Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Hurricane Ida impacts agriculture

Hurricane Ida damaged a Cargill export terminal and knocked out the largest glyphosate-producing plant in the United States.

Many other companies, including grain terminals, are in a large area where there is no electricity.

Hurricane Ida ranks as one of the strongest to hit the United States, but although it hit New Orleans square on exactly 16 years after Hurricane Katrina, only two people have died and damage was less than Katrina because this time the dikes held.

Donations sought for mental health

The Do More Agriculture Foundation is participating in a national fundraiser called Maple (Re)Leaf to raise money for farmers’ mental health.

It has 18 organizations from which donors can choose to support.

Adelle Stewart, executive director of Do More Ag, said its funds will go toward a national support line for Canadian producers, something Do More Ag has been working toward for a while.

“We represent the voice of the producer and something that we continually have heard from them and as well has been stated in many national reports, (is) that farmers are more likely to speak to someone about their mental health who understands the agriculture sector,” Stewart said.

“So we wanted to … develop this initiative where we would have one line for all producers across Canada and the fundraiser goes towards that.”

To donate, people can buy maple leaves during the fundraiser’s tour.

Donations can be made at maplereleaf.ca or at domore.ag/donate.

Saputo ranks tenth in world

Saputo ranks tenth in the world’s roster of leading dairy companies this year.

The leader is Lactalis, Nestlé is second and Dairy Farmers of America third.

Saputo retained the tenth position after it bought Dairy Crest Group in the United Kingdom for $1.5 billion US in 2019.

 More recently Saputo has spent $187 million US to buy Scotland-based Bute Island Foods and Wisconsin Specialty Protein.




Monday, August 30, 2021

Drought hammers Prairie wheat, canola

The Canadian Prairies are facing prospects that the wheat harvest will be the least in 14 years and canola crops have withered in drought and heat.

The drought pushed up wheat prices and canola prices have hit record highs.

Statistics Canada reported in its current estimate that the all-wheat harvest will total about 22.9 million tonnes, 35 per cent less  than last year and slightly larger than the average trade expectation of 22.6 million tonnes. 

The canola harvest is estimated at 14.7 million tonnes,  24 per cent less than last year and also larger than the average trade forecast of 14.1 million tonnes.

Brian Voth, president of IntelliFARM, a farmer advisory service, said canola importers may turn to Ukraine, western Europe and Australia for substitutes, while U.S. mills that depend on Canadian wheat to produce flour may need to blend in wheat from other countries.

Harvests are small, but not as tiny as some expected, Voth said, adding that some of his farmer clients in Manitoba produced better yields than they expected.



Retailer pulls Ivermectin from store shelves

 An Alberta feed store has pulled Ivermectin from its shelves because of heavy demand from people who believe it can cure COVID-19.

That claim is false.

The largest study in favour of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment was retracted after concerns about data fabrication, plagiarism and ethical breaches. 

No clinical studies have proven whether ivermectin can slow or stop the novel coronavirus from growing in human cells — but that hasn't stopped right-wing media personalities and politicians from touting it as a possible treatment or cure for COVID-19.

Ivermectin is sold as a treatment for internal parasites and lice.

Lance Olson, manager of Lone Star Tack & Feed Inc., located just outside of Calgary, said false claims circulating about the animal medication have brought the wrong kind of attention to his business.

"It's obviously not intended for human use in any way shape or form. It's meant to get rid of worms in horses' guts … so, these people see that ivermectin liquid, they search it, our website comes up and they give us a call thinking that we can just sell it to them," Olson said.

"If you don't know what it is, you probably don't have animals that you're going to use this on … given the circumstances surrounding this stuff it makes it very uncomfortable when people phone … so we've taken it off our shelves."




New deal struck at Olymel

There is a new deal between Olymel management and workers that could finally end a strike that began in late April.

Olymel management said it has  an agreement in principle with the workers at its hog-packing plant at Vallée-Jonction. 

Special mediator Jean Poirier worked with the company and the union in a weekend negotiation "blitz" to arrive at the in-principle agreement, according to  a news release from Olymel. 

