Saturday, August 31, 2019

Another lawyer for Animal Care Review Board

The Ford government has appointed Gerald Rotham of Cobden to a three-year term on the Business Risk Management Committee.

And it has chosen a lawyer for the Animal Care Review Board: Jeanie Theoharis of Mississauga.

She has been appointed to a two-year term and also to the Fire Safety Commission.

She was previously a member of the Landlord and Tenant board.

Friday, August 30, 2019

U.S. partners with Vietnam on ASF

The United States is investing $1.7 million US in a partnership to study African Swine Fever in Vietnam.

The virus has spread fast in Vietnam, claiming about half of the pig population either by death to the disease or culling to stop the spread of the virus.

The projects seek to gain insight in five key areas: 

1. Identifying pathways for viral entry on farms.

2. Validating use of swine oral fluids to confirm farm or region positive or negative status.

3. Exploring the potential to isolate the virus on one area of a farm to enable other areas to provide pigs free of ASF contamination.

4. Validating cleaning and disinfecting procedures so farms may be repopulated as soon as it is safe.

5. Assessing cross-border risks and risk management of transboundary swine diseases.

Canada, U,S., Mexico meet on African Swine Fever

A joint approach to the threat of African Swine Fever has emerged from a meeting of the chief veterinarians for Canada, Mexico and the United States.
They are forming a joint working group and plan to meet Oct. 22 and 23 in Mexico to work on plans.
Canada’s chief veterinary officer, Dr. Jaspinder Komal, said “as part of our coordinated effort to keep North America free of ASF, we discussed the following key areas:
  • comprehensive disease surveillance
  • surge capacity aimed at helping to ensure our labs and people are ready to respond (for example, laboratories of Canada, Mexico and United states would work together to harmonize diagnostic tests for exotic animal diseases)
  • contingency plans
  • mitigation of risks associated with wild pigs, through activities such as control programs, surveillance, hunter education and farm biosecurity
  • border security including inspection and control measures
  • business continuity with risk-based movements of animal and animal products
  • coordinated risk communications.”

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Bell undermines push for rural internet

Bell Canada said it will cut back on its wireless home internet expansion into rural areas by 20 per cent, prompting the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to plead for government intervention or help.

Bell made its move after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission issued a ruling that smaller internet service providers would pay lower “wholesale” prices for Bell’s infrastructure.

Rogers and Shaw, the two other major internet companies, have also said they might reduce service.

The OFA said “we are calling on the federal government, the provincial government and the CRTC to put their heads together and fix this mess by working with the big players. 

“Some form of compromise must be found to ensure rural Ontario is not held hostage in no service areas. 

“All parties need to get over the disagreements for the benefit of all of Ontario,” the OFA said.

Late spring, hot summer unnerving corn markets

The corn price and basis have been on a roller coaster this summer, and it’s not likely to settle down until harvests are well underway.

“Uncertainty over corn availability this fall has injected fear and volatility into the market,” said Cobank in its newsletter this week, “complicating forecasts on profitability for grain elevators. 

“Through May and June, basis in central Ohio rallied 25 cents to the highest level in five years before plunging nearly 50 cents by mid-August. 

“In the futures market, the December-July carry for corn fell from its peak of 32.75 cents per bushel in May to 4.5 cents per bushel in June, then rallied back to 27.5 cents per bushel in August. 

“At an estimated cost of 3 cents per bushel per month for elevators to store corn, the seven-month December-July carry needs to be at least 21 cents per bushel per month for the elevator to break even.”

Elevators that buy low-priced basis are in line for healthy profits as volatility continues, but high-priced basis – as is the situation in the Eastern half of North America – “face steep downside risk,” said  Tanner Ehmke, manager of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange. 

“Grain handlers will most likely need to compete for bushels in regions that are corn-deficit. 

If old-crop bushels cannot be acquired ahead of harvest and if new-crop bushels are not secured at harvest, elevators stand to face a tough marketing year ahead with mergers and acquisitions in the region increasingly likely,” he said.

Greenhouse board regs up for amendments

The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has announced it is considering amendments to the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers marketing board.

