Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ford touts Pelee Island Winery

Records show that Pelee Island Winery gave $2,000 to Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative Party.

Ford returned the favour by promoting Pelee Island wines during a visit there this week.

I wonder if he knows that many of Pelee Island's wines are diluted with cheap imports from Chile? 

And does he know that scores of other Ontario wineries' products are made from 100 per cent Ontario-grown grapes? Perhaps he thinks they gave donations to the Liberals and NDP.

Dominic Morrissey appointed

Dominic Morrissey of Uxbridge has been appointed to a three-year term on the board of directors of AgriCorp.

He has been a stolid supporter of the Progressive Conservative party

Monday, July 29, 2019

Slovakia has ASF outbreak

African Swine Fever has claimed a small herd of four pigs in Slovakia, near the border with Hungary.
The government has imposed a quarantine zone inside which pigs are being culled.

It has also implemented biosecurity measures, such as travel restrictions. It is the first case in the country.

Four new directors for Farm Management Canada

Four people out of 13 nominees have been elected new directors for Farm Management Canada.

They are Annessa Good, a beef farmer from Alberta, Dr. Derek Brewin, head of the Department of Agribusiness and Ag. Economics at the University of Manitoba, Andrea Gal of Ontario, managing editor of Better Farming, Better Pork and Farms.com and Roberta Galbraith, a cash crop farmer from Manitoba.  

Joerg Zimmermann, a farm business consultant from Manitoba was re-elected chairman. Terry Aberhart,  a cash crop farmer from Saskatchewan was elected vice-chairman and Jeannette Mongeon-Dignard, a cash crop farmer from Eastern Ontario, was re-elected secretary-treasurer.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Roundup $2-billion award slashed

A California judge has slashed a jury-awarded $2 billion to $86.7 million in a lawsuit over health problems arising from Roundup.

The couple won the $2-billion award for damages in a court case heard in May.

Bayer, which now owns Monsanto which made and marketed Roundup, continues to dispute claims that Roundup causes cancer.

It is facing about 13,000 court-filed claims for compensation.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Data breach at Holstein Canada

There will be no welfare assessments under the ProAction program on Ontario farms until Holsteins Canada fixes a data breach.

Dairy Farmers of Ontario sent a communique to its members on Thursday to tell about the data breach that happened because a file transfer protocol was left accessible online.

Holstein Canada said “this incident was limited in scope. While the information may have been accessible and, in very few instances, viewed by third parties, after a thorough analysis we have no reason to believe your (producer) data has been misused.”

The site has been secured and Holstein Canada has a third party checking its cyber security.

This will take several weeks during which the Ontario milk marketing board is suspending Holstein Canada’s services assessing dairy cattle under proAction. 

The marketing board said validation of farms under proAction will continue during the period the review is underway; farmers who do not meet the requirement of having a cattle assessment on file will not be penalized during the suspension.

Holstein Canada will be informing producers whose data was part of the breach by letter.

Pork industry gets $6 million

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau was at the Ontario Pork board head office in Guelph today to announce up to $6 million for Canada Pork International to seek export markets.

“This funding will help the (pork) sector to strengthen its knowledge of market opportunities, enhance promotional efforts, increase contact with potential buyers and grow market opportunities for chilled pork exports,” the government news release said.

Canadian farm subsidies lagging

Canadian farm subsidies are below average among nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and significantly lower than 20 and 30 years ago.

Supply management, particularly for dairy, accounts for the lion’s share.

“Over time, there has been an increasing emphasis on general service support to the (agriculture) sector through programs that target industry-led research and development, adoption of innovation in food and agriculture, and marketing initiatives,” the report said.

It recommends that this emphasis on research, innovation and marketing initiatives continue.

Canada’s Producer Subsidy Equivalent is nine per cent now compared with 18 per cent about 20 years ago and 36 per cent about 30 years ago.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Gay Lea gets $16.9 million for Teeswater

The federal government is providing $16.9 million for improvements to the Gay Lea plant at Teeswater.

The co-operative is investing in waste treatment facilities and to modernize equipment at the dairy-processing plant that employs about 50 workers.

Some of the money comes from a fund to offset the impact of trade deals with Europe and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but most is from the Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

The announcement comes after Gay Lea announced in February, 2016, that it would invest $60 million in the plant, mainly to improve and expand skim milk powder production.

That was prompted mainly by a price break on milk pricing for products that would displace imports from the U.S., a move that was later undermined by a trade agreement with the United States.

