Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Trudeau appoints Tory grain minister

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stunned politicians by appointing Conservative agriculture critic Lianne Rood to the restored position of grains minister.

Rood is MP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex.

Even more puzzling than naming a Conservative to his cabinet is the choice of Rood over John Barlow of Alberta, who was Conservative agriculture critic before Rood.

Trudeau said he recognizes that the Prairies have been feeling left out.

And he also said he hopes Rood will be able to persuade the Prairies agriculture ministers and premiers to sign on to the proposals to enrich AgriStability.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau could not be reached for comment, but some have speculated she is negotiating with Conservative leader Erin O’Toole to become his shadow cabinet critic for agriculture.

The huge political shuffle lasts until noon, April 1.

Chicken farmers welcome four entrants


The successful applicants for the Chicken Farmers of Ontario’s  New Entrant program are:

Brothers - Jamie, Terry and Daryl Lupton – North Oxford County

Brothers - Andrew, Scott and Dan Barfett – Wallacetown

Melissa and Matt Brown – Chatham-Kent, 

Brothers - Jeff and Jeremy Snowe – Arthur

“We are very passionate about producing high quality food in Ontario. This opportunity really provides us with the ability to create a self-sustaining family-farm for ourselves as well as future generations,” said Scott Barfett. 

Barfett and his brothers, Andrew and Dan, are second-generation farmers in the Wallacetown area. 

How U.S. pivoted cheese marketing after lockdown

Jeff Schwager, the chief executive officer for Sartori Cheese, said the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown sharply reduced sales to food service companies, but increased sales to supermarkets.


“Our retail business from the middle of March last year through the end of December was up 35 per cent,” he said.

“We had requests for 50 per cent growth during that time period, and we just didn’t have product. We couldn’t make it magically appear because we had to make it a year before or eight months before – whatever the aging requirements were.”

While the growth amount for retail was unprecedented, Sartori saw its restaurant side food business drop significantly. 

That meant they had cheese prepared for that market that could be reshaped and cut to help meet the needs of retail customers. The process of reallocation became a popular need for them last year.

“Instead of saying we’re going to get rid of one customer, we thought the right thing to do was take our good loyal customers and allocate the same percentage growth over what they had forecasted to us for the year,” he said.

“Allocation was a huge issue across the grocery store last year, simply because consumer demand grew so quickly that there was no way to meet it, and a lot of people really struggled. We did as well,” said Mike Brown of Kroger's, the largest supermarket chain in the United States.

“Dairy actually did very well. In the middle of March last year, our cheese buyer was out buying extra cheese knowing we were going to need it,” he said.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

JBS shells out another $20 million for price fixing

A federal judge approved a preliminary agreement calling for JBS USA to pay $20 million to consumers who accused the processor of fixing pork prices in a class action lawsuit filed in a federal court in Minnesota.

The company earlier settled with his wholesale and retail customers for $24.5 million.

Judge John R. Tunheim determined that the proposed settlement is “fair, reasonable, adequate and in the best interests” of the plaintiffs, who accused JBS and its operating units of fixing pork product prices since 2009. 

The settlement is not an admission of guilt, evidence of violation of any laws or regulations or an admission of any wrongdoing by JBS, the agreement said.

ASF rocks Indonesia

A resurgence of African swine fever has claimed tens of thousands of pigs on Indonesia's southern East Nusa Tenggara region.

It seemed to be gone by late last year but has flared up again. The death toll could me much greater than official estimates because authorities said many farmers are not reporting outbreaks.

Farmer on the island of Flores have lost about 40 per cent of their pigs with 35,000 deaths reported since February of 2020.

French’s brings ketchup to London

French’s ketchup will ramp up to full production at its new plant at London this week.

It solidifies the company’s claim to provide Canadians with a domestic-made ketchup which is a selling point after Heinz pulled out of its ketchup plant at Leamington.

