Saturday, September 29, 2018

14 sick from Salmonella linked to Gravel Ridge Farms Shell Eggs

On September 8, 2018, Gravel Ridge Farms recalled cage-free large eggs because they might be contaminated with Salmonella.
Do not eat, sell, or serve recalled Gravel Ridge Farms cage-free lar?ge eggs.
Gravel Ridge Farms recalled packages of a dozen and 2.5 dozen eggs in cardboard containers with UPC code 7-06970-38444-6.
Recalled eggs have “best if used by” dates of July 25, 2018 through October 3, 2018.
Recalled eggs were sold in grocery stores and to restaurants in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. 

So, folks, let's switch back to eggs from caged hens, eh? Safer for us. Healthier for the hens.

ALUS gains unanimous support

Provincial politicians have voted unanimous support for a bill supporting ALUS Canada
Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barret introduced it as a private member’s bill which often fall by the wayside, but he has a track record having won support for a bill that grants farmers a charitable-donation tax receipt for produce they donate to food banks.
Bill 28, “An Act respecting a voluntary program for the alternate use of agricultural land and the production of ecosystem services on that land”, over the past few weeks, has garnered interest and support from more than 20 key organizations, including Delta Waterfowl, World Wildlife Fund, National Farmers Union, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ontario Homebuilders, Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Richard Blyleven of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario was in the Ontario Legislature to show support for the bill, as was Lara Ellis of ALUS Canada.
The proposed legislation requires the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry to develop a framework and action plan on how agricultural land can be used to create clean air, clean water, healthy soil and a better environment for the good of all society. It will also direct the government to create and distribute educational materials, promote the holding of international symposia, and encourage private fundraising.
“I am heartened by the support this bill has received inside and outside the Legislature,” Barrett said. “Support by my colleagues in the House today is testament to the respect held for farmers and the contributions they make as stewards of the land.
“This is a farmer-led program, I am proud the expansion and enhancement of ALUS will benefit all society,” he concluded.
NDP Agriculture Critic John Vanthof spoke in favour of the bill and commended Barrett for staying the course on the initiative.
Green Party Leader Michael Schreiner thanked Barrett for bringing forward legislation that will go a long way to caring for the land and protecting water today and for future generations.

Turkey farmers aim to increase market

The Turkey Farmers of Canada national marketing agency aims to increase sales by partnering with Chef’s Plate.

Chef’s Plate is a Toronto-based company, started in 2014, to deliver meals in a kit to households.

The deal with the turkey agency commits the company to use only Canadian turkey all year long.
Chef’s Plate will also donate a meal to its charitable partner, Second Harvest, for all orders placed from now until Oct. 13.

“Chefs Plate delivers hundreds of thousands of meal kits across the country so
this partnership has a measurable impact on our industry,” said Janice Height,
director of corporate services at Turkey Farmers of Canada.

 “The partnership also represents an exciting new frontier for us to educate new consumers about
 the quality and integrity of our delicious product on a mass scale that goes well beyond the traditional grocery aisle.”

Meat Council calls for fewer regulations

The Canadian Meat Council (CMC) said it is pleased with the Agri-Food Economic Strategy Table’s recent report and recommendations for modernizing Canada’s regulatory approach.

The aim is to foster competitiveness, growth and innovation which the report deems to be key pillars in reaching the government’s ambitious objectives for growing the agri-food sector.

“The current regulatory system restricts our industry’s ability to innovate and compete. These recommendations will help pave the way for Canada to become more competitive on a global scale”, said Chris White,president of the meat council.
“By including innovation, growth and competitiveness as key considerations, regulations will be more flexible and allow the industry to adapt easier to change”.

"By focusing on strategic improvements for making regulations nimbler, allowing industry more input, and working towards a partnership approach between industry and the whole of government, this will move the sector closer towards those ambitious goals,” the council said in a news release.. 

“The acknowledgement by the government of the challenges we face, due to our regulatory burden, is a critical first step” said White. “CMC will keep working with government partners to improve the system and grow the sector.

Addressing specific challenges which will have a large impact on the food industry, such as working together to find other solutions that achieve the same outcomes for healthy eating strategies, is an important recommendation and something that industry expertise and experience can support immediately, the council news release said.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

U.S. and South Korea reach trade deal

The United States signed a new trade deal with South Korea that drops beef tariffs from 40 per cent to 21.3 per cent.

