Thursday, January 30, 2020

Air compressor solves grain-bin plugging

Guy Mills, a farmer in Nebraska, says he has a life-saving method to keep people out of danger in grain bins when augers plug.

Instead of going into the bin, he rents a compressor for about $50 a day that is capable to generating 250 cfm of air pressure.

Hook that to the end of the augur and the clump of frozen grain shatters and the problem is solved.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

John Gras dead at 60

John Gras, a prominent chicken farmer from St. Marys, has died. He was 60.

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board wrote on its website that Gras was a “contributor to our industry in many ways” including chairing the District 3 committeemen’s team and he “has served his community in great ways over the years through a number of volunteer initiatives.

“We will miss his dedication and commitment to our collective industry, his willingness to work tirelessly on behalf the CFO farmer-members in his district, and his kind and graceful demeanour.”

The funeral will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at Holy Name of Mary parish at 149 King St. N, St. Marys.

Beyond Meat gains more clients

Beyond Meat lost Tim Horton’s this week, but gained entry to several other restaurant chains.

KFC has a trial underway with plant-based nuggets at 60 restaurants in  Charlotte, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennesee. 

If that is a success, the KFC will add the nuggets to its menu at about 4,000 U.S. outlets, the company said.

Denny’s is also offering a plant-based burger made by Beyond Meat at its more than 1,700 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, the chain said Monday.

It ran a trial in its Los Angeles restaurants in late October. 

Starbucks told an investors call this week that it will soon offer a breakfast sandwich with a plant-based patty at its stores in the U.S. and Canada. It did not say who will source the patties.

Trump has signed trade deal with Canada and Mexico

United States President Donald Trump arranged for a large crowd to be on hand as he signed for the United States on the trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

Mexico signed in December.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said signing for Canada will be top priority as Parliament resumes.

Meat industry groups in the United States repeated their support, including the presidents of the national beef and pork producer organizations.

Canada and Mexico imported more than 40 per cent of the pork that was shipped from the United States in 2018 and similar results are expected for 2019. Herring said a similar volume is expected in 2019, said David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue predicted the agreement will expand U.S. food and agricultural exports and support food processing and rural jobs.

Young Speakers seeks contestants, board members

Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture has unveiled its topics list for this year’s competition held at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

It is also seeking candidates for the board of directors.

This year’s topics are:

* How can we fill the talent pipeline in Canadian agriculture?

* What impact will the emerging micro-food processing industry have on agriculture?

* Aquaculture: The challenges and solutions of developing, funding and marketing an emerging food source.

* Climate change: Can the family farm manage and capitalize on this shift? 

* Lessons learned over the last 25 years of agriculture - and how we can apply it to the next 25.

* Should the agriculture industry fund and support opportunities for youth development? 

* How to create ecosystem markets that reward Canada's farmers for environmental stewardship. 
There is a new competition this year for a business presentation. It will be like an actual presentation to interest investors.
“Contestants will be required to research, analyze and summarize an issue and ‘pitch’ their results as a team to a panel of judges,” the association said. More information will be available soon at 
The competition is open to youth ages 11 to 24 wiho have a passion for agriculture whether raised on a farm, in the country or in the city.
The association said people Interested in joining the board or directors for two years should submit a résumé and cover letter detailing why they wish to join CYSA Inc. and include any relevant qualifications and experience. 
There is no pay.
Applications will be received up to noon on Tuesday, February 11 by email at or at”
Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture Inc.
Box 25015
Stone Road Mall, Postal Outlet
370 Stone Road West, Unit 17
Guelph, Ontario N1G 2X0
Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture is a national, bilingual competition that provides a platform for participants to share their opinions, ideas and concerns about the Canadian agri-food industry in a five- to seven-minute prepared speech. 

Roundup trial on hold

A class-action lawsuit in Missouri against Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer was put on hold recently to give Bayer AG, the owner, more time to negotiate with lawyers representing the claimants.

Court-appointed mediator Ken Feinberg, who leads the settlement discussions, has put the number of Roundup cancer claimants at more than 75,000 while Bayer said the claims it has been served with in court are fewer than 50,000.
Whatever the number, it could involve a multi-billion-dollar settlement.
Bayer said it will continue the mediation process under Feinberg in good faith.

