Saturday, November 30, 2019

Milk-industry exemption adopted

The provincial government has amended he Milk Act to grant an exemption for small-scale milk processing operations.

·       Three changes:

·       - Exempt dairy processors that are constructing or altering a dairy plant that is intended to receive no more than 7,500 litres of milk per day from the requirement to construct an enclosed receiving room and an enclosed tank-truck wash station.

·       - Require the exempted dairy plants to have a smooth surface that is impermeable to liquids on which the tank truck can park to deliver milk with a means of containing any potential spills that may occur during the normal practice of unloading milk.

·       - Require the operators of exempted dairy plants to have protections available for the openings into tank-trucks to protect milk from contamination during delivery.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Sheep separatists prevail

Sheep farmers who approve a separatist organization held sway at the recent annual meeting of Sheep Farmers of Ontario.

Last year Ontario, Alberta and Quebec formed the National Sheep Network. Ontario left the Canadian Sheep Federation in 2016.

The members of the separatist organization own about 75 per cent of Canada’s sheep.

Ontario Pork holding closed meetings

The public and reporters are being barred from information meetings organized by the Ontario Pork marketing board.

It’s rare for the board to hold closed-door meetings.

It says on its website that the meetings are “to discuss recommendations of the Political Structure Committee to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the political structure with respect to:
1. Local pork producers’ associations
2. Delegate allocation
3. Board of Directors structure.’

Big secret! Ah, c'mon guys!

It says “Another item on the agenda will be a demo of the AgManifest software, developed by Ontario Pork to replace physical paperwork of the industry hog movement, feeding into the PigTrace database via electronic means to assist producers and processors in being compliant with the federal regulations related to the traceability of swine in Canada.”

And that is simply wrong to keep secret.

The first meeting was Wednesday at Kingston.

The rest are:

Monday, Dec. 2 at 5:00 p.m. at Best Western Brantford Hotel & Conference Centre, 19 Holiday Drive, Brantford;

Wednesday, Dec. 4, 20 aty 5:00 p.m. at Mitchell Golf Club, 81 Frances Street West, Mitchell;

Thursday, Dec. 5at 5:00 p.m. at Best Western Plus Stoneridge Inn & Conference Centre, 6675 Burtwistle Lane, London, and

Friday, Dec. 6, 20 at noon at King Hotel, 112 King Street, Palmerston.

Nutrien shutters biggest potash mine

Nutrien is blaming the CN railway worker strike for its decision to shut down its potash mine at Rocanville, Sask.

However, earlier this fall Nutrien shut down mines to reduce production in an effort to increase potash prices.

The company, formerly Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan until it bought Agrium, the world’s largest fertilizer retailer and changed its name to Nutrien, said about 500 employees will be laid off for two weeks.

Jeff Holzman, Nutrien’s senior director for investor and corporate relations, called the temporary mine closure “unfortunate.”

Feral hog attacks, kills Texas woman

Christine Rollins, 59, was recently attacked and killed by a feral hog as she was going to an appointment in rural Anahuac, Texas.

She had just parked her car outside of the home of an older couple she worked for as a caretaker and was steps from the front door when she was attacked Friday morning.

Attacks on people are rare: only five have been documented in the United States since 1825.

There are three to five million feral hogs in Texas.

Value chains can boost profits

Participating in a value chain can boost profits, but it appears that farmers are reluctant to trust people.

John Greig writes about a recent conference in Miami that the food industry has been slow to adopt blockchain management, even though significant benefits have been idenfied.

Blockchain is a system of highly secure ledgers, lists of information and repositories of data that are trusted by players in the chain and make information, and especially money, exchanges more efficient, Greig writes.

Speakers at the Sustainability and Digitization Leaders agriculture conference held recently in Miami said there are opportunities to improve efficiencies.

Martin Gooch, founder and still head of Value Chain Management International Inc. of Oakville, has done a number of studies showing how many things can be improved by building trust, sharing information and working on mutually-beneficial goals.

The institute’s most recent study has been about food waste and surprised many people with its findings that waste is much greater than most people assumed.

Wales appointed to risk management committee

Mark Wales, a farmer from Aylmer, has been appointed to a three-year term on the Business Risk Management Review Committee.

It deals with farmers’ complaints about administration of the programs, such as crop insurance and AgriStability.

Wales has been president of the Ontario Garlic Growers Association since 2004, is a member of the executive of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, is on the board of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and is an executive member of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council.

He was a Nuffield Scholar and graduate of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program.