Ford, feds, both promise improved internet

On Tuesday, both the Ontario and federal governments announced commitments to improve internet services for rural areas.

Bernadette Jordan, federal Minister of Rural Economic Development, released Rural Opportunities, National Prosperity concurrently with High-Speed Access for All: Canada’s Connectivity Strategy.

And she repeated the government promise to invest $1.7 billion over 13 years.

And Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced $315 million to be spent over the next five years on its Broadband and Cellular Action Plan.

U.S. moves to cut 3.1 million off food stamps

The Trump administration on Tuesday proposed tightening automatic eligibility requirements for the food stamp program, a change that could cut benefits for about 3.1 million people.

The Agriculture Department said the rule would close "a loophole" that enables people receiving only minimal benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to be eligible automatically for food stamps.

"For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.

The proposed rule is the latest in the Trump administration's efforts to cut back on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP, the official name of the food stamp program. It also has proposed to tighten work requirements for those who receive federal food assistance.

Meanwhile, the government announced a subsidy of $15 an acre to compensate for trade issues with China.

Council reports on labour shortage

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council says in a new report that there is a critical shortage of workers for farms and food processing companies.

The council’s Labor Market Forecast to 2029 found in a survey that about 47 per cent of farm employers say they cannot fill their labor needs and that 37 per cent of the workforce is expected to retire in the next decade. 

The report suggest solutions lie in “untapped potential” within Canada and bringing in workers from other countries.

Foreign workers increased by 32 per cent, to nearly 60,000 between 2014 and 2017, the report said.

It mentions a Manitoba program aimed to train workers, noting that the Maple Leaf plant at Brandon is operating at 20 per cent below capacity because of the labour situation.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau was on pre-election campaign trail, meeting Tuesday with the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers marketing board and talking about the pilot project to allow employers to bring in 2,750 more temporary workers who will have the option to seek permanent resident status.

Pricing collusion lawsuit moves ahead

Three consolidated lawsuits accusing beef packers of conspiring to depress prices for cattle since early 2015 gained approval this week from a federal court in Minnesota to move forward.

One of the suits filed by the Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) accused Cargill Inc., JBS S.A., National Beef Packing Co. and Tyson Foods Inc., of artificially reducing cattle slaughter volumes and manipulating the cash cattle trade. 

The four companies together process more than 80 per cent of U.S. beef cattle, the 124-page lawsuit claims. It is to be a jury trial conducted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer.

The latest amended filing no longer includes Agri Stats Inc., which provides consolidated data to such clients as protein producers.

But Agri Stats of Fort Wayne, Ind,, remains a defendant in a similar class-action lawsuit against more than a dozen poultry processsors.

Cargill and Tyson said the beef lawsuit allegations have no merit and the North American Meat Institute called them “unfounded”.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

CFIA runs ASF simulation exercise

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Quebec agriculture department ran a simulation exercise for African Swine Fever in mid-June, the agency revealed today on its website.

Why it took so long to tell us is puzzling.

The exercise tested communications and preparedness in the event of an outbreak and extended to participants in New Brunswick.

And in Western Canada, the agency hosted an industry conference in Winnipeg to discuss plans and preparedness for an outbreak.

Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada, Dr. Jaspinder Komal, clarified that there have been no outbreaks of the deadly disease in Canada, but that’s it’s important to be prepared.

China has lost more than one million pigs to the disease, Viet Nam has suffered heavy losses and Bulgaria has had an outbreak on a breeding herd of 17,000 hogs.

African Swine Fever hits large herd in Bulgaria

A herd of 17,000 hogs has been slaughtered because of an outbreak of African Swine Fever in Bulgaria.

It is one of more than 30 outbreaks this month, but by far the largest and is a breeding herd.

Authorities are also slaughtering all hogs within three kilometres of the outbreak in the north-west of Bulgaria, near Romania.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Lawyers lining up to challenge agriculture

The Public Justice Food Project is adding lawyers to its arsenal to attack and bring down “industrial agriculture”.

Brent Newell, one of the leading United States lawyers on air pollution and climate change impacts from livestock has joined the team.

The Project has also put up a new website, food.publicjustice.net, to equip lawyers who are willing to sue “Big Ag,” and to provide fodder for local communities, farmers and workers and others wanting to support Public Justice.  

The Project opposes “the inevitability of factory-scaled production, benefitting the few and harming the many” and wants to build “a system that respects workers, our planet, rural ways of life, and the health and wellbeing of eaters everywhere.”

