Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Feds to fund Quebec ag labs’ renovations

Two federal government ag labs in Quebec have been added to the list of facilities to benefit from new funding to modernize federal-level research facilities.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Horticulture Research and Development Centre at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, near Montreal, will get $350,000 for renovations to its pesticide testing lab, while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s lab at St-Hyacinthe will receive $2.15 million for upgrades and new equipment.

Jean-Pierre Blackburn, the federal minister of state for agriculture, announced the funding Tuesday for both facilities.

The renovations at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu are to “enhance the capabilities” of research being done under the minor use pesticide program, run by AAFC and by and Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).

“The laboratory will be partitioned into well ventilated smaller rooms that will enable staff to perform experiments under very strict health and safety conditions,” the government said.

“By fostering pesticide research and development, we will contribute to the development of sustainable alternatives to current pesticides, an improvement that will give fresh impetus to a growing sector,” Blackburn said in a release Tuesday. “This is also a demonstration of our will to respond to the desire of Canadians to see safer pesticides developed.”

The production and commercialization of new pesticides at the centre are also expected to create “a few” jobs over the next five years, the government said.

The Horticulture Research and Development Centre at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu handles research in the areas of sustainable production, pesticide management and preservation of the quality of crops and horticulture after harvesting. Scientists at the centre pecialize in vegetables, tree fruits, small fruits, ornamental shrubs and new crops.

The funding at St-Hyacinthe, meanwhile, will go toward “increasing capacity to receive food samples during investigations, improving the fire safety of the facilities and replacing cold-storage equipment,” Blackburn said Tuesday.

“As a result, the laboratory will be able to provide better analytical services while offering its staff a more modern work environment.”

CFIA’s St-Hyacinthe lab is its “centre of expertise” for food virology, testing for food health risks such as E. coli, listeria and salmonella. It also conducts work in animal diseases that can have an impact on public health.

The funding is to flow through the federal government’s $250 million, two-year Modernizing Federal Laboratories Initiative, which it said “aims for the completion of maintenance work essential to the exercise of federal scientific responsibilities.”

Other ag and food labs confirmed so far to be receiving funds from the program include CFIA’s facilities at Saskatoon and Lethbridge, AAFC’s research station at Morden, Man., the Crops and Livestock Research Centre at Charlottetown and the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre at Swift Current, Sask.

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