Thursday, November 29, 2018

Chinese farms hit by foot and mouth disease

Two farms in China with a total of 450 pigs have been hit with outbreaks of foot and mouth disease.

Officials have slaughtered both herds.

The outbreak infected 327 of the 450 hogs found on those two farms in Zhongshan city, Guangdong, China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a statement on its website.

China’s hog industry is struggling to contain outbreaks of African Swine Fever. In a recent development, a Chinese airline has said it will stop serving pork meals.

VanAerts win court battle

Luke and Sandra Van Aert and their Sanlu Family Poultry business have won a drawn-out lawsuit against Sweda Farms and its Best Choice Eggs business.

The Van Aert’s sued in 2008 for payment of eggs sold to Best Choice. 
Best Choice countersued.

The courts ruled that Sweda needed to post $164,560.92 in court pending the outcome of the case. Sweda did not comply, but appealed the decision.

That appeal has now failed and Sweda has again been ordered to pay the Van Aerts plus $12,000 in court costs.

Salmonella concerns trigger tahini recall

Achva and S&F brand tahini products are under recall because the Canadian Food Inspection Agency identified possible Salmonella contamination. 
It says people “should not consume the recalled products described below.'
Recalled products
Brand Name
Common Name
Code(s) on Product
Whole Sesame Tahini
500 g
LOT 18-099
7 290000 572796
Organic Tahini
500 g
LOT 18-099
7 290000 572086
500 g
LOT 18-106
8 14968 02002 0
Whole Tahini
500 g
LOT 18-106
8 14968 02003 7
Seasoned Tahini
500 g
LOT 18-128
7 290000 572123
Tahini – Crushed Sesame Seeds
500 g
LOT 18-130
7 290000 572109
18 kg
LOT 18-106
7 290000 572116
Pure Tahini
18 kg
Lot. 18-099
7 290000 572116

The CFIA website information is somewhat confusing because it says the recall is the result of CFIA investigations into an outbreak of food poisonings, but also says there have been no reports of illnesses associated with these products.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

On-line fishing licences for Sarnia-London-Windsor area

The province is making on-line  Outoors Cards, hunting and fishing licenses available for Lambton-Middlesex-Kent.

John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, and local MPP Monte McNaughton unveiled the new service this week.

McNaughton said ‘hunting and fishing are Ontario pastimes, and the people of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex deserve more convenience and less red tape.”

The new and improved licensing service is user friendly, with new mobile features and a single Outdoors card. 

The service can be accessed online at It can also be accessed at participating Service Ontario locations or at one of the over 700 license issuers across the province. 

As for those of us who live elsewhere in the province, I guess we're chopped liver remaining wrapped in red tape.

CFIA issues advisory about lettuce

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is advising distributors, importers, restaurants, retailers, and institutions not to distribute, import, sell, serve, or use romaine lettuce and products containing romaine lettuce harvested in parts of California.

It refers them to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website for more information about what parts of California are covered in the advisory.

The issue is E. coli 0157:H7 that can cause severe food poisoning and long-lasting health issues, even death.

“Companies that are unsure if they have the affected products in their possession are advised to contact their supplier or industry trade group.

“If the origin cannot be identified, do not sell, use, or serve the product,” the CFIA says now on its website.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Import quotas go to processors

The Globe and Mail is reporting that the lion’s share of tariff-rate quotas for dairy and poultry products will go to processors under the trade deal signed with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

For example, it says, 85 per cent of cheeses will go to processors. 

That compares with 50 per cent for imports from the European Union.

Tariff-rate quotas enable the holders to import products at relatively low tariffs. Because domestic market prices are higher, they are able to make a substantial profit on those imports.

The Retail Council of Canada is criticizing the allocation to processors, saying the benefits ought to flow to consumers.

The European Union has complained that the tariff-rate quotas have not been filled by Canadians and has blamed the allocation to processors for the shortfall.

The federal government gave interested parties until Nov. 15 to file applications for import quotas for cheeses for the upcoming year. 

Every year the amount available increases and this time it’s 850,000 kilograms.

