Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hardeman is back as Ont. ag. minister

Ernie Hardeman of Oxford County is back at Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece is his parliamentary assistant.

Ernie Hardeman ran Hardeman's feed mill in Salford, then became mayor of the township and warden of Oxford County.

He was chair of the Wardens' Association of Ontario in 1990–91, and served as a Board Member on the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Hardeman was elected to the Ontario legislature in the provincial election of 1995 and has been re-elected ever since.

In June, 1999, he became agriculture minister for premier Mike Harris, but was removed in February, 2001, for poor performance.

On February 25, 2003, he returned to cabinet under Ernie Eves in the new position of Associate Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, with Responsibility for Rural Affairs.

On June 13, 2005, Hardeman's private members bill, Farm Implements Amendment Act, received third reading and royal assent.

After the 2007 election he was named Deputy House Leader and was then promoted to Chair of the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. He was also the PC critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

On June 16, 2008 Hardeman introduced a private member's bill which allows farmers to post seasonal, directional signage along provincial highways to advertise their Ontario grown produce and direct consumers to the farm. 

The bill was supported by many agricultural groups and unanimously passed first, second and third reading. On December 10, 2008, Signage to Promote Ontario Produced Agricultural Products received royal assent and became law.

Charity statue is taken down

The controversial statue of Holstein cow Charity has been taken down after a wind storm blew off some metal maple leaves from a garland around the cow’s neck.

Neighbours complained that it’s a hazard, the municipality agreed, Helen Roman-Barber sought a court injunction, but the judge ruled in favour of Markham municipality and the statue came down.

Roman-Barber has put it in storage while she continues to battle to have it put back up.

The neighbours have never liked the statue, but lost previous efforts to have it removed.

Charity was owned by Romandale Farms Ltd., founded by uranium miner and millionaire Steven Roman. She is one of the outstanding Holsteins among the Canadian population that was, at the time, by far the best in the world.

Butcher’s Blend hamburger on recall

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has found deadly E. coli 0157 food-poisoning bacteria in ground beef made by Mitchell’s Butcher’s Blend and sold at the Western Fair District Farmers’ Market and at Old East Village Grocer.

The CFIA says there have been no reported illnesses, but it has ordered a recall of the tainted “extra lean ground beef” sold in one-pound packages.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Canada Bread alleged leader in price fixing

Court documents released this week allege that a price-fixing deal for bread began more than 10 years ago with a presentation at an industry meeting by an official of Canada Bread, then owned by Maple Leaf Foods.

The judge handling the case, brought by the federal Competition Bureau, has agreed with the informant to keep his or her identity and sex secret.

This person, which the Globe and Mail calls Person X, “was going to the retailers to get their buy-in for a price increase with the goal of orchestrating alignment through the retail community,” the documents say.

The Weston company, which controls both Weston’s Bread and Loblaws and a number of related supermarket chains, has admitted its participation in the scheme and has offered shoppers $25 gift cards in return for promises not to participate in any class-action lawsuits.

Maple Leaf sold Canada Bread to Bimbo Bakery of Mexico and the alleged price-fixing ended soon after that sale.

Consumers file lawsuit against big U.S. pork packers

A group of consumers filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Minnesota, accusing big pork packers and Agri Stats Inc, a data analysis company, of colluding to charge artificially high prices on a host of products, from lunchmeat to Spam to barbecue ribs and sausage.

The lawsuit names Clemens Food Group, Hormel Foods Corp., Indiana Packers Corp., JBS USA, Seaboard Foods, Smithfield Foods Inc., Triumph Foods and Tyson Foods Inc. 

The consumer group says these companies process 80 percent of the pork products sold in the United States.

The companies are accused of conspiring from “at least 2009 to the present to fix, raise, maintain and stabilize the price of pork. 

The main method, but not the only one, was coordinating their output and limiting production with the intent and expected result of increasing pork prices in the United States," according to court documents.

Olymel is buying Triomphe Foods

Olymel is buying Triomphe Foods, a processor of deli meats and specialty hams.

Triomphe Foods employs more than 250 people, and the deal includes three production facilities -- in Laval, Blainville and Québec City -- and distribution centres in Blainville and St-Léonard.

The price was not disclosed.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Cericola Farms sold to Maple Leaf

Cericola Farms has been sold to Maple Leaf Foods.

The deal comes four months after Cericola Farms was fined $400,000 on charges laid by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The company pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to keep adequate records to enable the supply chain to be tracked.

Cericola is one of Canada’s largest processors of organic and raised-without-antibiotics chicken.

Maple Leaf is one of two chicken processors who dominate the Ontario market. The other is Maple Lodge.