Whew! When does he get time to farm?

Research fund open for applications

The federal and provincial agriculture departments have put up $1.85 million for research projects.

Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative is now accepting proposals for research in food safety, trade, market and growth opportunities, 
automation, and bio-based production systems, with a maximum of $150,000 funding allocation per project.

To be eligible, applicants must have demonstrated capacity to perform quality research and be: 

• _A university or college;
• _A research organization, institute or foundation;
• _An industry or business;
• _A non-government organization, or
• _A_government or government agency. 
Federal and provincial government researchers are eligible to collaborate on projects.

There are a number of things wrong with this initiative.

A single proposal could use the entire $1.85 million. It is woefully short of what is required to genuinely support the research listed.

Why are governments and government agencies eligible? Could they not be funded directly through their management structures instead of via applications.

The whole application process requires researchers to spend time and effort filling out forms instead of conducting research.

Maybe they should spend some money on studying research management.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Salinas romaine suspected in food poisonings

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control believes romaine lettuce from Salinas, California, is responsible for spreading E. coli 0157:H7 food-poisoning bacteria.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said it believes one case here might be linked to the U.S. outbreaks.

Because romaine lettuce is seldom labelled to indicate whether it came from Salinas, California, Canadians are being warned to be cautious about eating any romaine lettuce.

The Canadian case has yet to be definitely confirmed as caused by romaine from Salinas.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Three Bonduelle salads on recall

Three Bonduelle salads are on recall because they might be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 food-poisoning bacteria.

The salads have been imported, but the Canadian Food Inspection Agency does not identify the country.

Bonduelle is based in France, but has operations in the United States and Canada.

The products under recall are:

 Caesar Salad with Chicken and Bacon 174 g0 77745 27111 8Use by:10/29/2019;

Bonduelle Chef Inspired Salad with Turkey & Ham220 g0 77745 27113 2Use by:10/31/2019;

Bonduelle Cobb Salad with Turkey & Bacon206 g0 77745 27112 5Use by: 10/31/2019. and

Bonduelle Santa Fe Style Salad with Chicken177 g0 77745 27114 9Use by: 10/31/2019.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Monsanto employee charged with theft

A Chinese employee of Monsanto has been charged with theft two years after he was arrested in Chicago while boarding an airplane for China.

Monsanto claims in court documents filed this week that Haitao Xiang took a job with the Chinese Academy of Science’s Nanjing Institute of Soil Science in August 2016 and didn’t resign from Monsanto in Missouri until June 2017.

He is accused of taking some trade secrets from Monsanto. 

Court documents indicate Xiang worked for Monsanto and The Climate Corporation from 2008 to 2017 on the Nutrient Optimizer and its proprietary algorithm. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Two more lawyers for animal welfare oversight

The Animal Care Review Board, already over-loaded with lawyers, got two more in appoiintments made by the Ford government.

The board now has 29 members.

The two new lawyers are Helen Burgess of Windsor and Susan Clarke of Thornhill, both appointed fo two-year terms.

Anita Goele of Etobicoke got a three-year term; she has experience in parole and prisoner issues.

Priscilla Reeve of East Garafraxa got a two-year term. She has worked in the Ontario Fire Marshall’s office.

All four women got concurrent appointments to the Fire Safety Commission.

The Animal Care Review Board deals with complaints and appeals from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It's not yet clear whether it will also handle appeals and complaints from the new body the province is setting up to deal with farmer-related animal abuse.

Jim Gowland of Holyrood got a three-year appointment as vice-chairman of the Business Risk Management Review Committee.

Grain farmers want end to CN strike

Grain Farmers of Ontario and on the Prairies want the strike of workers for CN Rail to end.

Ontario farmers say it is threatening an already-difficult harvest, especially corn.

Propane deliveries are needed for corn dryers and corn needs to move smoothly out of terminals to make space for incoming loads as the harvest progresses.

In Western Canada, heavy snows have made it impossible to finish late harvesting. The farmers there are also anxious to move grain to export so they can get paid.

The oil industry is also pressuring CN Rail, and if not them, the federal government, to end the strike so shipments to Gulf-port refineries can resume.

CN Rail accounts for about 60 per cent of the crude oil exported from Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Bibeau remains agriculture minister

Marie Claude Bibeau remains agriculture minister after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his new cabinet this week.

Christia Freeland moves from foreign affairs and international trade negotiations to deputy prime minister, a role that will be more influential than it has traditionally been in Canadian politics.

