Monday, July 31, 2017

New pork plant for Ontario farmers

Ontario farmers will have convenient access to a new hog-packing plant due to open soon near Detroit.

Clemens Food Group is preparing to open Sept. 5 with 800 employees staffing a plant with slaughter capacity of 11,000 hogs per shift.

The plant has cost the family-owned business $256 million, including $12.5 million from the Michigan Strategic Fund-Community Development Block Grant program.

Ontario farmers have been shipping a significant number of hogs out of province, mostly to Quebec, since Quality Packers closed its plants in Toronto and Mitchell in 2014.

Soy substitute found for plastic micro-beads

Researchers have found a substitute for plastic microbes that threaten ocean environments and were banned in the United States in 2015.

Samuel Lewis, Steve Ferris and Alison Switzer, recent Doctor of Pharmacy graduates from Purdue’s College of Pharmacy, and Ryan Pendergast, a graduate from the School of Mechanical Engineering, founded the company, SoyFoliate, to make and market their microbes.

Microbes are commonly used in personal care products for exfoliating. 

"Soy has several biodegradable and hydrophilic properties that make it a great substitute to plastic microbeads. Plastic beads do not absorb water, and soy can over time,” Lewis said. 

“To mitigate the problem we mixed our beads with small amounts of oil to prevent water from saturating the beads and decreasing their rigid properties.”

Lewis said the team started a company in order to efficiently bring the product to market.

“We’ve spent the last year conducting market research, working with industry professionals and experts in the field and getting feedback, which has all been positive,” he said. 

“We plan to be the first ones to market an alternative product used in a huge variety of personal care products.”

What they need now is more lab space to complete development and testing.

They hope to licence their technology to companies making exfoliation products.

Women hike Bruce Trail for farm women

Two Canadian women are in the final leg of hiking the Bruce Trail to raise money to help women farmers in Ghana, Africa.

Elaine Shantz and Miriam Turnbull have already raised more than $80,000 for the GROW project in Ghana that is sponsored by Mennonite Economic Development Associates of Waterloo.

Shantz, who has also hiked in Peru and Spain, is chief executive officer of peopleCare Communites. 

Turnbull is general manager of ProResp which provides respiratory therapy services.

The two have been joined along the Bruce Trail trek by many supporters.

The GROW project in Ghana is helping women farmers to grow and market soybeans.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Charity Crescent statue controversial

Brookdale Tony Charity Crescent’s statue is on the front page of the Toronto Star today, Canada’s largest newspaper.

It’s something she never achieved in her lifetime, but it’s one of the few claims to fame the real-life Charity missed.

The problem is her statue is raised high on four metal posts, one for each hoof, near a residential part of Markham.

Where Holstein farmers see beauty, those neighbours are disgusted by her ugly sight.

They want the statue removed.

It’s Helen Roman-Barber, daughter of multi-millionaire Steve Roman, owner of Romandale Farms, who put the massive statue there.

Charity was nine-time All-Canadian or All-American Holstein, was never defeated in her class and held some milk production records, a rare combination of show-ring and production excellence.

PED jumps Red River

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus has jumped the Red River to infect a hog operation in the Altona-Gfretna region.
That increases infection zones to nine since the highly-infectious and deadly disease blossomed in Southern Manitoba this summer.
It’s unusual because the virus survives better in cold that warm weather.
Dr. Glen Duizer of Manitoba’s Chief Veterinary Office (CVO) said the barn was exposed after a shipment of pigs from a farm that was later confirmed PEDv positive. The shipped animals later tested positive for the virus.
It’s very unfortunate,” Manitoba Pork general manager Andrew Dickson said. “This happens. You can test and test.”
Remedial measures are underway; operations within five kilometres have been notified and the site has been locked down, Dickson said.

Quarantine zones had been mostly in the Steinbach area, near Niverville, St. Pierre-Jolys, and near the U.S.-Canada border south of Steinbach.

Weston complains about wages

Galen Weston, head of the family empire that includes Loblaws, is complaining about hikes in minimum wages in Ontario and Alberta, but today reported another round of huge profits.

Weston said the government increases in minimum wages will cost his companies about $190 million.

Second-quarter results show that Loblaw’s earnings increased from $515 to $624 million, that Weston Foods’ profits declined from $26 to $24 million and that the Weston Group had a profit of $160 million, up from $133 million a year ago.

Sales increased from $11.08 to $11.44 billion.

Weston said his companies will be forced to make cuts to offset the increases in minimum wages. In the past, that has included squeezing suppliers which, in turn, rolls down the supply chain to farmers.

Just another case of the one per cent putting the boots to those at the bottom of incomes.

Japan ups beef tariff by 50 per cent

Japan is increasing its tariffs on frozen beef by 50 per cent.