McCormick Canada is the company that makes French’s ketchup and mustard and owns the former Club House spice business in London. It is owned by McCormick Canada which is, in turn, owned by McCormick Ltd. of Baltimore.

Bottling of French’s ketchup began at the London plant last month, the company said Monday, but added that “full production ramps up this week.” An exact dollar figure wasn’t given for the cost of the expansion.

McCormick said it would continue to source 100 per cent of its tomatoes for French’s ketchup in Canada from the Leamington, Ont. area and would continue to offer the product in four varieties: original, garlic, low-sodium, and no-sugar-added.

McCormick is buying tomato paste from the Highbury Canco which operates from the plant Heinz abandoned.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Ducks Unlimited gets donor support

Ducks Unlimited is getting about $1.25 million from Cargill and McDonald’s Canada to return about 125,000 of cropland to grass and pasture by 2025.

With matching funding, their donations bring the budget to about $3.75 million.

Cargill’s donation is part of its aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the company’s North American beef supply chain by 30 per cent by 2030. The company in October formed an advisory panel to further its BeefUp initiative launched in early 2020. 

“At Cargill, we are in a unique position to drive sustainable beef production across North America,” Heather Tansey, sustainability lead for Cargill’s global protein and animal nutrition and health businesses, said in the release. 

“Through this project, we are partnering with Canadian ranchers to show how cattle are of force for good in conserving this critical ecosystem of soil, grassland and wildlife habitats.”

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Shipping rates soaring

The cost of shipping cargo has tripled and in some cases quadrupled, affecting both agriculture exports and farm-supply inputs.

“We deal with a lot of farm supplies and agriculture, agricultural parts as well,” said Anthony Jones pf Sheldon, Missouri, where he works for Jones Twine and Net Wrap. “We're seeing shipping rates, double, triple, even quadruple in some areas.”

That’s combined with shortages of some polymers used to make plastics and he said “it's possibly also going to cause shortages. So, it's definitely one of those things that if you can be proactive and be able to figure out what you need right now. That's going to be the best decision."

It’s difficult to find online information about ocean freight rates for grain, but Canada’s two main railroad companies have said grain-hauling rates will increase by about 12 per cent this year.

Weaner transport studied

Swine Innovation Pork has funded research that indicates weaners transported long distances experience slight dehydration and those transported shorter distances suffered more acute stress response.

The differences were not enough to raise concerns about long-distance trucking, the researchers from the University of Guelph and the Prairie Swine Centre concluded.

They conducted their studies during summer and would like to do testing under winter conditions but will need to wait for COVID-19 restrictions to ease before they can recruit students to gather data.

The long-distance trials were more than 30 hours, which would be enough to deliver weaners from Ontario to barns in the United States, and the short-time travel was about 90 minutes.

Dr. Jennifer Brown, an ethology research scientist at the Prairie Swine Centre  said more research will yield data that will help agencies such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to establish fact-based regulations.

She said more work needs to be done because weaners differ from market hogs on which transportation welfare regulations are based.

Ergot solution in sight

Researchers at  the University of Saskatchewan think they have a solution for feeding rye to pigs, even if the grain is contaminated with ergot.

They are using steam explosion to change the makeup of alkaloids that are the toxin in ergot.

Dr. Denise Beaulieu, an assistant professor of monogastric nutrition said very low levels of ergot can impair hog performance.

Ergot is also toxic to cattle and poultry and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency identifies it as a concern at amounts greater than one part per million.

In years when there is severe contamination in rye, we might want to take steps to prevent the effects of ergot and or other mycotoxins in case some of the grain is contaminated, Beaulieu said.

Sometimes feed mills use rye with low levels of ergot. The weather influences the amount in rye.

VIDO has PED vaccine

Researchers with the Veterinary Infectious Diseases Organization (VIDO) in Saskatoon are working with InterVac to prepare a vaccine against Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea for market.

Trials that immunized sows have proved helpful in developing immunity for their piglets.

The trials involved delivering the vaccine in combination with semen and artificial insemination.

