A new swine research centre looks like it will be moving ahead with an investment of $12 million by the provincial government and $3 million from Ontario Pork for a total of $15 million.
The centre will be based at the University of Guelph’s Elora Research Station, part of a long-term process to bring a research cluster for farm animals together. A dairy research facility was completed in 2015 and a new beef research facility is nearing completion.
Why it matters: World-leading research on swine has come out of the University of Guelph, but a modern research facility is needed to continue to attract leading researchers and funding.
The next step in the University of Guelph livestock cluster is the swine barn, replacing the current swine research facility at the university’s Arkell Research Station, which was state-of-the-art when it was built in the mid-1970s, but has long been passed by industry evolution in swine housing.
The Arkell land is being surrounded by homes as Guelph grows and it will be developed.
“They are now in maintenance mode at Arkell. We’ve known for four or five years that all the facilities at Arkell will have to find a new home,” says John de Bruyn, vice-chair of Ontario Pork. The industry has been talking about the need for a new research centre for years longer.
Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, made the funding announcement July 2 at the Elora Research Station.
“We want to help farmers succeed and better position the pork sector for further growth and competitiveness now and for years to come,” he said.
The $12 million from the province will flow through the Agriculture Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO), the arm’s-length organization that manages agriculture research facilities in the province.
Research areas will include animal health, nutrition and welfare, consumer-oriented research, environmental factors, genetics and genomics, nutrient management and reproduction.
There is no date yet for the completion of the facility, says de Bruyn. “From an Ontario Pork perspective it took a long time to get to where we are. We are glad the process is moving. It’s a really significant step that shows the confidence in getting this job done.”
Ontario Pork and the university have been looking at what each believes is needed in the facility and the next stage is design.
Several locations at the Elora Research Station have been discussed, says de Bruyn. Whichever location is chosen, it will be near the new dairy and beef research facilities, he says.
“With the addition of this new swine research facility, we are elevating regional expertise that will benefit consumers, it will benefit producers, but it will also foster economic growth and competitiveness locally, provincially and nationally,” said University of Guelph President Franco Vaccarino at the announcement.