Saturday, February 29, 2020

Female veterinarians suffer depression

More female veterinarians than the general population suffer depression that include contemplating suicide, reports a study by the University of Guelph.

In contrast, male veterinarians are less prone to suicidal thoughts than the general male population.

The researchers speculate that may be because the male population they surveyed is older.

They found that many of the female veterinarians are stressed when they deal with a pet that they know they could help, but the pet owner can’t afford it.

The researchers suggest that more should be done to encourage pet owners to buy insurance.

Jennifer Perret, the lead author, said veterinarians should consider improving their work-life balance. She also said the work can be emotionally challenging. 

“Veterinarians have a particular relationship with death and euthanasia because it is something that we deal with on a daily basis," she said.
 "We may be more likely to see euthanasia as a reasonable outcome when quality of life is poor."
The researchers say they hope the report will help veterinarians appreciate that they’re not alone.

Friday, February 28, 2020

U.S. franchisees sue Tim Hortons

Franchise holders in the United States are suing Tim Horton’s  for charging them too much for supplies.

The lawsuit has been filed by the Great White North Franchisee Association USA Inc. (GWNFA USA). It said it represents most Tim Hortons franchise holders in the United States.

The lawsuit against the company, its parent Restaurant Brands International Inc., and former president Elias Diaz Sese said franchisees have to pay up to 50 per cent above what competitors pay for supplies such as coffee, baking goods, meat and paper products.
The lawsuit filed in a Florida court Thursday claims said Restaurant Brands International Inc. uses a “supply chain business disguised as a franchise system.” 

Under the arrangement, the lawsuiot alleges Tim Hortons affiliate TDL Group sells supplies and products to Tims, which then sells them to a distributor, which in turn sells them to franchisees.

The association says that chain means Tim Hortons franchisees are forced to purchase items for as much as US$104 more for a case of applewood bacon, about US$24 more for a box of soft drinks and roughly US$12 more for a case of plastic straws than Wendy’s franchisees pay.

Cargill bans employee travel

Cargill Inc. is banning non-essential employee travel because of concerns about coronavirus.

Any essential international travel will require executive-team approval.

Anyone who has been in China or Italy will have to stay in home quarantine for two weeks.

Many countries are adopting measures to reduce the risk of spread, such as closure of schools in Italy and Japan and cancellation of sports and entertainment events.

South Korea has now become a hot-bed with more cases being reported daily now than in China.

Iran has also taken measures to reduce public exposure.

Two Ontario rabies cases

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports that there have been two confirmed cases of rabies in Ontario so far this year.

Last year there were 65, of which 41 were bats, 13 were skunks, nine racoons, one dog and one mink.

Nationally there were 116 cases last year.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Maple Leaf ends with strong 4th quarter

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. ended its fiscal year with a strong fourth quarter.

Sales were up by 13.7 per cent to more than $1 billion for the quarter and net earnings were up by 46 per cent to $17.5 million.

But for the year, net earnings were down by 26.4 per cent to $74.6 million, although sales were up by 17.87 per cent to close to $4 billion.

The company announced its will increase its dividends by about 10 per cent at the end of the first quarter this year.

During last year’s fourth quarter, it made capital investments of about $270 million, most of It for a new poultry plant at London.

The company’s plant-based protein group had a sales increase of 31.5 per cent while meat protein sales increased by 13.3 per cent.

President and chief executive officer Michael McCain said it has been a rough ride recently because of international trade disruptions and African Swine Fever.

He also boasted that Maple Leaf has become the first food company in the world to achieve carbon neutral status.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Starbucks adds Beyond Meat to menu

Starbucks is adding a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich to its Canadian menus, effective Tuesday.

It will be spiced with rosemary and fennel and will be marketed as a cheddar and egg sandwich.

Starbuck’s move comes less than a month after Tim Horton’s booted Beyond Meat products from its breakfast menus.

I predict it won't last until mid-summer.

Jimmy John’s chain scraps sprouts

Jimmy John’s restaurant chain has taken sprouts off its menus after repeated outbreaks of food poisoning.

The recent track record is five outbreaks that sickened 88 customers.

The restaurant chain announced the ban after a letter from the Food and Drug Administration was made public. 

The letter reminded Jimmy John’s that it had promised to limit sourcing of sprouts to certain types and suppliers, but that the chain had broken that promise.

The type of sprouts and the suppliers were censored from the letter that was cited by USA Today newspaper.

Of course, if you're a loyal follower of written by Dr. Doug Powell and Ben Chapman, you'd never order raw sprouts in a restaurant because the risk of food poisoning is so high.