Dr. Heather Wilson, a research scientist with VIDO-InterVac, said that good vaccine response was developed in three and now it's just a matter of playing with the adjuvants to get an even better response.

We're really excited with the safety profiles for the intrauterine vaccines so far. 

Piglets are being born healthy, we don't seem to have any negative effect on fertility, the sizes seem to be comparable to piglets born to the control gilts, she said.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Health Canada deems gene-edited plant breeding safe

Health Canada has said gene editing is safe for developing improved plant varieties, a position that agrees with the United States and Japan.

It now goes to a public comment period before it can move on to final approval.

“We are pleased to see that Health Canada has come out clearly in support of the safety of plant breeding, and gene editing specifically, in this consultation document,” Pierre Petelle, president and chief executive officer of CropLife Canada, said in a news release.  

Genome editing, or gene editing, is changing the genetic code of a plant with technology like CRISPR-Cas9 — a technique used to cut sections of DNA. Scientists from California and France won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery of CRISPR.

Supporters of gene-edited crops, including many plant breeders, believe it could revolutionize crop development. It will allow scientists to precisely change a plant’s DNA to achieved desired traits, such as improved disease resistance or healthier crops.

As an example, a Minnesota firm has used gene editing to design a soybean that produces high-oleic oil. The company produced four million bushels of the crop

The proposal from Health Canada does not cover gene-edited livestock. 

There are a number of ideas under consideration, such as hornless cattle and boars that produce none of the substances that emit foul odours when their meat is cooked, yet editing that can be reversed if a hog breeder later decides he’d like that animal as a sire.

Tyson goes all-Angus for top brands

Tyson Foods said it is going to use only Angus-certified beef for its top brands – Chairman’s Reserve.

Chairman’s Platinum Reserve will be cut from the upper third of the USDA Choice Angus beef category.

Tyson said 96 per cent of Americans associate Angus with quality.

Do they know that not all black cattle are Angus? 

In fact, I would bet that not even 15 per cent would qualify on DNA testing as purebred Angus. And I doubt there is much, if any, DNA testing by those who grant Angus-certified status to cattle.

COVID-19 in packing plants relatively low

The infection rate for workers in meat and poultry plants was lower in January than in the general United States population.

Meatingplace Magazine reports that the rate among meat-plant workers was 32.64 per 100,000 compared with 78.59 for the general population.

Yet U.S. news media continued to highlight outbreaks at packing plants and news that the national Office of Safety and Health Administration sent letters to Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS USA informing them they are under investigation.

Benjamins continues as chicken chairman

Ed  Benjamins has been re-elected chairman of Chicken Farmers of Ontario and Murray Opstein and Adrian Rehorst are returning as first and second vice-chairmen.

Andrea Velhuizen is the new director for district four.

Mike Nailor has been named interim chief executive officer, taking over from Rob Dougans who retired this week.

The board continues its search for a chief executive officer.

Nailor worked for the board from 1999 to 2006, went to Monsanto and then Valent before joining his wife Brenda’s business, Nailor Regulatory Consulting Inc.

One can hope that Nailor affirms the policy changes ushered in during Dougan's term and does not return to restrictions against small-scale and specialty chicken producers and processors in place when he was with the board before.


Agreement reached on AgriStability

The federal and provincial governments finally all agreed on a proposal to reform AgriStability during a meeting this week.

The reference margin is now gone, support increases from 70 to 80 per cent of margins and the federal government is putting up $90 million, much less than its November offer of $170 million.

The Prairie provinces refused to sign on to the margin increase to 80 per cent. 

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau extended the deadline for farmers to sign on June 30.

“We know AgriStability negotiations are not easy, but removing the reference margin limit does very little for pork producers,” said chair Rick Bergmann, chairman of the Canadian Pork Council.

“We expected that, in these difficult times, the prairie provincial ministers would have considered the challenges faced by pork producers.”