If the union agrees to put the settlement to a vote, Olymel said it will delay sending out layoff notices until Sept. 1 to about 500 workers who man one shift at the plant.

"This difficult decision will be abandoned in the event of a vote in favor of the agreement in principle reached today, which would receive a favorable recommendation from the union executives," said Paul Beauchamp, first vice-president at Olymel.



Thursday, August 26, 2021

Quebec labour minister calls for Olymel settlement

Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet said Wednesday on Twitter that he has called a meeting with management and labour leaders in hopes of putting an end to the strike at the Olymel pork packing plant that has been ongoing since the end of April.

Boulet’s move comes after the workers voted 57 per cent against a tentative deal, then Olymel threatened to reduce slaughterhouse operations and eliminate more than 500 jobs by the end of Aug. 29 if the union doesn’t accept an agreement.

The plant employs about 1,000 workers. Quebec’s hog marketing board said a deal is needed soon, else about 150,000 market-ready hogs may be euthanized.

Chicken agency cuts allocati

The Chicken Farmers of Canada national supply management agency has cut its allocation for production later this fall by one per cent.

It said imports have been greater than earlier indicated.

The new allocation is four per cent greater than the adjusted base quota and for Ontario now is 4.4 per cent greater than the adjusted base.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Asian salad on recall

Curation Foods is recalling Eat Smart brand Asian Sesame (Sésame asiatique) Chopped Salad Kit because Canadian Food Inspection Agency testing detected food-poisoning Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.

The product has been distributed in Ontario.

The agency has had no reports of people being sickened by the salad.

Pork enters classrooms

Pork enters classrooms

Pork enters classrooms

Ontario Pork marketing board is partnering with AgScape to provide education materials for students from grades five to 10.

The 68-page guide is a resource for three lesson plans about pig farming, one each for grades 5 and 6, seven and eight, and nine and 10.

Topics covered include: The History of Pig Farming, Pig Production and Terminology, Pig Farming and the Canadian economy, Human Nutrition and Health, Pig Farming and the Environment and even more topics that will help contribute to students becoming informed food citizens.


“While healthy, sustainable food is essential to all of us, the vast majority of Ontarians have little or no direct connection to farming. That disconnect can allow misinformation to take root, and cause people to question the quality and value of food businesses that they don’t fully understand,” said Stacey Ash, manager of communications and consumer marketing at Ontario Pork.

“Ontario Pork had a great experience working with AgScape”| she said.,

|Their knowledge and deep understanding of the Ontario curriculum were invaluable in helping us to translate information about hog farming and pork production in the province into meaningful learning outcomes for students and educator.”


Taylor Selig, executive eirector of AgScape, said “AgScape is proud to work in partnership with Ontario Pork to bring knowledge of the important work of pork producers and the sector to teachers and students across the province.

“A key aspect of our shared missions is to engage and inspire the next generation about the agriculture and food industry so that they can make informed decisions and consider the diverse career opportunities within the sector. This resource will play an important role in bridging that gap within the classroom.” said Selig.


Pork price-fixing lawsuit filed

Jetro Holdings of New York has filed a lawsuit against major United States pork processors claiming they illegally shared information that led to it having to pay more for about $20 billion of pork it bought annually from 2009 to 2017.

The lawsuit is similar to ones others have filed against poultry processors. In both products Agri Stats Inc. is included.

The defendants include Clemens Food Group, Hormel Foods Corp., JBS USA, Seaboard Foods, Smithfield Foods, Triumph Foods and Tyson Foods, according to the filing in New York District Court.

The producers allegedly violated the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 by working together with data provided by Agri Stats Inc. to “fix, raise, maintain and stabilize pork prices.

None of the companies named have commented so far.

The suit references similar accusations contained in the continuing broiler antitrust lawsuit filed in a federal court in Chicago in 2016 against several of the defendants in the New York filing.

Several companies, including Tyson, settled parts of the broiler lawsuits earlier this year, while Smithfield agreed to pay $83 million and JBS paid $13 million to settle similar allegations of pork price-fixing filed in a federal court in Minnesota in 2018..

