Thursday, January 31, 2019

Mushroom farm fined $50,000

A mushroom farm near Campbellville has been fined $50,000 because one of its workers was injured in an on-site crash of forklifts.

The same company was fined $140,000 in 2014 after a worker was killed by a reversing front-end loader.

Monaghan Mushrooms Ltd. of 7345 Guelph Line pleaded guilty both times to violating occupational health and safety laws.

The crash of the forklifts and a pallet driver happened April 29 and happened after they stopped, waited, then started up again. The pallet driver fell off and was seriously injured.

A Ministry of Labour investigation found the mushroom farm didn't have any policies, procedures or training around which vehicles have the right of way. All three workers had different ideas about who had the right of way.

On Dec. 20, 2011, a worker employed by a subcontractor was hit and killed by a reversing front-end loader and that resulted in the $140,000 fine in 2014.

China to buy more U.S. soybeans

China has agreed to buy more soybeans from the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump called it good news for farmers and said at the end of two days of negotiations, “we‘re going to have a great trade deal.” 

Wall Street Journal reported that China said it would buy five million tonnes a day, but others say there has been no specific promise of a quantity.

There was no mention of pork, another major U.S. export his by Chinese tariffs in retaliation for U.S. tariffs.

Negotiators are trying to reach a deal before March 1 when Trump has said tariffs of 10 per cent will jump to 25 per cent on Chinese goods.

In recent days, there have been more reports about Chinese theft of intellectual property and business information, increasing concerns about internet security and new telephone and communications systems China is exporting.

Former U.S. President Barrack Obama’s administration negotiated an end to Chinese theft of intellectual property and information, but security experts say that only lasted a little more than a year and China has resumed widespread thefts.

Huawei is at the centre of these concerns as it prepares to roll out the next generation of communications equipment.

The U.S. has charged a number of Hauwei executives and is seeking extradition of executive Meng Wanzhou from Canada.

Canada’s detention of Wanzhou has soured relations between Canada and China.

Denmark builds fence against pig virus

Denmark is building a 50-kilometre $12-million fence to keep wild pigs from carrying African Swine Fever into its countryside.

The fence is along the border with Germany.

So far Belgium is the only nearby country with African Swine Fever reported in its wild boar population. France has heightened biosecurity along its border with Belgium.

Some opponents say the fence won’t keep wild pigs out as pigs living near the water could swim from one country to another.

However, Denmark’s Minister for Environment and Food, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, said the government was determined "to do everything we can to prevent African swine fever reaching Denmark. And now we can finally get started on erecting our wild boar fence."
The fence will be five feet high and at least 20 inches deep to keep pigs from burrowing under.
The fence, to be in place by summer, will be low enough for deer to jump over and there will be small openings every 100 yards to allow smaller mammals such as foxes, hares and otters to pass through.
In addition, Denmark is easing hunting restrictions  and increasing fines for livestock transports that have not been properly disinfected.

Van Bommel gets big job

"Suzanne van Bommel has been appointed as a regulated marketing advisor to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission and Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs,” commission chairman Jim Clark announced today.

In her new role she will evaluate opportunities to:

Encourage and promote growth within Ontario's regulated marketing sector;

Encourage new food processing opportunities in the province;

Remove undue and unnecessary regulatory and non-regulatory burdens throughout the regulated marketing system;

Achieve improvements in marketing board governance and oversight.

The day before she resigned from her appointed position as chairman of the Ontario Processing Vegetables Marketing Board.

Her resignation came only days before the annual meeting when growers will, for the first time in a couple of years, elect all of the board’s directors.

The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission dismissed a previous board of directors, appointed former NDP agriculture minister Elmer Buchanan its chairman and negotiator with processors for contract terms and prices, and then set out a timeline for growers to elect a new board, starting with half of the directors in the first year.

The commission retains the right to name a chairman.

Leading up to the board’s dismissal were calls from a previous commission chairman, Gerry Kamenz, to heed concerns that processors were leaving Ontario.

Van Bommel was a member of the commission when she was appointed marketing board chair. She also served previously as chief of staff for former Liberal Ontario agriculture minister Steve Peters.

