Saturday, February 27, 2021

Beyond Meat signs deals with McDonald’s and Yum Brands

Beyond Meat has signed on as a supplier to McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd. and Yum Brands, starting with Taco Bell outlets.

McDonald’s identifies Beyond Meat as a “preferred supplier,” leaving the door open to source from others such as Impossible Foods.

The deals make Beyond Meat the largest global supplier of plant-based proteins that imitate meat.

It is also working with Yum Brands to produce plant-based chicken for its KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and Pizza Hut chains.

McDonald’s ran test marketing with Beyond Meat burgers in Southern Ontario last year, but left customers and market analysts puzzled when it dropped them at the end of the trial period.

It said at the time it was evaluating a global rollout.

Ground bees hit by neonicinoids

Researchers at the University of Guelph have found that ground-dwelling bees important for pollinating pumpkin and squash are devastated by the neonicinoid  imidocloprid farmers have used to protect their crops.

In treated crops, there was an 85 per cent reduction of females of the hoary squash bee population.

Friday, February 26, 2021

U.S. farmers still love Trump

The Farm Journal has found in a survey of 5,000 farmers that they still love former president Donald Trump and they don’t like President Joe Biden.

Eighty-three per cent supported Trump in the publication’s poll just before the election in November. Now 75 per cent strongly disapprove of what President Joe Biden has been doing.

Only nine per cent strongly approve and five per cent somewhat approve. .

“We're not focusing on anything of substance,” said farmer Casey Schumacher of Nebraska on the AgriTalk Radio Show.

 “We went from impeachment No. 2 to now a $1.9 trillion giveaway full of pork. It was very short-sighted to use reconciliation on this $1.9 trillion stimulus deal. If he would have went for the infrastructure, I think maybe you would have seen a turn, but it’s just going back to same old Washington, I think is people's thoughts.”

Pro Farmer Policy Analyst Jim Wiesemeyer agreed that pushing through a stimulus bill with no expected Republican votes is driving the ag sentiment reflected in the poll.

“He campaigned on bipartisanship but it looks like they're governing on partisanship, to be fair, and I think that's reflected in that poll,” he said.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Hard butter sparks a flap

Sylvain Charlebois of Dalhousie University has touched off a news media stampede to report that butter seems to be harder these days.

He tweeted his personal opinion in December and got an immediate response, prompting his students to calculate that 53 per cent of those who responded agreed that butter is harder.

And then he speculated that it might be because farmers are feeding rations containing palm oil.

But that doesn’t seem to wash.

Alejandro Marangoni, a food science professor at University of Guelph, says while components of palm oil found in milk fat can affect the melting point of butter, there's no data to support "sensationalist" claims of a great hardening.


David Christensen, a professor emeritus of animal and poultry science at University of Saskatchewan, said Canadian farmers have used palmitic acid products to increase milk fat production for about two decades.


Christensen says if the consistency of butter has changed, it could be related to the palmitic acid content, or changes to the methods processors use to produce butter.


Dairy Farmers of Canada has a new working committee examining the use of palm oil supplements in cow feed; it said feeding palm oil doesn't raise health or safety concerns.


The media articles extend to the United States where Dr. Adam Lock of the extension department at the University of Michigan has prepared a long video describing the science of butterfat production and profiles and concludes that more research is required to determine whether palm oil in dairy rations makes a difference in the melting point of butter.


He said there are more than 400 fatty acids in the composition of butterfat and that there are variations by season, by the genetics of individual cows, by the stage of lactation and nutrition.


One of the surprising findings he presented is that cows managed to organic standards produce butterfat with a higher melting temperature – i.e. harder butter. But it’s not a big difference.


He said butter is 50 per cent solid at refrigeration temperature and about 20 per cent solid at room temperature, but depending on the temperature of the room.


He chuckled about the Canadian news media calling the hard butter issue “buttergate”. Former President Robert Nixon would, no doubt, wish that Watergate were so benign.


I guess buttergate is not going to die any time soon. It just keeps spreading, hard or not.



