Working within the realities of the new COVID-19 situation means a lot of companies have implemented new protocols as they move forward.

The Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC) and the Canadian Barley Research Coalition (CBRC) are calling on Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to continue important wheat and barley research activities at their facilities in 2020.

CBRC Interim-Chair Jason Skotheim says essentially, they've given indications that it was going to drop down to a bare minimum level of research this year and that they would only look after certain projects, certain very long term projects, or even just in terms of land management.

“I guess our pushback to them is, is that there's other organizations that are finding ways to do this. Why can't a AAFC do this?” he says “I guess we're urging them to look at this on a regional basis. We're not asking them to put people in or undertake any unnecessary risks. But there's other organizations that are working their way around this, and we're urgently pushing AAFC to look at these groups and try and do the same.”

In a press release, the CWRC and CBRC say urgent action is required to save the 2020 AAFC field, lab, and greenhouse activities for wheat and barley research projects. This farmer-funded research is critical to the competitiveness of Canada’s agriculture industry and cancelling project activities will have repercussions. Many of the current projects funded by the CWRC, CBRC, and individual crop commissions are multi-year, multi-site, and multi-cooperator endeavors. The impact of disruptions to this work needs to be considered on a project-to-project and program-to-program basis to minimize the loss of both future productivity and the potential contributions of previous projects.

"As funders and partners in research, with a goal to support the agriculture industry, we will assist researchers wherever we can,” added Skotheim. “We are requesting that AAFC consult our member organizations to explore opportunities, communicate contingency plans and discuss any potential required adjustments in contract terms and conditions as soon as possible.”

The CWRC is a collaboration of the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, the Alberta Wheat Commission, and Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association.