Climate change brings current chill

Weather experts say climate change is responsible for this week’s bitter cold.

The area around the North pole Is warming faster than the rest of the globe, prompting the usual Polar Vortex to push further south and to splinter.

That, said Johanna Wagstaffe of the CBC, is why much of Canada and the United States is experiencing such cold weather this week.

She also said global warming and climate change will continue to occasionally push Polar Vortexes south in future years.

In the mid-Western United States the cold snap prompted Tyson to temporarily close six meat-packing plants, reports Meatingplace Magazine. Hormel also closed some plants.

Companies such as Smithfield Foods report reduced demand from restaurants because people are staying home.

Here in Ontario, all schools in Wellington and Dufferin counties were closed Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Beware cold weather impact on pigs

Jeff Galle, professor emeritus at John Wood Community College in Illinois, has advice for hog farm managers during the bitter cold that has held much of Canada in its grip this week.

Make sure pigs are getting water. Pipes can freeze. Electric water-bowl heaters can short circuit and generate tingle voltage that will discourage hogs from drinking.

If pigs are found to be without water or dehydrated, Galle says they need to be gradually re-hydrated, not suddenly.

Keep pens clean and dry, he said. Wet pigs suffer more in the cold.

Put up wind breaks if they’re needed to divert drafts, he said.

And check the barn ventilation system to ensure that intakes are clear of obstructions and that pit fans are operating properly.

And he said managers should seal cracks to prevent leaks, check door jambs and test security alarms.

Back-up generator should be checked to ensure they are in working order and have adequate fuel.

Make sure staff knows how to operate it, he said..

Monday, January 28, 2019

Ahrens appointed to Livestock Medicines Committee

Doug Ahrens, a Perth County hog producer, has been appointed to a one-year term on the Livestock Medicines Advisory Committee.

Ahrens is a member of the Perth County Pork Producers Association, the board of directors of Tradition Mutual Insurance Company and Zone 2 director on the Ontario Pork Producers Marketing Board.

The committee advises the provincial agriculture minister on issues relating to the sale and use of livestock medicines.

Oxford hog farm has PED

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus has broken out at a finisher operation in Oxford County.

It is the 118thcase in Ontario.

Earlier this month Alberta reported its first case.

The disease is not usually fatal to finisher-weight pigs, but is deadly to newborns.

Dairy farmers’ proAction gets $2.7 million subsidy

The federal government is giving $2.7 million to Dairy Farmers of Canada to continue its proAction program designed to have its members to produce quality milk in an environmentally-sustainable way.

Not bad for the dairy farmers' leaders who repeatedly and loudly boast that supply management means they don't need any government subsidies.

Pierre Lambton, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada, said “dairy farmers across Canada are committed to the highest standards in regards to sustainable production.  

“As such, our proAction® program has been instrumental in demonstrating farmers’ responsible stewardship in producing milk that is of the highest quality. 

“This funding will allow for ongoing improvement of proAction® and will ensure that the industry meets the expectations of consumers for decades to come.”

Why they can't do what's right without a generous taxpayer-funded subsidy ought to be a question the public asks.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Sofina recalling salmonella-linked chicken

Sofina Foods Inc. is recalling its Crisp & Delicious brand Chicken Breast Nuggets after 54 Canadians who ate them fell ill with salmonella food poisoning.

Ten went to hospital for treatment. Nobody has died.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is repeating its warnings that people need to thoroughly cook raw chicken, including breaded chicken products.

Since it began whole-genome sequencing to gain more precision in tracking the source and extent of food poisonings, the agency has linked 529 illnesses to salmonella in chicken products.

Ninety of those victims required hospital treatment. Three died, although the agency says two died of causes other than the salmonella bacteria.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is supervising the Sofina recall. The company was also identified as the source of some previous salmonella outbreaks.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Pig movement key to disease spread

A research team has used a computer algorithm to discover key factors in the spread of diseases and found that moving hogs from one site to another is the most important avenue.

It seems to me this is the use of relatively high technology to come to an obvious conclusion.

Gustavo Machada, assistant professor of population health and pathobioloty at North Carolina State University led the team that included colleagues at the University of Minnesota and Universidada Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

They prepared their machine-learning techniques using Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus as the model.

