Thursday, August 31, 2017

Dane is feature speaker at Shakespeare seminar

Theis Hansen of Denmark, technical service advisor for Danbred, is the feature speaker for the Shakespeare Swine Seminar Sept. 14.

He will be sharing knowledge from Denmark about feeding and housing gestating sows of high-prolific genetic lines without using individual sow-feeding systems.

Others will be sharing what they have learned about checking semen quality and alternative euthanasia methods.

Registration begins at 4 p.m. at the Shakespeare Community Centre and includes a pork barbecue.

HSUS seeks to ban sow crates, hen cages

The Humane Society of the United States has gathered a coalition of animal welfare groups to seek California approval to put a proposal on the next election ballot to ban crating sows and caging hens.
The first step is filing the wording for a vote with the California Attorney General. The next step will be gathering at least 365,880 signatures within 190 days to qualify for listing on the election ballots.
The election will be in November 2018.
Californians know that locking farm animals in tight cages for the duration of their lives is cruel and compromises food safety,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.
All animals deserve humane treatment, especially those raised for food.”

Many political observers say that what starts in California often spreads across the U.S. and Canada.

Luc Berthold chosen Conservative ag. critic

Luc Berthold of Thedford Mines, Que., has been chosen agriculture critic in the shadow cabinet named by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

He has been a radio and print journalist, including chief editor for Courier Frontenac, has been executive assistant for a provincial cabinet minister and was mayor of Thedford Mines from 2006 to 2013.

He was also president of the local economic development agency from 2009 to 2013.

He was first elected a federal MP for Megantic in October, 2015.

Tavistock farmers worry about train plans

About 100 farmers in the Tavistock area met this week to discuss concerns that the proposal for a high-speed train track between Toronto and Windsor will cut through their farms.

It could, as has happened with the 401 series of highways, leave fields stranded from farm homes, barns and storage buildings.

"This is going to cut off all the back roads. They're going to dead head them, just like the 401 is down there," said Harold Bickle, who farms crops on 4,000 acres in East Zorra-Tavistock.

"Maybe there's going to be two crossings all the way across the township here. 

We'll have to drive way out of our way to get to the other way of the rail line," he is quoted by CBC Kitchener.

Residents in and around nearby Shakespeare were embroiled in controversy for several years over plans to build a bypass around Shakespeare for traffic between Kitchener and Stratford.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Compaction expert to speak at Arthur

European soil compaction expert Matthias Stettler will be in Arthur to talk to farmers on behalf of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
He will be at the Shawridge Farms Grain Elevator on Thursday, September 7th between 9am and 4pm., not only speaking, but also demonstrating soil compaction by looking at soil profiles from dug pits.
Stettler is from Bern, Switzerland.
In the pits, farmers will be able to see the differences between various axle weights and configurations.

The OSCIA says this is an excellent opportunity to learn how compaction impacts soil structure, rainfall absorption, erosion and overall soil health.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

JBS USA appoints advisors

JBS USA has chosen four high-profile Americans to form an advisory board, an obvious attempt to distance the company from its owner, JBS SA of Brazil.

JBS USA includes XL Packers of Alberta, plus operations in Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

JBS SA is caught up in two major scandals, one involving bribes to obtain billions of dollars worth of loans from a government bank, the other for bribing meat inspectors to clear flawed meat for export.

Despite confessions that he bribed government officials and politicians to obtain loans, this week there were calls for the chief executive officer to resume leadership of the company.

The advisory board will be comprised of:
  • John Boehner, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives;
  • Greg Heckman, former president and chief executive officer of The Gavilon Group;
  • Dimitri Panayotopoulos, former vice-chairman of Procter & Gamble, and
  • Harvey Pitt, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
We are honored that such a high caliber group of leaders has agreed to serve as inaugural members of the JBS USA Advisory Board,” said Andre Nogueira, JBS USA chief executive officer.

We look forward to the contributions of the Advisory Board members in advancing our plans for success and growth, while preserving our unwavering commitment to governance, quality and outstanding customer service.”

The Advisory Board will meet quarterly, in addition to providing ongoing counsel to the JBS USA CEO and executive leadership teams in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Flowers Canada gets federal grant

The federal agriculture department is giving up to $393,070 to Flowers Canada Growers to increase sales, especially to foreign customers.

The investment will allow FCG to develop standardized training protocols for flower growers on Canada’s new export certification program for greenhouse-grown plants. The training will ensure workers and managers understand and comply with the new program. 

