Manitoba Liberal MP Ben Carr, making a key announcement Friday that will help grow Canada's pulse industry.

Carr on behalf of Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced a federal investment of $11,017,979 million to support the new Pulse Cluster under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership funding.

"Along with the investment from pulse farmers across Canada, the total investment in the cluster is over $21 million through to 2028. The new cluster brings together industry, our scientific community, to focus on projects that will move the pulse industry forward. The goal is to help farmers boost production and reduce their environmental footprint. They'll do this through things such as fertility strategies that maximize nitrogen fixation, new higher protein varieties that are more productive and more profitable for  farmers as well as varieties with built-in disease resistance and resiliency in the face of climate change."

The MP for Winnipeg South Centre notes we've seen some significant results through the previous pulse cluster program.

"The last pulse research cluster supported the development of high protein pea varieties, new processing strategies for commercially ready pulse ingredients, and adding pulse-based ingredients to pet food."

In a government release, MacAulay noted that Canadian pulse farmers are vitally important to our economy. 

"This investment will bring together the top experts in pulse growing and research from across the Prairies to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the sector for generations to come."

Through research, the Cluster will help address challenges in production which will result in reduced nitrogen fertilizer consumption across crop rotations, lower greenhouse gas emissions, increased carbon sequestration, lower disease risks, and increased profits for farmers.

Expected outcomes of the Cluster research include:

- Supporting the Government of Canada's 2030 and 2050 climate targets by developing new
management practices for reduced fertilizer or fungicide applications.
- Contributing to a sustainable and profitable future for pulse growers by developing new
varieties to improve production efficiency, protein yield, and profitability.
- Helping industry achieve goals associated with development of pulse varieties resistant to
disease and resilient to environmental stress.

Carr says this support will help farmers improve their pulse crops, be better positioned to adapt to a changing industry and face production challenges head-on.

Pulse Canada's Director of Quality and Processing Janelle Carlin the funding is really going to help address a lot of challenges that we're facing in terms of production on behalf of the Canadian pulse industry. 

"That's a lot of different areas of focus as it relates to disease pressure, helping to increase resistance, to conditions that are perhaps getting a little bit more difficult as a result of climate change. That will really help on behalf of all of the farmers across Canada. So there's several different areas of work that are taking place across the different pulse crops that we grow here. So that's peas, beans, chickpeas, and lentils to try to really address those challenges and help ensure that they are the most impactful solution here in Canada in terms of fighting climate change."

She points out there's a lot of work to really help to improve genetics for some individual varieties for each of these pulse crops. 

"So particularly,  one that could be a little bit more top of mind is in the pea industry trying to improve root rot resistance. So that's something that's facing farmers and proving to be a challenge in terms of the number of years that you have to wait before you can grow one of these crops in rotation. So addressing that might allow to actually increase the acreage and lessen that number of years that you might expect to see crops in rotation, but also looking a little bit more on the market development side, work to increase the protein content.  So that's a little bit more relevant for the market diversification work that we do here at Pulse Canada. So trying to make more high protein, high yielding varieties that are able to accommodate and be well suited for that market such as the protein fractionation market putting these types of ingredients into areas like pet food and human consumption."

Carlin says they also will look at other crops again trying to to support increased quality, increased climate resistance, and having more options that are accessible and really resilient to those changing climate conditions.

In addition to the Federal funding through the SCAP AGRISCIENCE cluster programming, another 10.4 million is coming through Pulse partner organizations like Manitoba Pulse and Soybean.
Growers, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, and the Alberta Pulse Growers.

 Alberta has committed almost $2 million, with Saskatchewan investing over 5 million and the balance coming from Manitoba to support the nine research projects.

A complete list of projects, including researchers can be seen below. 

- Selection of Early Maturing Dry Bean Germplasm and Cultivars for Sustainability and Improved Productivity Under Irrigation, Dr. Parthiba Balasubramanian, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) 

- Breed for Top-Performing Field Pea Varieties and Develop SNP-based Markers for Marker-Assisted Selection for Grain and Protein Yield Maturity, Standability, and Seed Size, Dr. Dengjin Bing, AAFC 

- Large Root Systems in Pulses for Drought Tolerance, Carbon Sequestration, and Root Rot Resistance, Dr. Maryse Bourgault, University of Saskatchewan

- Accelerating Solutions to Root Rot of Pea and Lentil Using a Multifaceted and Integrative Approach, Dr. Syama Chatterton, AAFC 

- Diversity Set for Genomic Improvement of Faba, Dr. Nicholas Larkan, Saskatoon Research and Development Centre

- Identifying Potential Resistance to Pea Aphids and Aphid Transmitted Viruses in Lentil, Dr. Sean Prager, University of Saskatchewan 

- Phenotyping Pulse Crops for Improved Performance Under Climate Change, Dr. Steve Shirtliffe, University of Saskatchewan 

- An Integrated Approach for Accelerating Genetic Improvement of Yield and Agronomic Characteristics of Chickpea, Dr. Bunyamin Tar’an, University of Saskatchewan

- Development of Improved Pea Cultivars to Enhance Canada’s Leading Role in International Pea Markets, Dr. Tom Warkentin, University of Saskatchewan.