Locusts devastating Kenya, Ethiopia

Massive swarms of locusts are devouring crops and all plants in most of Kenya and part of Southern Ethiopia and east into Yemen and other places in the Middle East.

Some of the swarms are 2,400 square kilometres; it is the worst plague in 70 years.

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization said it could spread to several more countries, expanding as much as 500 times by June if left unchecked.

Many African countries are already suffering from droughts and floods – sometimes simultaneously in the same country. 

The combination has pushed impoverished farmers to the brink of starvation.

“Our staff in Kenya are battling swarms so thick they can barely see through them,” said Bill Chambers, president and chief executive officer for Save the Children Canada.

“We are very concerned that this will place vulnerable girls and boys even closer to starvation,” he said. 

“The erratic weather of 2019 and the decade prior has already severely eroded the capacity of families to bounce back from unexpected crises.”

Tim’s drops Beyond Meat products

Tim Horton’s will no longer have Beyond Meat products on its menus.

It dropped the plant-protein burgers in all but Ontario and Saskatchewan in September and now it has dropped them completely.

“We may offer plant-based alternatives again in the future, but we have removed it from the menu for now,” said a spokeswoman for Tim Hortons.

I tried the breakfast sandwich when I was out with a bunch of friends and when they asked me what it tasted like, I said "like spiced sawdust."

Mosaic idles Saskatchewan potash mine

The Mosaic Company is laying off about 80 staff as it idles its potash mine at Colonsay, north of Regina.

It laid off 340 workers at Colonsay on August.

The company said it will make up production at its mines at Esterhazy and Belle Plaine while the Colonsay mine is in "care and maintenance mode."

It blamed a wet spring, an export decline to China and increased inventories for the mine’s closure.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

JBS – WH Group sign billion-dollar deal

WH Group, which owns Smithfield Foods Inc. and is the world’s largest pork packer, has signed a deal with JBS Brazil, the world’s largest beef packer, to buy more than $1 billion a year of Brazilian beef, pork and poultry.

Beef will be the main meat purchased in the deal.

WH Group is a Chinese company.

Monday, January 27, 2020

New trade disputes-settling agreement

Canada, the European Union, China and 14 other World Trade Organization members agreed on Friday to create a temporary mechanism to settle trade disputes.
The agreement was made because the United States has refused to appoint judges for the World Trade Organization’s disputes-settling system, rendering it useless.
“Finding a long-term solution for appointments to the WTO appellate body remains a key priority for Canada,” the Canadian government said in a statement Friday. 
“The multi-party interim arrangement will remain in place only until the WTO Appellate Body is able to resume its work.”
Two of the three WTO judges terms ended in December, leaving it incapable of making rulings.

Italians seize pork from China

Italian tax officiais found and seized 9.5 tonnes of hidden pork from China.

Reuters China reported that tax police in Batua discovered the illegal pork hidden among imported vegetables from China. The police destroyed the pork and a Chinese national was charged with smuggling. 

Chinese officials have reported that African Swine Fever virus was detected in five percent of slaughterhouse samples.

Walker to head OMAFRA tribunal

Glenn Walker of Chatham has been appointed to a two-year term as chairman of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.

He takes over from Kirk Wahlstedt.

Walker is a retired lawyer and practiced law in Chatham-Kent for 42 years. 

Last month he was appointed to another one-year term as chairman of  the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board.

U.S. corn growers pleased with court ruling

Corn growers are pleased that a court has ruled that the United States Environmental Protection Agency erred in granting three small refineries exemptions from having to blend ethanol with the gasolines they market.

Exemptions reduce the amount of corn distilled into ethanol for refineries.

So far the ruling applies only to the three small refineries, but it could set a precedent that the government will follow in other cases where farmers challenge a refinery exemption.

Welfare inspector orders can be appealed

Orders from the new Solicitor-General Department inspectors can be appealed to a new body, the Animal Care Review Board.

The government answered a question from Ontario Farmer saying:

“An owner or custodian of an animal may appeal the following to the Board within five business days after receiving notice of them:

1.   An order from an animal welfare inspector.

2.   A decision by an animal welfare inspector to remove an animal from a place.

3.   A decision to take an animal into the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector’s care."

While the Solicitor General Department is in charge, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is training the inspectors.

There will be about 100 of them to cover the province, the same number as in Manitoba. That has prompted critics to say Ontario needs more than 100 inspectors.