Think about it: alfalfa seeds, for example, have deep crevices where bacteria can lurk and sprouting involves warmth and moisture. It's a recipe for food poisoning.

China lifts ban on U.S. poultry

China has lifted the ban it placed in 2015 on poultry from the United States after highly-pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks.

Poultry industry leaders have been anticipating the move since China agreed to import $40 billion worth of agricultural products per year from the United States over the next two years and since the U.S. long ago declared itself free of highly-pathogenic strains of avian influenza.

Before the ban the U.S. exported chicken paws (i.e. feet) and wing tips to China, increasing the value of chicken.

Some anticipate China will buy up to $1 billion worth of chicken paws per year and another $1 billion worth of other poultry products.
Some U.S. poultry processors expect to export significant volumes of dark meat which is becoming more popular in global markets, including in North America.

Maple Leaf launches plant-food sausages

Greenleaf Foods, owned by Maple Leaf Foods Inc., has launched a line of plant-based breakfast sausages, including the first plant-based breakfast sausage links.
Greenleaf markets its burgers, ground protein, “smart bacon” and “smart dogs” under the Lightlife brand name.
The Breakfast Sausage Links contain no artificial flavors and have significantly less saturated fat than traditional pork sausage, Greenleaf said in a news release.
The company also sells a Plant-Based Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage patty under its Field Roast Grain Meat Co. brand.
They are made without soy or gluten and contain no cholesterol, Greenleaf said.
They are for sale via grocery stores and to foodservice companies.

Activists want speed limit on chicken slaughter

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and four other groups have filed a lawsuit seeking lower speed limits on chicken slaughter.

At some plants the slaughter rate is 175 birds per minute.

The United States Department of Agriculture began allowing waivers in 2018 that enabled plants to speed up lines by about 25 per cent.

The HSUS said in its lawsuit filed this week that the waivers raise public health, animal welfare and worker safety concerns and that the USDA made the change without allowing for a period for public comment.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Feds give CFA $560,000

The federal agriculture department is giving the Canadian Federation of Agriculture $560,000 to develop the Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability Initiative. 

“This new initiative will provide Canadian farmers and processors an online national platform to proactively meet the growing demand for proof of sustainability from customers,” the government said.

The CFA will create a single window for data on the sustainability of the Canadian agri-food supply chain. 

It will be a place where producers and processors can share information and connect with new networks interested in sustainability, the government said.

“This initiative will also serve as a hub to benchmark and track the sustainability of the Canadian agri-food industry compared to international standards.

 Ultimately, the Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability Initiative will support Canadian food producers’ use of label claims about the safety and quality of their food product,.” said the news release after Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau spoke to the CFA’s annual meeting. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

COOL legislation passes in Washington State

Washington State legislature has passed a bill asking beef packers to voluntarily label the meat they provide to retailers as either U.S.A. product or imported.

To qualify for a “U.S.A.” label, the beef must be from an animal born, raised and slaughtered in the United States, although it could spend up to 60 days outside the country and still qualify.

In 2015 the federal government scrapped its COOL law after the World Trade Organization said tit discriminated against Mexican and Canadian cattle producers. 

But while Canadians waited, they lost tens of millions of dollars to depressed prices.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Jeff Pollard wins forage award

Jeff Pollard of Stratton in Northern Ontario is this year’s winner of the Ontario Mapleseed Pasture Award.

It was presented by Mapleseed salesman Scott Fisher during the annual meeting of Beef Farmers of Ontario, which is a joint sponsor of the award.

Pollard farms 1,500 acres, 500 of which are pastured.

His pastures have many grass and legume species including, but not limited to timothy, tall fescue, red clover, alsike clover, bird’s foot trefoil and alfalfa, as well as many native species which thrive in these pastures and depending on the year and weather conditions.

The farm’s waterline provides fresh water to all of the pastures, allowing for all of the riparian areas and rough terrain to be fenced off. Pollard is also working to plant more than 10,000 evergreen trees.

“This year’s recipient is a great manager, and a producer who is highly regarded by his peers,” said Fisher, Mapleseed’s sales manager for Western Ontario.

Paul De Jong wins beef environment award

Paul De Jong of Charlton Angus Cattle Company is this year’s winner of the RBC Royal Bank Environmental Stewardship Award.

It was presented during the annual meeting of Beef Farmers of Ontario.

He runs an 150-head cow-calf herd on fenced and frequently rotated pastures that also produce hay.

He has had a long-standing Environmental Farm Plan, pays attention to wildlife, keeps his herd out of forests and waterways, and keeps up with new ideas.

