Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dairy fallacies

Prof. Bruce Moorhead recently told a meeting of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario that Canadians can't really compete for dairy export markets.

If we insist on maintaining supply management, he's right, but not for the reasons he cited.

If there were no quota restrictions on production for dairy product exports, he's wrong.

Canada has a well-earned reputation for some high-quality dairy products, such as cheddar cheeses and butter.

And we could be seasonally producing milk at as low a cost as New Zealand - in the Peace River region of Alberta and British Columbia.

This is an area where alfalfa and clovers thrive. There is virtually no winterkill. That's why it is a huge producer and exporter of alfalfa and clover seed.

So dairy herds could be pastured on forages during the growing season and hay could be harvested to feed during the rest of the year.

The cows could be dried off when they come off of pasture, so they would require only a maintenance ration.

The milk could be processed into our famous cheddar cheeses and butter, both of which store well and can be transported long distances to export markets.

Canada could compete. We just don't want to.

Canadian Meat Council praises budget

The Canadian Meat Council is pleased that the federal budget includes funding to improve trade and congratulates Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay for promoting trade.

CMC President Chris White said “we are particularly encouraged to see the federal government’s plans to commit $75 million over the next five years to increase the number of diplomats and trade commissioners in China and Asia. 

“This increased attention to China will help clear the uncertainty our industry was left with regards to bone-in beef and fresh chilled beef and pork products late last year” White added.

The Council was also pleased to see $16 million over three years added for Canada’s Food Inspection Agency to “strengthen (the) food safety system including risk intelligence, oversight, offshore prevention activities.”

In its news release, the council “congratulates MacAulay for his leadership on these files in conjunction with the Minister of International Trade, Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne.”

Peek-a-boo tax vanishes

The provincial sales tax the province imposed on insurance premiums, including crop and business-risk management premiums, has been removed.

The tax also applied to health and life insurance premiums, but In the face of angry citizens, the provincial Liberals have cancelled that new tax.

European study confirms neonic risk to bees

The Belfast Tribune reports that a new assessment of three neonicotinoid pesticides, whose use is restricted in the European Union . . . has confirmed the danger” to bees.

Neonicitinoids have been widely used in Canada as a seed treatment to prevent crop damage by insects. Ontario has implemented controls that require farmers to prove their crops face an assault by insects.

The assessment by the European Food Safety Authority looked at their impact on wild solitary bees and bumblebees as well as honeybees.

Jose Tarazona, head of EFSA’s pesticides unit, said “there is variability in the conclusions, due to factors such as the bee species, the intended use of the pesticide and the route of exposure.

“Some low risks have been identified, but overall the risk to the three types of bees we have assessed is confirmed.”

It’s not clear what his low-risk assessment means for North American farmers.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Hog farmers to visit Japan

Erik Schwindt and Doug Ahrens of Ontario are joining 12 hog producers from other parts of Canada on a trade mission to try to sell more pork to Japan.

The aim is to take full advantage of greater market access included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal due to be signed in Chile on March 8.

“During this trade advocacy mission, delegates will be able to understand the new opportunities being created by the signature of the CPTPP and how to further develop the market,” said Rick Bergmann, chairman of the Canadian Pork Council.

“Pork producers will also witness the importance of on-farm programs for international customers and see how their product is marketed to buyers in Japan,” he said. 

On Monday, March 5th, during the first day of the mission, delegates will meet with Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence and will visit a retail store to see how Canadian pork is marketed.

Delegates will visit several retailers and witness in-store demonstrations on Tuesday, and take part in the food expo Foodex on Wednesday where a Canada Pork International representative will be marketing Canadian pork to Japanese buyers. Meetings with government officials are also planned.

 Japan is the second-biggest market for Canadian pork, last year buying 252,147 tonnes worth $1.2 billion.

Canada exports 70 per cent of the pork it produces to more than 100 countries.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal opens other lucrative Asian markets, such as Viet Nam, Malaysia and Singapore.

Other partners in the TPP are Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
There are hints now that United States President Donald Trump wants back in, but he also wants more concessions.

It’s not clear that the TPP nations, having been spurned earlier by Trump, are interested in another round of negotiations with his administration.

Wynne asks feds for $1.2 billion for agriculture

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne wants the federal government to give Ontario’s quota-holding farmers $1.4 billion over the next 10 years as compensation for Canada closing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

She also wants $1.26 billion for the auto sector.

Wynne made the requests when she spoke recently to the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

The dairy and poultry supply management marketing boards have been reminding the federal government that the previous Conservative government offered more than $4 billion in compensation, including promises that profits and quota prices would not decline.

That was one of the dumbest political promises I've ever seen. Who in our society gets a financial guarantee for anything, let alone egregious profits from supply management?

True, the profit guarantee would have declined over a 15-year period, but surely supply management has made enough profit from the pockets of Canadian consumers, including our poorest people, to look after its own future.