Alberta upset about Ontario booze offerings

The Alberta government says Ontario has unfair trade barriers against its booze.

It lodged the complaint while it was announcing an end to its subsidies to craft beer makers. A judge ruled earlier this year that the subsidies are unconstitutional.

“Alberta has the most open liquor policy in the country, offering Albertans a choice of over 3,700 Canadian products ... Alberta merchants stock and sell 745 alcoholic beverages from Ontario,” said Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous at an Edmonton brewery on Monday.

“Ontario is the largest market in the country, three times larger than our own, yet we can only find about 20 Alberta liquor products listed for sale in Ontario.”

The complaint under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement is being made against Ontario because it has the biggest liquor market in Canada but it could be expanded to include other provinces with similar barriers, Bilous said, adding he’s hoping for an amicable solution.

Monday, November 26, 2018

CFIA breaks silence on E. coli in romaine lettuce

More than a week after international news media headlines about E. coli in romaine lettuce, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has finally posted information on its website.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, which is usually slower off the mark on food-poisoning events, led the CFIA this time by at least five days.

Eight of 22 people in Canada who have been identified with food poisoning linked to romaine have been hospitalized. One is suffering liver damage.

The CFIA is explaining why it’s having difficulty pinning down the source of the bacteria, although the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Agency tweeted over the weekend that it’s in California.

Here’s part of what the CFIA has now said on its website:

In the case of the current situation, epidemiological evidence has pointed to romaine lettuce as the common product (involved in food poisonings). However, no common source of contamination has been identified so far. All products sampled as part of this investigation have tested negative for E. coli O157 and we have not been able to identify any contaminated product in the Canadian marketplace.
The delay between eating the food, the onset of symptoms, and being able to link the case to a particular cluster of illnesses is equal, and often times longer, than the shelf life of the product that caused the illnesses. This means that by the time an investigation starts into potential food items, the perishable goods are no longer in the market place or available for testing.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that we are looking for a small amount of lettuce contaminated with E. coliO157 amidst the large volume of safe romaine lettuce that is purchased, served and consumed in Canada on a daily basis.
In fact, since April 1st, 2017, the CFIA has also tested more than 2000 samples of imported fresh vegetables and salads, including romaine lettuce and pre-packaged salads containing romaine lettuce as part of its regular microbiological surveillance program.
The fact that there have been no positive results despite this level of testing confirms that lettuce has a very low level of contamination.

Canada embraces CFRISPr genetic engineering

Canada and the United States joined with 11 other nations to embrace modern technologies for agriculture, including CRISPr gene editing.

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Vietnam are the others who issued a joint statement during recent World Trade Organization meetings.

Ah, but none of them said how they intend to regulate the technology. Already opponents are wailing and gnashing their teeth just as they have done with GMOs.

“Agricultural innovation has played an essential role in increasing yields and productivity in support of growing, prosperous civilizations,” the statement said.

“Innovations in precision biotechnology, such as gene editing, have brought the promise of major improvements in terms of the ease and precision of introducing desirable traits into agricultural organisms, as compared to other breeding methods.”

Among recent research announcements is Semex Canada’s investment to knock out the gene that prompts cattle to grow horns, pork researchers to silence the gene that leads to male maturity (eliminating the need for castration) and two enzyme-producing genes, one that is needed for PRRS to infect pigs, the other that’s needed for TGE to infect pigs.

Maple Leaf plans to build $660-million poultry plant

Maple Leaf Foods plans to build a $660 million value-added fresh poultry facility in London, Ontario. 

Construction will begin next year and the plant is scheduled to open in the spring of 2021.

Operations at St. Mary’s, Toronto and Brampton will be folded into the new plant.

The company said the 640,000 square foot facility is expected to be one of the most technologically-advanced poultry-processing plants in the world, with leading-edge food safety, environmental, and animal welfare processes and technologies. 

Funding for the project includes a capital investment of approximately $605.5 million from Maple Leaf Foods, an investment of $34.5 million fromOntario and a $20 million investment from the federal government.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said it’s the biggest investment ever in the province’s agriculture industry.

