Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cross-border hog biosecurity coming

Hog industry leaders from the United States and Canada have begun discussions on cross-border biosecurity.

Those involved so far are the U.S. National Pork Board, American Association of Swine Veterinarians, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Canadian Pork Council, packing industry representatives and transportation experts.

They are hoping to involve assembly yards and others whose participation could improve biosecurity.

With the lessons of porcine epidemic diarrhea and other disease transmission fresh in their memories, they hope to capture the urgency felt across the swine industry to prevent pathogens from being carried back to the farm from first points of concentration, where they must be contained, said Paul Sundberg, executive director of Canada’s Swine Health Information Centre.

Syrup heist culprits sentenced

Three men who stole more than $18 million worth of maple syrup from the Quebec marketing board have been hit with severe sentences.

Richard Vallieres, the chief culprit, was sentenced to eight years in prison, fined $9.4 million and forfeited $606,500 seized by police.

If he fails to pay his fine within 10 years, he risks an additional prison term of six years.

Raymond Vallieres and Etienne St-Pierre were sentenced to two years, minus one day, and three years probation.The one-day reduction means they will serve their time in a provincial rather than a federal prison.

Raymond has been given one year to pay a $9,840 fine or stay in jail for another six months.

St-Pierre has been given 15 years to pay a $1.3-million fine or an additional five years in prison.

The thieves siphoned maple syrup from barrels in a warehouse, replacing it with water.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Alberta names new leader to its “AgriCorp”

Alberta says it will soon appoint eight directors who will work under new oversight rules for the agency that handles crop insurance, disaster aid and farm loans. It’s somewhat like AgriCorp in Ontario.

Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier appointed professional agrologist Jennifer Wood to chair the new board of the Agriculture Financial Services Corp.

Carlier sacked the old six-member board about a year ago and suspended three top executives.

"I lost confidence in the last board after an investigation of staff expenses left me seriously concerned that there was a culture of entitlement at AFSC," Carlier said Thursday.

An audit found the executives engaged in questionable purchasing practices and racked up lavish expenses for trips, dinners and limousine rides. The executives were suspended with pay.

Carlier said two of the executives have retired while the former president, Brad Klak, did not have his contract renewed.

Carlier says a police investigation continues, and says the new board will now hire a permanent CEO.

The corporation has 600 employees spread over 46 offices with a head office in Lacombe.

An internal audit, delivered to Carlier a year ago, focused on the preceding four years and found numerous irregularities.

Many of the problems surrounded the broker hired by the corporation.

Despite rules forbidding gifts from vendors, the report says the three executives received "meals, alcohol, paid entertainment (including theatre and concert tickets and sporting event admissions), rounds of golf and gifts on a frequent basis over four years from the broker.''

The report said executives racked up unjustified expenses including a return trip limousine ride from Lacombe to Edmonton for the president to attend the company Christmas party.

There was $5,108 for a dinner for the executives in Tokyo and $19,144 paid to a consultant in return for a share of a luxury suite at Edmonton Oilers hockey games.

The audit also found procurement rules weren't followed and that the broker was paid almost $300,000 more than the official agreed-upon price.

But the truth is that the NDP government was anxious to sack the Tory hacks.

Feds donate $1.5 million for maple syrup marketing

The federal government is helping the Quebec maple syrup marketing board to bail out of a huge surplus by giving it $1.5 million to research new uses and to improve marketing.

The Quebec maple syrup association will be working with Royaume Uni et de l’Inde.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ag Canada tops up greenhouse gas research

The federal agriculture department is adding $2.2 million to a $27-million program to research ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to farming.

The University of Guelph is working with funding from 47 countries involved in the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.

The research is in four areas -  livestock systems, cropping systems, agricultural water use efficiency and agro-forestry.