The funding will also help FCG increase their market share domestically and internationally through various marketing activities, including tradeshows, sales missions, publishing a directory and buyers’ guide, marketing and promotion activities.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sask. politician sought Chinese farmland investors

Saskatchewan's conflict of interest commissioner says Bill 

Boyd, former Saskatchewan minister of economic affairs, 

crossed the line by seeking Chinese investors to irrigate 


Boyd has resigned after publicity about the issue.

Boyd was involved with a company that went to China earlier this year to attract investors for irrigation projects on Saskatchewan farmland.
But while on the trip, Boyd was identified as minister of the economy — a position he resigned from in August, 2016, — and a presentation he delivered had the Saskatchewan government logo on the slides.

Boyd has said he went as a farmer and private businessman.

Commissioner Bill Barclay says Boyd’s actions fall below the standards expected of members of the assembly.

"In my view, despite Mr. Boyd's claim that he stated during the presentation that he was only present as a private business person, these circumstances show that he was using his office as an MLA to seek to influence the decisions of potential investors," Barclay wrote in his 15-page long report released Monday.

Boyd announced earlier this month that he's retiring from public life and resigning his seat in Kindersley, effective Sept. 1.

U.S., Mexican dairymen allied vs. Canada

Leaders of dairy farmer organizations in the United States and Mexico met this week and agreed that Canada’s new low-priced milk category is a problem.

They also agreed to make common cause against the European Union’s attempt to ban the use of cheese names that have a European place-name origon, such as asiago, feta and gogonzola.

Mexico took down many of its dairy-industry trade barriers earlier, opening the way for it to join the U.S. in challenging Canada’s high degree of protectionism.

The challenge to the new low-price milk category is coming on two fronts – during the North American Free Trade Negotiations and via a complaint filed with the World Trade Organization.

Small business opposes tax reforms

First it was medical doctors.

Then it was tax advisors to small businesses.

Now it’s farmers and full-blown opposition to Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s proposals to eliminate some tax breaks to make things more even between average wage-earning Canadians and relatively wealthier business owners.

The tax break reforms Morneau proposes include eliminating small-business perks such as sharing income with family members, saving passive investment income in a corporation and converting a corporation's income into capital gains.

Dan Kelly, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), told the Globe and Mail that his organization is working around the clock to mobilize local business owners to pressure their local MPs.

Several weeks ago, STEP Canada, an association of trust and estate professionals, held an all-day meeting in Toronto to develop the framework for multiple submissions to the Department of Finance.

Among the 70 attendees were representatives from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Bar Association, Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, Canadian Real Estate Association and the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

Fiona Cook, executive director of the Grain Growers of Canada, said the organization is very concerned about the issue and will take some time to do an economic impact analysis.

"We're really going to push the government to back off of this for now and work with us on what the problems are," she said.

 "Obviously, we're very concerned. This really hits the family farm and succession planning, which is a big deal for farming in Canada. How do you pass on to the next generation?"

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is mobilizing a lobbying push to contact MPs to voice concerns before the early-October end to Morneau’s period to accept comments.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Amazon prepared to cut food prices

Amazon is closing its deal to buy Whole Foods next week and is already announcing price cuts for bananas, eggs, salmon, beef and more.
Amazon is paying $13.7 billion for the chain which has a reputation for high prices for niche-market foods, such as organic produce.
It's an "opening salvo" in the grocery wars, said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, and shares of other supermarkets fell on the news.
"Rivals should be under no illusion that they are now dealing with a competitor that is not afraid to damage profits and margins if it creates long-term gains," Saunders said in an analyst note.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Cargill invests in ersatz meat venture

Cargill Inc. Is one of several wealthy investors backing Memphis Meats with $167 million to develop ersatz meat production.

The company sets up self-replicating cells to produce beef, chicken and duck. That eliminates the need to raise animals or birds for slaughter.

Among other investors are Bill Gates of Microsoft fame and Richard Branson of Virgin mobile.

The fundraising round was led by venture-capital firm DFJ, which has previously backed several social-minded retail startups.

Commission is advertising for veggie board directors

The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission is seeking applications for four directors to represent producers on the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers Marketing Board.

The commission will choose directors from the applications, two for district one and one each for districts two and three.

They will serve a one-year term and then their positions will be open to election.

It’s all part of a restructuring after the commission dismissed the previous board and took over contract negotiations with processing companies for this year’s crop.

Under the new governance structure, the commission will continue to appoint the chairman and producers will elect four directors each year for two-year terms. 