Lakeside Packing licence suspended

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has suspended the licence for Lakeside Packing Co. Ltd., of Harrow.
 It effectively shuts down the business until it meets CFIA approval.
CFIA said on its website that it suspended the licence “for failure to implement effective corrective measures.” 
Lakeside operates seasonally to pack vegetables, such as tomatoes and pickles.

Maple Leaf workers sign five-year dea

About 1,900 union workers have a new five-year contract with Maple Leaf Foods at its pork-packing plant at Brandon, Man.

The contract grants workers pay increases about double the rate of inflation and includes a number of improvements in benefits.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Agropur recalls some Sealtest milks

Agropur Cooperative is recalling some of its Sealtest milks that may be contaminated with sanitizer.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said one customer fell ill after consuming the milk, so the company decided on a recall.

The Sealtest products involved have a Feb. 8 expiry date and are two-litre skim milk, four-litre skim milk, four-litre one and two per cent milks and 3.25 per cent one-litre milk.

The recall also includes L’ecole, c’est nourissant two per cent milk in 150-millitre packaging.

The products were distributed across Ontario and Quebec.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Nestlé inks deal with Winnipeg plant protein supplier

Nestlé SA, one of the world’s largest food companies, is going to buy a blend of pea and canola proteins from Merit Functional Foods of Winnipeg and Burcon NutraScience Corp., another Canadian company.

Nestlé will use the proteins for its plant-based burgers and nuggets. 

The agreement with Nestlé is long-term, with no expiry, Burcon chief executive Johann Tergesen said in an interview with the Globe and Mail. 

Merit is building a plant capable to producing 20,000 tonnes a year. It plans to have it open by the end of the year.

Merit will process the proteins using Burcon technology under a licensing agreement.

“It’s a little bit like Christmas morning for those of us who have been doing this for 20 years,” Tergesen said.

“In the early days, I had to explain to people what protein was. Now it has been a wild ride.”

With the deal, Burcon expects to report its first-ever commercial revenue and profit in 2021. Terms were not released.
Nestlé launched soy and wheat protein-based “Incredible Burgers” in Europe last year. 

CFIA collects $232,400 in fines

The Canadian Food inspection Agency collected $323,400 in 64 Administrative Monetary Penalties (fines) from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 last year.

Of that, seven were related to animal identification in Ontario, totaling $5,200 and 16 were related to animal transport in Ontario for a total of $33,400.

DuBreton chooses CEO for U.S. operations

DuBreton has appointed Aaron Corbett its chief executive officer for its operations in the United States and its subsidiary, North Country Smokehouse, in Claremont, New Hampshire.

“Corbett will contribute to the strategic planning and development of both companies, as well as oversee daily operations, sales, marketing and management of the smokehouse in Claremont,” DuBreton said in a news release.

DuBreton is a major Quebec-based pork packer that is prominent in the organic marketplace.

Feds announce youth council

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau is forming a youth council to provide advice on agriculture policy issues.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 14.

She said she wants to select a diverse group of youth from across Canada, including members of Indigenous community.

The council is to meet twice a year and in between those meetings online to “identify new and emerging issues, enable on-going dialogue on challenges and opportunities, share information and best practices, and provide advice on the strengths and weaknesses of policies and programs affecting the agriculture and agri-food sector.

“It will provide a forum for members to work with Minister Bibeau, experienced public servants and national organizations. Council members will also have the opportunity to participate at roundtables and discussions, as well as in important government and industry events,” said  a news release.

 She is inviting people between 18 and 30 to apply by visiting and completing an online application.

Ah, politics! Isn't it wonderful?

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Canada poised to profit

Canadian agriculture is poised to profit from increasing demand for both meats and plant proteins that mimic meats, according to Craig Klemmer, chief agriculture economist at Farm Credit Canada, who spoke this week at Ag Days in Brandon, Man.
The loss of about half of its pigs has China shopping the world for pork, resulting in record-high exports from North America. Beef demand is also increasing.
The soaring demand for plant proteins is increasing sales of peas and canola.
Pea protein sales have increased by 13 per cent since 2017, he said.
Over the same time period, demand for canola protein increased by nine per cent, and soy protein demand ticked up by seven per cent. 
Plant protein products that mimic meats are the main reason for these sales increases.
“As this market increases, we’ll see a lot of opportunities,” Klemmer said.
A $65-million plant in Winnipeg to process peas and canola plans to open this summer.
Merit Functional Foods  will produce a blend of canola and pea proteins called Nutratein which will be used to make veggie burgers and drinks  such as almond and pea milk.

