08/09/2012 12:52 EDT | Updated 10/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Fredericton potato centre gets $250K for research

The federal government has announced more than $250,000 in funding for two projects at the Potato Research Centre in Fredericton as part of the centre's centennial celebrations.

BioAtlantech will get $185,000 to study the effectiveness of mineral oils to prevent the spread of Potato Virus Y in seed crops, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Tobique-Mactaquac MP Mike Allen said on Wednesday.

The Canadian Horticulture Council will receive nearly $67,000 to develop a plan for short- and long-term potato research priorities, which will focus on innovation, sustainability and global competitiveness.

"These investments will benefit the potato industry, which is vital to the growth and future prosperity of our economy," Ritz said in a statement.

"This targeted investment in research and innovation will ensure that the government and industry continue to build strong, value-added opportunities for farmers here in Atlantic Canada and across Canada," he said.

Joe Brennan, a farmer and chairman of Potatoes New Brunswick, the industry marketing agency, is pleased.

The projects will help farmers produce better quality seed potatoes for both domestic and export markets, he said.

"The need for focused research and strategic innovation that moves discoveries out to the farm has never been greater as we struggle to be competitive in a global marketplace," Brennan said.

The potato industry provides thousands of jobs across the country and generates more than $1 billion annually, officials said.

Atlantic Canada accounts for about 40 per cent of the country's potato production.

The Potato Research Centre is one of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's network of 19 research centres.

It studies new varieties of potatoes for targeted markets, pest control, soil and water management, and how best to control the quality of potatoes during and after processing.