Friday, April 30, 2021

Judy Dirksen appointed to Appeals Tribunal

Judy Dirksen of Harriston has been appointed to a two-year term on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.

Notice about the appointment came a couple of weeks after news that she has also been appointed to a two-year term on the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board.

Dirksen is a veteran chair and director of Veal Farmers on Ontario and a councillor and deputy mayor of Minto township.

China focuses on genetic gains

China is focusing attention on genetic gains to improve productivity and quality, reports Bloomberg news.

In the short term it will continue to import hogs, dairy cattle and chicken genetics, the report said, but in the longer term plans to have its own genetic-improvement programs.

As examples, Bloomberg cited government sources that estimate sow productivity is about 30 per cent short of Western-country performance and milk production about 20 per cent lower.

Pig performance is a prime candidate for improvement because the country lost about half of its breeding herd to African Swine Fever and many new and large operations are being built to start from scratch.

There the focus is on pigs that are ready for market at a heavier weight and have improved feed conversion. Both have been part of genetic-improvement programs implemented by Canadian swine breeders for decades.

Canadian swine and dairy genetics have been world leaders for almost a century.

Organic production costs now available

Organic farmers now have some benchmark cost-of-production figures to help them identify where and how they can improve their management.

Stuart Oke, communications and membership manager for the Organic Council of Ontario, said that “having reliable data that can act as a foundation for a new enterprise is a game-changer.”

Organic farmers provided financial data for 2018 for many different crops and livestock operations.

The crop data is more reliable because more farmers provided information; the dairy data is slim.

The project also offers those transitioning into organic farming a simulator into which they can enter their own plans and projections.

The Organic Council of Ontario said it’s cost-of-production model is better than the one from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAFRA).

For example, OMAFRA includes hand weeding which few organic farmers do, and seed purchasing instead of the common practice of using saved seed.

Dairy Farmers of Ontario and the Organic Meadow cooperative both conducted organic-focused cost-of-production analyses, but the results were not made public because so few farms participated.



Thursday, April 29, 2021

Feds to require leafy green pre-harvest testing

The federal government is going to require growers of leafy greens in the Central Coast Growing Region of California to pre-test for food-poisoning bacteria before they begin harvesting.

It comes after repeated problems every fall since 2017 with E.coli 0157:H7.

One year investigations identified the exact same strain that was causing the food poisoning and massive recalls in a drainage ditch about a mile from the fields growing leafy greens.

That ditch contamination was cattle manure.

ASF continues to spread in China

China's agriculture ministry today confirmed there has been another outbreak of African Swine Fever, this time a farm in the northern region of Inner Mongolia.

It is the 10th outbreak to be reported so far this year.

Reuters reports that the outbreak was detected on a farm near Baotou city of 432 pigs, of which 343 died. Two other outbreaks have recently been reported in Xinjiang, northwest of Inner Mongolia.

"The epidemic is occurring in spots and no regional outbreaks have occurred," said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in a statement on its website.

Most cases of the disease go unreported, however, and the industry has said swine fever in northern China had a significant impact on hog production in the first quarter of this year, Reuters said.

China will divide the country into five zones from 1 May in an attempt to contain the disease.

Only breeding pigs and piglets will be allowed to be moved across regional borders.



Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Christine Greydanus appointed

Christine Greydanus of Petrolia has been appointed to a two-year term as vice-chair of the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board.

Jack and Christine Greydanus are broiler hatching egg producers and were featured by Farm and Food Care in its Faces of Farming calendar.

They are both graduates of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program and Christine returned to university to earn a Masters degree.

They also have a greenhouse pepper operation.

Christine has also served on municipal council and as a leader of several farm organizations.

Some Brazilian beef packers closed

Some Brazilian beef packers are shutting down because they can’t make a profit at sharply higher prices for cattle.

“The price of cattle has risen by about 60 per cent over a year and the industry was able to pass through 40 per cent of costs at best,”said Paulo Mustefaga, president of trade group Abrafigo. “They are having trouble making ends meet.”

