China has changed tactics and has been waiting for market lows to buy additional feed grains, reports CoBank Knowledge Exchange.
Last year China bought record amounts of U.S. feed grains sending prices soaring.
CoBank predicts China’s accelerated demand for grains is expected to continue, “however, the current U.S. grain run has entered a new phase marked by significant price volatility, and China is leveraging that volatility to its advantage.”
“China will remain an active buyer of U.S. grain through at least the 2021-22 marketing year,” said Kenneth Scott Zuckerberg, lead grain and farm supply economist with CoBank.
In addition to waiting for price dips, China is placing more orders for upcoming harvests.
China has already contracted for 10.7 million tonnes of new crop corn and three million of soybeans.
“Barring cancellations, these orders lend confidence that U.S. feed grain exports to China will continue to be strong during the next six months,” said Zuckerberg.
So far, the U.S. has exported 57.1 million tonnes of soybeans, corn and grain sorghum to China.
Last year in that same period it was 15.5 million tonnes and in 2019 it was 7.9.
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates China’s hog slaughter will increase to 520 million this year compared with 460 million last year.
The University of Missouri Food & Agricultural Policy Research Institute has increased its estimate from 520 to 630 million hogs which would be an increase of 21 per cent which means a similar increase for feed.
China’s pork prices have been declining so much that the government has begun to buy pork to put into its reserves.
The International Dairy Federation has issued guidelines for interpreting results from testing milk for bacterial counts using different mathematical formulas.
The federation said most routine analysis is carried out with automated flow cytometry-based technologies and provide a total bacteria count, with conversion equations of instruments’ units to units of the classic Anchor method (Standard Plate Count) developed over the years.
However, it said conversion equations can vary considerably across countries or between laboratories.
This can cause problems in the international trade of dairy products as well as challenges within the relationships between international dairy companies, it said.
“This guidance document is a must-read for all those evaluating total bacteria counts and especially those organizing and using bacteria testing schemes such as regulators, milk producers, farm advisors, supply chain managers and purchasers of quality dairy products.
That would include Dairy Farmers of Ontario which the Ontario government has made responsible for testing milk quality.
Lacking provincial government guidance on allowable gatherings, the International Plowing Match has been cancelled for the second year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board of directors said it was a “gut-wrenching decision” but they needed to sign contracts now if the match was to proceed.
“Over the past weeks and months, we have been relentless in seeking information from the Ontario Government in regard to the attendance capacity limits and the addition restrictions for large events such as the IPM. To date, we have been unable to receive any of the necessary information,” the board of directors said in a news release.
“The IPM plans were certainly in place for this year’s event but we reached the critical deadlines when contracts needed to be completed and the physical building of the RV Park and Tented City needed to begin.
“Proceeding without the knowledge of the health restrictions, etc. was not feasible nor in the best interests of all the IPM Stakeholders.”
The board confirmed that the 103rdInternational Plowing Match will be held in North Grenville (United Counties of Leeds Grenville) at Kemptville, Ontario.
It is now scheduled for September 20thto 24th, 2022, at the former Kemptville Agricultural College campus and the former Kemptville Agricultural College farm.
The National Farmers Union has outlined a list of policies for the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture to ponder when they are setting the Next Policy Framework.
So far business risk management programs and funding have seemed to be dominant in their deliberations, plus increasing exports.
The NFU urges ministers to:
- wisely and fairly address food system weaknesses made visible by the pandemic,
- reverse biodiversity loss in our agricultural landscapes,
- drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and help farmers adapt to the climate crisis,
- rebuild rural prosperity by addressing inequality in the allocation of farm revenues and net income, and
- address the alarming loss of farmers by making farming both possible and attractive for the next generation.
“While governments have primarily measured success by export growth, we recommend that the NPF use other indicators to reflect the range of problems that need to be addressed,” the NFU said in a news release.