In a posting on its website, the commission said “the amendments include the realignment of greenhouse vegetable growing districts, the designation of non-individual producers who are eligible to vote or hold office, and the restriction of individuals from being elected to the board who have been convicted of offences under specified legislation or have received a penalty from the local board for non-compliance with the Farm Products Marketing Act or regulations.”
The commission said the marketing board has asked it to approve the changes.

African Swine Fever continues to expand

The territory where African Swine Fever has broken out continues to expand, most recently to Myanmar and Russia.

It has now gone into eight countries since outbreaks began a year ago in China where some estimate that half the pig population has either been sickened or culled.

Viet Nam has also suffered heavy losses.

There have been outbreaks in Cambodia, Laos, North Korea and Mongolia.

Canada has been on high alert and biosecurity protocols to keep out the deadly and highly-contagious disease.

U.S. to investigate beef packers

The United States Department of Agriculture is launching an investigation into beef packers because there have been allegations of market manipulation.

The investigation relates to the aftermath of a fire in Kansas that wiped out a large Tyson-owned packing plant that was slaughtering five per cent of market cattle.

In the wake of the fire, prices rose, then fell as packers managed to redistribute cattle to plants that added overtime and weekend shifts.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release. “If any unfair practices are detected, we will take quick enforcement action."

He has met with plant managers and many others in the industry to gain an understanding of what happened in markets after the fire.

There were already a number of lawsuits in process before the fire, alleging market manipulation to influence cattle and beef prices.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

More pigs in U.S., fewer in Canada

The Canadian inventory of all hogs and pigs on July 1 was 14 million head, down slightly from last year and down by two per cent from July 1, 2017.
The breeding inventory, at 1.23 million head, was down by one per cent from last year and down by two per cent from 2017. 
The market hog inventory, at 12.7 million head, was up slightly from last year but down by two per cent from 2017. The semi-annual pig crop, at 14.1 million head, was up by one per cent from 2018 but down by five per cent from 2017.
Sows farrowing during this period totalled 1.22 million head, down by one per cent from last year and down by three from 2017.

The U.S. inventory of all hogs and pigs on June 1 was 75.5 million head, up by four per cent from last year and by one per cent from March 1 this year.
The breeding inventory in the U.S., at 6.41 million head, was up by one per cent from last year, and up by one per cent from March.
The market hog inventory, at 69.1 million head, was up by four per cent from last year, and by one per cent from March.
The pig crop, at 34.2 million head, was up by four per cent from 2018 and up seven per cent from 2017.
Sows farrowing during this period totalled 3.11 million head, up slightly from 2018 and up by three per cent from 2017.

GRCA extends cover crops incentives

Despite provincial cuts to conservation authorities, the one for the Grand River watershed has issued invitations for applications for subsidies to plant cover crops.

The province said earlier this month that conservation authorities will need to cut budgets to focus on core mandates. Many farmers took that to mean subsidies for water and soil conservation would be cut.

But the Grand River Conservation Authority, in partnership with municipalities, is going to carry on with incentives to plant cover crops to conserve soil over winter and spring.

The GRCA said it has received positive feedback from farmers in the participating municipalities: the Waterloo Region, Haldimand, Dufferin, Brant and Wellington counties.

Ken Husberger, president of the Waterloo Federation of Agriculture, said “with the heavy rains we’ve seen during the last few winters, it’s becoming more and more evident that we should keep the land covered over winter to combat soil erosion.”

Over the last five years, more than 350 producers in the Grand River watershed received the cover crop incentive through the municipal programs delivered by the GRCA. Priority is given to erosion-prone fields adjacent to watercourses or wetlands, and areas that are susceptible to wind erosion. 

Fields that are tile drained or in wellhead protection areas are also considered. 

Cover crops that are used solely for cover – not harvested or grazed - are eligible under the program.

There is a panel of farmers who review applications and offer eligibility advice to the GRCA.

Plant to make ethanol from cellulose inches ahead

A plant to make ethanol from cellulose inched ahead this week with a promise of $4.7 million from the federal government.

Woodland Biofuels of Toronto plans to build the plant in
Sarnia where it has been operating a pilot plant.