New deadly PRRS strain emerges in Iowa,Minnesota

A new strain of porcine reproductive and respiratory virus (PRRS) has emerged on hog farms in Iowa and Minnesota, spreading rapidly in herds when it strikes.

Veterinarian Paul Yeske said strain 1-4-4 is the most dramatic PRRS he has ever seen.

“I think this one's the most dramatic as far as the number of aborts and the number of sow mortalities,” Yeske said in a webinar hosted by the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) .

“We've seen anywhere from four to five weeks of production essentially aborted out and sow mortality is anywhere from 10 to 20 per cent of the sows dying off and very rapidly within a two- to three-week period of time.” 

Piglet mortality has been extremely high, too, with numbers as high as 80 per cent, a number Yeske said he didn’t think was possible. But this strain is different.  

The clinical signs that present most often with this PRRS strain are pigs going off feed, abortions, increased sow mortality, increased piglet mortality and increased mummies. Yeske said this strain tends to have a pretty high post-weaning mortality and slow growth in the finishing phase.  


Yeske said he’s not sure that previous immunity really made a big impact. 


He has seen breaks in herds that are vaccinated, breaks in herds that had previous virus exposure less than a year ago and breaks in herds that have used vaccination, previous virus exposure.


In the end, he said it doesn't really seem to change the outcome much between the various combinations or even in the negative herds.



Pilgrim’s Pride fined $107.9 million

Pilgrim’s Pride, which is owned by JBS USA, has been fined $107.9 million for poultry price-fixing.

In mid-January it settled a class-action lawsuit filed by customers for $75 million.

The $109.7-million settlement emerged from a federal court case in Denver, Colorado, this week.

Tyson Foods has also been charged for price-fixing poultry pricing and paid $221.3 million to settle a class-action lawsuit.


McCain invests in vertical farming

McCain Foods is investing another $30 million in GoodLeaf Farms of Guelph which plans to build two more vertical farming operations, one in Eastern Canada, the other in Western Canada.

The farms produce leafy greens to be sold in supermarkets.

GoodLeaf Farms opened its first commercial farm, a 45,000-square-foot facility in Guelph, in late 2019. It uses LED lights and hydroponic trays to grow microgreens such as arugula, pea shoots, radishes and kale, mostly sold within a two-hour drive of the plant.

Barry Murchie, GoodLeaf’s chief executive officer who spent 20 years with McCains, said. “we expect to break ground on the first farm in the next 45 to 90 days.”        



Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Royal will be in person this November

The Royal Agriculture Winter Fair is planning to be open to in-person visitors and exhibitors Nov. 20 and 21.

Chief executive officer Charlie Johnstone said COVID-19 protocols will be put in place to protect the public.

He said exhibitors invest thousands of dollars and months of preparation to compete. He also mentioned the horse show which is popular with the urban people of the Greater Toronto Area.

The Royal is the first fair and exhibition to announce that it will be open for in-person attendance this year. Hundreds of community fairs and exhibitions are struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

CFIA cancels Unistraw licence

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has suspended the licence held by Unistraw Holdings Pte. Ltd. of Singapore for failure to meet its standards.

The company markets a product developed by an Australian.

It says customers an “enjoy the goodnesss of milk with less sugar and no artificial colours or preservatives."

Its brand names include Sipahh, Collagen SIP, tubulars, Angry birds, Barista, Straws, Electric, OOMPH and CoeD3 Vitamin straw.


Push to exempt propane and natural gas from carbon tax

The Canadian Propane Association is lobbying to have the federal government remove its carbon tax on natural gas and propane used by farmers.

The Parliamentary Budget Office estimates that would save farmers $235 million over five years.

Nathalie St-Pierre, president of the Canadian Propane Association, is calling on politicians to support a private member’s bill to grant the exemption.

“By exempting gas and diesel but not allowing the same exemption for propane, the law actually encourages the increased use of gas and diesel – this is environmental nonsense,” she said.