The NFU’s priorities for the NPF include:
-increasing infrastructure capacity for local, regional and domestic processing, storage, transportation and distribution;
-promoting farmer-led innovation and knowledge-sharing;
-upholding supply management, including support for alternative production and processing opportunities;
-helping farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change risks by setting targets for GHG emission reduction;
-funding new agri-environmental programs;
-establishing a Canadian Farm Resilience Administration; building public trust in the food system by regulating for, and promoting ecologically friendly farm practices that a growing proportion of consumers demand;
- ensuring BRM (business risk management) programs are accessible, relevant and equitable useful for farms of different sizes and production systems, and supporting land access for new and young farmers and marginalized groups.
The federal and provincial governments are investing $150,00 to instal specialized lighting, climate controls and to upgrade the weather station at the Bradford Research Station.
“This new automated system will help create optimal growing conditions for greenhouse-started crops before they are transplanted to the field at the beginning of the outdoor growing season,” the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said.
On hand for the announcement were Caroline Mulroney, MPP for York- Simcoe, and Ontario’s Minister for Transportation and for Francophone Affairs, and Helena Jaczek, Member of Parliament for Markham—Stouffville.
Bayer has chosen 27 farmers in seven European countries to develop its plan to help farmers reduce carbon in the atmosphere.
The farmers will get coaching from a Bayer team on initiatives such as cover crops, tillage reduction, crop rotations and precision nitrogen application.
They will have software that will document their initiatives so they can claim government subsidies.
“Our Carbon Program actively contributes to the development of carbon farming activities in Europe by working directly with farmers in their role as primary producers and involving companies throughout the food value chain,”said Lionnel Alexandre, Carbon Business Venture Lead for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Bayer Crop Science.
“This collaboration at a food value chain level will help decarbonize the European food system in a way that works for farmers, the environment and consumers,” he said.
This is a great story by Jim Algie, a farm reporter I have known for decades.
In July 2019, Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel Pinsonnault signed off on the distribution of Canadian assets belonging to an insolvent U.S.-based company called BioAmber Inc.
The assets included the patents, processing equipment and real estate of a groundbreaking, industrial plant that opened in Sarnia in 2015. The business was designed to lead the way from petrochemicals toward a new, renewable chemicals industry based partly on raw materials from agriculture.
The judge’s order in BioAmber insolvency proceedings identified a long list of creditors with outstanding claims exceeding $63 million, according to court-appointed monitors at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
The list included four federal government agencies and Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Growth, part of a consortium of lenders holding roughly $40 million in company debt. BioAmber incorporated in 2008 in the U.S. state of Delaware and filed for court protection under bankruptcy rules in May 2018.
In the Sarnia plant’s third year of operations, it was the world’s largest, succinic acid processor with annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes at a capital cost of about $178 million, court documents show.
Company processes used plant sugars to generate chemicals derived traditionally from petroleum and used in a variety of products including plastics, resins, food additives and personal care goods.
With loan support from the Business Development Bank of Canada, Export Development Canada, Farm Credit Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Sarnia operation led an emerging, “green” industry based on the chemistry of renewable, agricultural crops.
During early phases, the project received strong government support. When then-Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced a $10-million, interest-free loan in 2014, he described his Conservative government’s focus “on creating new opportunities for Canadian farmers and businesses to grow and prosper.”
BioAmber activity along with separate developments using similar concepts also raised interest among Sarnia-area farmers in potential new markets, not only for traditional crops but also for crop residues such as corn stover and wheat straw. Two farmer-owned co-operatives formed to explore options: Ontario Innovative Sugarbeet Processors Co-operative (OISPC) for sugar beets and the Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative (CSPC) for corn stover and wheat straw.
Both farmer groups have since backed off, but some of the principals remain interested, even enthusiastic, about a future role for agriculture in an expected bioindustrial economy. Former Ontario Sugarbeet Growers’ Association chair Mark Lumley, a Lambton County-area cash cropper, spearheaded the formation of the OISPC, which is now essentially inactive.