“Factors leading to improved management changes include continued education of all sorts, such as meetings, courses, conferences and annual industry meetings,” he said.

“I will continue to educate myself and host farm tours whenever possible.”

African swine fever genome unveiled

Scientists from The Pirbright Institute have worked with University College London to map the expression of genes across the entire African swine fever virus (ASF) genome.
They have learned that different genes are working when infection begins than when it’s well established and the virus is preparing to invade new animals.
The research could provide vital information for those developing vaccines and antiviral drugs to prevent the deadly pig disease caused by this virus.
In their study, published in the Journal of Virology, the researchers used next generation sequencing to create the first complete genetic road map.
ASFV has a very large DNA genome - between 150 and 190 compared with eight for influenza.
“Our study helps to untangle which genes are important during different stages of infection to better understand their functions”, said Dr. Linda Dixon, head of the African Swine Fever Virus group at Pirbright.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Sow diets impact litters

Sow diets supplemented with copper and vitamins A and D result in better litters, trials conducted by Jacques Matte have shown at the federal agriculture research station at Sherbooke, Que.

“Supplementing copper and vitamins A and D increased the weight of the newborn piglets and reduced the weight difference between piglets in the same litter,” according to a report from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

“At weaning, the composition of their microbiota improved. With weight gain and enhanced immunity due to more beneficial bacteria in the microbiota, the piglets' disease resistance and growth potential were enhanced.”

As for piglets, Matte found “the best way to increase copper and vitamins A and D in piglets during lactation is through oral supplementation and exposure to certain types of artificial radiation.

"Repeated UVB (ultra-violet band) radiation during lactation appears to be the only treatment that allows a gradual and continuous increase of vitamin D in piglets' blood, which doubles in comparison to that of control piglets who are weaned at 21 days old," he wrote.

“This improvement in the amount of copper and vitamins A and D in piglets ends with weaning and cessation of supplementation.

“During and after weaning, bovine colostrum is the best supplement to give to light-weight piglets to improve their growth and quality of their microbiota.”

Bibeau in Washington Friday

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau will be in Washington Friday, meeting with United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue, Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development Victor Villalobos, Argentina’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Luis Basterra and Zipply Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau.

She will also be a panel member in a discussion about
“Feeding the World through Innovation” at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Then she will meet with “key U.S. agricultural stakeholders from the Washington Agricultural Roundtable, Women in International Trade, and the U.S. Food and Agriculture Dialogue for Trade.”

Ontario gets a Food Day

Vincent Ke has managed to get a private member’s bill through the legislature, designating the first Saturday immediately before the August Civic Holiday as Food Day Ontario.

“Promoting local food and our agri-food sector will strengthen and enhance Ontario’s economy overall,” said Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

“Food Day Ontario also serves as another focal point to promote food literacy and food access, both important aspects of improving the overall health of our province,” he said.

Third Lambton grow-finisher hit by PED

A third grow-finish operation in Lambton County has been hit by an outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.

The outbreaks were Feb. 1, 12 and 14.

That has increased the Ontario to 135 outbreaks since the first one in January, 2014.

Farm prices continue to rise

Valco Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants of London says farm prices increased by 5.68 per cent last year and expects there will be a repeat this year.

It surveyed sales prices in Southwestern Ontario to come up with the report.

A poor crop year and production limits reduced bidding pressure last year, the consultants report.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Beef industry gets $2 million in subsidies

The federal and provincial governments have announced $2 million worth of funding for the beef-packing industry.

Ontario’s 123 provincially-licensed packers are eligible for help for” capital upgrades for enhanced food safety, improvements in the safe handling and housing of animals, and new equipment for safe
and efficient animal-hides disposal.”

The governments are also investing up to $292,600 under the Places to Grow initiative to
help the Beef Farmers of Ontario with marketing efforts to access emerging markets in
Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and the European Union. The cost-shared project
will encourage export-market diversification and support efforts to increase volume and
sales through trade missions, promotional events and the development of new brands.

It was the Canadian, not the U.S., Senate

An article about Dairy Farmers of Canada lobbying opposition-party senators erred in identifying it as the U.S. Senate. It was the Canadian Senate.

JBS buys Empire

JBS U.S.A. is ;paying $238 million to buy Empire Packing Co., a family-owned business with facilities in Cincinnati, Denver, Mason, Ohio, Memphis, Tenn. and Olympia, Wash.

JBS owns the former XL Packing plant in Alberta, a deal that included a feedlot it later sold back to the family owners.