New lobbying coalitions on carbon tax

Two groups have been formed by farmers to lobby over the federal government’s carbon tax.

The Agriculture Carbon Alliance (ACA) is supported by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Canola Growers Association, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, Canadian Horticultural Council, Canadian Pork Council, Chicken Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada, Grain Growers of Canada, and Turkey Farmers of Canada.

Farmers for Climate Solution (FCS) claims to represent more than 20,000 Canadian farmers and is asking the federal government for $300 million to create six national programs to help farmers adopt practices that reduce carbon emissions.

The ACA coalition said it “will work proactively on behalf of Canadian agriculture to advocate for constructive and evidence-based policies regarding carbon pricing, offsets, retrofit funding, and related environmental policies.” 

The FCS said its request includes $10 million for pilot programs to transition on-farm energy beyond diesel to clean energy. 

The FCS members include Canadian Organic Growers, Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network, BC Farmers’ Markets, Cooperative our l’Agriculture de Proximite Ecologique, Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, Ecology Action Centre, Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, equiterre, Farm Folk City Folk, Manitoba Organic Alliance, National Farmers Union (national and Ontario), Organic Council of Ontario, Ontario Sheep Farmrs, Regeneration Canada, Rural Routes to Climate Solutions, Saskatchewan Organics, Seed Change, Young Agrarians and a number of partners and supporters such as the Ivey and Metcalf  Foundations, the Prairie Climate Centre and Vancity.




Thursday, March 25, 2021

Chicken demand picking up

 Chicken Farmers of Canada believes the worst of the slump in chicken demand related to the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be over and is once again calling for production increases to begin late this summer.


The national allocation has been increased by 1.75 per cent over base for quota period A-170;  Chicken Farmers of Ontario will increase its allocation by 2.11 per cent.


“The dark clouds of the COVID-19 pandemic are now giving way to optimism that the worst is behind us,” Chicken Farmers said on its website today, hours before its annual meeting.


“This optimism is tempered somewhat by the looming threat of viral mutations, growing cases with variants of concern, and the uncertainty on the pace of vaccinations,” it said.
By late summer “it is expected that COVID-19 case counts will be contained, restrictions will ease in most places, and that the economy will be transitioning towards normalcy. The anticipated increase in out-of-home consumption and the transition towards normalcy should strengthen the demand for chicken," it said.

Sobeys supports supplier-supermarket oversight

Sobeys has joined an organization representing suppliers to call for regulation of how supermarkets deal with suppliers.

Federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture have launched a study into the relationships after Walmart led a push by supermarkets to demand price reductions from suppliers.

Sobeys owner Empire Company Ltd. is agreeing with the Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada organization in asking the federal government to create a code of conduct for the relationships between retailers and the product vendors who stock their shelves.

The proposal suggests a code similar to one in the United Kingdom, including a dispute resolution system to look into complaints about unfair practices. There, the Groceries Supply Code of Practice adjudicator has the power to fine retailers up to one per cent of annual U.K. revenues.

Empire and FHCP’s proposed code provides for monetary penalties determined by an adjudicator on a case-by-base basis.

In Ontario, farmers and supermarkets have had a long history of abuses that in 1977 led to a judicial inquiry that actually left matters worse because a body that could conduct inquiries was scrapped.

So far no other supermarkets have stepped up like Sobeys to call for regulation.

Last summer Walmart Canada told suppliers it would impose new fees to offset investments in store infrastructure and e-commerce. 

The following week  United Grocers Inc., a buying group for smaller retailers,  sent letters to its suppliers saying it expected “any cost reduction” provided to competitors to also apply to the 6,500 retailers it represents, including Metro Inc. , Alimentation Couch-Tard Inc., Save-On-Foods and others. Then in October, Loblaw Companies Ltd. also told suppliers it would raise fees, and also cited the company’s planned investments in stores and e-commerce operations.

FHCP and Empire’s proposed code specifies that retailers should not arbitrarily change supply agreements, and that the agreements between retailers and suppliers should contain detailed rules that would be used to make any changes to the terms. 