“It was the cart driving the horse,” Lumley tells Better Farming in an interview from his Fairwind Farms operation near Sarnia.
“We were promoting a feedstock and a product that nobody has yet figured out. It’s frustrating,” he says.
Jim Campbell, general manager of the over-1,000-member, Chatham-based, AGRIS Co-operative was a founding member of the cellulosic sugar group which announced its dissolution in late April 2020. The decision to cease CSPC operations allowed the group to end mounting expenses and pay back original farmer investments.
“We ultimately, with all the volatility around, couldn’t find our way into a market niche that suited our scale,” Campbell says. “We weren’t ready to build something quite large enough to compete at that large commodity end.”
The Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative had been working with a London, Ont.-based firm, Comet Bio Inc., with technology for processing crop residues into dextrose in a proposed, multi-million-dollar, Sarnia-area plant. However, market development took longer than expected, Campbell says.
“We found it was better to wind up Cellulosic Sugar as we know it and let the developer continue to see what they can do to develop that upstream market,” he says.
BioAmber’s failure – a PwC report estimates company losses at about $320 million – burned secured and unsecured creditors both small and large. During the five-year period between May 2013 and March 2018, when BioAmber common shares traded on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges, the company raised more than $350 million in financial markets, PwC says.
When the accounting firm’s monitors became involved, BioAmber had been operating at about 25 per cent capacity in a slow-moving market and feeling the competitive effects of relatively cheap petroleum, court filings said. Canadian government agencies were listed among a wide range of other creditors, including Rothschild Inc. of New York ($318,401), Cargill Inc. of Minneapolis ($636,579), and a host of Sarnia-area suppliers and contractors.
During bankruptcy proceedings, a new operator emerged for the former BioAmber facilities, Taiwan-based LCY Biosciences, having picked up plant assets at the bargain price of US$4.3 million (C$5.5 million) in 2018. LCY was subsequently taken over by a major New York venture capital firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), which manages assets worth almost $300 billion and investments in over 190 companies internationally.
LCY representatives could not be reached for this article but the company has completed renovations and resumed production of succinic acid, judging by Sarnia-area media reports and by comments from Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) executive director Sandy Marshall.
BIC is a 13-year-old, Sarnia-based, business accelerator funded by federal, Ontario and municipal governments. It was established to invest in and facilitate the development of “clean, green and sustainable technologies,” the organization’s website says.
“LCY Biosciences is a Canadian entity and it’s owned by an international, Taiwan-based company and they are producing succinic acid at that facility again and they’ve got some very big plans to build on that,” Marshall tells Better Farming in an interview.
A chemical engineer with a 30-year, petrochemical industry background, he was an adviser to the Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative.
Marshall identifies slow – but continuing – progress in the shift to renewables.
“My sense is that, if the economics of the next project are good, then I believe there are producers out there who will come on board and be interested in investing in the project and committing biomass to the project,” Marshall says, referring to the bioindustrial future for agriculture.
“Until you get a true market pull that allows markets to grow and dollars to flow and dollars to be made, it’s going to be slow,” Marshall says.
Dave Park still looks forward to a time when renewable alternatives to petroleum-derived chemicals will boost demand for crops and related byproducts from southwestern Ontario farms.
President of the short-lived Cellulosic Sugar Producers Co-operative (CSPC), which formally ceased operations in late April 2020, Park is a third-generation, Lambton County-area cash cropper. He and 117 other area farmers signed on in 2016 as paid-up shareholders in a biomass, supply co-operative to serve a proposed, dextrose refinery in Sarnia.
They organized experiments with corn stover and wheat straw to work out techniques for harvest, storage and transportation of the materials. Altogether, co-op members made commitments to supply biomass from 30,000 acres for the proposed $70-million plant.