Public Justice Food Project lawyers have been leaders in two cases involving independent beef producers suing multinational meatpackers, have led efforts to strike down state laws barring undercover investigations at agricultural facilities, and have fought for clean drinking water for neighbours of poultry processing plants.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Agropur ice cream on recall

Agropur Cooperative has found small metal particles in its ice cream sandwiches, so has issued a recall.

It applies to Iceberg and Originale Augustin brands of Mega Sandwich vanilla ice cream.

Friday, July 19, 2019

CFIA suspends Quebec firm’s licence

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has suspended the licence of Ferme avicole Yves Labelle et fils, an egg grading station located in Saint-Eustache, Quebec.

There is no food recall associated with this suspension.

CFIA suspended the licence because the operator did not develop preventive control plans related to product and chemical control.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Plant-based foods gain sales

Sales of plant-based foods increased by11 per cent in the United States in the last 12 months.

Dairy accounts for two-thirds of the plant-based market and the soy, oat and almond-based products now have 13 per cent of the dairy market.

It might be more in Canada where supply management results in higher cows’-milk prices than in the U.S.

Plant-based products brought in $4.5 billion last year.

There have been further gains as meat substitutes such as Beyond Meat’s products have gained a lot of media attention and a place on restaurant menus, such as Tim Horton’s breakfast meals.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Feds give $11.4 million for dairy research

The federal government is giving $11.4 million to the Dairy Farmers of Canada to spend on dairy-cluster research.

The dairy industry is adding $5.1 million.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau made the announcement during the annual meeting of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

The money will be used to researchbovine genetics, animal health and welfare, milk production automation, forage breeding, milk safety and quality and environmental sustainability.

There will be money to develop management practices to counter diseases that reduce milk production.

“Through this investment, the sector will also better understand the impact of microbes on milk, dairy product composition and quality, and examine the use of alternative tools and practices to antimicrobial use,” a government news release said.

So much for the lie that governments don't subsidize dairy farmers. because Canada has supply management.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Food supply to grow faster than demand

Forget about counting on population increases to boost prices es for Canadian crops and livestock. A new report says prices will remain flat or in slight decline over the coming decade.

Global demand for food will increase by about 15 per cent over the next decade, but production will increase more, according to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nation’s  Food and Agriculture Organization.

Technology and innovation will push yields higher, but the amount of land that’s farmed will remain “broadly constant,” the report says.

The demand for cereals for food will increase by 13 per cent, which is about 150 million tonnes. Rice and wheat will be the main ones.

One of the challenges is that population growth will be greatest in Sub-saharan Africa and Asia, and there won’t be enough money or food for everyone there.

 “Regrettably, the most needy regions are expected to see slow income growth and hence only small improvements in their nutritional status,” warned Máximo Torero, one of the FAO’s leaders.

“The findings point to an overall decline in undernourishment; however, at current rates of improvement, we would remain far off track from reaching the Zero Hunger target by 2030.”

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Poultry industry gets emergency funds

The federal and Ontario governments are giving $350,873 so the chicken and hatching egg industries can prepare to handle emergencies.

It will supplement money from the Chicken Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chicken Commission and the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors.

They said that “this project will deliver a third-party service that ensures chickens are handled in a humane manner during emergency situations such as a disease outbreak or barn damage from fire or extreme weather.

Veggies becoming popular restaurant fare

Vegetable meals are gaining popularity with several restaurant chains growing rapidly across the United States.

One of them is Sweetgreen which is using leading-edge technology throughout its supply chain – from farmers to clientele.

For example. Fortune magazine writes about Jim Ward and his Ward’s Berry Farm near Boston that uses a bat-shaped sensor anchored 36 inches into the soil in the centre of a field.

It has sensors tracking temperature, moisture, phosphorous, potash, nitrogen and pH and feeding that information every 15 minutes into the cloud where Ward can use his smart phone to download the data anytime and anywhere he chooses.

He said it certainly beats sending a soil sample off for nitrogen analysis and waiting three weeks for the results.

Sweetgreens also keeps track of what’s happening and together they aim to harvest at the peak of readiness and flavour.

Ward said the data has shattered a few of his long-held beliefs, such as that tomatoes are at their peak when they are picked; in fact he has learned that their peak flavour develops three to five days later.

But it confirmed that temperatures below 50 degrees are poor for growth, development and flavour.

Sweetgreen is big on flavour because it has learned from experience that customers respond more to taste and enjoyment experience than factors such as being politically-correct, organic, GMO free, etc.