The proposal also suggests that retailers not be allowed to make unilateral deductions to payments without providing detailed reasons, and that a process be put in place for suppliers to challenge those fines. 

The proposal sets out rules for other practices such as charging suppliers for product placement on shelves, the accuracy of retailers’ forecasts on order quantities, suppliers’ contributions to the retailers’ marketing costs and other issues.

“We all recognize that these fees recently imposed by some retailers are really worrying,” federal Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said during a news conference after a ministers’ meeting in November.

A working group the agriculture ministers established then is to report back to them in July.



JBS profits soar

JBS of Brazil reported a 65 per cent increase In profits for last year, including increases from its businesses in North America.

JBS USA Beef reported 28.6 per cent increase in net revenue in 2020 in Brazilian currency, but a 1.7 per cent decline in U.S. dollars.

JBS USA Pork had net revenue increased by 37.1 per cent in Brazilian currency and 4.8 per cent in U.S. dollars, helped by increased exports to China.

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. revenues increased by six per cent to $12.1 billion US, and profit increased by 30.3 per cent in Brazilian currency.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Alberta poultry plant has COVID-19 outbreak

Sunrise Poultry Processors of Lethbridge, Alta., has had 75 people infected with COVID-19.

Alberta Health Services said the virus is being acquired in the community, not at the plant.

The outbreak began in February and as of now there are 38 active cases.

Alberta Health Services also announced that the outbreak at Olymel’s hog-packing plant at Red Deer is over.

However, 518 employees were infected, three died and the plant was closed for 14 days.

Species at Risk subsidies return

The Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program (SARFIP) is back for 2021 and administered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA).

There are programs for croplands, grasslands, shorelines, stream banks, wetlands and woodlands. 

The OSCIA said there are many opportunities available to support critical habitat through projects such as cross fencing for rotational grazing, watering systems for livestock, native tree planting, improved stream crossings, native grassland plantings and invasive species removal, species removal, among others.

The program is open to all agricultural landowners in the province. Projects that provide direct benefits can get funding for 60 per cent of the cost and for indirect benefits 45 per cent.

A bonus of 15 per cent is available for direct benefit projects if landowners enrol in SAR-Watch, a monitoring program that measures the impact of SARFIP projects on the ground for species at risk.

There is an online brochure available at and the website also has application criteria and forms.

To be eligible farms must have a completed 4th Edition Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) workbook and verified Action Plan. 

Applications will be accepted on a first-come basis beginning April 7.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Four firms pay to settle chicken price-fixing

Four large chicken-processing companies have agreed to pay consumers to settle class-action lawsuits without admitting guilt.

Fieldale Farms is scheduled to pay $1.7 million, Peco Foods $1.9 million and George’s Farms $1.9 million, according to previous court filings. 

Tyson Foods earlier agreed to pay $99 million and another $80 million to settle a similar class-action lawsuit filed by wholesalers. The others have not settled the similar wholesalers’  lawsuits against them.

 Judge Thomas Durkin of the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois granted preliminary approval of end-user consumer plaintiffs’ lawsuit.



Now it’s Mexico’s turn

Now it’s Mexico that United States farm groups are complaining about trade issues.

The Canadian dairy industry is under attack by United States dairy farmers and processors over its handling of import permits and the pricing of milk for processors.

With Mexico, the complaints are much broader, but potatoes are at the top of the list.

The Mexican potato cartel CONPAPA , has applied to Mexico’s supreme court to prevent their federal government from implementing regulations allowing for the importation of U.S. fresh potatoes.

A group of 27 U.S. farm organizations say the primary question the cases ask the Court to resolve is not limited to potatoes, but instead alleges that the Mexican government has no authority to provide market access to any agricultural commodity. A negative outcome in these cases could have far-reaching impacts for U.S.-Mexico agricultural trade.

