April 28, 2008, Guelph, Ont. – The University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) have renewed and improved their partnership. The $300-million agreement announced today (April 28) will further innovative research and education in agri-food, environmental sustainability, and animal and human health.
“This significant and strategic investment is indicative of the forward-thinking innovation strategy of the provincial government,” said University of Guelph president Alastair Summerlee. “The increased commitment will allow the partnership to generate even more than the $1 billion it has been returning every year for the past 10 years.”
The $300 million covers the first half of the 10-year contract, with a review after five years. This is in addition to the $56 million in one-time funding that was allocated to U of G in the 2008 Ontario budget.
“This renewed partnership gets to the heart of what the future of our agri-food sector is all about: research and innovation to better protect our health, economy and environment,” said Leona Dombrowsky, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs.
Agriculture is Ontario's second-largest industry, contributing $30 billion to the province's economy and employing more than 700,000 people. The sector is also evolving, and the University will explore new research areas, including sustainable food production, environmental sustainability and the bio-economy.
“As Canada's oldest and largest agricultural school, we have the expertise, influence and significance to lead the initiative,” Summerlee said. "This renewal will allow us to make essential contributions to protecting humans, animals and the food chain, to training tomorrow's innovators and to advancing innovation."
The university and OMAFRA first entered into an enhanced partnership agreement in 1997. Under the agreement, the University manages research and education programs and related facilities, including the three regional campuses at Alfred, Ridgetown and Kemptville, supported through an annual allocation from the Ontario government.
The partnership has garnered tremendous social, economic, environmental and health benefits for the industry and province, returning more than $1.15 billion to the Ontario economy annually, according to an independent economic analysis. Specifically, the partnership returns $3 for every $1 received in the form of direct, indirect and associated impacts, in addition to spinoffs and other financial effects that return another $18 to $19 per dollar invested.
The report by Deloitte and Touche LLP also said Ontario benefits from the agreement in critical ways that cannot be fiscally quantified, such as supporting research involving the monitoring and prevention of health threats such as SARS, avian flu and mad cow disease.