The University of Saskatchewan has received a big donation from a major fast food chain.
A&W presented the university with $5 million Friday morning, with plans for the funds to go directly towards a cattle-farming research facility.
The Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE) is being built near Clavet, about 20 minutes southeast of Saskatchewan.
Priced at $36 million total, the centre will research efficient and sustainable methods for ranching cattle.
“Canadian agriculture is critically important to a business like ours,” A&W president and COO Susan Senecal told reporters.
“To be able to support it in this way, well into the future, is extremely exciting for all of us.”
From the donation, $3 million will go directly towards the construction of LFCE. Another $1 million will fund the development of a community outreach program, while the remaining $1 million will create a visiting fellowship in One Health research.
A&W’s donation comes after the fast food chain drew criticism from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who has taken to Twitter in the past to denigrate the restaurant for its insistence on using “hormone-free” cattle for their beef.
“So most Canadian beef is below your standards?” Wall wrote on Sept. 5.
“Interesting, I have always thought it’s the best beef in the world.”
Senecal said the centre’s research on sustainable methods could increase their purchase of Saskatchewan beef.
“We want to continuously grow that partnership,” she said.
A&W isn’t the only group funding the research centre.
The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association is contributing $1 million to LFCE, with hopes it can help give the Canadian cattle industry an edge.
“You can stand still and do the same thing all the time, but everyone else is going to be moving ahead,” SCA CEO Ryder Lee said.
He noted the research will help ranchers with everything from cattle genetics to what feed is best.
The LFCE is also receiving $10 million from the U of S and a combined $14.47 million from the federal and provincial governments.
The facility is set to open in 2018.
—With files from Global Saskatoon.