Clientele do appreciate knowing details about the salad ingredients in their $12 meals served in a bowl, such as what variety was planted when, the name and location of the farmer and the growing history.

All of that is available through blockchain technology which, incidentally, can be used when a food safety issue arises to promptly pinpoint exactly what batch poses the risk and where it now is located.

In November Sweetgreen raised $200 million through the sale of shares; that boosted the company’s overall share value to more than $1 billion for the business it expects to grow to 110 restaurants  by the end of the year.

Ward got Sweetgreen’s technology package for “a few hundred dollars,” Fortune reported, and it’s a package that can be adopted by farms of almost any size and scale.

That has enabled Sweetgreen to source its ingredients from a large number of suppliers both large and small.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Bibeau appoints five people

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has appointed three people as directors of Farm Credit Canada and two to the Farm Products Council of Canada.

Appointed to Farm Credit areSylvie Cloutier, Sharilee Fossum and Michael Hoffort as president and chief executive officer.

Cloutier lives at Bromont, Que., and has been with the Quebec Food Processing Council since 2003 and as president and chief executive officer since 2010.

Fossum is currently the chief financial and corporate officer for thee 77,000-member  Association of Professioonal Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta.

All three appointments are for three years.

Ron Bonnett, former president of the Ontario and Canadian federations of agriculture, has been appointed vice-chairman of the Farm Products Council of Canada and Morgan Moore has been appointed a member.

Morgan is a beef and sheep farmer from near Brandon, Man., and is vicre-chairman of the Canadian Sheep Federation.

Theirs are also three-year terms.

The council supervises national marketing agencies.

Meat packers get access to 2,750 workers

The federal government is opening immigration for 2,750 people to work in the meat industry.

It’s a pilot project under the Temporary Foreign Workers program. 

Chris White, president of the Canadian Meat Council, said a year ago at a meeting with three federal cabinet ministers and the Canadian Union of Food and Commercial Workers to discuss “our labour shortage and message to help Canada’s food supply . . .

“With more than 1,700 empty butcher workstations across the country among our members, this pilot will allow our members to gain access to temporary foreign workers who are desperately needed to fill the labour gap and more importantly, allow them to transition to permanent resident status,” he said.

“It’s important to remember that our members always hire Canadians first. 

“Allowing entry-level butchers means creating more middle-class jobs – which is what this government is all about” added White.

“For every one temporary foreign worker, we also create four jobs for Canadians,” he said.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Feds commit $24.4 million to fight food fraud

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has announced that $24.4 million will be given to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to fight food fraud.

She said it’s important to protect Canadian consumers and producers.

The government said it will be “revamping of the current food fraud program, conducting more inspections and collecting more samples to uncover sources of food fraud, and gathering surveillance data for additional intelligence.”

So far this year, the CFIA has released a report on 240 samples of honey tested for illegally added sugar and has laid charges for false claims about virgin olive oil.

China lectures 30 national meat suppliers

China has issued a warning to 30 countries that supply it with meat that it expects full compliance with regulations.

Some diplomats said they view it as a move by China to show that it is being fair in its ban on Canadian meat.

China suspended imports from Canada after it found flaws in pork shipment documentation from two plants, then ractopamine residue in pork from a Quebec company and then188 fraudulent Canadian Food Inspection Agency documents.

Those who attended the meeting with the Chinese said ractopamine and documentation seemed to be the main concerns.

Which raises the question about why we have heard nothing about the RCMP investigation into the fraudulent documents and who was culpable.

Feds offer $13 million to boost grain, oilseed exports

The federal government has put $13 million on offer for companies and organizations to boost their export marketing of grains and oilseeds.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said “these investments will help Canada’s agricultural and agri-food exporters in their efforts to diversify markets, positioning them to take full advantage of new opportunities created through the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).”

Bibeau is in full election-campaign mode, using more than $21 million in taxpayers money this week alone for the beef, grains and oilseeds sectors.

The government said that “combined with Canada’s other free trade agreements, Canadian farmers and producers with preferential market access to an estimated 1.5 billion consumers in more than 50 countries.”

The projects are funded through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership’s AgriMarketing Program, which “supports industry-led promotional activities that differentiate Canadian products and producers, and leverage Canada's reputation for high quality and safe food.” the government said.

CFIA caught sugar-adulterated honey

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency prevented nearly 12,800 kilograms of adulterated honey from getting to market, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced on the agency’s website today.