Maple Leaf has arranged to obtain all of Cericola’s plant supply quota linked to its processing plant at Schomberg and has an option to purchase the plant within three years.

Maple Leaf has not said whether it would shutter that plant.

Cericola has processing plants at Bradford and Drummondville, Que., that market about 32 million kilograms of chicken per year.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Swine research gets a boost

The federal government is giving Swine Innovation Porc $12.7 million to pursue its research agenda.

Swine Innovation Porc will contribute up to an additional $5.8 million to the Swine Research and Development Cluster, for a total investment of up to $18.5 million.

The funding will be used to: examine new ways of feeding piglets that could help provide immunity from diseases; determine best methods for the classification of pork based on quality attributes to provide more choice for Canadian consumers; and examine long-distance transport effects on the health and welfare of early weaned pigs.

Two World Food Prize winners this year

Two people have been selected winners of this year’s World Food Prize.
Lawrence Haddad, who is a British economist and food policy researcher, and Dr. David Nabarro, who has worked with the World Health Organization and United Nations on health and hunger issues, were honoured in a ceremony this week at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington.
Norman Borlaug, who died in 2009, created the prize in 1986. He won the Nobel Peace prize for his wheat-breeding work at the international research centre in Mexico.

PETA strikes in B.C.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has struck the poultry industry in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia with underground videos.

Marcie Moriarty with the provincial Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said investigators will examine the claims of animal cruelty involving Jaedel Enterprises in Abbotsford, B.C., and chicken-catching service Elite Services, which loads birds onto crates for processing.

PETA said caged hens were on “mounds of manure” and that there were dead birds in some crates and that Elite Services “crammed” birds into crates.

Roger Pelissero of Egg Farmers of Canada said it has “zero tolerance” for abuse and will investigate.

Pelissero represents the Ontario egg board on the national agency and is a brother of Harry Pelissero, general manager of the Ontario egg board.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Batista faces another bribery charge

Joesley Batista, one of two brothers who admitted bribing almost two thousand Brazilian politicians to obtain billions in bank loans, has now been charged with bribing the prosecutor in their agreement to pay a fine of $25 billion to settle the case.

Francisco de Assis Silva, a former executive at J&F (the company controlling JBS) and former federal prosecutor Marcello Miller have also been charged.

The Federal prosecutors say that Batista and Assis Silva were aware that Miller was still a prosecutor when he allegedly received BRL700,000 ($192,920) from law firm Trench Rossi Watanabe (TRW), which was hired by J&F to help the executives close plea deals and settle charges related to the bribery scheme revealed in early 2017.

The defense lawyers of Batista and Assis Silva have denied the charges and say Batista never hired Miller.

Another U.S. attempt at COOL

Despite twice losing in the court of the World Trade Organization, the Trump administration says it will entertain a petition calling for Country 0f Origin Labelling.

The petition specifically complains that imported meat, when it is processed at a plant in the United States, can be labelled “product of U.S.A.”

The same is true in reverse in Canada.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service division of the United States Department of Agriculture has announced it will consider a petition calling for COOL labelling.

On its website, it says it is entertaining public and stakeholder comments through the website, until August 17.

The petition, submitted by the Organization for Competitive Markets and the American Grassfed Association, specifically targets grass-fed beef. 

About 75 to 80 per cent of these products sold in the United States are of meat imported from Australia and South America, among other countries, the petitioners say.

The overall beef market in the United States is about nine per cent imported meat.

“Hit hardest by misbranding of U.S. meat products are those U.S. producers who have been transitioning their operations to grassfed beef. 

“This market opportunity has been the one bright spot in U.S. cattle production with sales nearly doubling annually,” the petition says.

South Korea ok’s Canadian wheat

South Korea has approved Canadian wheat for a resumption of purchasing following a brief ban that arose after Roundup-Ready wheat plants were found in a roadside ditch in Alberta.

Japan is continuing to test all shipments of Canadian wheat and flour.

Cereals Canada issued a news release thanking the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for its response to the issue.

The CFIA has said there is no evidence that any of the Roundup-Ready wheat got into commercial channels.

It remains a mystery how the seed got into the roadside ditch and grew into plants that survived after municipal crews sprayed Roundup.

Monsanto did run field trials a few years ago, but maintains it kept strict control over the wheat.

In-field food safety is needed

Three scientists who have reviewed the research literature conclude that work needs to be done at the field level to reduce the risk of food-borne diseases.

They found that “some of the established bacterial contamination sources include contaminated manure, irrigation water, soil, livestock/ wildlife, and numerous factors influence the incidence, fate, transport, survival and proliferation of pathogens in the wide variety of sources where they are found.”

