OMAFRA - University of Guelph Partnership 2008-2018

Photo of a handshake representing  partnership. Dairy cows in a field. Photo of a lab technician.

For over 125 years, the University of Guelph and the Ontario government have worked together to support and help shape the future of the province's agri-food industry and rural communities.

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The Partnership

The partnership's legacy of innovation has meant for Ontarians:

  • Strong rural communities
  • A thriving agriculture and food sector
  • Safe food, healthy animals and a healthy environment

On April 28, 2008, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the University of Guelph renewed this partnership for a ten year period (2008-2018). The partnership was reviewed in 2012.

The University has received over $350 million between 2008 and 2013 for its agri-food and rural research programs, laboratory services and veterinary clinical education program.

Research Programs

Agri-food and rural research

Partnership research is at the heart of a dynamic, agri-food innovation sector made up of thousands of farms, farm service providers, agricultural technology and biological companies and research facilities. DHA milk and Omega-3 eggs available at our supermarkets are examples of new, healthy products which were developed through research funded through the Partnership. The Guelph agri-food research and innovation cluster contributes 6000 jobs to Ontario's economy.

The research is divided into the following seven theme areas which were adopted by OMAFRA's Minister on the recommendation of the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario:

  • Agricultural Policy and Rural Development (formerly Agriculture and Rural Policy) link to the ag policy section of our theme page
  • Bioeconomy-Industrial Uses
  • Emergency Management
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Food for Health
  • Product Development and Enhancement Through Value Chain Collaborations
  • Production Systems

The agri-food and rural research program has a process for setting research priorities and for exchanging information.

Agri-Food and Rural Link

The Agri-Food and Rural Link (also known as the Knowledge Translation and Transfer Program) is a funding program that facilitates the successful mobilization of research knowledge generated as a result the Partnership. Faculty and professional staff at the University of Guelph and OMAFRA staff can apply. Summaries of funded projects can be viewed on the University of Guelph Partnership website.

Highly Qualified Personnel

Young people are our future researchers, policy makers and innovators in agriculture, agri-businesses, agri-food industry and rural sectors. Programs that support these young people are an effective way of moving research results into practice.

The Highly Qualified Personnel Program provides scholarships for Masters and Doctoral students working in program areas that relate to OMAFRA research themes and priorities. HQP students will also complete a work semester with a government, industry or community partner that connects well with the student's research interests and future career goals.

The Gryphon's LAAIR

Gryphon's Leading to Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research (LAAIR) program was launched in Feb 2014 at the University of Guelph to help identify opportunities and risks associated with innovative technologies. The program will also help to address gaps and overcome barriers to the application and commercialization of these technologies in the Ontario agri-food and rural sectors.

Research stations and infrastructure

Research stations and infrastructure are an important platform for conducting agri-food research. The OMAFRA - University of Guelph Partnership provides funds for the maintenance, operation and management of 14 research stations and 3 agricultural campuses located across Ontario.

These research facilities are owned by the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO) and operated and managed by the University of Guelph with oversight from the ministry's Research and Innovation Branch.

An ARIO-led reinvestment strategy is currently being implemented to revitalize research infrastructure to support demand-driven research.

Laboratory services

Laboratory Services (LS) is a multi-faceted analytical and diagnostic laboratory which serves a broad range of agri-food and veterinary clients within government, commercial and academic sectors.

The funding of laboratory services through the Partnership provides a critical mass of:

  • leading faculty
  • research personnel
  • veterinary specialists
  • laboratory staff

Laboratory services are provided through two units: the Animal Health Lab and the Agriculture and Food Lab.

Animal Health Lab

The Animal Health Laboratory (AHL) unit of the Laboratory Services Division provides a full-service, fully accredited veterinary diagnostic laboratory that supports provincial animal disease diagnosis and surveillance. Scientists and technologists at the AHL link their expertise with University of Guelph personnel to provide a single source of laboratory service in animal health, encompassing food-producing animals (livestock and poultry), exotic and zoo animals, companion animals and avian and mammalian wildlife populations.

The Pathobiology/Animal Health Laboratory on the corner of Gordon Street and McGilvray Street in Guelph will further safeguard animal and human health in Ontario.

Agriculture and Food Lab

The Agriculture and Food Laboratory (AFL) unit of Laboratory Services at the University of Guelph has been delivering accurate results for clients in agriculture, food and beverage, corporate and research sectors for over 30 years. With strong alliances in industry, government and academic sectors, this lab provides excellence in food quality and safety testing in Ontario and across Canada.

Veterinary Clinical Education Program

The Partnership supports two main aspects of the Ontario Veterinary College:

  1. the Veterinary Clinical Education Program
  2. the referral veterinary teaching hospital

The hospital is a key component in the training of undergraduate veterinary students, graduate students, interns and residents. It also serves veterinarians and animal owners in Ontario, Canada and the US.
As part of their training, student veterinarians work closely with clinical faculty who provide a wide array of services to food animal, equine and companion animals in Ontario.

VCEP recently launched two new programs:

These programs contribute to OMAFRA's continued emphasis on healthy animals and a thriving livestock sector in the province of Ontario.

Partnership innovations and outcomes

The OMAFRA - University of Guelph Partnership is dedicated at accelerating its research knowledge into use by end users. This knowledge is transferred through a number of media:

Partnership Agri-Food Yearbooks:

Newsletters and Press Articles:

  • The Buzz - an electronic community newsletter dedicated to the OMAFRA-University of Guelph partnership
  • SPARK articles videos produced by Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge - Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge produce written, audio and video articles about Partnership research


Agri-Food and Rural Link supports the production of videos based on important Partnership research. Videos are quickly becoming a popular way to communicate research knowledge, thanks to the internet and YouTube.

Impact Study

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For more information:
Author: Robyn Meerveld, Research Analyst - Partnership Liaison/RIB
Creation Date: 2 March 2010
Last Reviewed: 1May 2015