Vice-chair for animal welfare body named

Maureen Helt of Toronto has been appointed a vice-chair of the Animal Care Review Board which oversees the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA).

It’s not clear whether the review board will be handling complaints by farmers under the new regime for inspecting farms.

The office of Ontario's Solicitor General took over after the province changed the system in response to the OSPCA announcement that it would no longer enforce regulations relating to farmed animals.  Inspections are to be handled by staff from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The review board normally provides a brief biography for its members, but there is none for Helt on its website. Her appointment is for this year and next.

CFIA cancels CAMI poultry licence

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has cancelled the licence of  CAMI International Poultry Limited. 

It was suspended in September over animal welfare issues.

The CFIA said now that the cancellation was “because of a human health risk related to the contamination of meat products, the identification, analysis, prevention, reduction and elimination of the hazards associated with contamination, and non-compliances related to the humane receiving and handling of animals requirements.”
There is no food recall associated with this suspension.

Planting patience paid off this year

Those who were patient about planting last year fared better than those who tried to “mud in” their corn seed, said Jason Webster of Precision Planting.

“This year, by far, the biggest thing that cost us was planting in tough conditions.”

“You can put all the technology you want on a planter, but if you're playing in the mud, you're going to start going backwards, and we did that this year,” he said.

In Illinois “we kept going and we didn't take the insurance, we planted past that date (into June), and actually it didn't hurt us to plant late this year,” said Webster. 

“In most years I think it probably would, we run out of growing season, but this year we had wet corn, high moisture corn, but actually our late-planted corn yielded very well.”

It yielded 57 to 67 bushels per acre more than corn planted in April, a difference worth up to $250 per acre, he said.

SomaDetect gets funding

SomaDetect has received $3.9 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to test its in-line milk sensor technology.
The company, with offices in Canada and the U.S., is working to develop a system that uses a sensor in the milk line to automatically measure milk fat and protein, somatic cell count, progesterone and antibiotics.
“We  are thrilled to have SDTC join us and support the wild adventure that is SomaDetect,” said Bethany Deshpande, CEO of SomaDetect.
Her father figured out the basics behind the technology when the family was living in Guelph.

“We are thrilled to have SDTC join us and support the wild adventure that is SomaDetect,” said Bethany Deshpande, CEO of SomaDetect.
Her father figured out the basics behind the technology when the family was living in Guelph.
Lactanet (formerly CanWest DHI) is able to integrate this type of informations  under its electronic data capture system, so when SomaDetect is up and running, dairy farmers should be able to blend it into that system, said a spokesman for Lactanet.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Memphis Meats closer to launch

Memphis Meats raised another $161 million to bring it closer to making cell-based meats.

The concept is to start with cells from meat-producing animals, such as cattle and hogs, and multiply them into meat products.

The attraction for the public is meat that does not involve animal welfare issues and slaughter.

Memphis Meats said it will use the new round of funding to build a pilot production plant, to expand its management team and to then launch the products. 

It made no mention of when products might be launched. It said it is working with regulatory agencies on a “timely and safe market entry.”

Among the investors are SoftBank Group, Norwest, Temasek, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Cargill, Tyson Foods and CPT Capital.
The total raised so far by the California-based company is $180 million US.

Diet scientists engage in slanging match

Research teams for and against diets that feature red meats are engaged in a slanging match.

The team that included two scientists at Harvard University argues that reducing red meat consumption improves health.

The other team, based at Texas A & M University, argues that the research is flawed and flimsy and an unwarranted attack on red meat.

John Sharp. Chancellor of Texas A & M, has written a nasty letter to president Lawrence S. Bacow of Harvard asking him to distance Harvard from the report written by the research team.

Feds seek advertisers for Buy Canadian campaign

The federal government is inviting proposals for a five-year campaign to persuade people to consume more Canadian-produced foods.

The government said it is budgeting between $1.5 and $4 million per year for five years.

It wants promotion that tugs at emotions and with some emphasis on women, seniors and Indigenous peoples.

“The campaign should tell the story of Canada’s agri-food sector and reach audiences on an emotional level in order to instil pride and confidence in the country’s food systems,” the notice of the contract states under a section outlining the goals of the project.

