Wheat, Barley Groups Call on Feds to Continue Research

- Person wearing lab coat in a greenhouse

As the global pandemic affects research work, the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) and the Canadian Barley Research Coalition (CBRC) are asking Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to continue important wheat and barley research activities at AAFC’s western Canadian research stations this year, the groups say in a release.

“We are facing an unprecedented situation with respect to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety of researchers and other staff is our top priority,” says Jason Lenz, CWRC chair, in the release. “The universities and private plant breeders have found safe options to conduct their research. We’re confident AAFC can also create a plan to continue critical research.”

The groups say urgent action is required to save the 2020 AAFC field, lab, and greenhouse activities for wheat and barley research projects. These projects are farmer-funded and are critical to the competitiveness of Canada’s agriculture industry, cancelling project activities will have repercussions, the release notes.

“Many of the current projects funded by the CWRC, CBRC, and individual crop commissions are multi-year, multi-site, and multi-cooperator endeavors. The impact of disruptions to this work needs to be considered on a project-to-project and program-to-program basis to minimize the loss of both future productivity and the potential contributions of previous projects.”