She leaves before the U.S. and Canada have ratified their new trade agreement with Mexico.Francois-Philippe Champagne is now minister of foreign affairs.

Phoenix tangles with egg board

Daryl Phoenix has filed an appeal against the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board, challenging its jurisdiction.

Phoenix, whose farm is at Sunderland, has tangled with the egg board in the past, such as questioning its rental of production increases granted Ontario by the national agency.

The hearing is scheduled for Dec.10 at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s Appeals Tribunal hearing room at 1 Stone Road, Guelph.

Phoenix withdrew his appeal a week before the hearing.

Skotidakis appeal filed

John Skotidakis and his goat-farming and dairy-processing business are involved in a hearing to determine the Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s right to information about Skotidakis Goat Farm.

The hearing is to be held at 655 Bay Street, Toronto, on Nov. 29.

CFIA suspends meat storage licence

Border City Storage Ltd. of Windsor has lost its right to store meat.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency suspended its licence because it has failed to file a plan under the Safe Food for Canadians Act.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Huge differences in expense claims

There are huge differences in expense claims and compliance with government policy among appointed bodies under the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

For example, OMAFRA’s Appeal Tribunal has no expense reports on its website. Nor do the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission and the Ontario Food Terminal Board.

The others all comply with government policy, providing reports back to 2015.

But some members asked for far more than others. For example, for a two-day meeting in Guelph of the Grain Financial Protection Board, chairman Henry Van Ankum filed expenses of $100 compared with more than $1,200 for Charles Amyot.

Murray Allen filed a claim for $1,077.39 for one day meeting of the Livestock Financial Protection Board at Guelph while vice-chairman Paul Sharpe claimed only $34. Air fare for Allen was $869.02.

The members of the Livestock Medicines Advisory Committee didn’t ask for any money.

The Business Risk Management Review Committee’s reports were not available on OMAFRA’s internet service.

China beef trade good for birds

A bird lover says re-opening beef trade with China is good for birds.

Tim Sopuck says beef producers are preserving pastures where birds nest, so keeping beef production profitable is good for birds.

He has presented his unusual defence of trade with China in an article published in the Waterloo Region Record. Sopuck is chief executive officer for The Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.

“If we took Canadian beef producers as a single group, raising cattle on native grasslands, woodlands and wetlands, they would constitute the largest habitat conservation group in the country,” he wrote.

Researchers seek better hog-truck sanitation

Several groups are collaborating with researchers to come up with better ways to disinfect hog-hauling trailers.

Dr. Terry Fonstad of the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan said he hopes the third phase will lead to commercialization.

Those involved include the University of Saskatchewan, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), the Prairie Swine Centre and the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI), and others from Ontario and Wisconsin.

"PAMI's work has now brought in partners from the robotics industry, a robotics company out of Ontario and a hydrovac system company out of Wisconsin, that are interested in combining their talents to actually perhaps commercialise the wash system," said Dr Fonstad in an interview with The Pig Site.

"VIDO's work will go into the field. In the lab we know we can kill these pathogens with heat but now we have to take pathogens that may have the same characteristics, but not be swine pathogens, and test them in actual bake ovens that bake trailers and make sure that we're actually getting the kill that we need. 

"They may have to be proxy pathogens. We're working through that with them.

"The Prairie Swine Centre is working with the trailer manufacturers and we, at the College of Engineering are working with a private company called Transport Genie and Be Seen Be Safe out of Guelph that is actually already working on the humidity and temperature sensing for animal welfare and we're going to add onto their product the ability to trace the trailer, GPS, and be able to sense the heating of the actual trailer frame for pathogen destruction," Dr. Fonstad said

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Farm Boy recalls eight cheese ball products

Farm Boy supermarket chain, owned by Sobey’s, is recalling eight of the cheese ball products it markets.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said it identified Listeria monocytogenes in the cheese, but that no illnesses have been reported by customers.

