Protecting grain crops from costly plant diseases and making crop production more resilient to climate change are two goals a new $2-million gift to the University of Guelph from Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO).
Announced at the close of the Ontario Agricultural Conference, the funding will support a new GFO professorship in field crop pathology at U of G’s Ridgetown Campus. A faculty member will be appointed this year in the department of plant agriculture within U of G’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC).
“Expanding our understanding of diseases that affect agriculture is a vital component of safeguarding crops and building more sustainable food systems,” says U of G president Dr. Charlotte Yates. “We are grateful to the Grain Farmers of Ontario for investing in and partnering with our Ridgetown campus through this new professorship that will support farmers and consumers through critical field crop pathology research.”
The new gift comes from the GFO Legacy Fund, established in 2022. The provincial organization has long supported U of G research and teaching, including co-funding the GFO professorship in wheat breeding and genetics.
“Field crops are the foundation of every food system in the world, and ensuring a focus on excellence in field crop research is vital to farming and the food security enjoyed by Canadians,” says GFO chair Brendan Byrne. “Grain Farmers of Ontario recognizes the need for this position and supports the University of Guelph’s ongoing commitment to understanding disease, crop resiliency and more.”
“We are so grateful to Grain Farmers of Ontario and its farmer members for their generous donation to establish this important professorship,” says Dr. Rene Van Acker, dean of OAC. “Through this support, we can recruit a top-notch new faculty member to support the ever-evolving needs of Ontario’s farmers.”