He told Reuters news agency that many small and medium-sized plants closed and even Marfrig, one of the largest, temporarily suspended operations at two of its plants.

The 15-kilo arroba, a Brazilian benchmark for cattle prices, hit a historical high of 320 reais ($70.53 Cdn) in recent days, boosted by low animal supplies and heated demand for Brazilian beef exports, particularly from China.

Mustefaga said another factor is belt-tightening by consumers whose incomes are suffering because of COVID-19.

Marfrig, which owns National Beef in the U.S., confirmed to Reuters that it sent employees on furlough at a unit in the town of Alegrete for 30 days. Slaughtering there resumed April 1.

The company also said it temporarily halted a plant in Rondonia state.




Excalia released for treating apple scab

Nufarm, in partnership with Valent Canada, recently released Excalia, a new fungicide that controls apple scab and mildew and for sugar beets suppresses rhizoctonia crown rust and root rot.

It is a systemic fungicide that is taken into leaves and spread across their entire surface. The active ingredient is Indiflin.

“The key with most diseases is early season preventative treatment,” said Alicia Sebastian, horticulture sales specialist at Nufarm.

In apples, Excalia must be applied between green tip and petal fall. 

Excalia is highly active against the apple scab pathogen and it works to inhibit spore production, spore germination and actively growing fungi. 

For powdery mildew protection, Excalia must be applied with a silicone surfactant and it tank mixes well with other fungicides and foliar nutrients, the companies said.

Indiflin is a novel fungicide active ingredient discovered by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese company that started in fertilizers and diversified into agricultural chemicals.


Indiflin belongs to a class of compounds known as succinate dehydrogenase inhibitors (SDHI) that have a mode of action inhibiting energy production process in disease-causing fungi. 

Evaluations conducted in-house and externally have ascertained that it works well  against major plant diseases in the European region, such as brown rust on wheat, net blotch on barley, and black scurf on potatoes, as well as other diseases occurring on various crops in other regions. 

The company hopes to have it registered for use in European Union countries by 2023.




CBS Bio Platforms unveils Bio-Catalyst technology

CBS Bio Platforms of Calgary is announcing the launch of Bio-Catalyst technology which is a suite of products to enhance diets for hogs, cattle, poultry and fish.

It enhances feed enzymes to make the most of rations. That reduces feed costs, extracts more nutrients from alternative or opportunity ingredients, protects health, reduces environmental impacts and minimizes antibiotic use, the company said.

“All advantages are amplified due to the dramatically increased precision, sophistication and synergy inherent to the new platform,” the company said.

“Bio-Catalyst technology represents the new future of feed enzymes –  offering greater power and versatility than has ever been possible with this category of feed technology,” said Dr. Anna Rogiewicz of the novel feed enzyme program at the University of Manitoba.

“The science underlying this technology leverages what we have learned over more than 37 years of research and development, tailored specifically to provide today’s farmers with the best tools for the success of their farms,” she said. 

What’s Your FSP Fingerprint? is an interactive tool available on the CBS Feed Science Platforms website that enables farmers to input information about their operation and obtain an analysis of the best unique combination of FSPs to improve results.

CBS iNSPect tool, also available on the same website, is another interactive option that dives deeper on utilizing Bio-Catalyst technology to maximize dietary utilization. It allows farmers to input information on the type of diet they are feeding and receive instant analysis on dietary non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs) such as cellulose, arabinoxylan, beta-glucan, mannan, pectins and various other NSP components. 

The tool then allows farmers to select and compare the best Bio-Catalyst options to address the NSPs in order to boost efficiency, nutrition capture and a range of related benefits spanning animal performance, health and reduced environmental footprint. 

A base level is available for all users. Accessibility to a premium advanced version is available by contacting CBS.



Nanotechnology helps boost yields

Nanotechnology developed at the University of Toronto is boosting yields on more than one million acres of crops in the United States, but so far not in Canada.

Vive Crop is the company marketing the technology offered via Allospere, the company formed from the research.