The data included all pig movement types, hog density, and environmental and weather factors such as vegetation, wind speed, temperature and precipitation for sow herds.

They examined “neighbourhoods” that were defined as a 10-kilometer radius around sow farms. They fed the model information about outbreaks, animal movements into each neighbourhood and the environmental characteristics inside each neighbourhood.

Ultimately, their model was able to predict PEDV outbreaks with approximately 80 percent accuracy.

Besides pig movements, other important factors turned up by the analysis of the data were terrain slope and vegetation.

The research was based on data from sow herds in North Carolina.
Machado said “as we get more data from other farm sites across the U.S., we expect the model’s accuracy to increase. Our end goal is to have near real-time risk predictions so that farmers and veterinarians can provide preventative care to high-risk areas and make decisions based on data.”

Next steps for the researchers include improving the model to predict a wider range of diseases and expanding it to include other industries, such as poultry. 

The work appears in Scientific Reports, and is supported by the National Pork Board and the Swine Health Information Center.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

John Janzen dead at 91

John Janzen, secretary-manager of the Ontario chicken marketing board for its first 23 years, has died. He was 91.

Janzen joined fellow producers in the 1950s in trying to improve their lot in an industry that suffered violent price swings from profit to losses.

In 1965 former Ontario agriculture minister William Stewart granted permission to form a supply-management marketing board and Janzen was chosen secretary-manager and did much of the work to develop policies and regulations.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the chicken and egg industries were in turmoil as Quebec and Ontario competed for markets and Janzen began working through the Canadian Broiler Council to form marketing boards in all of the provinces to pave the way for national supply management, an end to ruinous inter-provincial competition and to gain limits on imports.

He was the original interim secretary-manager for the Canadian Chicken Marketing Agency when it gained nation-wide supply-management powers in 1979.

Janzen earned a reputation as a wise and fair administrator throughout the difficult years when not all chicken farmers were willing to adhere to supply-management regulations and production limits.

Among his many honours was induction into the Ontario Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Maple Leaf Foods lauching new veggie burger

Maple Leaf Foods announced its new pea-based veggie burger the same day the new Canada Food Guide was unveiled, featuring a shift in recommendations to reduce meat consumption and increase vegetable proteins.

Maple Leaf Foods unit Lightlife Foods said it will have the “sensory experience” of a beef burger.

The Lightlife Burger is part of a new pea protein-based refrigerated product line that includes Lightlife Ground, Bratwurst Sausage and Italian Sausage. The Ground product is meant to be used in dishes from lasagna to tacos and chili.

The Lightlife Burger starts shipping to foodservice this month and to grocery retailers in late March, with more products following soon thereafter. 

The Canadian launch follows in April.

“The new line offers the taste, texture, aroma and appearance of traditional meat,” the company said in a press release. 

“Because it’s grown to grill, cooking the burger over an open flame will enrich its tender, beefy texture,”the company said.

Maple Leaf bought Lightlife last year.

Electronic banking for Farm Business registration

Annual registration under the Ontario program to fund mainline farm organizations can soon be done via the internet.

Ontario Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman made the announcement at the Doan Family Turkey Farm at Norwich.

AgriCorp, which handles registrations, already offers to accept fees via banks, including bank telephone services for clients.

Hardeman said in a news release that “if approved, the proposal would allow for the Farm Business Registration Program to be modernized, through electronic delivery and a simplified registration process, making it easier and more cost-effective. 

“This would help farmers to save time and reduce paperwork.”

Big whoop!

Feds invest in human resource council

The federal government said it is investing of up to $279,223 in the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) to lead the International Phase of the Quality AgriWorkforce Management Program.

This project is designed to clarify best practices for recruiting and retaining international workers. 

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council will use the money to develop and deliver communications and training to employers. It will include guides, information on a website, webinars, workshop training materials and promotional materials.

The government said its research has shown that each international worker who is hired results in two to four full-time Canadian agriculture-related jobs.

The government took the opportunity to repeat that foreign workers can only be hired if no qualified Canadians willing to do the work are available. Which is basically a pile of you-know-what.