A 2019 decision by refinery developers Comet Bio, of London, Ont., to put a hold on Sarnia plans forced existential decisions at CSPC. Rather than incur interim costs, CSPC board members decided to refund member investments and wind up the operation.
Decisions at Comet Bio and CSPC followed the spectacular, financial collapse of BioAmber Inc. BioAmber developed technology to process corn sugar into succinic acid, a dicarboxylic acid used in a variety of basic chemical formulations.
The company built and began operating a $178-million plant in Sarnia with an annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes. But the May 2018 insolvency of BioAmber ended plant operations and over-shadowed some similar Sarnia-area developments.
“It was the same market space,” Park tells Better Farming when asked about the impact of BioAmber’s collapse on his co-operative’s plans. “And then all your partners in that project, seeing that happen – I don’t know how you can’t be painted somewhat with the same brush even though the projects weren’t the same.”
Nevertheless, Park and some other agricultural leaders remain interested in a bioindustrial connection. AGRIS Co-operative CEO Jim Campbell, whose over-1,000-member Chatham- based co-operative provided loans and administrative support for the cellulosic group, says new uses for corn stover would help farmers manage higher stover levels that have risen in recent years along with increasing corn yields.
“The AGRIS board has always looked at ventures that would support farmers, especially farmer-owned entities,” Campbell says. “We did discover a technology that would … economically produce sugars, specifically dextrose, from corn stover,” he says.
“We’re there and ready to reorganize as a supply channel partner” when Comet Bio or some other refinery operator is ready to proceed, Campbell says.
It helps that the recent election of U.S. President Joe Biden indicates a potential U.S. policy shift in favour of renewables. At the same time, Ontario and Canadian governments have begun following through with new, higher standards for ethanol content in domestic transportation fuels.
“I think in the green economy, agriculture has a role to play,” Park says over the phone from his Sarnia-area office. “A little more market readiness for a product that a biorefinery is going to produce would certainly ease a lot of the risk.
“The whole experience from my perspective was a good experience,” Park says.
Mark Lumley, former Ontario Sugarbeet Growers’ Association president, likes the idea of new, industrial markets for his produce so well that he and a group of partners actually bid on BioAmber assets during court-ordered liquidation of the insolvent company.
Lumley and his partners lost out ultimately on the acquisition to Taiwan-based LCY Biosciences, which was acquired, in turn, in a partnership transaction with the New York-based venture capital firm, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
In September 2019, LCY completed plant refurbishments and resumed succinic acid production.
Lumley still thinks it makes sense for southwestern Ontario producers to “grow, harvest, deliver and process” suitable feedstocks for biorefining industries in Sarnia.
“You can get carbon out of the ground or you can grow it,” Lumley says, referring to the essential difference between petrochemicals and renewables.
“We’ve maybe started moving away from petrochemicals and fossil fuels toward more green energy-derived carbon,” he says of recent policy shifts in the U.S. and Canada.
“If that starts moving again, with incentives, that would push this market to be looking for us for feedstock instead of petrochemicals,” Lumley says.
“The framework’s there. It’s been contemplated, studied, worked out. Now we need a market,” he says.
Kevin Norton, CEO and COO of Integrated Grain Processors Co-operative Inc. (IGPC Ethanol Inc.) sees recent policy developments supporting higher ethanol content in North America’s transportation fuel supplies as “absolutely positive” both for his co-operative’s Aylmer-based, ethanol refinery and for the bioeconomy generally. Norton is a former Canadian Forces naval engineer and co-founder of the Hamilton-based, biodiesel manufacturer, BIOX.
Norton oversees operations at IGPC’s 13-year-old refinery which doubled annual capacity three years ago in a $120-million expansion to generate over 350 million litres of fuel grade ethanol and 340,000 tonnes of distillers grains used typically in livestock feeds. IGPC’s 650 shareholders and nine-member board of directors include farmers and investors with a variety of agribusiness interests.