The following products are under recall:

Cheese Ball Trio – Fiesta, Cranberry Pecan, Bacon Cheddar and/or "FCheese Ball Trio"
360 g
Starting with 0 238211
All units sold up to and including November 17, 2019
"FB Blue Cheese & Walnut Ball"
180 g
Starting with 0 238274
All units sold up to and including November 17, 2019
Cranberry Pecan Cheese Ball and/or "FB Cran Pecan Cheese Ball"
180 g
8 08912 00884 4 or Starting with 0 232337
All units sold up to and including November 17, 2019
Fiesta Cheese Ball and/or Farm Boy Fiesta Cheese Ball
180 g
8 08912 00883 7 or Starting with 0 238283
All units sold up to and including November 17, 2019
"FB Wht Choc Pecan Cran Ball"
180 g
Starting with 0 238275
All units sold up to and including November 17, 2019
Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball and/or "FB Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball"
180 g
8 08912 00885 1 or Starting with 0 238284
All units sold up to and including November 17, 2019

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Antimicrobial resistance now deadly

According to a report from the Canadian Council of Academics, antimicrobial resistance cost the Canadian economy more than $2 billion in lost Gross Domestic Product last year and was implicated in 14,000 deaths. 

On the other hand, first-line antimicrobials helped save at least 17,000 lives last year and generated $6.1 billion in economic activity in Canada. 

“This contribution is at risk because the number of effective antimicrobials are running out,” the report warned.

One reason is reluctance of drug companies to invest in research and development for two reasons: health-care specialists use new antimicrobials sparingly to reduce the development and spread of resistant bacteria and patents expire before companies can recoup their costs.

The authors estimated that by 2050, if resistance rates remain unchanged, the impact will be $13 billion per year. If rates continue to increase, the estimate rises to $21 billion.

Healthcare costs due to resistance accounted for $1.4 billion in 2018 and will likely increase to $20-40 billion per year by 2050, the report said.

Last year about 20 per cent of bacterial infections were resistant to first-line antibiotics. By 2050, that will be 40 per cent, the report warns.


Pork board gets a fee fix - finally.

The Ontario Pork producers marketing board has gained power to licence farmers and to collect fees on hogs that farmers transfer to farms they own outside of the province.

The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has posted notice on its website that it has amended the pork board’s plan to give it the new licencing authority.

Stacey Ash, communications and marketing manager for Ontario Pork, said “when regulations regarding weaner pig fees were introduced in May, 2013, Ontario Pork noticed an error in the legislation. 

“That error, not tested in court, potentially allowed owners who were transferring weaner pigs across international borders within the same ownership structure to avoid paying the weaner pig fee of 20 cents per pig.

“At that time, Ontario Pork notified the OFPMC of the issue and began the process of addressing the error.”

It has taken five years during which “Ontario Pork has worked to move this issue forward, through numerous communications, meetings and consultations,” she wrote iin an e-mail.

“In November we were notified that the revised legislation would be passed.

“We don’t anticipate a significant financial impact. The ultimate goal was to create a level playing field for all producers shipping hogs outside of the province, and we’re pleased with this resolution.”

Friday, November 15, 2019

CFIA launches story board

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has launched an online story board with 360 science articles related to its mandate.
The CFIA said the “stories will be of interest to young Canadians, the public, industry and academia.
“Interesting stories demonstrate how CFIA continues to be a global leader in food safety, plant health and animal health – using science and innovation and supporting industry's access to international markets.”
Among the stories is one that tells how to recognize the signs and symptoms of emerald ash borer, another about detecting food fraud and one about how detector dogs at airports help to keep prohibited food, animal and plant products out of Canada.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

New set of UG scholarships announced

The newly-establishedf Lori Litherland Foundation is offering scholarships “to assist financially-disadvantaged students who will be attending agricultural studies at the University of Guelph.” 

In is starting with scholarships to first-year undergraduate students in the Ontario Agriculture College (OAC).

The Foundation’s namesake, the late Lori Litherland, ran a search management business for more than 26 years, placing people with agribusinesses across the country. 

She founded and endowed the charity prior to her passing to encourage students to follow their passion for agriculture.

Bloc leader wants cash for dairy farmers

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet is pressuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to speed delivery of cheques for dairy farmers to compensate for trade deals with the U.S., Mexico and the Trans-Pacific partnership countries.

Trudeau met with Blanchet this week, seeking common ground to prop up the Liberal minority government.

Blanchet said soon after the election that making sure those cheques get delivered on time will be the Bloc's priority.

"These entrepreneurs are under enormous pressure," Blanchet said then at a news conference in Quebec City. About half of Canada's 11,000 dairy producers are in Quebec.

The Bloc has 32 seats, enough when combined with the Liberals to command a majority vote in the House of Commons.

The compensation money was included in the March budget – a total of $2.15 billion.

Dairy farmers are to get a first instalment of $345 million this year; their total is $1.75 billion and the rest of the $2.15 billion is for poultry quota holders.

Their compensation plans have not yet been announced. The poultry boards are asking for help with marketing and promotion.