6 September 2012

Harper Government Supporting Crop Innovation in Manitoba

Manitoba receives $1.2 million for bioproducts development

Farmers and the Canadian bioproducts sector are getting a boost from the Harper Government. Member of Parliament Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre), on behalf Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced support of over $1.2 million for two innovative initiatives that will create new opportunities for Manitoba wheat and flax growers. Today’s announcement builds on investments previously made through the federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) Growing Forward policy framework and reinforces why FPT governments intend for the next policy framework to focus more on innovation and market development.

“The Harper Government supports environmentally friendly innovation that promotes a strong and stable Canadian economy,” said MP Bateman. “These projects will address a growing demand for environmentally sustainable products, create jobs, and give a boost to Manitoba wheat, hemp, and flax farmers by creating a new market for crop waste that would have otherwise been burnt.”

An investment of $860,000 will help the Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) develop Canadian-sourced industrial alternatives to plastic and fibreglass, such as wheat, hemp, and flax fibres combined with resins. The investment will increase the competitiveness of natural fibres, leading to increased profits for farmers.

This builds on a previous investment of $440,000 under the FPT Growing Forward policy framework that helped the CIC develop initial commercial opportunities for flax and hemp fibre use in automotive and bus applications and that supports the next stage in developing alternatives sourced in Canada.

“The support provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) through this funding is significant in that it will enable us to begin development of a global leading capability to rapidly determine the properties of natural fibres that is essential for their adoption by industry,” stated Sean McKay, Executive Director of the CIC. “It also assists in building upon our previous work in further developing commercial opportunities using locally grown natural materials for aerospace and bus applications as well as novel musical instruments.”

An investment of $385,000 will allow Prairie Pulp & Paper Inc. to conduct further research and development for its chlorine-free and sulphur-free paper made entirely from Manitoba wheat and flax straw-a step forward to tree-free paper and to the eventual construction of North America’s first mill for wheat and straw-based paper production.

This builds on a previous investment of $400,000 under Growing Forward for the company to establish the feasibility of tree-free paper made in Manitoba. Today, Prairie Pulp & Paper Inc.’s straw-based copy paper, with 80 per cent less forest fibre than traditional paper, is available to Canadian consumers and businesses.

“Step Forward Paper™ is the first paper of its kind to hit shelves in North America, and the first step toward meeting more of our paper needs from straw,” said Jeff Golfman, President of Prairie Pulp & Paper Inc. “The paper is currently being made outside of Canada and our goal is to establish a market that will support our plans to build a new state-of-the-art facility in the Canadian Prairies, which will in turn enable us to produce this straw paper with an even smaller footprint and lower cost.”

These projects are funded under the Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP), a $50-million initiative announced as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2011. The AIP is part of the Government’s commitment to help Canadian producers benefit from cutting-edge science and technology, and it boosts the development and commercialization of innovative new products, technologies, and processes for the agricultural sector.

Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, press release, 2012-09-06.

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