The campaign is for both Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Forget all that. I think those bidding on this job might be spending more time convincing the Liberals that they will, in return for winning this contract, do a lot of election-campaign work.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Greens back carbon tax break for grain drying

The federal Green Party has come out in favour of granting a break on the carbon tax that has been requested by Grain Farmers of Canada.

Vancouver Island MP Paul Manly, the Green Party’s caucus critic for agriculture, announced the party’s position Monday.
“We support the grain producers of Canada in their appeal to the federal government to waive the carbon tax on fuel used for grain drying during last year’s harvest,” he said in a release.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Chinese farmers get ASF compensation

Hog farmers in Hunan province in China have been given more than $300 million in compensation for losses connected with African Swine Fever.

The compensation was paid to about 467,000 farmers in the province where close to 25 per cent of pigs were either killed by African Swine Fever or culled to prevent spread to more farms.

The government said the compensation is intended to help the farmers to resume hog production.

Hearing begins for Meng Wanzhou

The extradition hearing for Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., begins in Vancouver today.

It has implications for Canada’s exports to China, including agricultural exports that have been disrupted in several ways and times since she was arrested last year.

The United States wants her so she can stand trial there for her role in allegedly supplying banned products and services to Iran.

That’s not a violation of Canadian law because Canada does not have a ban similar to the U.S. one. But she faces a number of fraud charges in Canada which do qualify for extradition status; to qualify, laws of both countries must be broken.

Huawei is the world’s second-largest cell-phone company. Some, but not all, Canadians say the company should not be allowed to develop any part of Canada’s 5-G network, saying that the Chinese could use the technology to snoop on Canadians.
I expect Meng Wanzhou will be set free, probably prompting Trump to somehow try to "punish" Canada. It's a no-win situation; either the Chinese or the Americans will put the boots to Canada.

Farmers love Trump

United States President Donald Trump’s approval rating rose another three per cent in December to 83 per cent of farmers who think he’s a good president.

Only 16 per cent disapproved in a poll of 1,286 farmers conducted by the Farm Journal magazine.

I guess they don't get their news and opinions from CNN.

When I was a young lad, they used to say "dumb farmers!".
At least the Canadian ones, in my experience, got a lot smarter.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Ken Knox to head Ontario Food Terminal

Ken Knox will continue to be chairman of the Ontario Food Terminal for another year.

He is a former deputy minister for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Science and Technology.

He also owns Knox Pumpkin Farm.

Scrapie may have led to BSE

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow’s disease) may have evolved from scrapie.

Researchers in France made the discovery when they injected scrapie into mice which then developed BSE.

This indicates that the illness could be transmitted between different species and that the modified mice could develop mad cow disease, according to the study.

Olivier Andreoletti, an author of the paper from the French National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA,) said the modified mice are “a very good model, which works well in terms of knowing what would happen if one exposed cows to those prions.”

He noted that the results provide, for the first time, and “experimentally underpinned explanation” for the appearance of mad cow disease in the U.K. in the 1980s.

It spread widely in the United Kingdom and showed up in Europe, Canada and the United States, disrupting international trade in cattle, beef and sheep.

Don Fortune dead at 85

Don Fortune, a well-known artificial inseminator and public relations manager for United Breeders, has died. He was 85.

He visited most of the dairy farms in the Waterloo Region, Wellington, Oxford, Perth and Durham counties as an artificial inseminator for Waterloo Breeders which later merged to become United Breeders.

He travelled the world marketing semen, almost all of it from Ontario Holstein bulls.

I fondly recall his visits to our farm because he was always cheerful and helpful.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Quebec packer’s license cancelled

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has cancelled the license of Usine Amsellem Inc. of Quebec.

On Dec. 4 the agency ordered a recall of dry beef sausage because of salmonella contamination.

On closer plant inspection, the agency found the company failed to report its finding of salmonella in a dry sausage product, and that prompted the cancellation of the company’s license.

That’s also what happened at Ryding-Regency of Toronto, the third-largest beef-packing plant in Ontario. 

Also in that case there was a recall for bacterial contamination and closer inspection revealed the company failed to report its finding of the bacteria during its own testing.

The closure of Ryding-Regency has left beef producers scrambling to find a home for their market-ready cattle. They have appealed to federal and provincial governments to help.

There have been reports that new owners may soon re-open that Toronto plant.