Woodland's chief executive officer, Greg Nuttall, said the money will fund the third and final stage of pre-construction engineering.

“Once that stage is done, then we’ll be ready to build an 80-million-litre, 21-million-gallon commercial plant,” said Nuttall. 

“The current expectation is that that plant will be located right here in Sarnia and that it will generate approximately 324 full-time equivalent jobs.”

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Province approves Grand River plan

The province has approved an updated plan for source water protection in the Grand River watershed.

The planning began in 2006 after the province passed legislation that was a reaction to terrible poisoning by E. coli 0157H7 in the drinking water for Walkerton.

The updates were for new wells for the Dundalk drinking water system (Grey County, Township of Southgate), Lynden Communal Well Supply (City of Hamilton), and the Airport and St. George drinking water systems (County of Brant). 

Wellhead protection areas were revised and protection zones removed in the County of Brant for the Mount Pleasant drinking water system where chloride is no longer elevated, and for the Paris (Bethel Road) system where nitrates are no longer elevated.

Grogan to head Greenleaf

Maple Leaf Foods has chosen one of its executive team members to become the chief operating officer for its Greenleaf Foods SPF business in the United States.

It is a producer of plant-based protein products and is in the process of building a plant at Shelbyville, Indiana, that will be North America’s largest plant-based protein facilitiy.

Grogan will move Sept. 9 to his new position, leaving his role in Toronto as Maple Leaf’s senior vice president of marketing, innovation, research and development.

Monday, August 26, 2019

China will seek more pork imports

Chinese pork import demand is poised to rise from 2.1 million tonnes last year to 3.3 million tonnes this year and 4.2 million tonnes next year, according to INTL FCStone, a brokerage and consultantcy.

It released its estimates during a commodities outlook conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this week.

It expects China’s pork production to decline from 54 to 38 million tonnes this year because of African Swine Fever, and decline again to 34 million tonnes next year.

Renato Rasmussen, FCStone’s market intelligence director in Brazil, said that China could take up to seven years to return to production levels near 50 million tonnes per year.

He said Brazil could become the major supplier of not only pork, but also beef and poultry.

The U.S. faces stiff tariffs and Canada is suspended because of export certificate fraud.

With China taking so much, there will likely be opportunities in other world markets for Canadian pork.

New name for Ontario meat packers

The Ontario Independent Meat Processors association will change its name to Meat & Poultry Ontario on Sept. 1.

But its focus will remain the same.

“We exist to serve the family businesses that we represent in the meat and poultry industry. We will continue to serve the sector with the same enthusiasm and passion as we have since the beginning,” said Franco Naccarato, the executive director.

A new strategic plan is in the works and “a core theme of the plan is uniting our industry and all the players within the sector,” Naccarato said.

Canada loses trade edge to Japan

Canada has lost its trading edge over the U.S. in beef and pork exports to Japan.

That’s because the U.S. and Japan have an agreement in principle to allow trade on the same terms and the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the TPP soon after he was elected president.

Both organizations representing beef and pork producers in the U.S. hailed the agreement for “levelling the playing field”.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Trump ups tariffs on China again

United States President Donald Trump on Friday responded to new Chinese tariffs by adding five per cent duty on some $550-billion in targeted Chinese goods.

Trump’s idiotic move, announced on Twitter, came hours after China unveiled retaliatory tariffs on $75-billion worth of U.S. goods, prompting the president earlier in the day to say that U.S. companies should move their operations out of China.

Trump’s tariff response was announced after markets closed on Friday, leaving potentially more damage for next week to stocks and bond markets that were already declining.

“Sadly, past Administrations have allowed China to get so far ahead of Fair and Balanced Trade that it has become a great burden to the American Taxpayer,” Trump said on Twitter. “As President, I can no longer allow this to happen!”

He said the United States would raise its existing tariffs on $250-billion worth of Chinese imports to 30 per cent from the current 25 per cent beginning on Oct. 1.

Trump also announced an increase from 10 to 15 per cent on the remaining $300-billion worth of Chinese goods.

The increases will come in two equal amounts on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15.

