10/19/2013 14:38 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 18:58 EST

Feds invest $2.6M in poultry technologies, vaccines

The federal government is investing $2.6 million to help western Canadian poultry producers develop vaccines and increase production capabilities.

The money, from the government's Western Economic Diversification ministry, will be combined with support from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and given to the one-year-old Institute for Applied Poultry Technologies. Officials say the investment will increase the poultry industry's international competitiveness.

"Our government is committed to ensuring that Western Canada's agricultural sector has the resources and opportunities to succeed in the global economy and continue creating jobs for Canadians," said Michelle Rempel, the federal government's minister of state for western economic diversification. "We are proud to invest in new technologies that strengthen the productivity and international competitiveness of the western Canadian poultry industry."

Alberta is home to the largest number of egg producers in western Canada, and the second largest number of chicken producers, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

The Institute for Applied Poultry Technologies was formed last year by industry stakeholders and is a not-for-profit body. Its mandate is to research new and cost-saving poultry health technologies that will help prepare for disease outbreaks, reduce costs and improve product quality.

The federal government's money will help the institute develop, produce and commercialize vaccines and other health-related products for poultry.

It will also provide enhanced access to advanced diagnostic services and production capabilities.

"By working with an integrated team of scientists, veterinarians, industry experts, producers and the manufacturing sector, the institute will be an incubator for the development of commercial products, tests and applied science," said Dr. Tom Inglis, president of the institute's board. "Together we will help to secure a competitive advantage for western Canada's poultry industry."

Ultimately, officials say the goal is to help the industry meet consumer demands for better food safety and hormone-free poultry.