The JBS deal comes soon after the parent company in Brazil bought Bunge’s margarine business there. JBS is the world’s largest beef packer.

Hardeman hails support for trespass legislation

Ontario Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman said farmers are showing support for the legislation he introduced to stop activists from trespassing into barns.

“I would say 99.9 per cent of (farmers) were positive (about) what we’re doing,” Hardeman said of the reaction he got when he toured the province for consultations.

“Everyone that we talked to agrees with the reasons for the bill and supports what we’re doing (however) there have been some comments put forward that maybe we didn’t go far enough.”

Some people want crop fields and pastures included, but Hardeman said the focus is on animals and poultry in barns.

Silani Cheese licence suspended

Silani Sweet Cheese has been shut down by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency days after a recall of its cheese balls because of E. coli contamination.
The CFIA suspended its licence for the company located in Bradford West Gwillumbury.
The CFIA said it was suspended for “failure to implement effective corrective measures for non-compliances . . ."
There have been no reported cases of illness associated with the consumption of the recalled cheese balls, the CFIA said.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Farm leaders decry rail blockages

Ontario’s farm leaders have sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau complaining that railway blockages are hurting their businesses.

They did not, however, send any similar letter to Indigenous groups putting up the blockades to protest the construction of increased capacity for an oil pipeline from Alberta to the British Columbia coast.

The letter was signed by almost all of Ontario’s farm leaders – from Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, to the leaders of all of the poultry marketing boards, the associations for grain, beef and pork producers, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, Food and Beverage Ontario and Agri Business Association.

The letter says “We need your help, we are asking you to find an immediate solution to the current disruption in rail service and work with us to develop solutions that will stop continual disruptions to rail service in Canada.”

Roll up the Rim to change

Tim Hortons will soon be giving away about two million reusable cups as part of a revamped Roll up the Rim campaign.

It’s a move to make the chain more environment friendly by reducing waste.

The disposable cups are lined with plastic and many municipalities will not recycle them.

The prize giveaways are hidden in the rims of disposable cups.

Last April, Tim’s parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. said that its lacklustre results were partly due to declining interest in Roll up the Rim.

There were earlier reports this week that the chain is going to pare down its menus to focus on basics. It has already dropped Beyond Meat breakfast patties and sausages.

Coronavirus shuts down Chinese poultry market

Chinese officials are predicting that poultry and eggs could become scarce in the summer and fall because of the coronavirus that has claimed about lives.

China’s live poultry markets have been closed, transportation of poultry has been curtailed and some slaughterhouses have been closed, according to The South China Morning Post.

The report said agriculture ministry official Yang Zhenhai notified a China State Council that the loss of the nation’s poultry industry also would be “very serious” in light of supply chain issues and sharply lower poultry prices. 

The coronavirus outbreak has already impacted imports because of restrictions on port workers because they might spread the virus.

An association which speaks for United States meat exporters said.that shipments are being held up once transport ships arrive in China and cargo is unable to be moved into areas where the imported food products are needed.

Sixth PED case in a month

A grow-finisher operation in Lambton County is dealing with an outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.

It is the second in Lambton County this month and the sixth in the province in a month, all of them in grow-finisher barns. The older hogs involved will likely survive their bouts of the disease which is usually fatal for newborns.

This is the 134th case in Ontario since the first outbreak in January, 2014.

Avian flu again in China

Highly pathogenic avian influenza strains H5N6 and H5N1 have broken out in mainland China.

The H5N6 strain killed 1,840 birds in Sichuan province and the H5N1 strain was detected in Hunan province where 17,828 birds were culled.

About 140,000 birds have been culled in the Czech Republic this week because of avian flu there.
And Germany had an outbreak the news media reported Jan. 20.

China waives 696 tariffs

China is waiving tariffs on 696 items imported from the United States.

It’s part of the Phase I agreement which includes a promise to buy $200 billion worth of U.S. goods.

Among the items that are no longer subject to retaliatory tariffs are pork, beef and soybeans.   

Monday, February 17, 2020

Feed quarantines work against African Swine Fever

Quarantining feed ingredients from China in warm conditions and treating the feed with chemicals commonly used in livestock feeds will greatly reduce the risk of introducing African Swine Fever in North America, says Dr. Scott Dee of Pipestone Applied Research.

He said Canada requires a quarantine for imported Chinese feed ingredients, such as vitamins and organic soybeans, and he wants the U.S. to follow suit.

Dee is the researcher who found that Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus can survive and spread in animal feeds and now he has done the same for African Swine Fever in trials at Kansas State University.

