Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives (MBFI) officially opened its new Learning Centre at its 640-acre Brookdale Farm north of Brandon on Tuesday.

MBFI is a partnership between Manitoba Agriculture, Manitoba Beef Producers, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association. The new Learning Centre will allow Manitoba and Western Canada agricultural producers and the general public to learn with and from producers, researchers, experts on the subjects of forage and livestock production and innovation.

“The MBFI Learning Center will act as a hub to host and create opportunities for producers, students and the general public to gather, learn and network,” says Ramona Blyth, MBFI president. “We now have the ability to provide a comfortable learning environment in the MBFI Learning Centre that can be paired with hands-on learning from MBFI researchers in our fields to represent a valuable experiential experience for visitors to MBFI.”

The new facility includes a 2,200-square-foot classroom, internet access and audiovisual equipment for distance learning, and a food preparation area. Offices and an interpretive gallery will be added at a later date.

The $500,000 project was built with a combination of federal and provincial government funding through the Growing Forward 2 program and private-sector contributions.

The federal and provincial governments also announced Tuesday that they will invest $2.85 million over the next five years towards MBFI.

“The beef and forage sectors have economic and environmental benefits for our entire province,” said Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler. “Our investment recognizes applied research, like the work being done at MBFI, is an invaluable resource for producers and the agricultural sector as a whole. MBFI is a prime example of what can be achieved through a partnership between beef and forage producers, conservation organizations, industry stakeholders and governments.”

Funding for MBFI will support continued beef and forage research at sites throughout the Westman region and share this information with producers and other stakeholders throughout the province. Project partners and other industry stakeholders will also contribute funding and in-kind support to MBFI over the next five years, making the entire commitment to the project more than $4.9 million.

In addition the Brookdale site, MBFI also operates sites at the First Street Pasture and Johnson farm.

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