Farm groups, such as Grain Farmers of Ontario, have been lobbying for an exemption for natural gas and propane used to dry grains.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Small meat packers need more funding

The province’s $4.1 million to help small-scale slaughter and meat-processing plants expand and modernize has been snapped up in little more than a week, pointing to a need for more money.

Franco Neccarato, executive director of Meat and Poultry Ontario, said he’s not surprised that businesses were quick to apply and the money is all spoken for. It’s usually what happens when there is a short window of opportunity, he said.

But he praised the province for engaging with the industry and providing more than $8 million last year.

Meat and Poultry Ontario is in the midst of consulting with its members, farmers and governments at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to guage market requirements and make plans, he said.

Ontario could emerge as a world leader out of this process, he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped to reveal the need for local meat and poultry plants, he said, and now everyone involved is coming together to discuss how to proceed.

Ontario's hog industry has been short of slaughter capacity for at least a decade and the beef industry has been significantly short since Ryding Regency in Toronto was closed in 2019 by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for failure to comply with food safety standards.

That plant has recently been re-opened by a beef-farming family.

Pork self-inspection flawed

The United States Center for Food Safety has found twice as many food safety violations at pork-packing plants where employees rather than government staff inspect carcasses.

The self-inspection system was tested beginning in 2014 and approved in 2020 under former U.S. President Donald Trump who campaigned to reduce government regulation.

New data shows that in the years leading up to the Trump administration's approval of new inspection rules for swine slaughter plants, those establishments that piloted the system—which relies on company employees conducting inspections instead of government inspectors—had significantly more regulatory violations for feacal and digestive matter on carcasses than traditional plants, the Center For Food Safety reported..

From 2014 to 2017, plants in the "New Swine Inspection System" (NSIS) pilot project had on average nearly double the violations than comparably-sized plants outside the program. Model plants were almost twice as likely to be cited for contamination.


The NSIS rules, finalised in 2020, are now the focus of several federal lawsuits.


 Center for Food SafetyFood & Water Watch, and Humane Farming Association, secured the data last fall, and they amended court filings to include the information after a federal judge refused the United States Department of Agriculture request to have their case removed earlier in February.

Is this really all that surprising - except one would think the companies would try to be on their best behaviour to win approval for the relaxed oversight. Not to mention, they should surely show more regard for the safety of their products and consumers.



Tapping frenzy underway

Maple Syrup Producers are working flat out this week to tap sugar bushes.

They were delayed by the prolonged deep freeze the previous two weeks and now have a tight window to launch their season.

John Williams, executive director of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, said some producers in Eastern Ontario began tapping during a brief warm spell before the Polar Vortex descended.

Tapping under extreme cold is both hard on people doing the work and on trees because the inner bark can split and do harm to the tree and leak sap rather than feeding it into pipelines.

The deep snow conditions are both a blessing and troublesome for workers struggling to tramp through the woods. The deep snow will protect the ground if there is a sudden warm spell and that protection will keep the sap flowing after that warm spell.

Williams said experienced producers will never predict the seasonal harvest because so much depends on fickle weather, but having said that, conditions this year look promising.

COVID-19 has prompted most syrup festivals to cancel in-person events, including the Elmira, Elmvale and Perth festivals. The one at Perth, called Festival of the Maple, will be offered online.

The province-wide Maple Weekend, usually held the first weekend in April, has been cancelled for the second year.

Williams said people who like to buy directly from producers should contact them to determine how they will be making their syrup available.

Some will have COVID-19 protocols to enable them to sell from their sugar shacks, others may arrange pickup and a few might even offer delivery, he said.


Higher food prices likely to last

Analysts for JPMorgan investment bank foresee a long-term increase in commodity prices, including food.

“We believe that the new commodity upswing, and in particular oil up cycle, has started,” the JPMorgan analysts said in their note. “The tide on yields and inflation is turning.”

Commodities have seen four supercycles over the past 100 years — with the last one peaking in 2008 after 12 years of expansion.