Ford backs down on Bill 66

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has backed down and removed a controversial section of Bill 66, a section that threatened to allow development on protected farmland and environmentally-sensitive areas.

Gone is the provision for municipalities to pass bylaws enabling them to ignore the restrictions on development.

Critics drew most attention to the Green Belt around Toronto and the Niagara Peninsula, a 7,20-square-kilometre area set aside by provincial legislation in 2005.

Among those opposing Bill 66 were the Waterloo Region and Cambridge.

Mark Reusser, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, was one of the organization leaders to lobby the Waterloo Region to oppose the Bill 66 provisions that risked development on farmland.

The Waterloo Region and its municipalities have set firm borders on the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge which now must look to greater density for new housing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

U.S. pork producers support Canada

The National Pork Producers Council has written to the U.S. president calling for an end to steel and aluminum tariffs against Canada and others.

The council joined a coalition of more than 45 groups on the issue.

It was June 1 that U.S. President Donald Trump imposed “national security” tariffs of 25 per cent for steel and 10 per cent for aluminum.

Canada, Mexico and most countries in the world retaliated with their own tariffs, chosen to exert maximum political pressure.

In a letter sent today to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the business and agricultural organizations urged the administration to lift the metals tariffs so that Canada and Mexico will rescind their duties on U.S. goods. 

The groups want the metals dispute resolved soon so they can turn their undivided attention to generating congressional support for the new free-trade deal among the U.S., Mexico and Canada (USMCA).

“For many producers,” said the groups in their letter, “the damage from the reciprocal trade actions in the steel and aluminum dispute far outweighs any benefit that may accrue to them from the USMCA. We urge the administration to work with the Canadians and Mexicans on a prompt resolution of the metals issue.”

Pork council president Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Ohio, said “the metals tariffs are undermining the ability of the private sector to lobby for passage of the USMCA deal. For many sectors, the duties are a hair-on-fire issue that is draining resources that otherwise would be focused on passage of the USMCA.”

Farmers and food companies have been particularly hard hit by the Canadian and Mexican retaliation. the coalition said.

Mexico’s 20 percent tariff on U.S. pork, for example, has inflicted severe financial harm on America’s pork producers, the pork council said.

According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the Mexican tariff is costing producers $12 per animal, meaning industry-wide losses of $1.5 billion annually.

Lower prices for U.S. hogs also lower prices for Canadian hogs because there is free trade on them.

So far no special help has been forthcoming from the Canadian government, but the Trump administration has been paying billions in subsidies to its farmers whose markets have been hurt by the tariffs.

Yet just when you think Trump can't make matters any worse, he does.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

New course for cheese makers

Conestoga College is launching a course to train cheese makers.

It’s in response to a study by the Ontario Dairy Council which reported that 200 cheese makers will be needed in the next 10 years.

Conestoga College, which has several campuses in the Waterloo Region, is partnering with La Cite in Ottawa on the project.

Hello Fresh recalls some products

Hello Fresh Canada Inc. is recalling its products that contain red chili that was put into recall recently because of potential salmonella contamination.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says people should not eat red chilli products, including bulk food without a brand-name label, because of the risk of food poisoning by salmonella.

The agency said there have been no reports of illnesses so far.

The Hello Fresh recall is for its Chefs Plate brand meal kits.

The red chilli recall is products from Canada Herb.

Flu-resistant chickens under development

The first chickens that are resistant to influenza have been hatched at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Wendy Barclay, a professor of virology at Imperial College London who is co-leading the project, said the chickens are missing a gene that influenza viruses need to infect chickens.

The development could put an end to concerns that chickens spread influenza to humans and pigs.

New influenza epidemics have often arisen in Asia where chickens are kept in close proximity to people’s homes.

The research project used CRISPR gene-editing technology that has been used to quickly make significant advances for the livestock and and poultry industries.

Among those advances are cattle unable to grow horns, male pigs that can’t reach puberty which is associated with an offensive odour when their pork is cooked and pigs resistant to two types of worrisome viruses.

Monday, January 21, 2019

African Swine Fever claims another large herd

African Swine Fever has claimed a second large-scale hog farm in China, this time a herd of 73,000 in Suihua city in northeastern Heilongjiang province.

