Agricultural Research Station's future up in the air


The world-class Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Station is facing a budget crunch that could force it to close its doors.
The Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Station (TBARS) has now completed ten years of successful independent agricultural research under the direction of the Thunder Bay Agricultural Research Association (TBARA).
The current funding agreement with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation will end March 31, 2015. With the reduction in federal, provincial, and industry agricultural research funding, future agreements will require higher levels of community support. Before the TBARA Board of Directors initiate a study into the long term sustainability of TBARS, it needs to know:
a) if the Thunder Bay agricultural community seriously wants a local research facility,
b) if so, to what extent is the community willing to support it financially, and
c) the desired direction of future agricultural research, if there is sufficient support.
Funding for research at the Agricultural Research Station had been coming mostly from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund. Under the current funding system, NOHFC will likely fund no more than 50 per cent of the costs in the next funding term after March 2015. It is almost impossible to raise 50 per cent funding from sources other than NOHFC, stated Tarlok Singh Sahota, director of research and business at TBARS.
TBARS requires a minimum of $260,000 per year in the short term to keep operating and more than that in the long run, he added.
A meeting to address these concerns will be held today, at the Rosslyn Community Centre, beginning at 8 p.m.