Allospere illustration

The technique encapsulates pesticides in polymer, then is delivered by RNA (messenger genetic material) into plant tissues. In that respect it is similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

In the case of potatoes, it has boosted yields by as much as 2,000 pounds per acre, reports Matthew Halliday of the MaRS centre in Toronto. MaRS is a government-formed entity to commercialize research.

Darren Anderson, chief executive officer of Vive Crop, said one sugar beet grower in the United States was able to eliminate a second pesticide application, saving 40,000 gallons of water and 220 gallons of diesel fuel.

It has also been applied to fields producing corn, sugar beets, soybeans and alfalfa. In corn it has been used to control nematodes; in soybeans to deliver innoculants.

Vive Crop said it has conducted more than 400 field trials over 15 years.

It says the technology reduces field trips, saves water, time and hassles.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency approved the technology and Vive Crop products in 2013, but Health Canada has yet to issue a decision on the company’s applications.

Psigryph is another company using nanotechnology for agriculture and food system applications. It is led by Gopinadhan Paliyath of the University of Guelph.

He estimates it will take two to three years to gain government approvals for his Nanopect technology. It is derived from cherries and, as with Allospere, is designed to deliver crop treatments more efficiently.

Paliyath is also working to develop products that could be sprayed on fruits and vegetables to keep them fresh longer by slowing thee ripening process.

He said in some cases shelf life could be increased up to four-fold.

Paliyath said the technology holds promise for improving the environment by reducing the amount of pesticides and fertilizers required to optimum yields.

John Dutcher, research chairman in the Novel Sustainable Nanomaterials program at the University of Guelph, said in a paper he has written about agriculture and food applications that one of the challenges will be consumer acceptance.

He recommends a public education program to avoid the resistance faced by genetically modified organisms (GMOs) such as better corn varieties.

EU says feed not too risky for ASF

The European Food Safety Authority said the risk of spreading African Swine Fever via feed is relatively low.

The biggest risks are moving infected pigs or coming into contact with infected wild pigs.

Three independent groups assessed various risks for spreading the deadly, contagious disease and said compound feed (mash, pellets), feed additives and contaminated vehicles were the highest ranked in the EKE model. 

While the scientific opinion concluded that the potential for transmission through these three pathways is lower than for several others, the risk cannot be completely excluded.

I beg to differ; if feed ingredients are contaminated, I'd say the risk is really high.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Check out all pig deaths

The Swine Health Information Center is encouraging pork producers to question every death and to have each one investigated to make sure it wasn’t caused by African Swine Fever.

If that disease ever shows up in Canada, it would have devastating consequences for exports and for any herds that get infected.

It is a deadly disease that took out about half of the pigs in China which had more pigs than any nation in the world.

The Swine Health Information Center is warning that African Swine Fever variants have shown up in China and that some vaccines used there have resulted in chronic infection and vaccine virus shedding.

Dr. Dan Rock at the University of Illinois conducted a review for the Swine Health Information Centre which resulted in its advice for pork producers.

Rock said the variants may make it more difficult to detect the disease.

Dr. Paul Sundberg, director of the centre, said the level of risk the variants pose to North America’s pork industry is difficult to quantify, but they are reason for increased vigilance.

Our biggest opportunity to prevent a problem is to do everything we can to question the health status of our herds when something looks out of line, he said.

These different variants and the original virus can look very much like salmonellosis, he said, or like hot PRRS or other things that we deal with as endemic disease in North America, he said.


Even if it's one mortality and you think that looks just like it was before, question that and get a professional diagnosis, he advised.




Saputo names a chief operating officer

Saputo has picked Leanne Cutts to become chief operating officer for Europe and international operations.

She will be based in Australia. She comes to Saputo from banker HSBC Holdings plc where she was the chief marketing officer.

Previously, Cutts held senior management positions in Australia, Asia and the United Kingdom.

At HSBC she was responsible for overseeing marketing, new product development, manufacturing and operations for global companies in the food and beverage industries and in the consumer healthcare industry.

