OTTAWA, ONTARIO –The Canadian Cattlemen's Association (C.C.A.) will receive more than $6 million (US$5.9 million) to lead a research cluster of industry experts, scientists and universities to help beef producers “remain on the cutting edge,” announced Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

"Our producers are always finding new ways to run their operations more efficiently and we're proud to work with them to make sure our Canadian industry can tap new market opportunities making them more productive and more competitive," Mr. Ritz said.

According to plans, the Beef Cluster will pull together the scientific expertise for research that will help Canada's beef and cattle industry address challenges the sector has faced in recent years. Research will focus on: reducing production costs, increasing feed efficiency and decreasing the impact of animal-health issues. The cluster will also work to increase demand for Canadian beef, both in Canada and around the world.

Industry partnership is an important element of this initiative and this investment will support the C.C.A.'s contribution of nearly $1.2 million. Provincial government partners will also contribute nearly $464,000 (US$453,000).

The beef industry contributing nearly $25 billion (US$24 billion) to the Canadian economy annually and is the largest source of farm cash receipts. Canada is the fourth-largest cattle and beef exporter in the world, representing 11% of global exports in 2008.

Funding for the Cluster comes from the Agri-Innovations program, a $158 million (US$154 million), five-year program announced last May to support industry-led science and technology projects.