Given that many sources of contamination, and their additional finding that the harmful bacteria “can colonize and persist on fresh produce using a variety of mechanisms,” they say, “and a deeper understanding of pathogen survival and growth on fresh produce in the field are required to reduce risk to human health and the associated economic consequences.”

And they also say this is not a small thing.

“Overall, microbiological hazards are significant,” they write in the scientific journal, Food Microbiology.


Dairy-farming couple on cross-Canada trek

Henk and Bettina Schuurmans of  the Elmira area are on a cross-country trek, hauling a Holstein float behind their tractor.

It’s their way to defend milk-industry supply management to the Canadian public.

It's not a good idea. I can just imagine hundreds of impatient motorists honking to get them out of the way as they trundle along at 40 kilometres per hour or less.

Greg Mercer of the Waterloo Region Record interviewed them recently and they told him “we decided biking is not good for our bodies, at our age.

“The car is kind of boring and motorcycle is not our thing.

“So we said we’re farmers. Why not by tractor?”

They are driving an open John Deere 6430 with top speed of 40 kilometres per hour. They figure it will take 30 to 40 days to get to Vancouver.

They will haul the rig back to Elmira, then out to Halifax to complete the cross-Canada trek in the fall.

Their twitter handle is @CdnMilkTour .

May you have the good fortune to never be following them on the highway.

Monday, June 25, 2018

McMaster has bacterial detector for food

A team at McMaster University in Hamilton has developed a transparent patch that can detect harmful food-poisoning bacteria.

It’s remarkably similar to the TruID food-wrapping technology developed at the University of Guelph.

Mechanical and chemical engineers worked with biochemists from across McMaster to develop their patch.

They also say it “can be incorporated directly into food packaging, where it can monitor the contents for harmful pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella.”

The new technology, described in the research journal ACS Nano, has the potential to replace the traditional “best before” date on food and drinks alike with a definitive indication that it’s time to chuck that roast or pour out that milk, says McMaster in a news release.

A spokesman for the University of Guelph’s Office of Research answered a query from me saying “I doubt this is (patent) infringement since there are several ways to detect and quantify these harmful bacteria but it is certainly in our space.”

Canada should prepare for countervailing duties

Canadian farmers are being side-swiped by the tariff wars triggered by United States President Donald Trump.

Pork producers in particular are hurt by the retaliatory tariffs imposed or coming from Mexico and China.

Those are the two largest U.S. pork export markets, and any dip in those exports will back up pork in the U.S. and lower prices. That, in turn, will ripple right across the border to depress Canadian hog prices.

Trump and his Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue have promised compensation for U.S. farmers hurt by the tariffs.

Canada ought to prepare to immediately apply countervailing duties on U.S. pork equal to the subsidies.

Nobody wins in this foolish tariff war, but Trump seems to believe it makes him popular.

He’s crazy, but he appointed his doctor to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, one of the largest departments in the U.S.

I guess he won’t be telling Trump any time soon how crazy he is.

Can the ranchers and farmers be friends?

Can the ranchers and farmers be friends?

Not in Nigeria, it seems.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday called for calm after 86 people were killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in the restive centre of the country.
The discovery came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by mainly Christian ethnic Berom farmers on Muslim Fulani herders on Thursday.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence fuelled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances has killed thousands over several decades.

Is “clean” a dirty word?

“Clean” has become a dirty word in beef-farming circles.

That’s because those who favour the new science of generating “beef” in the laboratory are calling it “clean meat”.

The science multiplies animal cells in the lab. So far it’s costing about $35,000 per pound to produce, but researchers are optimistic that it can be made competitive and they have deep-pocketed investors backing them.

But many in the beef industry want “clean meat” nomenclature banned.

“It implies that traditional beef is dirty,” says Danielle Beck, director of government affairs for the U.S. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

The United States Food and Drug Administration plans to hold hearings on the issue next month.

Whatever it decides will likely be copied by Canadian regulators in order to keep trade open.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Mussell and Hedley counter Trump on dairy

Agricultural economists Al Mussell and Douglas Hedley have produced a paper countering United States President Donald Trump’s attacks on Canadian dairy policy as unfair to Americans.

They show that the U.S. also protects its dairy farmers with cheese import quotas and tariffs and with direct milk-production subsidies.

For example, they counter Trump’s complaint that Canada’s dairy tariffs are 270 per cent with the fact that the U.S. charges a 240 per cent tariff on some cheeses.

The U.S. government support for dairy farmers is $4.4 billion a year, as calculated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development compared with $2.79 billion for Canadian dairy farmers.