They cite factors such as a post-pandemic recovery, “ultra-loose” monetary and fiscal policies, a weak United States dollar, stronger inflation and more aggressive environmental policies around the world, for their optimism.

Hedge funds similarly haven’t been this bullish on commodities since the mid-2000s, when China was stockpiling everything from copper to cotton while crop failures and export bans around the world boosted food prices, eventually toppling governments during the Arab Spring, they wrote. 

The backdrop is now starting to look similar, with a broad gauge of commodity prices hitting its highest in six years.

Corn and soybean prices have soared as China loads up on American crops. Copper hit an eight-year high amid growing optimism over a broader economic recovery. And oil has staged a strong recovery from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic as a worldwide supply glut eases.


Monday, February 22, 2021

China sends mixed messages on GMOs

China is sending mixed messages on the development of genetically-modified crop varieties, on the one hand saying legislation will soon allow them and on the other laying charges against developers.

The Ministry of Agriculture said it has found eight companies that illegally developed and marketed genetically-modified crops, mainly corn. It also found a company working on GMO cotton.

The ministry said seeds were confiscated and the companies fined.

China does not permit the production or planting of GM corn.

Yet Chinese leaders recently said biotechnology is important to improving food security.

The government apparently is fining developers until it can pass regulations and then crops can be commercialized.



Fresh eggs prompt salmonella concerns

The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to investigate salmonella food poisonings linked to eggs, even though the outbreak appears to be linked to eggs bought between October and December in the Maritimes.

As of February 18, 2021, there have been 57 laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella Enteritidis illness investigated in the following provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador (25), and Nova Scotia (32). Individuals became sick between late October 2020 and late January 2021, reports the Public Health Agency of Canada.

 Nineteen individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between two and 98 years of age.


Between October and December 2020, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency  issued food recall warnings for a variety of eggs distributed in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

 The recalled eggs are now past their shelf-life and are no longer available for purchase. Some individuals who became sick in this outbreak reported exposure to recalled eggs; however, there are a number of recent ill individuals that do not, the public health agency said.

It is possible that more recent illnesses may be reported in the outbreak because there is a period of time between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported to public health officials. For this outbreak, the illness reporting period is between three and six weeks.





Sunday, February 21, 2021

Bibeau picks 23 advisors on food policy

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has picked 23 people to be on a committee to advise her on the new national food policy.

They will begin meeting March 4 to ponder how to tackle for challenges:

1. Helping Canadian communities access healthy food. 

2. Supporting food security in northern and Indigenous communities.

3.Rreducing food waste.

4. Making Canadian food the top choice at home and abroad.

Last year Bibeau promised $134 million to support the policy’s development and the creation of a national food system.

The 32 members are:

Jean-Francois Archambault, a leading chef in Quebec who helped organize more than two million meals for needy people last year.

Syvie-Cloutier who has worked on issues management, negotiations and public affairs for the Quebec Food Processing Council and the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors.

Heather Deck, a dietician from rural Saskatchewan who has experience developing food safety policies for both the Canadian and United States federal governments.

Julie Dickson Olmstead, managing director of public affairs and corporate social responsibility for Save-On-Foods of British Columbia.

Evan Fraser, director of Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph.

Sonny Gray, chief executive officer of North Star Agriculture Inc. and of Flat Creek Farms in Yukon Territory.  He has long been involved in agriculture and food for Northern communities.

Marcel Grolueau, a dairy farmer from Thedford Mines, Que. He served as president of Union des Producteurs Agricole du Quebec and was a member of the North American Free Trade Council.

Chris Hatch, chief executive officer of Food Banks Canada.

Lynda Kuhn, senior vide-president at Maple Leaf Foods and chair of its centre for Action on Food Security.

Elizabeth Kwan, senior researcher at the Canadian Labour Congress.

Dr. Joseph LcBlanc from Northern Ontario and a member of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. He is passionate about community health and wellbeing, he has extensive experience in asset-based community development and food system change throughout the region.


