CENTRE WELLINGTON – The new Ontario Beef Research Centre on the 2nd Line near Elora officially opened on Aug. 28.
The research centre was developed by the provincial government through the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario, in partnership with the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) and the University of Guelph.
It includes two 5,530 square-metre research barns, houses about 750 cattle and provides 200 acres of land to produce feed.
“We have expanded modern research capacity that is going to allow us to conduct beef research in a real meaningful, integrated scale to address everything from environmental sustainability, forage productivity, genetics evaluation, animal health, animal welfare, food safety and beef quality,” BFO president Joe Hill explained.
A longtime resident of Elora, Hill was instrumental in pushing for a new beef research centre as the previous research barns further along the 2nd Line were built in the 1970s.
“We have some aging research facilities that need to be replaced and that became a vision and it became a reality and it really turned into transforming beef research capacity in the province,” Hill said.
The $15.5-million facility was paid for by the Ontario government and the BFO.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman referenced Hill’s efforts and the importance of the beef industry’s contribution to the provincial economy.
“Ontario’s beef industry is known for its innovation and dedication,” said Hardeman. “This is because of our hardworking beef farmers and Beef Farmers of Ontario’s leadership. And it’s because we invest in important research like these buildings here.”
He added, “It will give our farmers the latest research findings and technologies to help them become more efficient and grow their businesses. When businesses grow and innovate, the sector and our economy grows with it.”
In early July, Hardeman was in Centre Wellington to announce a swine research facility to be built west of the 2nd Line.
Construction on the Ontario Beef Research Centre began in 2017.
Researchers from the University of Guelph will lead research at the facility. According to vice president (research) Malcolm Campbell, much of the focus will be to help Canadian producers improve farming practices.
“Research at this centre will have real tangible benefits for the beef industry. It will support producers in their day-to-day farm operations and in growing their businesses and their economic competitiveness. It will create jobs,” said Campbell.
Local producers will be able to access research findings through information fact sheets and online resources through the university and ministry. Findings will also be disseminated through the BFO.
Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott thanked local and provincial farmers in his speech.
“It is their faith, their optimism, their professionalism and their resilience that turn every … setback into success,” said Arnott.
“And one such success is Ontario beef – a delicious, nutritious, healthy source of food protein as part of a balanced diet.”
Highlighting the dairy facility and planned swine research facility, he added, “no one can credibly deny that Wellington-Halton Hills is the epicentre of the future of the agri-food industry in Canada.”