The U.S. support is mostly direct payments to farmers and tariffs to sustain milk prices. The Canadian support is almost entirely supply management and tariffs to enable dairy farmers to make their supply-management approach work to sustain their milk prices.

Mussell and Hedley have published their review on the Agri-Food Economics System website.

They focus on cheese and don't touch more complicated issues such as trade - really, the complete lack of it - in fluid milk and other dairy products such as ice cream, butter and powders.

Nor do they review the history of imports of unprotected milk components and the Canadian milk-pricing response, the likelihood that the Canadian pricing will be give rise to a U.S. complaint to the World Trade Organization, or that most of the recent international trade negotiations have involved Canadian agreements to allow more dairy products to be imported at relatively low tariff rates.

Under the Uruguay Round of world trade negotiations, in 1996 there were 123 nations who agreed to convert all of their agriculture-industry forms of trade protection into tariffs.

The idea was that in ensuing negotiations, countries could simply reach agreement on how much they would reduce tariffs.

Taking that approach to the North American Free Trade Agreement, both Canada and the United States would be negotiating the degree to which they’re willing to reduce dairy tariffs.

Mussell and Hedley don't say anything about taking this mutual tariff-reduction approach to the North American Free Trade negotiations, or the possibility that mutual reductions could be reached by using the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's measurements of subsidies.

The truth is that dairy farmers on both sides of the border are unwilling to yield one iota on the positions they have adopted.

And on both sides of the border, it's taxpayers and consumers who are paying to protect dairy farmers.

Friday, June 22, 2018

China’s buying $2.5 million from Ontario

A Chinese buyer signed a $2.5-million contract to for Ontario hogs and semen during the annual Pork Congress at Stratford this week.

Alliance Genetics Canada of St. Thomas will provide the genetics.
Donaldson International Inc. of Tavistock deliver the nucleus herd of about 1,000 gilts and semen.

In addition, the Canadian companies will offer swine management training to staff at Inner Mongolia.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

HSUS bullying McDonald’s

The Humane Society of the United States is launching a new television advertising campaign to bully McDonald’s to adopt its chicken welfare standards.

McDonald’s recently upgraded its chicken welfare standards but has not yielded to the pressure to change genetics to slower-growing birds.

The 30-second TV ad, which depicts chickens “genetically selected to grow too large and too fast” experiencing “abuse and suffering” on “factory farms,” will reportedly air in the Chicago market, McDonald’s home base.

HSUS officials said the goal of the campaign is to compel McDonald’s to join its peers, including Burger King, Subway and Jack in the Box, in “adopting meaningful reforms for these animals.”

The activist group said McDonald’s has fallen short in only saying that it will “study” the issue of how broilers are grown.

In its welfare code adopted in October, McDonald’s said growers must provide “perches” and other mechanisms to promote natural behaviour; transition to controlled atmospheric stunning; and accept third-party audits.

Isn't it amazing how U.S. people use their power to bully people - eg. HSUS and Trump?

New tool to measure pigs’ meat quality

Raman spectrometry has the potential to become a rapid online screening tool for pork producers to quickly select pigs whose pork is of superior quality for the breeding herd.

On the other hand, they can cull those whose pork is of poor quality. 

Researchers from Iowa State University, Jiangxi Agricultural University and Dalian Polytechnic University in China, and the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service tested a portable Raman spectrometer to predict fresh pork tenderness and slice shear force and report their findings in Meat Science, an online research journal. 

Sensory quality classification models of "poor" and "good" were developed to predict tenderness. 

Various quality categories were found to be more accurate for the day 15 postmortem samples for sensory tenderness (93.5 percent vs. 76.3 percent) and SSF (92.8 percent vs. 76.1 percent).

Top U.S. official testifies Trump is wrong

United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says Canada is not a national security threat to the United States.

That’s a direct contradiction with President Donald Trump, who appointed Ross. 

Trump imposed a 25 per cent tariff on Canadian steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, saying the tariffs are needed because of a security threat.

He only has authority to impose tariffs if the imports are a security threat.

Ross also testified during a Senate hearing that a revitalized North American Free Trade Agreement could make the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum go away.

Mr. Ross also acknowledged Wednesday that the U.S. doesn’t have a trade deficit on steel with Canada, contradicting Trump on another point.

In fact, he said it has a surplus with its northern neighbour in terms of dollar value.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Fire destroys dairy barn

Fire destroyed a barn and 29 dairy cattle at a farm west of Elmira at the Floradale and Listowel Roads.

Damage is estimated at about $500,000.

Many of the 192 cattle escaped when the family opened doors so they could flee.