The move will impact Australia and the United States the most because they account for 90 per cent of Japan’s frozen beef imports.

The tariff increase is automatic, rising by long-established policy when imports hit a certain volume.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Detecting salmonella in food

Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo is part of an international research team looking for ways to detect salmonella in fresh produce  before it’s sold.
The project is called Salmonella Syst-OMIC.

Laurier's role is trying to understand the approximately 2,500 strains of salmonella.

"It can persist on the surface of the vegetables, [but] whether it's thriving and growing, that's one of the things that we are trying to understand," Joel Weadge, a professor in the faculty of biology at Wilfrid Laurier, told CBC reporter Craig Norris of Kitchener..

Using this information, they want to be able to knock down common strains of salmonella by combining viruses, that are not dangerous to humans, and create a spray.

Maple Leaf sales, profits soar

Maple Leaf Foods earned an 18.8 per cent increase in net earnings during its second quarter - $37.3 million compared with $31.4 million for the same quarter last year.

Sales increased by 8.3 per cent to $926 million.

President and chief executive officer Michael McCain said the company is now focused on maintaining profits.

During the quarter it bought a company in the United States that makes meat substitutes, positioning the company to be sustainable if and when meats fall out of consumer favour.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

City girl wins farmers’ prize

Dr. Kelsey Milmine was named the winner of the ninth annual Grey-Bruce Farmers Week Prize.

She grew up in Burlington, but wanted to work with livestock so worked on a dairy farm to gain experience.

Milmine is working atthe Paisley Veterinary Service where she aims to learn more about how she can improve the health of cattle.

AGCO buys Precision Planting

AGCO has a deal to buy Precision Planting LLC from The Climate CAorporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto.

The acquisition of Precision Planting will solidify AGCO as one of the global leaders in planting technology and strengthen our position as a full line partner for professional farmers across the globe,” says Martin Richenhagen, AGCO’s chairman, president and chief executive officer.

No financial terms of the deal have been disclosed.

U.S. tussle to be NAFTA negotiator

Wilbur Ross, a billionaire investor and close friend of U.S. President Donald Trump, had originally been given the authority to reshape NAFTA and other trade deals to protect U.S. industries and jobs, but now has been ousted in favour of Robert Lighthouse.
Ross is U.S. Commerce Secretary; Lighthouse is the U.S. Trade Representative.
Lighthizer is a more experienced trade negotiator and more comfortable with Washington politics, has persuaded the White House to let him run the NAFTA file without having to answer to Mr. Ross.
Sources say the White House has told Canadian and Mexican officials to deal only with Mr. Lighthizer, a veteran trade lawyer and negotiator who worked in the Reagan administration.
Mr. Lighthizer has also made it clear to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland that he only answers to the President and Congress, sources say.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week he will not allow the U.S. to scrap the NAFTA provision for a disputes-settlement system, a point that former prime minister Brian Mulroney gained only because of last-minute insistence.

Loblaws cries poor

Loblaw Companies Ltd. says minimum wage increases in Ontario and Alberta and health care reform in Quebec are expected to hurt its bottom line.
The grocery and drug store operator says the minimum wage increases announced in Ontario and Alberta are expected to increase its labour expenses by about $190-million in 2018.
Why, pray tell, would Canada's largest supermarket chain which has made consistently huge profits in recent years not be paying all of its employees well over the new Alberta and Ontario minimum wages?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

MacAuley extends comment deadline

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay has extended the comment period to Aug. 31 for his on-line survey comments on a national food policy.

So far only 22,000 people have responded.

Many people, including the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, have long been calling for the federal government to adopt a national food policy.

If the Trudeau government goes ahead to craft one, it will be a Canadian first.

So far Canada has had only federal-provincial agriculture policies and health and nutrition policies.

Wetlands losses increases algal blooms

The disappearance of small wetlands is increasing algal blooms says researcher Nandita Basu of the University of Waterloo.

The wetlands filter out farm runoff, she says that she and her doctoral student Frederick Cheng have found.

Nandita Basu

Blue-green algae thrive on nutrient-rich farm runoff and/or sewage from cities and towns.

On Friday, the Grand River Conservation Authority announced Conestogo Lake would be closed to swimming and fishing until futher notice. The reservoir tested positive for blue-green algae over the weekend. 

"When we compare small versus large, we always compare on an equal area-basis," Basu told CBC News, "So what I mean by that is that 10 one-hectare [wetlands] is better than one 10-hectare [wetland]."

Basu said they are more effective because there is less existing water in smaller wetlands and when farm runoff makes its way to the wetland, more water is able to make contact with the soil — where the nutrient filtration happens.

Governments on both sides of the border are expecting farmers to change management to sharply reduce phosphorous runoff into Lake Erie.