She will report to Kai Bockmann, president and chief operating officer at Saputo.





Agribition plans a live show

Canadian Western Agribition has plans for a show this fall that will be the largest it has ever organized, including national competitions for12 breeds.

It will be the first time they all have had their national competitions in one place.

This is Agribition’s 50th anniversary. It long ago overtook the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto as the premiere beef breeds competition.

There will also be a national barbecue competition and the champion will qualify for the world championship competition in Kansas City.

Regular programming, including a professional rodeo, will be back.

The show is scheduled for Nov. 22-27.

Last year the live event was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but virtual events drew 1.2 million visits from 87 countries.

That has prompted the organization to launch Agribition Connect as an international marketplace.

Last year Agribition lot $744,000; organizers had expected about $4 million in revenues from attendance.

Bull gores mother and son

A bull in Germany gored an 81-year-old woman and her 56-year-old son to death, then escaped from the barn and rampaged through the streets of Lorch.

Police brought in a hunter who killed the bull after it repeatedly broke out of makeshift barriers.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Bait kills wild pigs

Scientists at the Louisiana State University AgCenter and the university’s chemistry department are developing a bait and delivery system to help reduce the population of feral pigs. 

Glen Gentry, LSU AgCenter feral hog specialist, and John Pojman, a chemistry professor, have been working for years to create a bait and delivery system that minimizes the risk to off-target animals, the LSU AgCenter reports.

Scientists had to choose a formula that was more attractive to hogs based on features such as smell and texture than other animals such as deer or raccoons.

“It took us two years to determine what we were going to use in our matrix,” Gentry said in the release. “We landed on dehydrated fish. But that’s not before we went through things such as maple syrup or marshmallows.”

They will use sodium nitrite, as the poison. While it is a common food additive in products such as bacon, it is lethal to pigs at fairly low levels.

The challenge with sodium nitrite is that it breaks when it becomes moist; then it gives off a chlorine-like odour that repels pigs.

Their first thought was to encapsulate the sodium nitrite, similar to a gel cap. But Pojman and his doctoral students came up with an alternative idea.

“All we had to do was raise the pH (acidity),” Pojman said in the article. “Using some basic general chemistry and putting some additives to keep the pH high enough, we can make it so it is stable.”

Doctoral students Anthony Mai and Anowar Khan helped develop the bait, which has a round and soft texture. When dropped from a height of approximately four feet, it will bounce nearly a foot, the researchers said. 

The soft texture allows the pigs to swallow it whole, leaving no remains of the bait for any other animals that might come along.

Feral hogs have a unique metabolism, the report said, so sodium nitrite is more effective and poses a low risk to humans. 

Even if the hogs ate a sublethal dose and a hunter were to kill it and eat it later, researchers said there is no danger to them.

 Scavengers could also safely feed on a carcass.




Regina gets canola crushers

Cargill is building a $350-million canola-crushing plant in Regina.

Viterra has received council approval to buy 634 acres and said it will build the world’s largest integrated facility for crushing and processing canola.

It will have capacity to crush 2.5 million tonnes per year.

Viterra did not say how much the plant will cost to build, but when it asked to buy the land, it said it would be used for an $800 million development that would generate $500 million in gross domestic product for the city.

Federated Co-operatives Ltd. opposed the land sale because it  said it will interfere with proposals to build another canola crushing plant on the site.

Federated Co-operatives said its plans are for developments worth $2 billion – the canola crushing plant and a renewable diesel plant adjacent to its refinery.

Cargill said it plans to have its Regina plant running by early 2024 and said it is modernizing its plants in Camrose and Clavet over the next 12 months to increase processing capacity and “broaden capabilities” at both locations.

Hilda sets lifetime milk record

Hilda has set a record of 200,627 litres of milk produced in her 16 years. She died before her record could be certified.

“It was pretty exciting for us,” said Andy Buttles, who owns Stone-Front Farm in Wisconsin. His wife, Lynn, said “it was something to kind of watch and get excited about.”