The board will consist of eight producer-elected directors and the government-chosen chairman.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chicken sales continue to increase

Canadians continue to buy more chicken every year.

So far this year, they have bought 792 million kilograms, an increase of 2.1 per cent from last year.

And this year more of the chicken they bought was raised on Canadian farms – 692 million kilograms, an increase of 2.8 per cent.

Imports declined by about two per cent to about 100 million kilograms and exports declined by 8.7 per cent to 95.5 million kilograms.

Processors should be happy because wholesale prices have increased by 13.2 per cent.

Retail prices for boneless breast meat increased by 2.5 per cent in Ontario to $11.50 per kilogram, but plunged by 19 per cent in Quebec, yet at $12.72 per kilogram remained significantly higher than in Ontario.

Fixing the Nation River watershed for farmers

Fixing the Nation River watershed for farmers

For decades, farmers and politicians have talked about fixing Nation River drainage to make the region more reliable for farming.

The latest iteration is a promised from the federal government to give  $997,654 to the South Nation Conservation Authority to develop a hydrologic model that will provide farmers with real-time weather and water information to help inform water management decisions.

That won’t be the fix that many have hoped for, but will provide some warning before disasters strike.

When I worked in Ottawa, my boss, a municipal councillor who grew up in the Ottawa Valley, said there is a large area of farmland that is inside a rock-ridged bowl and what's really needed is to blast a bigger hole through that rim so the water can drain.

Trump doubts NAFTA deal possible

United States President Donald Trump says he doubts negotiators can reach a deal to update the North American Free Trade Agreement without ripping up the current deal.

"Personally, I don't think we can make a deal. I think we'll probably end up terminating NAFTA at some point," Trump said at a political rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday.

Suggesting a termination might help jump-start the negotiations, Trump said: "I personally don't think you can make a deal without a termination."

But then he added he hasn't made his mind up. 

What mind? 

The next meetings are Sept. 1 to 5 in Mexico, then in Canada later in September and back in the U.S. in October.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

New potash mine on hold

BHP Billiton has put its new Jensen potash mine in Saskatchewan on hold.

Earlier this year the company said it was preparing to ask its board of directors for approval next year to finish the mine and bring it online by 2023. It is about two-thirds dug.

Potash prices weakened sharply soon after BHP, in Australia, decided to dig the mine. A cartel between Russia and Belarus collapsed and both then increased production at ever-lower prices.

The Canadian cartel hung together and the partners cut back production in an effort to increase prices.

They have increased, but still remain well below the record-high prices and optimism about a decade ago.

Ad placed for chair for veggie board

The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has placed an ad on its website for a chairman for the Ontario Processing Vegetable Marketing Board.

The ad says the board has about 400 members.

Their elected board of directors was fired by the agriculture minister earlier this year and he appointed Elmer Buchanan interim chairman to conduct contract and pricing negotiations with processing companies for this year’s harvest.

Recently Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal said elections will be held nexr year for four directors and the following year for another four who will then be elected on a rotating basis for two-year terms.

He said the chairman would continue to be appointed by the commission which he controls because he appoints all its members.

The former board members and a number of farmers have been outspoken critics of what the government did.

The commission has been warning for several years that radical changes were needed to stop the loss of processing companies and jobs.

The commission ad for chairman says the “ideal candidates should possess:

• Strategic leadership skills

• Strong communication skills

• The ability to foster partnerships, cultivate relationships and build consensus among diverse individuals

• Strong leadership skills to encourage and facilitate effective, industry minded decision making

New president for Beef Grading Agency

Marty Carpenter is the new president of the Canadian Beef Grading Agency, taking over from Dennis Laycraft who has been acting president since January.

Carpenter took over immediately after the agency’s annual meeting Aug. 15
During the past 25 years he has held roles with Alberta Beef Producers, Beef Information Centre, and Canada Beef, where he dealt with domestic and export clients and the technical elements of the Canadian beef grading system.

While at Canada Beef, Carpenter oversaw the development and creation of the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence.

The CBGA delivers grading services for Canadian beef to provide a standardized measurement system to support pricing decisions and to support greater consistency and predictability in the eating quality of specific grades of beef. 

The CBGA is accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Chicken production set to surge

The national agency for chicken is calling for a huge production increase this winter.

It has set the quota allocation for December and January seven per cent higher than last year.

For Jan. 21 to March 17, the increase is five per cent.

In accordance with a new market-sharing deal reached last year, the increases for Ontario are 7.9 and 5.7 per cent.