Catherin L. Mah, a medical doctor and Canada Research Chair in Promoting Healthy Populations. She is a professor at Dalhousie University.

Larry McIntosh, president and chief executive officer of Peak of the Market in Winnipeg. He has more than 35 years of experience in the fresh produce supply chain.

Rosie Mensah of Toronto where she works as a registered dietician. She is a director on the board of FoodShare

Lori Nikkel of Toronto, chief executive officer of Second Harvest and experienced in deal with food waste and loss.

Denise Philippe of Vancouver, senior policy advisor with Metro Vancouver and the National Zero Waste Council.

Melana Roberts of Toronto where she is a federal and municipal food strategist and food justice advocate. She helped Toronto develop the first municipal Black Food Sovereignty Plan, the first in North America.

Mary Robinson, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and a farmer and business manager on Prince Edward Island and a member of advisory councils for two federal agriculture ministers.

Brenda Schoep, winner of the 2012 Nuffield Scholarship who has researched Global Food Leadership, is an author and mentor of young entrepreneurs in agriculture and food. She is on Vancouver Island.

Wendy Smith of Stoney Creek, Ont., who has 28 years of experience In institutional nutrition services and healthcare for St. Joseph’s Health System.

Avni  Soma of Canmore, Alta., is a scientist, small business owner and community leader with a background in healthcare and the food industry.

Connor Williamson of British Columbia where he is a farmer, food system researcher and a member of the LGTB+Q community. He is a fifth-generation farmer and has researched food security in four countries, including South Africa and Jordan.

Gisele Yasmeen who divides her time between Vancouver and Montreal. She has a doctorate from the University of British Columbia and has advised many organizations about food systems and urban food distribution, including the National Research Councill, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems.




Politicians call for better AgriStability

The House of Commons Agriculture Committee is calling for an 85 per cent reference margin for AgriStability and for an entirely new business risk management program related to climate change.

These are in recommendations from a pre-budget report.

The committee pondered submissions from more than 800 groups and individuals ranging across all issues that could become part of the next budget expected some time next month.

The committee also recommends a new program for farm labour. Last year farmers and food-processing companies struggled to find enough workers and were trying to cope with cases of COVID-19, especially among temporary foreign workers in group housing on Southern Ontario farms.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has already proposed better AgriStability terms to a meeting of provincial and territorial agriculture ministers in November, but the Prairie provinces have said they are too expensive.

Ontario Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman is a strong supporter of the proposals which he helped fashion as part of a special committee. He has also surged the provinces to step up soon lest retroactive funding from the federal government be lost.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Cricket farm raises $3.7 million

Entomo Farms has raised $3.7 million by selling shares in its business at Norwood.

It plans to use the money to expand production of cricket powders and whole roasted insects.

It is the biggest cricket-farming operation in North America, supplying food processors who make dozens of brand products around the world.

Entomo was started by brothers Jarrod, Darren, and Ryan Goldin in 2014.

Beef Farmers re-elects leaders

The president and all but one of the directors remains in leadership at Beef Farmers of Ontario.

The new director is Kim Jo Bliss of Emo to represent the Rainy River district for one year.

She has a 50-head cow-calf operation and a small sheep flock and works at , the Ontario Crops Research Centre the University of Guelph operates at Emo.

She is also involved in many community organizations including the local hospital foundation and the Rainy River sales barn and abattoir.

Four BFO directors were re-elected by voting delegates for three-year terms. Jack Chaffe of Mitchell, Ontario will represent the feedlot sector, Jason Leblond of Powassan, Ontario will represent the cow-calf sector, Jordan Miller of Kagawong, Ontario will represent northern Ontario and Jason Reid from Thunder Bay will hold the position of director at-large.

 Rob Lipsett from Annan, Ontario, who represents the background sector on the BFO Board of Directors, will continue to lead the organization in the year ahead as president, with Jack Chaffe serving as vice president.

