Some cattle producers may not be big fans of their television commercials, but they will like the latest announcement by A&W.
The company is donating $5 million toward the University of Saskatchewan's Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence.(LFCE) The facility---located near Clavet, about 30 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon---is on track for completion in March.
"When you start to think about making a great tasting burger, it starts with the beef," says Susan Senecal, A&W chief operating officer. "We are one of the top ten beef buyers in Canada among restaurant businesses and we want to continually grow that partnership and relationship."
Some cattle producers, and even Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, have been critical of A&W's marketing efforts, specifically about beef raised with no added hormones. They say it raises unnecessary consumer doubts.
Discussions between the University of Saskatchewan and A&W started about a year ago.
"This is literally the kind of relationship that will enable a dialogue because we are going to have everybody sitting around the table able to talk to each other," says Mary Buhr, dean of the University of Saskatchewan's College of Agriculture and Bioresources. "The University is the place where we work with the evidence, the facts and the tested results and we'll be able to communicate whatever reality is to the consumers, once we have done the work."
The $36 million dollar LFCE has already received significant funding contributions from the federal and provincial governments, as well as $1 million from the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association (SCA).
"Our million dollars of cattle producers' money is a part of this partnership and you see the leverage of that investment continue to grow," says Ryder Lee, CEO, Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association. "That is multiplying the investment because it is a signal that this (LFCE) is important to cattle producers."
The two new facilities for the LFCE will complement current livestock and forage sites. They are designed for research, teaching and outreach in forage, cow-calf and beef cattle production. The $36 million LFCE will unite livestock and forage field laboratories and science labs in a collaborative centre.
(Photo above: Susan Senecal, A&W chief operating officer, speaking at funding annoucment on Oct 1, 2017--photo courtesy of University of Saskatchewan)