“Being the first one is a very challenging marketplace to begin with,” Norton tells Better Farming. “These are challenging technologies; they require a lot of capital and there is some uncertainty because everything is new.”
His own BIOX startup merged eventually with a Boston-based group of biorefiners now operating as World Energy. With six locations, including Hamilton, annual production of 660,000 tonnes and a new effort to market renewable jet fuels, World Energy claims to be among North America’s largest biodiesel suppliers.
“The challenging thing we had at BIOX – I mean we had a fantastic technology, a fantastic company, but the market developed faster in the United States than what happened in Canada,” Norton says. “We got ahead of the legislation, we got ahead of the policy and the programs.”
“It’s a challenge trying to put all these things together,” Norton says.
Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is paying $40 million to buy the Cericola poultry processing plant at Schomberg.
It is the completion of a deal in 2018 when it bought Cericola’s plant supply quota and plants at Bradford and in Quebec.
The value of the original deal was not revealed.
Last year it sold the former Cericola plant in Quebec to Giannone Poultry of St. Cuthbert, Que.
Maple Leaf is building Canada’s largest poultry-processing plant at London and that will lead to the closing of its plants in Brampton, Toronto and St. Marys.
So the indications are that Maple Leaf is paying at least $40 million simply for the privilege of buying Ontario-grown chickens. I thought the supply management system is supposed to ensure adequate supplies of quality chicken for Canadians.
So now we learn that Canadian consumers pay inflated prices for chicken - enough that farmers pay big bucks to buy quota - and secondly pay for plant supply quota.
This is a ridiculous. Freer trade, if not completely free trade, with the U.S. chicken industry is overdue. The industries on both sides of the border use the same rations costing the same and the same genetics.
Maybe it could be justified if the supply management system was for nice friendly family farms, but the truth is the majority of the chickens are raised on farms owned by large corporations such as P+H (New Life Feed Mills) and the Schlegel conglomerate.
China has switched from releasing pork from reserves to dampen prices to buying pork to bolster prices.
It used its reserves when African Swine Fever wiped out about half of the country’s hogs.
Now that herds are rapidly being restored, hog prices have collapsed by 65 per cent since the beginning of the year and many of the new and large production companies are losing money.
China's state planner said today that central and local governments will start buying pork.
If you check the record, I predicted that China would rebuild its pork business to not only become self-sufficient, but also a global export competitor. And I urged Canadian hog farmers to be cautious about increasing their production.
Dairy Farmers of Canada has launched a new advertising campaign aimed at convincing Canadians that its farmers are careful about animal welfare, milk quality and the environment.
It’s called Dairy Farming Forward – High Standards.
It also deals with food safety and sustainability, touching every politically-correct issue that’s currently popular.
The campaign says Canada’s dairy farmers are committed to constant innovation and high standards.
“Canadian dairy farmers proudly meet some of the most highest dairy quality standards in the world, including 42 requirements on food safety and close attention to animal health – in Canada, every cow is monitored every day,” it says.
“Canadian dairy farmers have always been innovative in their approach to excellence,” says Pierre Lampron, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada. “Meeting some of the most stringent standards in the world, 100 per cent Canadian milk achieves its high quality through a big-picture approach that includes caring for animals and the environment.”
JBS USA is offering people who get vaccinated a chance to win free beef, pork and chicken to feed a family of four for a year.
The sweepstakes, called “Your Shot at Free Meat for a Year,” will be offered in the rural communities where the company operates to encourage people to get vaccinated, the processor said in a news release.
JBS is working with local health authorities to sponsor vaccination clinics and vaccine promotion events across more than 40 JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Pride communities in the coming weeks.
At least one newly vaccinated participant per location will be eligible to win the free meat.
The company will also donate more than one million pounds of free beef, pork and poultry to support the communities hosting vaccine clinics.
Workers are shunning jobs in meat-packing plants because the industry has a negative image, labour-market analysts told a recent seminar.