The beef tariffs will gradually phase out and be gone by 2016.

Pork trade remains duty-free.

The U.S. said it benefits from having a free-trade agreement with South Korea in place before other exporters’ FTAs with the country are due to go into effect.

South Korea and the U.S. are not participants in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Ranch worth $44 million donated to university of Calgary

Jack Anderson and his daughter Wynne Chisholm have donated their W.A. Ranches and about 1,000 cattle to the University of Calgary’s school of veterinary medicine.

The university says the ranch, west of Calgary at Cochrane, will help transform it into an international leader in veterinary health, education and research.

Chisholm says her family hopes the donation will lead to improvements in animal care and welfare.

"We are gifting the assets of our ranch to the University of Calgary to create a world leading centre of excellence in beef cattle research," she said.

Agropur closing a famous cheese plant

Agropur is going to close a plant famous for making Camembert and Brie cheeses at Saint-Damase.

The company said it would be too expensive to bring the plant up to snuff and it has not been able to reach a contract agreement with 110 employees.

The St-Damase plant’s soft cheese manufacturing will be set up at Agropur’s St-Hyacinthe plant, while its cheese conversion will be transferred to the co-op’s plant at Beauceville.

Agropur had bought what was then known as Fromagerie Damafro and its sister cheesemaker, Fromagerie Clement, in 2013 for an undisclosed sum. 

The plants were previously owned and operated by the Bonnet family of cheesemakers, who came to Quebec from the Brie region of France.

Chinese, U.S. tariffs take effect

The United States and China implemented a new round of tariffs on Monday after talks broke off on Saturday.

Washington has placed a 10 percent tax on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. China retaliated with tariffs of five to 10 percent on $60 billion worth U.S. products, including some meat products.

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $267 billion worth of Chinese imports if Beijing retaliated. 

That would be a third round of U.S. tariffs on China, and, at a total of $517 billion, would cover all products that the U.S. imports from China.

Service disruption coming on fishing, hunting licences

The public will not be able to buy or renew fishing and hunting licences from Nov. 19 to 25 because the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is updating its system.

There will be another interruption fromNovember 19 to December 31 for those seeking a game seal, so if you want one, get it before Nov. 19.

A new licensing system will begin Nov. 26 that the ministry says will make things easier for hunters and fishermen. Details are on its website at .

There will be “new features like a mobile licence summary and a single outdoors card,” said Jeff Yurek, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

As of January 1, 2019 – all hunting and fishing licences will be available for purchase during their regular timeframes.

Transfat ban is now official

Canada’s ban on transfats in processed foods went into effect this week.

Transfats are believed to cause cholesterol buildup in arteries and increasing the risk of heat attacks.

The ban also includes imports and restaurant meals.

The ban is against partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs, and does not include naturally-occurring transfats which can be in milk, cheese, beef and lamb.

Trans fats replaced butter to add taste and texture to food and to extend the shelf life of products such as cookies, doughnuts, muffins, snacks and fried foods.

Yves Savoie, head of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, said he is thrilled to finally see the ban implemented.

In the 1980s, then agriculture minister John Wise, picked the RCMP on me after I published the results of an analysis of margarines and butter that he wanted to keep secret.

The aim of the analysis was to identify products that risk heart disease and butter, naturally, showed up with transfers.

Wise, who died kin 2013, never did discover my source, and I'm not telling now.

Sobeys adds Farm Boy

The Empire Co. Ltd is buying the Farm Boy food chain for $800 million to add to its Sobeys supermarket business.

It says this time it will leave the owners and managers in place, unlike its ill-fated $5.8-billion takeover of Safeway Canada in 2013. 

Chief executive officer Michael Medline said it will keep the operations and management team of Ottawa-based Farm Boy intact, holding on to its popular private labels and focus on fresh and prepared foods, which are fast-growing and potentially high-margin categories compared to other parts of the grocery sector.

“I don’t want any change to Farm Boy other than if we can assist them in growing faster,” Mr. Medline said.

