Brandon University has joined efforts with the Westman Opportunities Leadership Group (WOLG) to bring a soybean processing plant to Manitoba. The group is a diverse network of leaders from across Manitoba, from agriculture, business, and community & economic development, working together on the premise that Westman would be the ideal location for a major soybean crushing facility. A study commissioned by Soy 20/20, facilitated by WOLG and Economic Development Brandon, demonstrated Manitoba’s ability to sustain a world-class soybean processing plant, as the crop has expanded rapidly in Manitoba since more than 1.7 million acres of soybeans were planted in 2016.
Dr. Gervan Fearon, President and Vice-Chancellor of BU says the group contributes to “a vision that will be of great benefit to the region… We are happy to contribute our expertise and research capacity for a project that will help to stimulate growth and development for our communities.”
Ray Redfern, Chair of WOLG, says that BU provides “a network of experts to the process that will help validate the opportunity. This agreement provides interested companies with a clear signal of the importance of agriculture to Manitoba and the commitment that is emerging to support the growth of the soybean sector.”
BU’s Rural Development Institute (RDI) has already contributed through several projects to track and analyze innovation and opportunities for soybean growth in rural areas, while Dr. Bryan Cassone is undertaking a three-year research project into identifying early signs of soybean disease.
Dr. William Ashton, Director of RDI, states that the goals of the partnership with WOLG is to “provide rural Manitoba stakeholders with valuable information [that can be] used to drive growth” as well as to “generate and share knowledge that will lead to informed strategies and continued progress in Manitoba.”
Redfern points out that taking advantage of this opportunity requires the region to act quickly and use its collective resources.
Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 107, Issue 28, April 4th, 2017.