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Agriculture Development Fund supports WCVM and PDS research

Researchers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) and Prairie Diagnostic Services (PDS) have received nearly $1.4 million in financial support from Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) for livestock-focused research projects.

The WCVM and PDS grants were part of a $7.5-million ADF funding package announced by Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit on Jan. 27. The new research dollars will support 26 agriculture projects in Saskatchewan and across the country, supplemented by an additional $323,000 from industry partners. 

“Despite challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, our farmers continue to make sure Canadians and people around the world have access to our high-quality food,” said Bibeau. “The projects announced today will help to advance important research so our farmers can find even more sustainable and efficient ways to produce this food and continue to grow the sector.”

“This year’s projects will expand the growth potential of the industry by exploring topics such as water quality, cost of production, diagnostics supports, animal health, forage production, quality and breeding,” said Marit. “Innovation helps our producers meet the Saskatchewan Growth Plan objectives of increasing livestock cash receipts to $3 billion and increasing value-added revenue to $10 billion by 2030.”

The University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) overall share of the provincial funding is more than $6.5 million — including nearly $3.5 million in operational funding for two facilities that were founded by WCVM faculty. The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) received $1.58 million while the Prairie Swine Centre (PSC) was allotted $1.9 million in core funding.

A total of 19 individual USask research projects — including the WCVM and PDS studies — were awarded about $3 million. In addition, the university's Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) received almost $332,000 for forage crop breeding development initiatives. 

“This investment helps ensure producers directly connect with the work being done at the university, and also allows new projects to move forward and influence the success of livestock operations,” said USask Vice-President Research Karen Chad.

“Agriculture is one of our signature areas, and we know advances in research and technology form a foundation for economic growth in this vitally important sector in Saskatchewan.” 

“We are thankful for the ongoing support through the ADF,” said Dr. Volker Gerdts, director of VIDO-InterVac and a professor in the WCVM's Department of Veterinary Microbiology. “Infectious diseases continue to threaten animal health and production, and this funding helps ensure our cutting-edge research and development benefits producers.”

The following list includes projects that will be conducted by researchers who hold faculty positions at the WCVM or are based at PDS — the provincial veterinary diagnostic laboratory that operates in the WCVM building.

  • Does the diversity of bovine enteric coronavirus affect vaccine efficacy? Principal investigator: Dr. Yanyun Huang, Prairie Diagnostic Services Inc. ADF funding: $126,254.
  • Development of a novel, rapid tool for non-typhoidal salmonella detection and risk assessment for livestock and poultry. Principal investigator: Dr. Musangu Ngeleka, Prairie Diagnostic Services Inc. ADF funding: $162,500.
  • Toward one-step testing — rapid identification of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) viruses to inform vaccine use and development. Principal investigator: Dr. Cheryl Waldner, WCVM. Co-funded by the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association. ADF funding: $212,230.
  • Comprehensive evaluation of the effect of extended-term delivery of local anesthetic on mitigating the pain caused by castration. Principal investigator: Dr. Diego Moya, WCVM. Co-funded by SaskMilk. ADF funding: $150,000.
  • Investigating treatment options for disease-induced hypothyroidism in pigs. Principal investigator: Dr. John Harding, WCVM. ADF funding: $100,000.
  • Using watering bowls to monitor the respiratory bacterial resistome in cattle by location and time in feedlots. Principal investigator: Dr. Murray Jelinski, WCVM. Co-funded by the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association. ADF funding: $204,000.
  • Enhancing diagnostic methods for rapid and accurate detection of macrolide resistance in Mannheimia haemolytica. Principal investigator: Dr. Janet Hill, WCVM. Co-funded by the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association. ADF funding: $183,068. 
  • Updating the ram breeding soundness evaluation guidelines for accelerated lambing programs in Western Canada. Principal investigator: Dr. Dinesh Dadarwal, WCVM. ADF funding: $105,496.
  • Evaluation of a multivalent swine dysentery vaccine. Principal investigator: Dr. John Harding, WCVM. ADF funding: $59,501.
  • Tools to mitigate disease associated with Streptococcus zooepidemicus: an emerging threat to the Canadian pork industry. Principal investigator: Dr. Matheus Costa, WCVM. ADF funding: $80,000.

The ADF program is supported through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year $388-million investment by the federal and provincial governments in strategic initiatives for the sector in Saskatchewan. 

A wide range of organizations and agencies are allocating $258,000 to USask projects. Funding partners include the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association ($117,725), Saskatchewan Alfalfa Seed Producers ($85,000), SaskMilk ($31,504), Alberta Milk ($15,000) and Saskatchewan Forage Seed Development Commission ($9,130). 

Read a backgrounder from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture with details on all the projects funded. 

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