The Safeway purchase resulted in losses for the entire Sobeys-Safeway business and a write down of the Safeway assets.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Chicken farmers take donation lead

Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) is taking the lead in donating to the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB).

“We’re pleased to have CFO as our leadership sponsor for Hunger Action Month,” said Carolyn Stewart, executive director for the OAFB. 

“The collaboration between our association and Chicken Farmers of Ontario has proven to be a real success. Together, we have worked to provide over one million chicken meals, and this is also significant because we know that fresh protein is what our food banks need the most.”

The CFO Cares program, begun in 2015, enables chicken farmers to donate fresh chicken to food banks in their local communities and across the province. 

“To me, it’s simple,” said Murray Opsteen, a CFO director and chairman of the CFO Cares Volunteer Working Group. 

“We’re farmers and our livelihood is wrapped-up in growing fresh food for people to eat. All Ontarians should have access to the chicken that we grow, and the CFO Cares program ensures that our chicken lands on plates of the people who need it the most.”

Friday, September 21, 2018

Pork farmers donate to food banks

Ontario’s hog farmers have donated 924 cases of fresh pork to Ontario food banks. 

The program began decades ago when hog prices plunged so low that hog farmers were in desperate straits and Lynn Girty of Blenheim decided to publicize their plight by donating to food banks.

Others joined in and a few years later the Ontario Pork marketing board took over organization of the donations.

Farmers donate their hogs, truckers donate transportation and meat packers donate slaughter and processing.

Tories move to scrap Liberal energy program

The Doug Ford government is introducing legislation to scrap the controversial and expensive Liberal Green Energy program.

The plan promoted wind and solar energy by offering lucrative 20-year contracts to those who installed the equipment. Many farmers installed solar panels, but many rural residents were angered by construction of wind turbines near their homes.

There was also widespread rural anger over the province’s refusal to allow municipalities a say in where wind farms could be located.

The program attracted so many investors that the cost of Ontario electricity rose sharply.

Ford said “the Green Energy Act represents the largest transfer of money from the poor and middle class to the rich in Ontario’s history.

“Well-connected energy insiders made fortunes putting up wind farms and solar farms that gouge hydro consumers in order to generate electricity that Ontario doesn’t need.  

‘Today I am proud to say that the party with the taxpayers’ money is over.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Vantage Foods licence suspended

Vantage Foods Inc. of Belleville has flunked Canadian Food Inspection Agency standards.

Its licence has been suspended until it comes up to snuff.

The CFIA says there are no product recalls involved in this licence suspension.

It did not give details in its online notice abouty what led to the suspension.

Florence toll tallied

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is estimating preliminary livestock losses – from the storm making landfall and subsequent flooding – at 3.4 million poultry and 5,500 hogs. 

Officials at the agency called hurricane Florence “an unprecedented storm” that affected the top six agricultural counties in the state. Florence covered the same areas hit by Matthew in 2016 and has done more damage.

The council also updated the number of swine lagoons affected by Florenceto four suffering structural damage and 13 discharging material as floodwater seeped in. 

A total of 55 of the state’s 3,300 swine lagoons were at three inches or less from overtopping from floodwater as of Sept. 18, the council said.

So much for the Polyanna statement issued earlier by the North Carolina Pork Producers Association.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

RAWF to educate city folk about farming

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is going to put the emphasis on educating the urban public about agriculture this year.

“Get Agricultured hits at the core of our original mandate established almost 100 years ago,” said Charlie Johnstone, chief executive officer of The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair since 2015. 

“Everybody has an interest in gaining knowledge on food, agriculture and the richness of our environment, as well as the role these play in our lives,” he said.

“In many ways, The Royal is more relevant today than it’s ever been. Most importantly, it continues to offer education in one of the most memorable and enjoyable ways – through experience,” Johnstone said.

Burnbrae Farms is sponsoring a new culinary academy, there is a new Country Music Culinary Festival and a competition for craft beers and cider.

What remains the same are competitions to judge the best livestock, poultry, fruits and vegetables and the horse shows.

Ford promises natural gas for rural Ontario

Ontario Premier Doug Ford used opening day of the International Plowing Match and Rural Expo to announce the government’s plans to introduce a new Access to Natural Gas Act that would encourage partnerships between private gas distributors and communities to develop projects that expand access to natural gas. 

