Federal funding will help get the expansion of an agricultural research facility in Alfred moving.

The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is providing $121,500 for a $371,500 capital expansion project at the Ferme d’éducation et de recherche du campus d’Alfred (FERCA).

The announcement was made on March 7 at FERCA, which is located on the lower part of the College d’Alfred campus.

The funding was announced by Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Member of Parliament Francis Drouin and the Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC).

The Northumberland CFDC administers the funding program on behalf of the federal government for all of Eastern Ontario.

FERCA is also part of the Union des Cultivateurs Franco-Ontariens (UCFO). Executive Director Simon Durand said the expansion project involves installing a new state-of-the-art dairy milking parlour in the FERCA barn. FERCA specializes in organic milk and forage production.

While many dairy farms are converting to automatic robotic milking, Durand said a parlour allows for more interaction, which is better for the research and teaching work done at FERCA.

Currently, FERCA has 110 cattle in its herd, 54 of which are being regularly milked.

The expansion will create two new full-time positions at FERCA, and 11 new partnerships related to rural innovation in the region.

John Candie, the Executive Director of the Prescott-Russell CFDC noted that $15 million in funding for CFDC’s across Eastern Ontario will be officially announced shortly.

Drouin called the funding for FERCA part of the effort to “keep the Alfred dream alive.”

The future of the upper campus buildings at College d’Alfred is still uncertain due to provincial funding discontinuing in 2018 and uncertainty about efforts to continue offering French-language rural and agriculturally-based post-secondary programs at the facility.

Candie called the future of the upper campus “a work in progress,” but offered no further details.

Funding for expansion of FERCA’s dairy production facility was announced on March 7. From left to right, Prescott-Russell CFDC Executive Director John Candie, Alfred-Plantagenet Councillor Yves Laviolette, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MP Francis Drouin, Philippe Etter of FERCA, Alfred-Plantagenet Councillor René Baulne, Northumberland CFDC Executive Director Wendy Curtis, and UCFO Executive Director Simon Durand. Photo: James Morgan