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Olymel ups the stakes

Olymel has upped the stakes in the ongoing strike by about 1,000 employees who recently rejected a tentative agreement.

It announced that if the strike is not settled, it will cancel the evening shift and lay off those workers at its plant at Vallée-Jonction Quebec.

Pork producers have appealed to the premier to end the strike and say that they may be forced to euthanize about 150,000 market-ready hogs.

Some hogs have been shipped to the United States and to Olymel’s plant at Red Deer, Alta., during the strike.

Monday, August 23, 2021

U.S. dairy farmer in line for $2 billion

The federal government announced a $2-billion aid program for United States dairy farmers to compensate for the challenges of COVID-19 and international trade.

The money will be distributed via dairies and co-operatives on the same basis as earlier subsidies.

Breed influences salmonella in chicken

Specific breeds of broiler chickens produce a stronger immune response to Salmonella bacteria, researchers at the University of Maryland recently discovered.

Earlier research established that the age of birds and diets that change gut microbiota can also influence whether Salmonella colonize a chicken’s gut.

The final research results indicate a difference between fast- and slow-growing chickens when it comes to immune response, body weight and gut morphology,.

After 24 days age, the fast-growing birds were heavier, had greater jejunum gut integrity, and greater concentrations of immunoglobulins IgA and IgG in blood plasma. 

Slow-growing birds had greater IgG concentrations at seven days and their gut integrity was more resilient to challenge by 24 days.


Behaviorally, fast-growing broilers were less exploratory, social and aggressive than slow growing. 


Birds from both breeds and challenge treatments sat more and stood less on days 16 and 20 after challenge, which the researchers hypothesize could have been due to the stress of subjection to force feeding.

Nestlé faces another court challenge

The a2 Milk Company has appealed court losses against Nestlé to Austalia’s supreme court.

The a2 Company claims that Nestlé’s products prominently feature a2 or A2 that is substantially similar to a2 Milk that is protected by trademark.

It says use of the trademark “is likely to deceive or cause confusion because another trademark, before the priority date for the opposed application, acquired reputation in Australia”.


“Normal” winter in store

The AccuWeather report predicts a normal winter for Ontario, but continuing drought on the Prairies and storms in British Columbia.

La Niña will be the major influence, shifting the jet stream upon which weather conditions ride, said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

"The jet stream is like a pathway for storms, thus we are expecting a stormier fall, especially across the western half of British Columbia, with above-normal rainfall," he said, bringing an end to dry weather and wildfires.

Communities by the Great Lakes will enjoy warmer temperatures this fall and winter because the water was warmed more than normal this summer.

Anderson said. "this will have its biggest influence on nighttime temperatures, being milder, across the region."

Milder air won't mean "perfect conditions" every day for the entire season, however. 

He said shots of cold air could penetrate Ontario and northern Quebec later in the season, while severe thunderstorms from the summer could linger into September.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Listeria prompts zucchini recall



The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s testing has identified Listeria monocytogenes food-poisoning bacteria in Freshline Foods Ltd.’s Veggie Foodle brand Green Zucchini Whole Vegetable Noodles.

They are now on recall.

No illnesses have been reported to the CFIA by consumers of the zucchini.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Ottawa bumps up drought relief

The federal government has increased its drought-relief budget from $100 to $500 million.

The money is for farmers hit by drought and wildfires from British Columbia to Northwestern Ontario.

The government also announced tax deferrals for drought regions in the same area.

The federal and provincial governments have agreed to increase the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage from 50 to 75 per cent, so producers can access a greater portion of their benefit early to meet their urgent needs. 

British Columbia and Manitoba have also opened up late participation in AgriStability to farmers who did not register in 2021.

The $500 million from the federal government is for matching money from the provinces on a 60-40 per cent split.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Family feud tanks Smithfield owner’s shares

The Wall Street Journal reports that when a family feud between son and father who control WH Group Ltd. in China, which owns Smithfield Foods, became public, prices for the company’s shares dropped by 11 per cent this week.

According to the Journal, former WH Group executive Wan Hongjian has accused his father, 81-year-old industry veteran Wan Long, of embezzling money and evading taxes.

