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Ottawa spends $3.4 million to help beef industry bolster its brand

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CALGARY - The federal government is spending $3.4 million to support the creation of the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence in Calgary.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said the facility is expected to be running by the end of the year and will enable Canada Beef Inc. to bolster the Canadian beef brand and improve access to international markets.

Canada Beef is a national organization that represents the research, marketing and promotion of the Canadian cattle and beef industry worldwide.

Ritz said the centre will help provide training to companies interested in trade missions.

"A lot of people have an idea for marketing in that you just put up a website and they will come. That works well to a certain extent, but you have to gain the credibility in those markets," Ritz said Tuesday.

"In China for example and Japan it's all about face time. It's about making the connection in those foreign lands."

The centre also aims to help the industry test market new products and receive feedback from consumers.

The money is coming from the Western Diversification program.

Ritz said a similiar program called the Canadian International Grains Institute has been working well.

Canada is the eighth largest beef exporting country in the world.

"Our opportunity to tap into global markets cannot be underestimated in the value that could bring back to producers," said Rob Meijer, president of Canada Beef Inc.

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

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