The honey was valued at almost $77,000, she said. It was all from other countries.
Targeted testing by the agency last year found that 78 per cent of the 240 samples were okay; all of the Canadian honey was okay but there were added sugars in some of the imported honey.
Canadian honey producers have often complained about cheating by imports.
The agency said the results are not indicative of the overall honey supply because the sampling “was targeted to focus on risk areas (for example, establishments with a history of non-compliance, gaps in preventative controls, or unusual trading patterns).”

Guelph to host ag ministers

Guelph will host Canada’s agriculture ministers for their annual meeting next July.

Ontario Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman said “our government is excited to bring together this important gathering and to showcase the hard-working people who make our agri-food and agricultural industries the best in the world.

“This event will also provide a unique opportunity to reinforce Canada’s appreciation of our province’s vibrant agri-food sector and the incredible contributions made by a variety of Guelph-area organizations, institutions, and people,” he said.

Philbro’s working on an ASF vaccine

Phibro Animal Health Corporation of New Jersey said it will seek patents for its early-stages research to develop a vaccine against African Swine Fever.

It’s approach involves the identification of immunogenic epitopes and proteins that show strong potential to form the basis for a vaccine against the devastating disease that has wiped out about half of China’s pigs and about a quarter of those in Viet Nam.

Phibro said it hopes to create a specific epitope-based vaccine rather than following the more conventional path of an attenuated live vaccine. 

If successful, Phibro said this approach would not only be effective, but also safer than a live vaccine which might spread the disease.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mediator handling chicken pricing

A mediator is involved in pricing negotiations between the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board and the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors.

Ray Nickel, a director on the B.C. chicken marketing board, told a recent meeting of growers that the Ontario pricing formula is likely to end up before the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.

All provinces set their chicken prices relative to Ontario, so there is keen nation-wide interest by both farmers and processors, many of them operating facilities in more than one province.

British Columbia’s growers and processors are both unhappy with their interim pricing which is 95 per cent of the cost of production plus 75 per cent of the difference in feed costs in British Columbia and the national average.

The cost of production is Ontario’s figure.

The farmers want 100 per cent of the feed cost differential; the processors want a three-year fixed price six cents a kilogram above the Ontario price.

Hatching egg producers in B.C. also price at 95 per cent of their cost of production, but many wish the board would insist on 100 per cent.

Their general manager, Bill Vanderspek, is advising them to refrain from rocking the boat.

Beef gets an $8.3-million boost

Taxpayers are giving beef farmers $8.3 million, federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced while attending the Calgary Stampede.

The money Is for six projects, one of which is $5.3 million to increase exports and ensure the industry meet “the highest standards in animal welfare and sustainability,” the government said.

There are new opportunities available from recent trade agreements with Europe, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and with the United States and Mexico.

There is $1.7 million for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association “to offer producers new tools to build public trust in their product around the world. This funding will help all producers take full advantage of the Verified Beef Production Plus Program.”

Stevens appointed to tribunal

David Stevens of Springford has been appointed to a two-year term on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.

He is former owner of Stevens irrigation and is a member of Land Improvement Contractors of Ontario, Canadian Owners and Pilots Association and Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada.

Chicken board encourages Northeners

After years of neglect and deafness to complaints, the Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board has done an about-face and is encouraging production in Northern Ontario.

For decades the board refused to grant requests for quota at affordable prices to enable production in Northern Ontario so chicken wouldn’t need to be brought in hundreds of kilometres from Southern Ontario.

But earlier this decade, the board launched several programs that enable producers to grow some chicken without needing quota and to encourage local processors.

Now the board has announced on its website it is partnering with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs to host a series of workshops across Northern Ontario.

It said “the workshops are an opportunity for farmers currently raising small flocks, or families interested in starting a chicken farm, to network and learn more about the chicken business and CFO’s Artisanal Chicken® program."

Board chairman Ed Benjamins said “the CFO board of directors is continuously looking to innovate and advance our business. The Northern Ontario poultry workshops is one way that CFO is creating options for smaller scale and new participants to join the chicken industry.” 

PigTrace tag prices to increase

PigTrace will increase the price of its tags, effective Aug. 1. The small ones go up by 20 cents, the large ones by 35 cents.

Industry leaders are urging farmers to enlist in the program and to use the tags because they will be helpful in the event of an outbreak of African Swine Fever.

PigTrace is a national program, supported by pork marketing boards across Canada. It keeps track of all the places a pig has been.