“It isn’t that hard to find well-educated people for the meat alternatives but it is hard to find people for the more classic, the meat protein industry,” said Michiel Dekkers, a food recruitment consultant with Dutch agency DUPP.
“We noticed that people make active decisions not to work in meat-processing plants,” he said, referring to the Dutch job market.
Dekkers, along with experts from Denmark and Canada spoke during Manitoba webinar “The Future of Labour in Protein”.
The average Canadian food and beverage processor has six vacant positions, said Kevin Elder of Food Processing Skills Canada. In Manitoba, that’s about 1,500 vacancies.
“Each of those vacant positions… costs $190 net per day to carry,” Elder said. This leads to a $3-billion-per-year loss for the Canadian industry, he said.
Pressure on labour, particularly ‘unskilled’ labour like packing and light processing “is acute and finds its basis in our ability to plan and invest in future general production workers,” said Denise Allen, president and CEO of the Food Processors Association of Canada.
In the Netherlands, meat processors have an image problem more than a people problem, said Dekkers. Meat production is seen as bad for animal well-being and has been wracked by scandal.
I have my own opinions: people don't like killing and bleeding out animals; the environment is noisy, hot and humid on the kill floor and cold and damp in processing rooms; the wages are low after meat pushed them down, beginning in the 1970s.
Google Canada is partnering with eight publishers, including Glacier Media, which publishes Country Guide, and Globe and Mail.
Under the licensing agreement Google will pay for news content as part of parent Alphabet Inc.’s US$1-billion global commitment to media companies.
The tech giant is launching a product called Google News Showcase in Canada this fall, a platform that will see the company pay news organizations across the country for access to content and give media companies an opportunity to sell online advertising around their stories, as well as sign up new subscribers.
Others in the deal are Quebec-based Métro Média, Nova Scotia’s SaltWire Network, Manitoba’s Winnipeg Free Press and two other Ontario publishers, Narcity Media and Village Media. Collectively, the publishers own more than 70 national and regional media platforms.
“We’ve never relied on high-quality, community-based journalism more than we have during the COVID crisis,” said Sabrina Geremia, vice-president and country head at Google Canada. “As we move out of this crisis, Google Canada is stepping up its role to support a sustainable news ecosystem in Canada.”
Sadly, Agri007 is not part of the deal. But I do get a penny every time you click on one of the ads. It amounts to about $1 a month.
Hensall District Co-operative has used its Global Logistics Inc. subsidiary to buy Overseas Container Forwarding Inc.
It also bought a minority interest in Oversea Container Logistics Ltd.
Hensall co-op said the purchases fit with its espectation that its overseas sales will continue to increase.
“Hensall Global is key to our success in delivering value to our global customers and this acquisition will serve to strengthen our service offering while growing a successful segment of our business,” said chief executive officer Brad Chandler.
The federal government’s budget, which is likely to pass into law later today, has cut the $1,500 subsidy per temporary foreign worker to $750.
Ken Forth, president of the Foreign Agricultural Resources Management Service (FARMS) said it’s going to impact apple growers particularly hard if it expires before fall harvest.
He’s not happy.
“We have to pay workers when they’re in isolation, we have to pay for food, we have to pay for hotels if we have to take them there,” Forth said in an interview with Farms.com.
Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association said OFVGA the cost of the isolation period ranges from $1,750-$3,125 per worker.
“If you happen to have a house of your own … the cost is about $1700 to isolate your people for two weeks. Now, if you take them to a hotel like I do, that two weeks costs $3200 per worker,” Forth said.
The federal government said it has $50 million available for as long as the Quarantine Act is enforced.
“Nobody knew how long this thing was going to last,” Forth said.
Some apple growers bring workers to Canada in the fall to help with harvest season, he said, and if the Quarantine Act expires those farmers will have to cover the full cost of isolation themselves.