If the new legislation is passed, the Ontario government says it will work with the Ontario Energy Board to develop regulations to enable the program this fall.

“We have been pushing for the need for more widespread, affordable natural gas energy across rural Ontario, so this is encouraging news for the agricultural community,” said Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

“Energy is one of the largest inputs on farms, and we need access to natural gas to help boost the competitiveness of rural Ontario communities, businesses and farms,” said Currie. 

“And natural gas is the single most important investment that will deliver a competitive edge to continue to drive growth in rural Ontario.”

Floods claim millions of chickens

Hurricane Florence flooding is wreaking havoc on farms in North Carolina.

Sanderson Farms issued a statement saying that 60 of the 880 broiler houses at its independent farms have been flooded, destroying about 1.7 million broiler chickens. 

About 30 farms housing approximately 211,000 chickens each are isolated by floodwaters and cannot be reached by feed trucks.

Purdue Foods and Tyson Foods both said their losses have been “minimal”, but they did not provide figures or any details.

The North Carolina Pork Producers Association reported that several manure lagoons have been breached and some others are topping up as rains continue, especially in the north-eastern part of the state.

But meat-packing plants have reopened.

Lasers chase away crop-damaging birds

Farmers in Argentina are using Dutch laser technology to counter bird damage to their crops, such as sunflowers, berries and grapes.

Bird Control Group of the Netherlands conducted successful trials and demonstrations on deterring birds with Agrilasers at agriculturalfields in Argentina. 

Local farmers decreased their crop loss by 70 to 90 per cent. 

The projects were sponsored by the Dutch government as a part of the subsidy scheme for demonstration projects, feasibility studies and investment preparation studies (DHI).

"In recent months we have been conducting trials with our Agrilaser technology in various regions of Argentina. We wanted to test the effect of our laser technology on different birds and investigate how we can increase the profitability of the local farmers", said Imre Knol, commercial director for the Bird Control Group

The company is the global market leader in innovative laser bird repelling solutions. 

The trials were done in collaboration with INTA, the only nationally and independently operating agricultural research center in Argentina.

New products from sweet corn

Mirexus Biotechnologies Ltd. has opened a $7.2 million-dollar facility in Guelph to extract PhytoSpherix from sweet corn.

The substance has many uses, including health care and cosmetics.

The 12,000-square-foot plant in the Hanlon Creek Business Park is based on research at the University of Guelph where PhytoSpherix was discovered. It has been trademark

Monday, September 17, 2018

Trump ups tariff war with China

United States President Donald Trump has slapped tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The tariffs begin at 10 per cent, but on Jan. 1 they more than double to 25 per cent.

The new tariffs are in addition to 25 per cent tariffs imposed earlier on about $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

That means half of the goods imported from China now face tariffs.

It’s not yet clear what the Chinese will do, but their response to the earlier tariffs was tariffs on many U.S. products, including soybeans and pork.

That has hit Canadian farmers who have nothing to do with the U.S.-China trade dispute. The Chinese tariffs force exporters to either cut prices to sell to the Chinese or find other markets and that, in turn, has depressed hog and soybean prices.

Since both commodities trade freely across the Canada-U.S. border, there have been price declines in the Canadian soybean and pork markets.

Trump has promised U.S. farmers $12 billion worth of relief. So far the Canadian government has offered nothing, other than pointing to its existing AgriStability program that cushions declines in profits.

According to reporter Bob Woodward’s book, Fear, most of Trump’s economic advisors have strongly opposed his plans to impose tariffs. While the logic is on their side, Trump has remained defiantly in favour of tariffs.

His book also notes that Trump has been warned that 96.6 per cent of the U.S. antibiotics come from China.

It’s down to three in butcher competition

Three butchers have made it to the final round to select the Finest Butcher in the province.

The winner will be chosen Oct. 20 at The Meating Place at Blue Mountain near Collingwood.

The annual competition is organized by the Ontario Independent Meat Processors Association. The round that resulted in the three winners for the final round was held on the weekend at Halenda’s Meats in Mississauga.