The record she broke stood for 18 years. The Buttles have a number of daughters that are milking well, so it may not be 18 more years before Hilda’s record is broken.

“It’s pretty hard to do, and it’s pretty tough, it’s kind of like the iron man record,”Buttles said.

He credited genetics and team management for helping Hilda break the record.

Stone-Front Farm has always been focused on genetics, merchandising offspring and selling embryos overseas and sold bulls to market seamen.

“Besides making milk it’s kind of the part that’s fun and exciting for us, we’re kind of passionate about it,” Buttles said.

“Nice to see her live on through her daughters and granddaughters and kind of a legacy she has left for us here,” Buttles said.

Some Maple Leaf workers get vaccinations

Workers at some, but not all, plants operated by Maple Leaf Foods are getting access to vaccinations against COVID-19.

Access varies by local health unit protocols.

In Peel Region, if the health unit gets enough vaccine, workers at four poultry plants will have an opportunity for on-site vaccination. That’s at Walker Road, Courtney Park and Canning in Brampton who hasn't already received a vaccine to participate.

Employees at the company’s Viau plant in Montreal may also access vaccines through a mobile clinic run by local public health officials, Maple Leaf said in a press release.

But the company’s news release did not mention its huge meat-processing facility in Hamilton, distribution centre in Guelph or hog-slaughter plant at Brandon, Man.

The company did say it will encourage health units to offer on-site vaccination at all of its locations and will encourage employees to take advantage of the opportunities.



China to need pork for years

China will need to import pork for three or four more years,  according a a report from the University of Missouri’s Food & Agriculture Policy Research Institute.

That’s because African Swine Fever continues to plague the Chinese hog-producing sector and delay full recovery of the national hog population.

The institute said China's pork imports are estimated to exceed three million tonnes per year until 2024 because production will remain below pre-1918 levels until 2025 and consumption until 2016.

“[T]he global markets were expected to start recovering from ASF in 2021,” the researchers wrote. “However, recent outbreaks in China suggest that it may be a few more years until sow and hog herds return to pre-2018 levels.”



Friday, April 23, 2021

Scrapie researchers find culprit genes

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said two genes have been found to confer some resistance to scrapie in goats.

Researchers earlier found two in sheep and are recommending that selective breeding be used so offspring have the 171RR genotype. They will inherit at least one gene that confers resistance to scrapie.

For goats the CFIA reports that data from Canada, the United States and the European Union agree that goats having a single copy of either the S146 or K222 alleles have shown a strong degree of resistance to natural infection with scrapie.

Scrapie is a fatal disease that affects the central nervous system of sheep and goats. 

The technical name is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) and is similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk, and Creutzfelt-Jakob disease in humans.


Scrapie, BSE and CWD are reportable diseases under the federal Health of Animals Act. The challenge for farmers is that the disease cannot be confirmed until an autopsy is performed after the animals die, making it difficult to identify infected animals in a herd.



Judy Dirksen receives appointment

Judy Dirksen of Harriston has been appointed to a two-year term on the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board.

She has 20 years as a director of Veal Farmers of Ontario, 10 of them as chair.

She has also served as a director and chair of the Agricultural Adaptation Council and on the Presidents' Council. She is currently councillor for the Town of Minto.

Researchers make ersatz honey

California inventors have found a way to make honey without bees.

MeliBio, a start-up company in Berkeley, Calif., has developed a technology to make synthetic honey that involves “plant science, synthetic biology and precision fermentation,” its website says.

“Our first product is plant based,” MeliBio chief executive Darko Mandich told “We proudly say that our product is honey but not produced by bees.”

The company initially plans to sell its honey to food processing companies for use as an ingredient.

It’s not the first ersatz honey. In 2019, a group of students in Israel won a competition held by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a synthetic honey made from bacteria.

A big question remains about whether the products ought to be labelled to reveal how they are produced.

Now, if they can only find a way to make ersatz pollination.




