Monday, April 23, 2018

Land prices continue to rise

Ontario’s land prices rose by 9.4 per cent last year, but the market here is not as hot as Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, reports Farm Credit Canada.

Ontario prices rose an average of 9.4 per cent in 2017, Saskatchewan by 10.2 per cent and Nova Scotia by 9.5 per cent.

Ontario’s increases were, however, from a much higher level than in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.

“Ontario’s farmland value increases continued to be fuelled by the strong demand from supply-managed farm operations and cash crop producers competing for a limited amount of available land,” the FCC report says.

Ontario farmland prices increased by 4.4 per cent in 2016 and by 30 per cent in 2012.

The increases were 24 per cent in the northcentral region of the province, 15.6 per cent in the southeastern region, 15.1 per cent in south central and 11 per cent in the northwestern region. Prices were unchanged in the north region.

J.P. Gervais, FCC’s chief economist, said last year’s increases are “a sign of a stable and strong farm economy.” 

The FCC has become the main mortgage lender for farmland.

Strange that the federal government has so often issued cautions about the housing price increases, but not farmland. Maybe it's because FCC doesn't lend to Toronto and Vancouver house buyers.

China’s tariff will drop hog prices

China’s recent 25 per cent tariff on U.S. pork could cost U.S. hog  producers between $6 and $8 per head, according to Rabobank analysts.

The situation would be similar for Canadians, but without any promises of help from the federal or provincial governments.

U.S. President Donald Trump has promised farmers he will compensate them for any losses related to China’s tariffs, imposed in retaliation to Trump’s tariffs, first on steel and aluminum, then a threat of tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports from China.

African swine fever in Europe is another challenge for the global pork industry that Rabobank has commented on.

China bought 12 percent of all U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports in 2017. 

Rabobank said it’s uncertain whether China will crack down on U.S. pork variety meats shipped via Hong Kong. 

That market alone could knock $2 to $3 per hog off of U.S. prices, Rabobank says.

Organic bill back at Queen’s Park

New Democrat Peter Tabuns of Toronto and Tory Sylvia Jones from Dufferin-Caledon say they, will re-introduce a co-sponsored private member’s bill today to create the framework for organic-products regulations.

The bill was originally introduced in September, but died when Premier Kathleen Wynne prorogued the legislature in March.

Two weeks ago all parties said they would support legislation when they were attending the Organic Council of Ontario’s annual meeting and policy forum.

Despite support from backbench Liberals, the party has yet to announce its support.

Gasoline ethanol content to double by 2020

The Ontario government is doubling the percentage of ethanol in gasoline/

Effective the beginning of 2020 the ethanol content must be at least 10 per cent.

Most ethanol in Ontario is distilled from grain corn.

“Our farmer-members harvest more than two million acres of grain corn annually and we are pleased to see this commitment to renewable fuels and their benefits for the environment,” said Markus Haerle, chairman of Grain Farmers of Ontario.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Flour recall was a massive effort

The release of 759 pages of mostly e-mails indicates there was a massive effort involved in a recall of flour milled in Saskatoon that was contaminated with E. coli 0121.

Twenty-two Canadians were identified as sickened by the flour, including one key case where the person consumed raw dough.

With hindsight, health officials were able to determine the first person sickened was Nov. 13, 2016. The others sickened and linked to the flour were between then and Feb. 26.

Robin Hood flour was identified as the source in March and on March 26 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency began a recall that eventually grew to scores of brand-name products across Canada and even an export shipment to Guyana.

The recall involved a number of major companies, such as Smucker Foods of Toronto and the Sobeys supermarket chain.

There were some unusual difficulties, including the challenge of contacting Mennonites who have no telephones.

The investigation and lab results eventually traced the source to flour milled at Ardent’s Saskatoon plant on Oct. 15, 16 and 17.

A high percentage of packages of flour milled on those dates turned up with E. coli 0121.

But even then it’s not clear where the wheat originated.

Ardent Mills said it was probably spring wheat, but it could have also contained soft wheat, and that it probably was from the 2016 harvest, but might have had some wheat from the 2015 harvest.

That’s reflective of the amount of blending that happens both with the wheat used in milling and the flours that are blended into products for sale.

The documents were released under Access to Information at the request of a woman who spent time in a hospital in Medicine Hat, Alta.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Consumers sceptical about eating crickets

Cricket powder became available this month at Loblaws, but it’s apparently a bust in the United States.
Only a third of the consumers responding to the April Food Demand Survey (FooDS), conducted by Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agricultural Economicss said they’re willing to try cookies made with the product.
PepsiCo is testing for use as an ingredient in snack foods such as Cheetos and Quaker Granola Bars.
In the FooDS survey, half of the participants answered the questions about cricket flour after viewing pictures, while the other half of participants answered the same questions without pictures.
About one-third of the participants who were given text-only description of cricket flour said they would try them once, while 57 per cent said they would not try them. 
Of the group shown a picture of the cookie made with cricket flour along with the description, 42 per cent said they would try them at least once, and 48 per cent said not at all.
Less attractive was the idea of cricket flour in a milkshake. Among the group shown a picture of the milkshake about 39 per cent said they would try it at least once. 

Antibiotic-free dairy herd costs $61 US per cow

A study at Cornell University in upstate New York estimates that it costs about $61 US per cow to manage a dairy herd without using antibiotics.

The research team used a hypothetical herd of 1,000 cattle for its analysis and the industry averages for the incidence of bacterial diseases such as mastitis, displaced placentas and dry cow treatments.

The main cost factors are cow replacement costs, cow slaughter prices and milk prices.

They found a range of increased costs for eliminating antibiotics – from a low of $46 US to a high of $73 per cow.

The authors say that more than money is involved, including the ethical issue of human health related to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.