Although the cause of the fire is not definite, there are suspicions that it might have been a skid steer loader.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Trump said slow progess continues on NAFTA

United States President Donald Trump said on Tuesday progress was being made in slow-moving talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement.
But he also repeated his desire to strike separate deals with Mexico and if a three-way deal that suits him can’t be reached.
“We’re trying to equalize it. It’s not easy but we’re getting there,” he told a group of U.S. small business executives. 
“We’ll see whether or not we can make a reasonable NAFTA deal.”

Monday, June 18, 2018

South Korea stops buying Canadian wheat

South Korea has stopped buying Canadian wheat and flour because some Roundup-Ready plants were discovered in Alberta.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the plants were isolated and none got into commercial channels.

Japan has also temporarily stopped buying Canadian wheat pending an investigation of the situation.

However, the South Koreans implemented the ban and Italian politicians have cited the incident as a reason to ban Canadian wheat.

The wheat probably originated from field trials conducted by Monsanto, but neither the Canadian nor the United States governments have granted approval to plant the genetically-modified seeds.

Canada is South Korea’s third-largest wheat and flour supplier, after the U.S. and Australia.
Japan imported 1.4 million tonnes of wheat from Canada last year and 1.6 million tonnes the year before, said Cam Dahl, president of Cereals Canada.
"Japan is a very good customer," he said. "More than that, they are a premium customer. They are the highest grade buyer of Canadian wheat in the world."

Saputo Jr. disses Class 7 milk pricing

Lino Saputo Jr. says Canada should give up its Class 7 pricing for milk.
Class 7 was introduced by provincial marketing boards in an effort to displace imports. It has, however, also been used to produce milk proteins, such as skim milk powder, that have been exported.
Saputo is Canada’s largest dairy and the only one to openly criticize Class 7 pricing. If it were eliminated, Saputo and others would probably import diafiltered milk from the United States, displacing Canadian milk production.
 “They want their cake and they want to eat it too,” Saputo Jr. said in an interview, referring to farmers. “Which doesn’t make sense. You can’t hold onto your milk supply-managed system and have a class of milk that’s competing with world markets at the same time.”
Saputo Jr.’s remarks come after U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, on a visit to Canada on Friday, said he did not see how the countries could go forward in trade talks without an end to Class 7.

No more carbon-credit sales for Ontario

Farmers are out of luck selling carbon credits because California and Quebec have closed the joint carbon market to Ontario.

Their move comes after Premier-elect Doug Ford said his first move in office will be to scrap the cap-and-trade policy.

He also plans to have Ontario join Saskatchewan in a court challenge of the federal government’s right to impose a carbon tax.

Ford played down the potential for lawsuits and said companies that are holding emission allowances will benefit from the removal of the regulatory burden going forward.

“They’re going to be quite happy that they won’t pay in the future; it’s putting money back into businesses’ pockets and families’ pockets, [and] I think people will be pleased,” he said.

Asked whether the province is facing lawsuits, he said: “I don’t believe so; we’ve looked into that and we don’t see a problem with that.”

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Trade war rages between U.S. and China

A full-fledged trade war is breaking out between the United States and China.

U.S. President Donald Trump escalated matters late last week with a 25 per cent tariff on a long list of items which account for $50 billion a year of U.S. imports.

China promptly retaliated announcing a 25 per cent tariff on a list of 545 U.S. products and services which account for $50 billion a year of Chinese imports. China said its tariffs will take effect July 6.

“The United States will pursue additional tariffs if China engages in retaliatory measures, such as imposing new tariffs on United States goods, services, or agricultural products; raising nontariff barriers or taking punitive actions against American exporters or American companies operating in China,” Trump said in a statement.

China’s tariffs will be imposed on farm products, autos and seafood, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Canada is engaged in a similar trade war with the United States, starting with Trump’s 25 per cent tariff on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum and Canada announcing a list of tariffs to begin in July that have a value totalling the same as Canadian steel and aluminum exports to the U.S.

Politicians and economists around the world have been telling Trump that his tariff tactics will hurt everybody, including Americans.

All of the tariffs violate trade agreements the countries involved have signed.

Guelph company recalls sprouts

Sprouts are once again on recall because of the potential of salmonella food poisoning.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Puresource Inc.of Guelph is recalling Now Real Food brand Zesty Sprouting Mix.

The mix has been marketed across Canada. It contains clover, Fenugreek and radish seeds

The CFIA said there have been no reports of Canadians falling ill. 

The CFIA says the recall began in another country, but does not name it.

Puresource Inc. is an import broker and distributor of natural foods.