Woodlot organizations merge

The Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF) is merging with the Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA). Both already share office space and one staff member at Kemptville.

OWA executive director John Pineau is now heading both organizations.


EOMF general manager Astrid Nielsen wants to devote her full attention to her forest management company and Jim Hendry, who managed tbe woodlot certification program, is semi-retiring and working at his forest management company.

Pineau says the move is being viewed by both organizations as “an opportunity” that had been talked about as a possibility for several years.



Cargill poultry re-opens in London

The Cargill chicken-processing plant in London is open again. It was closed April 13 because 87 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Eventually 112 of the 900 workers tested positive.

The plant processes about 80,000 chickens per day.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Goats, cervids must be traceable

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has added goats and cervids to reglations requiring traceability.

The regulations already apply to bison, cattle, sheep and pigs.

Listowel innovates for fair

 Listowel is not about to let the 165th anniversary be eliminated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

So the Listowel Agricultural Society leaders have got their thinking caps on, dreaming up ideas to overcome the challenges of social distancing, bans on large gatherings, etc.

One project is offering packets of sunflower and pumpkin seeds for a growing competition.

Another is drive-through meals, drive-in fireworks and an Explore Your Community Scavenger Hunt/Car Rally.

The celebrations will stretch over the first two weeks of July.

They have a website to check out new ideas as they are implemented: .




Students are adopting cows

More than one million students in 50 of the United States have adopted a calf and are learning more about dairy farming.

The Adopt A Cow program began in Pennsylvania and connects classrooms with specific calves.

For example, Karen Doster of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin said “our initial goal was to reach 75 classrooms or about 1,500 students, but so many schools and educators were interested in learning the real story of where dairy comes from, the program expanded to reach 1,640 classrooms and more than 28,000 students.”

Synergy Family Dairy in Pulaski, Roden Echo Valley Farm near West Bend and Creamery Creek Holsteins of Bangor were the first Wisconsin dairy farms to participate in the program. Their calves Sweetie, Cookie, Ruby, Jemma, Petunia, Penny, Peanut, Sharlamagne, Seroogy and Dorito were all adopted by the classrooms.

The children learn about diets, housing and many other aspects of dairy farming.

Herbicides supplies are tight

Retailers in the mid-west United States are warning farmers that herbicides such as glyphosate are in short supply and prices are rising by about 20 per cent.

They are even advising farmers who have pre-ordered herbicides to pick them up lest they are snapped up by others.

“My retailers say while they have most of the glyphosate needed in-house, replacement product is very hard to get, and they’re taking care of prepaid customers first,” said Ken Ferrie, owner of Crop-Tech Consulting, Heyworth, Ill.

Bob Hartzler, Iowa State University Extension weed specialist, also told Farm Journal reporter Rhonda Brooks that he is aware of shortages.

A retailer in Missouri said both branded and generic glyphosate prices have gone up about 20 per cent and many retailers are on allocation and currently unable to secure any additional supply of the generic herbicide.

Ferrie’s advice to farmers: “If you have prepaid for glyphosate, you need to call and take possession of it.”

That’s likely true for a number of other crop protection products this spring, according to Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee Extension weed specialist.

“My understanding is that a lot of other popular herbicides have been allocated and could be short at times this spring like Liberty, Anthem Maxx, Zidua, generic fomesafen, just to name a few, he wrote in an article.




Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Tobacco farmers regain control

 Tobacco farmers are regaining control of the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers Marketing Board.

The Ontario Farm Products Commission has been appointing its five directors, but farmers will elect their own slate at this year’s annual meeting.

Two will serve a three-year term and three will serve a two-year term.

The commission has also enacted regulations so the board can issue licences and collect fees. 

All tobacco growers will require a board licence, but there will be no production controls.

The board collapsed under competitive pressure from illegal tobacco production and imports.

In 2008 then federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz offered $300 million to buy out farmers and their quota.

The money came from a $1.15-billion penalty on Rothmans Benson & Hedges and Imperial Tobacco cigarette companies for illegally importing cigarettes