Feds give $476,908 for fruit research

Federal politicians have announced tha taxpayers will give up to $476,908 “for the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers and Fresh Grape Growers to improve fruit quality and availability of tender fruit and fresh grape varieties for consumers.

“The research project aims to improve Canadian tender fruits such as apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, and pears, for example by extending the growing season and storability. 

“The project will also study black knot disease in plums and develop new tender fruit and fresh grape varieties."

Friday, August 23, 2019

China imposes more tariffs on U.S.

China’s commerce ministry said it will increase tariffs by five and 10 per cent on a total of 5,078 products originating from the United States including agricultural products such as soybeans, crude oil and small aircraft.

China is also resuming tariffs on cars and auto parts originating from the United States.

It’s retaliation for U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration that tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods will increase by 25 per cent in stages on Sept. 1 and Dec. 1.

Bt corn patents nearing expiry

Farmer’s Business Network (FBN) is developing generic Bt corn that it expects will hit the U.S. market in two years, sending seed corn prices into a steep dive.

When Monsanto offered the first varieties genetically modified to include a gene to produce Bacillis thuriengensis to ward off insects, it charged a premium of $9.50 per bag of seed corn.

Today prices are close to $300 a bag. FBN figures it can sell it for $100 less.

Europe undermines free trade deal

The European Union will halt imports of Canadian apples, pears, cranberries, blueberries, peppers, cherries and potatoes and tomatoes because of new pest regulations.
That undermines the new free trade agreement between Canada and Europe.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has sent a letter to the industry outlining the changes, but said it’s “w.orking with industry to propose pest risk mitigation measures to the EU for these commodities, which may allow exports to resume.”
The CFIA said shipments in containers before Sept. 1 are going to be allowed into Europe.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Saputo raises $599 million

Saputo Inc has sold enough shares to raise $599 million, sparking renewed speculation that it will try to buy Dean Foods of Dallas, the largest dairy retailer in the U.S.

BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. and National Bank Financial Inc. together bought 10.1 million shares from Saputo for $39.60 each, or about $400-million. The two banks, underwriters in the deal, will now aim to resell those shares to various investors. The shares were priced about 5 per cent below Saputo’s Wednesday closing price of $41.70.

At the same time, two companies controlled by Saputo family members, including founder Lino Saputo, bought an additional five million shares for $199-million.

Saputo will use the new money to repay debt incurred because of recent acquisitions, and for “general corporate purposes,” the company said in a news release, adding that the financing gives the company “flexibility to pursue its growth strategy.”

The Saputo family has built one of the world’s largest dairy companies, with more than 30 acquisitions over the years.

Some analysts say Saputo is likely scouring the global industry for further acquisition opportunities. There was speculation earlier this year that it could be eyeing a takeover of Dallas-based Dean Foods Co., which sells one of every three jugs of milk Americans drink and recently said it is exploring strategic options. Saputo declined to comment on the speculation at the time.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Russia has more African Swine Fever outbreaks

Russia has had two more outbreaks of African Swine Fever, both near its borders with China.

It had its first outbreak earlier this month, also near the border with China.

African Swine Fever has claimed about half of the breeding herd in China and has spread to a number of nearby countries, such as Viet Nam and Cambodia which have also suffered staggering losses.

The disease began in China about a year ago and initially had little impact on pork supplies as pigs were culled to try to stop the disease from spreading.

Now that the culling has declined, the loss of herds is being felt in much-reduced pork supplies and rapidly rising retail prices.

Many hog-industry observers figure it will take about five years for the Chinese pork industry to recover.

Conservation program axe may fall on farmers

The Ontario government’s budget cuts to conservation authorities could bring an end to programs designed to offset farmers’ costs to protect water.

The Grand River Conservation Authority and the Waterloo Region were pioneers in jointly offering help for projects such as streambank fencing, tree planting and manure storage.

Many other conservation authorities have since copied those initiatives. There is keen interest on watersheds into Lake Erie where there are concerns about algae blooms.

Recreation programs, such as camping, may also be on the chopping block after the province issued a notice that conservation authorities should limit their budgets to “core programs”.