Additional concerns raised include a ban on glyphosate and genetically modified corn, increased obstacles to dairy trade, an organic export certification requirement, a state-sponsored campaign disparaging corn sweeteners from the U.S., a cessation of review and approval of biotechnology applications, implications from meat industry market access and geographical indications, and a new front-of-pack labeling regulation. 

These issues, along with a high number of investigations on Mexico’s fresh produce exports to the U.S., hamper the competitiveness of U.S. farmers, ranchers, and other members of the food and agriculture sector, the associations said.

The National Potato Council and 26 leading food and agriculture associations outlined these complaints in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai Monday calling for help to open and restore markets in Mexico.




Burger King to sell veggie burgers

Burger King Canada is going to start selling veggie burgers made by Impossible Foods of California.

It already sells them in the United States and recently introduced them to some outlets in Ontario.

They will become available across Canada on April. 12.

Most other fast-food chains that market veggie burgers buy them from Beyond Meat, also of California.

Warren Buffet controls Burger King and Bill Gates of Microsoft fame is an investor in Impossible Foods.


Weston Foods is for sale

Weston Foods is for sale, announced Galen G. Weston, company president and chief executive officer of its holding company, George Weston Ltd.

Weston Foods produces bread, rolls and other baked goods in Canada and the U.S. and had $2.1 billion in sales in 2020. It’s largest Ontario bakery is in Kitchener.

In connection with the sale, the company also announced the retirement of Loblaw president Sarah Davis, effective May 6.

Davis will be succeeded by Galen G. Weston, who will return to his role as chairman and president at Loblaw in addition to his current job as chairman and chief executive officer at George Weston.

Weston Bakery and Grupo Bimbo of Mexico dominate the bread market in Ontario. Bimbo bought Canada Bread from Maple Leaf Foods Inc. in 2014.

Feds fund plastic waste management

The federal agriculture department is giving $4.5 million for five projects that will improve plastic waste management, on-farm sustainability and bioplastics research.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau made the announcement with Cleanfarms, a national non-profit industry stewardship organization.

Cleanfarms will receive up to $1.1 million to develop a strategy to responsibly manage the estimated 60,000 tonnes of plastic waste generated on Canadian farms every year.

There will also be projects to help Canadian farmers “remain leaders in sustainable, climate-smart agriculture”.

“Our government is also investing over $2 million under innovations solutions Canada,” added Bibeau. “These funds will support advance testing for more sustainability-produced mulch for Canada’s agriculture sector.”

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Farm carbon sinks funded

The federal agriculture and environment departments are offering subsidies to projects that work as carbon sinks.

They are offering up to $185 million over a 10-year period starting with grants of $100,000 to develop proposals for “regional collaborative hubs” called Living Labs.

In the second phase which could open as early as this fall, groups could get up to $10 million per project and backing from a team of federal agriculture department scientists.

“This program allows researchers, farmers and other groups to work closely together and test their ideas on farm to evaluate them in real-world circumstances to achieve meaningful results,” said Mary Robinson, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

The federal agriculture department said this new program is based on an expanded model of its Living Labs networks which are already underway in Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba.

“The aim is for every province in Canada to have at least one collaboration hub,” the government said. 

The hubs will centre on farms where best practices would be developed, with examples such as cover cropping, intercropping, conversion of marginal land to permanent cover, shelterbelts, nutrient management and including pulses in rotations.

Friday, March 19, 2021

First SWIFT, now EORN

Rogers Communications Inc. has won the competition to build internet services for rural communities in Eastern Ontario.

The federal and provincial governments will each contribute $71 million to the Eastern Ontario Regional Network. It will be similar to SouthWestern Internet Fibre Technology which is busy signing contracts to provide internet services to rural residences and businesses.

Bell Canada was bidding against Rogers for the deal; Rogers said it will invest $150 million in the partnership.

The project involves building 300 cellular towers and upgrading 350 existing ones and in total will cost more than $300-million. 