The three are:

Brent Herrington, 
Herrington’s Quality Butchers, Port Perry, @butcherherri

Nicholas Matusiak, 
Halenda’s Meats, Oshawa, @HalendasMeats

Paul Kennedy, 
Nesbitt’s Meat Market, Lindsay, @NesbittsMeatMkt

“When the dust settled, everyone was a winner. We came together as an industry, celebrated our craft and had some fun in the process” said Franco Naccarato, OIMP executive director.

Competitors had 30 minutes to transform a fresh pork bone-in leg, bone-in butt, and bone-in loin, into merchandisable cuts of their choice, and were judged on the degree of difficulty/efficiency and skill level in boning, trimming and cutting, primal cut utilization and financial performance.

Florence shuts down farming, food processing

Hurricane Florence has shut down most farming and food processing in North and South Carolina.

Hog-packing and chicken-processing plants closed before the rains and flooding began.

Farmers have little choice but to watch the devastation, which includes flooding manure lagoons and in some cases flooded barns resulting in drowned herds and flocks.

There is a large coastal plain where rivers drop only two feet over a 40-kilometre stretch to the ocean.

Those areas are flooding from two sources – an ocean surge of six to 10 feet, then persistent torrential rain that is going to last several days.

It will be weeks before fields will be dry enough to support equipment.

Despite the obvious disaster that’s unfolding, Andy Curliss, chief executive officer for the North Carolina Pork Council, said things are fine.

He said many hogs have been moved out and that manure lagoons have more capacity than usual because of a dry summer.

But he said all that before the rains began to push flood waters to record highs.

My wife and I have volunteered on disaster response a number of times in these areas of the Carolinas, so unfortunately know the type of damage being done.

What amazes me is that governments allow large hog farms with huge manure lagoons to establish on this coastal plain. It's a recipe for certain disaster.

Doctors issue food poisoning alert

Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health has put out a caution notice with particular concern about frozen raw breaded chicken products.

There have been hundreds of cases of salmonella food poisoning linked to the frozen chicken and there have been some recalls, such as by Loblaws for its No Name products and Pinty’s Delicious Food Products Inc.’s frozen breaded chicken products.

“Despite these warnings and efforts to educate the public on safe food-handling practices, we continue to see hundreds of salmonella illnesses among Canadians of all ages because of consumption of or exposure to improperly cooked frozen raw breaded chicken products,” the council said in its statement.

It is urging Canadians to cook all chicken products, including these frozen ones, to at least 74 Celsius, which is ab out 165 Fahrenheit.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada want the poultry industry to identify and implement measures at the manufacturing and processing level to reduce salmonella to below a detectable amount in frozen raw breaded chicken products for all products produced on or after April 1, 2019.

“However, until April 1, 2019, and likely for up to a year after this date, frozen raw breaded chicken products containing salmonella will continue to be in the marketplace and in freezers across the country,” the medical officers noted. 

“This is why, collectively, we are stressing the importance of handling and preparing frozen raw breaded chicken products with caution.”

Friday, September 14, 2018

World hunger increasing

The trend to fewer hungry people has been reversed, prompting the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to ask for donations.

The number of hungry people is back to levels not seen for a decade, according to a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The report says that increased climate variability and extremes combined with conflict are the key drivers eroding and reversing the substantial gains that have been made in reducing the prevalence of hunger. 

It is estimated there are now about 821 million people, or one in nine people around the world who go to bed hungry each night.

“We are deeply concerned that after decades of progress, we are now falling back in the fight against hunger,” said Canadian Foodgrains Bank executive director Jim Cornelius.

“It is more important than ever that we continue to work toward the goal of a world without hunger. This means finding ways to reduce conflict and helping vulnerable people increase their resiliency to climate variability and extremes,” he said. 

“We need to equip people and communities to prepare for and adapt to climate-related emergencies and changes.”

In 2017-18, almost half of all Foodgrains Bank programming went toward responding to hunger emergencies caused by conflict in places such as South Sudan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Foodgrains Bank also trained small-scale farmers ito adapt their farming to better withstand drought, erratic rain and other severe weather conditions.

“In the face of rising hunger, it’s more important than ever for Canada to lend its support to its global neighbours, supporting peace-building efforts and helping to finance adaptation,” says Cornelius.

“We know ending hunger is an achievable goal, and we invite Canadians to join with us in helping to reach that goal.”