle productivity and competitiveness,” added Arnold Balicki, chair of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA) which committed to investing $1 million to the chair. “After years of advocacy, it is gratifying to see this position created via partnership between producers, government, USask and the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS).”
“This collaboration is an excellent example of our college strategy in action,” explained Bedard-Haughn. “We are adapting our thinking, our research and our teaching to a new reality defined by complex industry needs and a changing environment. Most funding models for research chairs provide support for five to seven years but when we are looking at researching these complex management systems, that isn’t long enough to deliver the results and transfer knowledge.”
The long-term, sustainable funding from a diverse donor group eases the financial burden on individual contributors and enables multiple players with common interests to make significant impact with a smaller, multi-year investment. In this case, in addition to BCRC and SCA, the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan are contributing $750,000 through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (part of a five-year, $3-billion investment in Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors), and GIFS at USask committed $320,000. The funders’ contributions will be grown with the university’s other long-term investments. The investment earnings will be used to fund the chair position for a full faculty member’s career term (anticipated to be 30+ years), catalyzing and delivering the research and knowledge sharing in forage management that the industry needs.
“This research chair will work with partners from across the province to develop practical tools for producers,” said David Marit, Saskatchewan minister of agriculture. “This investment will help grow the livestock sector and bring us closer to achieving the goals outlined in Saskatchewan’s Plan for Growth, including increasing livestock cash receipts to $3 billion.”
Among the Chair’s key roles will be to ensure USask is the leading authority on forage research and use in the beef industry, connect expertise in the field, and grow funding support for research. Extension activity — e.g. outreach events and industry field days — will ensure the insight gained from research reaches the producers who need it most.
A broadly cooperative venture, the Beef Industry IFMU Chair also engaged the USask-based Global Institute for Food Security.
“This is a great opportunity for GIFS and the Plant Phenotyping and Imaging Research Centre program,” said GIFS Chief Executive Officer Steven Webb. “This collaboration will help us advance the agriculture and food sectors in a manner that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.”
The international search began this summer and USask anticipates filling the position by spring 2022. “This professorship sets a new standard for future endeavors to fund research, teaching and extension,” said Bedard-Haughn. “This is how we become the university the world needs.”
Applications are now open for the position.
Agknowledge, Fall 2021