“This allows us to reach areas that we normally couldn’t because they’re far off the beaten track,” said Dean Prevost, president of Connected Home and Rogers for Business, divisions of Rogers that serve businesses and public-sector clients.

“When it’s done in 2025, this will be an enormous expansion to what exists there today,” Prevost said. Local residents and businesses can expect to start seeing service improvements by the end of the year, he said.

Buttergate investigations underway

Lab tests of 17 samples of butter indicate that palm oil is probably not a factor in why some butters seem to be harder, according to Alejandro Marangoni, a professor of food science at the University of Guelph.

He found there was only a weak correlation between palmitic acid levels and butter hardness.

CBC Marketplace and the Globe and Mail have been hyping the issue for more than a month, labelling it buttergate and prompting Dairy Farmers of Canada to appoint a panel of experts to delve into the issue and maintain dairy farmers’ stellar image with consumers. 

So CBC is looking for other reasons for why some butters may be harder, and it turned to Martin Scanlon, the dean of the faculty of agricultural and food sciences at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

He suggested that one factor is the recent rapid adoption of robotic milking machines on dairy farms, milking cows more frequently so fat globules do not stay in the udder for as long, resulting in hard fat crystals forming, which may impact the firmness of the final product.

Another factor is what surging demand — up 12 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic – so butter makers may have reduced the aging time for the milk fat and sped up cooling after churning to meet the demand. That quick cooling could leave small, hard fat crystals in the butter, Scanlon said.

"Once you start cooling these fat crystals very fast, there's actually a consequence on the hardness," he said.

Dairy Farmers of America makes offer for Dean Foods

Dairy Farmers of America has made a $425 million offer to buy 57 of Dean Foods’ processing facilities out of bankruptcy court.

Investment banking firm Evercore Group said it has received 99 offers for the other plants not covered by the offer from Dairy Farmers of America.

Bidders have until April 13 to file their offers with the bankruptcy court.

Dean Foods of Chicago was one of the largest milk processing companies in North America.

Bibeau challenges provinces on AgriStability

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau is challenging provinces to move on her offer to enhance AgriStability with an offer of $170 million in increased funding.

She and Jim Carr, appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to speak for the Prairie provinces said “we are asking for a clear indication from the three Prairie provinces whether they will sign on or not.”

They asked the Prairie agriculture ministers whether they have taken the proposal Bibeau made in November to their premiers.

Those changes, the MPs said, “could lead to an increased payout from AgriStability of 50 per cent, or $170 million nationally, into the pockets of farmers who need it the most.”

The 2022 signup deadline for 2022 is April 30. The federal government’s fiscal year ends March 31 which might have a role in Bibeau’s comment that her offer could be retroactive if provinces act promptly.

She rejected calls by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association to hold another federal-provincial-territorial meeting of agriculture ministers to get the deal done.




Soybean processing plant planned

Protein Industries Canada is heading a consortium that is launching a $20-million study into the viability of building a soybean processing plant in Canada.

It would produce edible proteins that currently are imported from the United States.

The study includes plant breeding to develop soybean varieties well suited to this type of processing.

Protein Industries Canada is putting up $7.3 million to create a new company, Canada Protein Ingredients.

The other members of the consortium are DJ Hendrick International and  Semences Prograin, which will develop the special soybean varieties, Agrocorp Processing Singapore and Synthesis Network, an Ontario consulting and communications firm specializing in agriculture and food.

They hope to produce 25,000 tonsne of food-grade soybeans per year. The plant could be located in Ontario, Quebec or Southern Manitoba.

Bill Greuel, chief executive officer for Protein Industries Canada, said “we hope to be running by end of 2022, which means we will be purchasing the 2022 soybean 

While pulses and other crops have made inroads, Greuel and representatives of other organizations involved in the collaboration emphasized soybeans continue to dominate the plant protein market with a 90 per cent share.

Jim Millington, chief executive officer for Canada Protein Ingredients, said the “clean, neutral flavour” of soybeans makes them ideal for this purpose.