2019 Highlights and Deliverables
The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is Canada’s industry-led funding agency for beef, cattle and forage research. Our mandate is to
- determine and communicate the Canadian beef cattle industry’s research and development priorities, and
- administer the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off funds that have been assigned by producers to research.
The BCRC invites and funds projects and initiatives that have the greatest potential to benefit the sustainability and competitiveness of Canada’s beef industry. The BCRC is led by a committee of beef producers who proportionally represent each province’s research allocation of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off.
2018 was a transition year for the BCRC in terms of both funding and program administration. An increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off from $1 to $2.50 per head in most provinces and revised allocations to research has grown the BCRC’s research budget from approximately 15 cents to approximately 75 cents per head, allowing for continued advancements and expanded programming in 2019. More information on the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off can be found at www.cdnbeefcheckoff.ca/.
National Beef Strategy
The BCRC is a key partner in renewing and achieving the goals of the National Beef Strategy. Research and/or technology transfer outcomes in all four pillars of the 2020-2024 Strategy, those being productivity, competitiveness, beef demand, and connectivity, are addressed by the BCRC.
BCRC programs are established to Validate and enhance the Canadian Beef Advantage, to increase, maintain and enhance Consumer Confidence, and support Public Trust and Sustainability. The BCRC works to increase productivity through investments in , Research, Research Capacity and Technology Adoption, enhance competitiveness through investments in Surveillance and support an Outcome/Science-based regulatory system through targeted research funding.
Canada’s Beef Cattle Industry Science Clusters
The Science Clusters are a partnership with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) that combines their strengths with the BCRC’s to make joint-investments in a variety of research programs with the greatest potential to advance the industry.
Beef Science Cluster III in Progress
Funding for the current (third) Cluster was announced by AAFC in July 2018. Covering the period to March 31, 2023, $21 million has been directed to 26 research projects. The funding includes $14 million from AAFC, $5 million in funding from the research allocation of the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off and $1.5 million in in-kind contributions from industry in the form of cattle, equipment, and materials.
This Cluster will work to grow beef exports and supply growing global beef demand by supporting research and technology transfer that advances Canadian beef and forage production while enhancing industry competitiveness and the public’s trust in responsible production.
Details on all 26 Cluster projects are available on BeefResearch.ca.
Priority Research Projects
In addition to the projects within the third Science Cluster, research aimed at achieving specific goals of high priority to the beef industry are sought. Since June 2018, the Council has launched an annual targeted call for letters of intent. Applicants are required to source 50% or greater of project funding in order to leverage check-off dollars for a greater return on producer investment. Summaries of these research projects will be available on BeefResearch.ca.
Proof of Concept Projects
Also being funded are short-term (six months to one year) proof of concept-based (POC) research to help inform whether a concept is worth pursuing as a larger, more defined research investment. BCRC approved funding in February 2019 for four POC projects. These POC projects were funded in large part by a private industry partner. A second call for POC projects was launched August 2019.
The BCRC identified that gaps in research capacity are a high priority and in 2018/19 began the process of developing Research Chairs in partnership with key research institutions through a competitive call for proposals. The intent of BCRC investments is to leverage other funding to implement long-term research capacity in areas of priority to industry.
From the proposals submitted in 2018/19, two concepts were selected for further development:
- A Beef Production Systems Chair is proposed to be established at the University of Alberta “to increase the competitiveness of those sectors of the Canadian beef industry that rely heavily on grazing-based forage resources, while maintaining a strong focus on beef production and market outcomes”.
- At the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, a BCRC Chair in One Health and Production-Limiting Diseases is proposed to be established with the goal “to increase capacity for applied field research and surveillance in specific priority areas outlined by the beef industry including: animal health and welfare, antimicrobial use, resistance and alternatives, and on-farm food safety”.
BCRC has conditionally committed $150,000/year for up to ten years to each of the Chair positions outlined above, with commitment conditional upon the Institution securing matching funds. Efforts are currently being led by the institutions, supported by the BCRC, to secure matching funds through sources such as the NSERC Industrial Research Chair (IRC) program with the goal of matching funds and the new Chair positions being in place in 2019/20.
Knowledge and Technology Transfer
The BCRC continues to develop and distribute numerous extension resources for Canadian cattle producers, including interactive decision-making tools, videos, articles, webinars, and infographics. BCRC continues to transition the contents of foragebeef.ca onto beefresearch.ca. New topic pages have recently been developed on forage establishment, grazing management, rejuvenation of hay and pasture, and other production and management practices. All resources are available on www.beefresearch.ca, and regularly promoted through various channels, including the BCRC Blog and the BCRC e-newsletter, The Wire.
Advancement of the Verified Beef Production Plus program
In addition to funding research, the BCRC is responsible for the delivery of the Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) program, which verifies on-farm practices related to food safety, animal care, biosecurity, and environment. Ongoing national industry investment will ensure the consistent delivery of the VBP+ program as it becomes a core pillar in verifying sustainable beef production in partnership with end-users.
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