The federal government is also drawing $8 million from its AgriInnovate Fund to provide a loan. 

Maple Leaf will invest a further $5 million over the next five years on projects that accelerate adoption of advanced manufacturing and production technologies and support the company's goal to reduce its environmental footprint by 50 per cent by 2025, the company news release said.  

The plants being closed are 50 to 60 years old, with location, footprint and infrastructure constraints that limit opportunities to expand and modernize to meet growing market demand, the company said. 

When the McCain family took over Maple Leaf Foods, whenever I met Michael McCain I would goad him to either build a competitive processing plant or sell to somebody who would.

Without a thoroughly modern and competitive poultry processing plant with a volume efficiencies, Ontario will be a sitting duck to lose its poultry processing sector to U.S. competitors as tariffs continue to decline.

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board deserves credit for changing policies to encourage small-scale niche-market production and processing which stand a better chance of survival.

WTO to strike dispute-settlement panels

The World Trade Organization has announced it will be setting up disputes-settling panels to deal with the many tariffs imposed first by United States President Donald Trump on steel and aluminum, then the retaliatory tariffs many countries imposed and the back-and-forth tariff increases.

There has been some concern that the U.S. failure to appoint people to sit on WTO panels would cripple the entire process.

The panels, including appeals and the establishment of disciplinary measures winning countries will be allowed to impose, will likely take years.

The only people who are likely to be happy about all of this are the lawyers and consultants who will be garnering many millions in fees.

There are hopes that the U.S. and China can reach a trade agreement that would settle many of the matters at issue with these tariffs, but at the moment both countries are showing no signs of yielding.

Vineland gets $5 million for greenhouse research

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre getting $5 million to be the centre for greenhouse technology research.

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay made the announcement to create the Automation Cluster under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. 

He said in a news release that “Canada’s agricultural sector faces significant labour challenges and the greenhouse industry has the largest labour gap. 

“It is estimated that labour shortages can cost the sector up to $1.5 billion in lost productivity and sales. The Automation Cluster will help address labour costs and availability through automation, artificial intelligence and precision agriculture technologies in the horticulture sector. 

“Over the next five years, world-class researchers at Vineland will focus research on three key areas, including:

·         developing and testing robotic harvesters for greenhouse cucumbers;

·         developing smart, wireless irrigation technologies for potted flowers and vegetables; 

·         developing state-of-the-art sensors that will help detect and monitor moisture levels in the soil and air.

What MacAulay did not say is that a marijuana grower near Leamington is leading the push to automation of greenhouse planting and harvesting.

Tainted romaine probably from California

Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, tweeted over the weekend that the romaine lettuce tainted with E. coli likely came from California.

If so, it would restore markets for romaine from other parts of the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. and the Public Health Agency of Canada have been advising people to dump romaine because of the risk of contamination.

More than 20 Canadians have been sickened enough to require hospitalization.

Cattle horns lose vote

A referendum calling for subsidies to keep cattle and goat horns has been voted down by 54.7 per cent in Switzerland.

The man who persuaded the government to hold the vote said cattle and goats would be happier if they could keep the horns they grow.

The government and farmers said it would cost too much – about $40 million a year.

But Armin Capaul, who is a small-scale farmer and who proposed the referendum, said it worked to make more people aware of animal welfare.

Abner Martin dead at 84

Abner Martin, owner of Riverdel Farm near Atwood where he bred Charolais and Holsteins, has died. He was 84.

He was best known for music, including formation of the Menno Singers and Mennonite Mass Choir. He won many awards related to his interest in music, taught at the University of Waterloo and Mount Allison University in New Brunswick and held music degrees from the University of Toronto and Eastman School of Music at Rochester, New York.

His farm received the Conservation Award from the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority. 

The funeral will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Waterloo Mennonite Church on Benjamin Road at the northern edge of Waterloo near the St. Jacobs Market and Ontario Livestock Exchange. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Currie acclaimed OFA president

Keith Currie, a Collingwood-area hay and sweet corn farmer, was acclaimed president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture during its annual meeting this week.