Remember that the cuts come after Premier Doug Ford cut taxes for his corporate and wealthy funds by an astonishing $3.6 billion. Now he's emphasizing moves to reduce the deficit that created.

And what's equally irritating is that his budget cuts fall heaviest on the lower income people and rural areas, the very people who provided him with the votes to take power. Kind of like Trump, eh?

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Trump on ethanol hot seat

United States President Donald Trump spent two hours meeting farm leaders who complained about refinery exemptions from having to meet targets for incorporating ethanol distilled from corn.

Trump urged officials in his Environmental Protection Agency to soften the impact of recent policy moves that angered Midwestern farm states, such as Iowa, that are critical for his re-election.

On Aug. 9 the Environmental Protection Agency announced a decision to give 31 refineries exemptions from annual biofuel-blending requirements.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s immediately said the Trump administration had “screwed” farmers.

Trump suggested rescinding some of the newly granted waivers during the Monday meeting, according to four people familiar with the discussions who asked not to be named describing a private session. 

Trump was told the waivers may not be reversible, but officials offered other ideas to mitigate the political impact in Iowa.

Administration officials suggested expanding environmental credits that encourage production of “flex-fuel” vehicles that can run on high-ethanol gasoline and requiring government agencies to use more of them -- both steps that could.

The clash between the agriculture and environmental officials lines up with the clash between the lobbyists for the oil industry and farmers.

While ethanol took up most of the time, the meeting was intended to focus on trade with China.

Farmers are also angry that the trade war is costing them exports to China.

One could be forgiven for thinking North America's politicians are in a contest to determine which one can do the most self-inflicted damage. Trudeau and SNC Lavalin, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and budget cuts to offset his $3.6-billion tax gift to corporations and the rich and Trump, to mention only three.

Elanco buying Bayer animal health

Elanco Animal Health Incorporated has bid $7.6 billion US to buy Bayer AG’s animal health business.

The deal needs government approval and would create the world’s second-largest animal health company.

It would double Elanco’s pet business and add eight significant products now in Bayer’s research and development pipeline. Bayer has more than 30 animal health products.

“This combination will join two complementary animal health-focused entities previously under the human pharma umbrella into a dedicated company focused on delivering for farmers, veterinarians and pet owners,” said Jeffrey Simmons, president and chief executive officer of Elanco.

“It creates increased speed, attention and investment to bring customers greater access and options . . . to make a difference in the lives of animals,” he said.

Thieves steal $187,000 cheese load

A thief recently made off with a tractor-trailer load of cheese from the Saputo company plant in Tavistock.

He apparently presented false paperwork to pick up a load that was supposed to go to New Brunswick.

The theft was discovered when the intended recipient inquired about the expected delivery that failed to show up.

Oxford County detachment of the Ontario Province Police is leading the investigation.

Rosemount chicken sickened seven

Rosemount diced chicken sickened seven Canadians, six of them so sick they needed a stay in hospitals.

Five were in Ontario and one each in British Columbia and Mantitoba.
Listeria is the food-poisoning bacteria at issue in the product from the company in Waterloo, Ont.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said people who have some of this product in their household should put it in a plastic bag, discard it and thoroughly wash their hands.

The illnesses occurred between November, 2017, and this June.

The illnesses were linked to Rosemount diced chicken by DNA analyses.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is supervising a recall that includes hotels, restaurants and cafeterias.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Sickened consumers prompt recall

Consumers have fallen ill after eating diced chicken, prompting Rosemount Sales and Marketing of Waterloo, Ont,. to recall the product.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating and supervising the recall which includes hotels, restaurants and cafeterias over much of Canada, including Ontario.

Rosemount had another chicken recall in December.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Flower greenhouse burns

The Pioneer Flower Farm greenhouse near St. Catharines has burned down.
CBC picture

Four houses for migrant workers also burned.

Local residents were advised to close their windows and doors and turn off air conditioners because of air pollution from the fire.

Heinz Turkey Stew B+ baby food is on recall.

Heinz Turkey Stew B+ baby food is on recall.

The company issued the recall after a consumer complained.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is involved; it said there have been no reported illnesses linked to the product.

It said there could be further recalls as a result of the investigation it has launched.