BFO has 12 elected officials: three from the cow-calf sector, three from the feedlot sector, one from the backgrounder sector, one each representing the southern, northern and eastern regions of Ontario, and two at-large. Directors are elected for three-year terms on a rotating basis.

Fire devastates Walker Farms

Fire destroyed barns, an office and at least 78 dairy cattle at Walker Farms near Aylmer.

Firefighters worked for seven hours to control the fire that caused about $3 million damage.

Firefighters were able to save some of the operation, but not the offices, milk house and several buildings. They and farm staff were able to save most of the farm's 850 cows.

“We know the ones that were lost in the fire we could not get out, but certainly there are others that … may succumb to the smoke from the fire. So (the number of dead cattle) is highly likely to climb,” said fire chief Brant Smith.

Electrical failure in the milk house is believed to be the cause of the fire.


Survey aims to find pig owners

The Prairie Swine Centre is launching a survey of Canadians who own one or a few pigs so it can know who to alert if there is an outbreak of African Swine Fever.

The project builds on information in other countries, such as Europe, where backyard pigs pose a threat to pick up African Swine Fever and spread it into the commercial hog-farming sector.

Dr. Murray Pettitt, chief executive officer of the Prairie Swine Centre, is heading the project which aims to get survey results from at least 350 of the estimated 7,000 Canadians who own one or just a few pigs.

The survey aims to find out why they own pigs, what they feed, what they know about contagious swine diseases such as African Swine Fever and what biosecurity measures they practice.

It should give swine specialists a better idea about how to communicate with these pig owners about contagious swine diseases.

“It’s probably a safe assumption that in a lot of cases these motivators will be different than the commercial industry and we need to take that into account in designing effective messaging,” Pettitt said during an on online seminar about African Swine Fever (ASF) organized by Swine Innovation Porc.

“What we’re really looking for here is a good thorough understanding of what motivates them, why they have pigs, what’s important to them, what would they give up if they were to lose their pigs due to ASF or any other swine disease coming through Canada and based on that, can we and how do we design appropriate communication measures?” Pettitt said.

There is $75 for survey participants and a chance to win one of three iPads.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Pembertons win stewardship award

Jackie and Steven Pemberton of Pemdale Farms at Inkerman are this year’s winner of the Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) sponsored by RBC Royal Bank and organized by Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO).

Jackie and Steven have demonstrated their commitment to the environment by focusing on development of research, effective nutrient management, and caring for waterways, said organizers in presenting the award during BFO’s annual meeting.

While incorporating simple, routine practices such as cover crops, fencing waterways and participation in an Environmental Farm Plan, Pemdale Farms has also taken an active role in many research projects to further sustainability and innovation within the industry. 

For example, they have done research with Carleton University focusing on agriculture adaptation to climate change, an international research project analyzing the genetics of various crops and their effects on biodiversity, and a manure storage design research project conducted with the Canadian government, agriculture and university groups. 

“Jacqueline and Steven are exemplary members of the community and their dedication to environmental stewardship is having an impact throughout Eastern Ontario and beyond,” said Brendan Jacobs, program coordinator, ALUS Ontario East.

Jackie is a director at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and is its liaison with BFO.


Byers win pasture award

Denise and Jeff Byers of MurrayHill Farm are winners of the 2021 Mapleseed Pasture Award. 

They farm 100 acres in Durham Region and have another 38 acres in paddocks grazed in rotation.

They have 30 cow-calf pairs and 20 yearlings that they market both as breeding stock and beef from their on-farm market.

 “Jeff and Denise have built this enterprise from the ground up in a short time and have made tremendous inroads quickly,” said Scott Fisher, Mapleseed Sales Manager for western Ontario as the award was presented during the annual meeting of Beef Farmers of Ontario, which is another sponsor.

“The Byers family is a worthy recipient of the 2021 Ontario Mapleseed Pasture Award,” said Ray Robertson, manager of the Ontario Forage Council, the third sponsor. 

Nestlé sold

The future of the Nestlé water business at Aberfoyle, south of Guelph and beside Highway 401, is once again in flux following the sale of Nestlé’ Waters North America to One Rock Capital Partners of New York.

