Saturday, January 31, 2015

Atkinson resigns from Ontario Farmer

Freelance reporter Suzanne Atkinson has resigned from Ontario Farmer publications.

She has pleaded guilty to helping take sheep that were under federal agriculture department quarantine on the farm of Montana Jones. They were suspected of being infected with rabies.

The trials for Michael Schmidt of raw-milk notoriety and others involved in the "theft" remain to be held.

Atkinson's sentencing hearing has been rescheduled for Feb. 11.  She will be a witness in the other trials.

Atkinson breached voluntary journalism ethics when she failed to disclose that she was personally involved in a story she was reporting.

Ontario gains chicken production

Ontario will be able to produce 4.5 per cent more chicken than its base allocation from the national agency.

That compares with a four per cent national increase.

This is the first allocation that implements a new market-sharing agreement under the Chicken Farmers of Canada national supply-management agency.

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board says that if all producers fill their allocation for quota period A-130, which runs from April 19 to June 13, Ontario’s quota holders will produce 52,699,341 eviscerated kilograms.

The Ontario board also announced that it intends to set production targets for two, not just one, quota period at a time.

It will reserve the right to make changes to reflect market conditions.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Government sues Tony Merchant

The federal government is suing Tony Merchant's law firm for $25 million, claiming it over-billed for work it did for the government.

Merchant's wife is a senator.

His brother-in-law is Otto Lang, who was Justice Minister and Minister Responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board.

I recall that Lang, when he held both positions, broke the law by refusing to pay grain-handling companies for storing wheat under the Temporary Wheat Reserves Act.

Lang had introduced legislation to get rid of that subsidy which tended to plug the system with so much wheat that it was difficult to move other crops to market at the end of the wheat year, which is when the volume in storage was calculated.

The point, however, is that the act was still in place and the money should, in my opinion, have been paid. But Lang snubbed his nose at the law and because he was also justice minister, who would file a lawsuit?

So, I'm one of those who is not surprised that Merchant has landed himself in hot water.

Piglet survival better for PED-infected sows

Sows that have had mild infections of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus are passing immunities on to their piglets, according to recent research reports from the University of Minnesota.

The PED virus infected about half of the U.S. swine breeding herds between July, 2013, and July, 2014, according to estimates from the Swine Health Monitoring Project.

In the absence of effective vaccines or standard control protocols, there is an urgent need for evidence of cross-protective immune countermeasures.

The research at the University of Minnesota involved checking three-day-old piglets born to sows exposed seven months earlier to a mild strain of PED.

They challenged these piglets with a virulent PED isolate and found that all of the piglets survived, says the American Association of Swine Veterinarians.

Piglet death rates from sows that had not been immunized were 33 per cent, and their morbidity rate was 47 per cent.

Canada ready to expand pork exports

Kevin Grier says Canada is in a good position to expand pork production for export markets.

It has weathered seven or eight incredibly-tough years of low prices, U.S. trade barriers and wildly fluctuating feed costs without losing its 15 to 20 per cent share of global pork exports.

Now that the tough times are behind it, the industry is in solid shape to expand, using record-high profits last year, a decline in feed costs and relative success – compared with the United States – in limiting death from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.

The United States is in a last-gasp effort to preserve its protectionist Country-of-Origin Labeling regulations and if it loses during an appeal hearing Feb. 17 and 18 at Geneva, the World Trade Organization will order it to either drop COOL or face punitive tariffs that Canada and Mexico could impose to pressure the U.S.

“I think the data gathered by independent sources around the world have shown that Canada at the production level is a very competitive production area globally,” Grier told a recent pork-industry conference at Banff, Alta.

“We rank among the least cost producers amongst all the major producers.

“We're among the least cost and so, from a production perspective, Canada is a very competitive nation,” he said.

But he also cautioned that Canadian meat packers are less efficient than their competitors in the United States.

That is “where we start to run into some problems,” he said, including lack of opportunities to match the high volumes that can be run through the largest U.S. plants.

U.S. to kick the COOL can in Geneva

The United States gets its final kick at the Country-of-Origin-Labeling issue at an appeal hearing before a panel of the World Trade Organization in Geneva Feb. 17 and 18.

The U.S. has lost every time it has been before the World Trade Organization in the past.

If it loses this appeal, Canada will be in a position to ask the World Trade Organization to impose duties on U.S. goods if the U.S. refuses to amend its COOL regulations so they no longer depress prices of Canadian and Mexican livestock.

The hearings in Geneva will, for the first time, be open to the public to observe. Canada asked for that, so the WTO has agreed to video the proceedings and make them available in nearby rooms.

Those who want to view the proceedings have until Feb. 4 to file an application.

CFFO more than doubles charity goal

The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario has more than doubled its goal for donations to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank this year.

The original goal, to mark the 60th anniversary of the CFFO, was 60 acres of crops.

That has now been changed to 60 hectares, which is about 2.2 time as much.

The CFFO executive made the change because of the enthusiastic response to the original goal.