It is his second term as president after serving as vice-president from 2013 to 2016.

He has been with the OFA for 25 years, including president of Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture from 2004 to 2006.

The OFA, which has about 38,000 members, recently received re-accreditation to collect membership fees via the provincial government.

NFU gains re-accreditation

The Ontario branch of the National Farmers Union has gained re-accreditation from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.

The decision came a week after the tribunal granted re-accreditations for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario.

No-one appeared to object or ask questions during public hearings. 

When the NFU originally applied, it faced close scrutiny over its independence from the NFU head office in Saskatoon and its accreditation was delayed until it could provide more information and clarifications about how the two operate.

It was granted re-accreditation three years ago under a list of terms and conditions and the tribunal has renewed them this time for the next three-year term.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Chicken production to continue increasing

Chicken Farmers or Canada is calling for continued production increases for the first half of next year.

The national allocation for quota period A-155 (Feb 17 to Apr 13) calls for an increase of two per cent over year-earlier levels and for A-156 (Apr 14 to June 8) 2.5 per cent.

“The Canadian market for chicken appears to be entering a phase of moderating growth following six years of strong, consistent growth,” said the Ontario marketing board on its website.

The volumes, in eviscerated kilograms, for Ontario and Canada as calculated by the allocation formula are:

                        Ontario         Growth                   Canada               Growth
A-155              62,610,241       2.4%                     184,114,125         2.0% 
A-156              66,137,896       3.0%                     193,202,699         2.5%
Ontario anticipates volume allocations for A-157 and A-158 will be set at the March 19, 2019 CFC Board meeting.

China tightens disease controls

China has issued new rules to tighten notification of cases of African swine fever, including incentives for whistleblowers, amid concerns that not all outbreaks of the highly-contagious disease are being reported.

There have been more than 60 outbreaks in 18 provinces since early August, despite quarantines and culling of hundreds of thousands of pigs.

"The sites that have reported outbreaks are not in succession. They just abruptly emerge," he said.

It is also accepted that the disease entered China well before the first reported outbreak, said Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank.

The bans on transport include registration requirements for trucks carrying live animals. They must also carry tracking devices.

However the rules have been broken and some pigs have been illegally transported and sold.

There has also been the worrisome discovery of a wild boar with the virus.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Bayer to open glyphosate trials to public

Bayer said it will be opening its files on glyphosate (Roundup) on Dec. 7.
It appears to be an attempt to get ahead of the damaging news emerging from trials launched by people who claim they have been sickened by the weed killer that was discovered by Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer.

“Our commitment to transparency remains core to our mission as we move forward as a combined company,” said Liam Condon, a member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and president of the Crop Science Division.
“We recognize that people around the world want more information around glyphosate – and we are eager to offer access to our glyphosate-related safety data on our dedicated transparency platform.
This platform has set new standards of accountability and responsibility in the sector; we pledge to use it as a springboard to continue to share science-based information with the public,” he said.

Access to the underlying safety study reports – owned by Bayer and submitted for the review that led to the European substance renewal decision in December – will be enabled next year, the company said.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Feds give $2.28 million to Bioenterprise

The federal government has given another $2.28 million to Bioenterprise to deliver the Bioenterprise Seed Fund and the Innovation Guelph Fuel Injection program.

Both invest in start-ups and entrepreneurs in southwestern Ontario.

Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield made the announcement at the inaugural Innovation Expo in Gueph.
“Starting a business is knowing who can help you – and people know that Guelph is a hotbed for innovation,” Longfield said.

FedDev gave Bioenterprise $4.84 million in 2016 so it could launch the two lending programs.
So far 115 companies have received support to create more than 135 new products, services and processes that generated about $37 million in revenues and private-sector investment.

“This is all about partnerships, and our goal is to find the best innovation we can in agriculture, agri-food and agtech, whereas Innovation Guelph has a bit of a broader mandate,” said Bioenterprise chief executive Dave Smardon.