The second-largest herd wiped out by the disease had 69,000 hogs in Siyang County.

The latest outbreak is a farm which has investment from a company based in Denmark.

Heilongjiang Asia-Europe Animal Husbandry was formed in 2016.

The farm’s herd included 15,000 breeding pigs, according to its website, and it was aiming to produce 385,000 pigs for slaughter a year

Officials with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said 4,686 pigs had been infected and 3,766 died.

Australia finds swine fever

Australian officials have found African Swine Fever in six pork products imported from China.

Testing identified the highly-contagious and deadly disease for pigs during testing of 152 samples gathered at airports and mail processing centres.

There have been no reports of the disease affecting any of Australia’s herds.

Australia has 2,500 farmers who raise hogs and 36,000 workers in the pork supply chain, according to Australian Pork Ltd.

Over the weekend, China reported another outbreak killed 13 pigs in a herd of 57 in Ningxia province, the first outbreak there are now the 25thprovince hit by the disease.

While Australia’s findings clearly demonstrate the risks associated with importing pork from China, officials say the biggest risk is people travelling to and from China.

I think it would be wise to prohibit anybody who has been in China within the last year to set foot on a Canadian hog farm.

Golden Products appeals CFIA fine

Cambridge - Golden Ontario Products Inc., a meat-packing company based in Mount Forest, is investing three days in a federal agriculture appeals tribunal hearing here, arguing it was unfairly fined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The company was fined $10,000 for failure to comply with standards for filing acceptable paperwork related to its Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan.

The company failed an audit and had 60 days to comply, but that 60 days was when construction was underway to double the size of the plant to about 20,000 square feet, said majority owner Nancy Kingsley-Hu.

She told Ontario Farmer that she received no communications from the CFIA over that 60-day period, so had no opportunity to explain the situation and that she was in the process of generating new HACCP plans for the expanded plant.

The company received a licence last year to export beef to China. Kingsley-Hu used to live in Shanghai, was a trader, and recognized the export opportunity.

Tribunal chairman Luc Belanger is likely to take some time at the conclusion of the hearing this week to write his decision.

The tribunal hears appeals from people who feel aggrieved by the Canadian Border Services Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

China offers to buy more from U.S.

China has offered to increase purchases of United States goods and services by $1 trillion over the next six years, said a report by Bloomberg news agency.

The offer was made during trade negotiations to halt the escalation of tariffs between the two.

Bloomberg said U.S. negotiators asked for even more – an elimination of the trade deficit within two years. China said its offer would eliminate it by 2024. It stood at $323 billion last year.

China has already increased its purchasing of U.S. soybeans in an effort to help trade negotiations.

China's tariffs on U.S. goods, including pork, have sideswiped Canadian farmers. For example, pig prices have plunged to below the cost of production for some Canadian farmers.

There is news now that China’s economy has slowed to the lowest level in 20 years, yet it is still growing.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Lorne Hepworth named chair of ARIO

Former Saskatchewan agriculture minister Lorne Hepworth has been appointed to a three-year term as chairman of the Agriculture Research Institute of Ontario.

The ARIO advises the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs about research priorities and policies.

Hepworth was also chief executive officer for CropLife Canada, as association for the pesticide industry.

Appointments to several other agriculture-related positions were posted online recently, including:

- Tanya Haverkamp of Listowel and Kim Systma of Athens to the Business Risk Management Review Board.

- Veterinarian Catherine Fileiski of Toronto to the Livestock Medicines Advisory Committee. She works for Ministry of Health and has been co-chair of the Canadian Rabies Committee.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Cambridge votes against Bill 66

Cambridge Council has voted 8-0 against Bill 66 which the Ford government calls “Open For Business”.

The bill would allow municipalities to waive restrictions on development, such as environmental and farmland protections.

Stephanie Sobek-Swank, speaking for the Rare Charitable Research Reserve, said important environmental sites need to remain off limits to developers.

The Reserve is on a large farm on the banks of the Grand River near Blair that was deeded to the University of Guelph which sold it because it said it didn’t need it.

Earlier this week the Waterloo Region Council also voted against Bill 66. 

Among those who urged Waterloo to take that stance was the Waterloo Federation of Agriculture.