He said some Chinese practices make the spread of African Swine Fever likely to continue. For example, it’s common to spread grain on the ground and drive trucks over to crack the kernels. The virus can spread on truck tires.

“I expect that there will be another episode of the disease in 2020,” he said.

“This will be unlike the original epidemic when the national herd was na├»ve to the virus, but with the virus still present and circulating in pigs across the country, re-stocking with ASF-negative animals taking place already and no proven vaccines available, there is a high risk of another large outbreak.

“Add to this scenario the pork in cold storage that is being released periodically – a lot of this is likely to be contaminated if frozen before ASF was confirmed in the country – and this is all dry kindling for the fire.

“In Europe the virus is moving further west: Germany and Denmark are on high alert and are trying to prevent the movement of wild boar but really, I think Europe need to put more focus on contaminated feed.

“In the U.S., Canada and Mexico, I believe the implementation of mandatory quarantine protocol and controlling import of risky products will keep the disease out – I think this is definitely achievable,” Dee said.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Vet staffers win pig innovation award

Tess Faulkner and Gillian Grieves of South West Ontario Veterinary Services have won an F.X. Aherne prize for inventing a mesh hammock to hold pigs.
It enables staff to hold a small pig in a type of sling made of wind mesh so they can be more easily treated or euthanized.
The Hammock is foldable for easy storage.

Veggie regulations amended

The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission is amending regulations so contracted tonnage, not purchased tonnage, is used to determine minimum tonnage processors will purchase.

The change applies to tomatoes and carrots.

There have been a number of changes favoured by processors, but resisted by some producers, that the commission has imposed on the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers marketing board in the last two years.

The changes came after Ontario lost a number of processing companies, including Heinz in Leamington.

Manitoba Pork introduces insurance

The Manitoba Pork Council will receive $482,158 toward a two-year insurance program do deal with disease outbreaks.

It will include coverage for cleaning and disinfection costs.

It will be similar to reciprocal insurance programs for the poultry industry and if the pilot program is deemed a success, it will be offered to other provinces.

Deborah Whale of Alma was instrumental in pushing for reciprocal insurance for Canadian farmers, but it was an idea that proved difficult to persuade various commodity organizations to try.

Perhaps the pork industry is more willing now that African Swine Fever is a threat that could close off exports which are taking about 70 per cent of Canadian pork production.

Friday, February 14, 2020

World food prices rise again

World food prices rose for the fourth month in as row this January.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index went up seven-tenths of one per cent to average 182.5 points.
FAO said world cereal production would likely be a record when all the figures are tabulated for 2019, about 2.3 per cent more than 2018.
The FAO cereal price index went up by 2.9 over January, 2019, to hit the highest level since May, 2018. Wheat prices went up the most.
The vegetable oil index jumped 7.0 percent last month to reach a three-year high and the sugar price index climbed 5.5 percent, while the dairy index was up nine-tenths of one percent.
By contrast the meat price index fell by four percent, ending 11 consecutive months of increases.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Kraft-Heinz is red with more than ketchup

Kraft Heinz Co lost another $15.4 billion in its first quarter this year, prompting another write-down of $666 million after a December write-down of $153 million.

The company is run by 3G of Brazil, the same one that manages Tim Horton’s, in both cases for Warren Buffet of Berkshire-Hathaway investment company.

3G is notorious for slashing costs so sharply that sales suffer even as profits initially rise. Then matters start to get worse, according to a company profile last year by Fortune magazine.

The chief executive officer and several of his team were fired last year and the new chief executive officer said a turn-around is going to “take time”.

Heinz left Leamington several years ago and the plant was taken over by a group of former managers and senior staff who have steadily increased production.

Coronavirus adds to pork woes in China

Travel restrictions are making the pork shortage in China even worse than the loss of half of the nation’s pigs to Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.

Pork prices in January were 116 per cent higher than a year ago.

The travel restrictions are making it difficult to deliver market-ready hogs to slaughter plants.

Chinese customers are also turning up their noses to chicken and seeking pork, Reuters news agency reports.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Free tree-planting seminar on offer

The Grand River Conservation Authority is offering a trees workshop at its head office at 400 Clyde Road in Cambridge on Saturday, March 7. 

It will help property owners of more than 2.5 acres to develop skills and strategies to maintain and improve their trees.

There will be advice about planting, about invasive species, hazard trees, forest health and information about grant opportunities and supporting wildlife habitat.

The workshop includes lunch and, weather permitting, a walk though a hardwood forest.

Those who own more than five acres may be eligible for funding for tree planting or wetland creation projects. Priority is given to areas directly adjacent to watercourses.