The Canadian chicken market is responding to shifting sources of supply and finding a new equilibrium,” says the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board on its website.

The sharp reduction in ‘fowl’ imports experienced over the past year has created an increased demand which is now being filled by domestic chicken.”

After years of complaints from the national agency, the federal government finally cracked down on imports to determine that only fowl was being imported under that tariff-line category, and not broiler chicken which should be heavily taxed with import duties designed to protect supply management 

NAFTA talks open

Canada had 75 professional negotiators in Washington for the opening round of talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

They met in about a dozen different rooms tackling 27 subjects, but supply management was not aong them.
The hot-button issue for Canada was the United States insistence that the disputes-settling Chapter 19 of NAFTA be scrapped.
Canada threatened to walk out of the talks that led to NAFTA and at the last minute won its inclusion.
The Chapter 19 tribunals allow NAFTA countries to appeal each others' decisions to impose punitive import duties.

The panels have regularly ruled in Canada's favour on the long-running softwood lumber dispute with the United States, and Ottawa sees them as an indispTensable tool to guard against the U.S. imposing duties on Canadian goods.

Without the panels, such disputes would be settled in U.S. courts.
The talks will resume Sept. 1 to Sept. 5 in Mexico City.

The Globe and Mail reports that the negotiations are cordial.

Findlay says supply management “indefensible”

Martha Hall Findlay, the first elected Canadian politician to oppose supply management for the dairy and poultry industries and now president of the Canada West Foundation, says the system is “indefensible”.

In an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail, she says Canada is a big loser by sticking with the system – losing export opportunities, losing efficiencies and costing consumers higher food prices.

In recent years Australia, New Zealand – and yes, the United States – have either eliminated or drastically reduced dairy subsidies, and taken advantage of growing global opportunities for their dairy products – leaving Canadian dairy behind to stagnate, limited to our own small market,” she writes.

But what are we protecting? The small number of dairy farmers left in Canada are, on average, multimillionaires.

It's not surprising that they want – and spend a lot of money lobbying hard – to keep the system that has made them rich, but which costs consumers and most other parts of our economy. What we need are some politicians with courage.”

Findlay spoke out against supply management when she made a bid to become leader of the Liberal party.

She notes that the supporters of milk supply management say Canadian prices are not that high, but contradict that by saying they can’t compete against U.S. subsidies.

Her opinion piece appeared as negotiations for revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement began in Washington. 

Canada faces insistent U.S. demands that it revamp or scrap supply management, especially for milk.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Parent chosen for federal tribunal

Geneviève Parent has been appointed to a three-year term on the Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal.

The government said her choice was based on a “rigorous new approach to Governor in Council appointments—an approach that uses open, transparent and merit-based selection processes that strive for gender parity and reflect Canada’s diversity”.

Some American dairy farmers support supply management

There are some dairy farmers in the United States who like Canada’s supply management system and they are writing letters to the U.S. trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, urging him to lay off of the Canadians.

In one letter, the National Family Farm Coalition and Institute for Agricultural & Trade Policy told Lighthizer: "Do not pressure Canada to weaken its dairy supply management program.

“Undermining Canadian supply management will not bring a large increase in U.S. dairy exports.

“Supply management helps ensure that dairy prices are high enough to cover the cost of milk production and keep Canadian family dairy farmers in business."

The National Farmers Union wrote another letter that said: "Canada's pricing system on dairy has received substantial criticism from national dairy organizations and the Administration ... The U.S. should support other nations' sovereignty.

“In other words, the U.S. should not work to undermine a system that benefits family farmers on either side of the border."

"I would hate to go after a program that's protecting farmers, when that's really what farmers in the U.S. are asking," said Darin Von Ruden, who has a 50-cattle, multi-generational farm and heads the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

"Canada's supply-management program might not be perfect. But it certainly is doing a good enough job to make sure that those farmers, especially on the dairy side in Canada, can continue to stay in business and hand that farm on to the next generation."

These are minority opinions. The organization with the largest membership of U.S. dairy farmers is outspoken in its criticism of Canadian supply management and is lobbying Lighthizer to bargain hard to gain greater access to the Canadian market.

During the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, Canada was willing to offer a 3.25 per cent increase in access to the Canadian dairy market.

Lighthizer has also made it clear he wants Canada’s provincial milk marketing boards to scrap their new low-priced category for milk that’s processed to reduce water content. 
That pricing strategy was adopted to stem erosion of the Canadian farmers’ market for cheeses and similar products.