Wellington Water Watchers organization wants the wells returned to the municipality and then given to Six Nations Grand River which claims ownership based on the Nafan Treaty of 1701.

The same organization persuaded municipal politicians to buy back a well Nestlé wanted to open north of Guelph.

One Rock Capital Partners and Metropoulos and Co. have formed a partnership to buy Nestlé Waters North America for $4.3 billion US. The deal includes a number of its brand names such as Perrier, S. Pellegrino and Acqua Pana.

The Aberfoyle well was previously sold to Ice River Springs, but the federal Bureau of Competition Policy nixed that deal.










Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Carbon tax costs farmers $235 million

The Parliamentary Budget Officer has calculated that farmers would save $235 million over the next five years if the government exempts their use of natural gas and propane from the carbon tax.

Grain Farmers of Ontario has been lobbying hard for an exemption for grain drying. Poultry farmers starting poults are also big propane users.

Conservative Philip Lawrence, Member of Parliament for Northumberland-Peterborough South, introduced a private member’s bill a year ago to grant farmers the exemption and a similar bill was also introduced in the Senate.

Provinces are able to develop a climate change strategy of their own, so long as it meets federal standards.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario have done nothing.

Fuels that contain dye or bought from  from card-lock facilities are exempt under federal regulations.




Plenty of applications for food waste program

There have been 343 applications for the federal agriculture department’s food waste reduction challenge.

The $20-million challenge was issued in November, inviting applicants to put forward their ideas for reducing food waste.

Up to $10.8 million is available for the first challenge; a second will open this spring.

Of the 343 applications received, 27 per cent were youths, 30 per cent were from visible minorities and 32 per cent were women.

The first round was for proposals that will reduce food waste at any point from farms to dinner plates. The second will focus on new technologies that extend the life of food or transform food waste into new foods or value-added products.

U.S. dairy exports set a record

The United States increased dairy exports by 10 per cent last year, even as it faced logistical challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The value was more than $6 billion US.

Sales to some Asian countries such as China, Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia increased by 40 to 50 per cent.

Supply management means Canada cannot participate, a point that former prime minister Stephen Harper made when he spoke recently to a meeting or Dairy Farmers of Canada and said while he was in charge, there was a proposal to buy out quota and end supply management. He also said market analyses indicate the system will collapse if imports increase to 20 per cent of the market, and that’s coming close.

“Two decades ago, U.S. dairy was almost completely a domestic market. But the past 20 years have been transformational,” said Michael Dykes, president and chief executive officer of the International Dairy Foods Association.

During that time, U.S. dairy exports increased  five-fold and the U.S.  became the world’s third-largest dairy product exporter. Now, we export approximately 15 per cent of U.S. milk production, said Dykes.

Canadian farmers should be able to compete with similar climates, genetics and feeds. It might also be possible to simply copy U.S. dairy policy so our farmers and processors would be on a level playing field.

But continuing as is will lead to disaster, especially with Ontario's draconian restrictions on buying quota to expand dairy farms to a more sustainable size.


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Manitoba auditor says disease response lacking

Manitoba’s auditor general has issued a report criticizing the agriculture department for lack of preparations and capacity to deal with a disease outbreak.

But the province’s chief veterinarian, Janelle Hamblin, said “they’ve been highly engaged and they’ve given everything that they can.” 

“I think that if we had more time, more people, more funding, we probably could do more,” she said. She is also manager of swine health programs with Manitoba Pork. “We’re working with what we have, and I think that we have done a very good job.”

But auditor general Tyson Shtykalo found that “significant more needs to be done.”

He wrote that no emergency response plans were in place for most diseases of interest. 

The exception was avian influenza; there were partial plans for another seven of the 36 diseases of interest, he found.

The report recommends the department prepare a complete response plan for each disease “identified as significant to Manitoba.”

This should be based on risk assessments done to determine which are priority, the report said.

The Ontario auditor-general has never issued a report on this aspect of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.