Hongjian also alleged that the WH Group engaged in fraud, and that Gun Lijun, the new chief executive of WH Group, has caused millions in losses for the processor from foreign exchange hedging. 

In a statement, WH Group said the allegations were “untrue and misleading.” 

Smithfield Foods is the largest hog producer and pork packer in the United States.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Olymel strike continues

Syndicat des travailleurs d’Olymel Vallée-Jonction reported that 67 per cent of the workers rejected the agreement in principle reached last week.

The strike that began April 28 continues for about 1,000 workers at the hog slaughter plant about 37 km. from Quebec City.

Wages, hours of work and the length of the contract remain in dispute.

The union president said they will return to the negotiation table for talks that will continue to include a conciliator.


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Aussies target mastitis

The Clinical Mastitis Decision Support Tool Project is a $3.5 million, three-year collaboration among Dairy Australia, Coles, DataGene, Food Agility CRC, University of Sydney, University Technology Sydney and Charles Sturt University.

They plan to use artificial intelligence to create a digital tool for dairy farmers and veterinarians by using the mastitis history of each dairy cow to develop a control program.

The advice offered farmers and veterinarians will include which antibiotics to administer, if any.

“What’s really exciting is that the tool will use artificial intelligence to constantly learn and update based on new information about the animal, infection source and available management options,” Food Agility CRC chief scientist Professor David Lamb said.

“This is true industry-led, multi-disciplinary research at its best, with farmers and retailers working alongside animal health specialists, data analysists and technology developers,” he said.





BHP commits $7.5 billion to potash mine

BHP Group of Australia has committed $7.5 billion to finishing a potash mine in Saskatchewan, about 150 km. east of Saskatoon.

It will be the largest project in Saskatchewan history, will employ 3,500 in construction and then 600 for ongoing operation to produce 4.35 million tonnes per year.

The company has already spent $4.5 billion sinking two shafts.

BHP sold its interests in oil companies, bid $325 million for Noront Resources to gain control of its Eagle’s Nest nickel project in Ontario’s Ring for Fire and plans to concentrate on commodities.

The mine won’t be finished until 2027 by which time market analysts predict potash prices will have recovered from the current slump.

Bacteria may counter fusarium in corn

There appear to be bacteria that can reduce fusarium mould in corn crops, thereby cutting the risk of DON poisons that render corn harmful to some animals, especially pigs.

Manish Raizada at the University of Guelph has discovered that more than 5,000 types of bacteria colonize corn silks that were studied after corn was pollinated.

Of those, 10 or 15 appear to reduce fusarium and the mycotoxins fusarium mould produces.

Raizada believes this discovery holds potential to reduce fusarium, perhaps by spraying seed with the beneficial bacteria before planting, perhaps by spraying the crop just when silks emerge and perhaps to breed corn varieties that incorporate the beneficial aspects of the bacteria.

Ontario has had 21 cases of rabies

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports that there have been 21 cases of rabies in Ontario so far this year.

Thirteen were bats, six were skunks and there was one racoon and one dog.

Canada-wide there have been 56 cases, so Ontario has by far the most cases.

Of the Ontario total, in June there were three bats and the skunk.

The law requires that cases of rabies be reported.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Senators want probe into JBS American purchases

For the second time in two years, two United States senators are asking the Treasury Department to review all of the U.S. acquisitions by JBS S.A. in light of bribery charges concerning the owners of the Brazilian meatpacking conglomerate.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Senators Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, and Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said the company’s “habitual use of criminal practices” to generate cash to buy U.S. companies should be probed.

The letter cites a $280-million fine JBS paid the U.S. Justice Department last October to settle foreign bribery charges. 

It mentions a 2017 admission by Joesley and Wesley Batista — executives of J&F Holding, the parent firm of meat processor JBS S.A. — that they spent more than $150 million in bribes to a Brazilian bank to generate funds to buy U.S. companies as part of the company’s expansion plans.

Menendez and Rubio made a similar request in 2019.

The latest review request arrives in the same week JBS announced plans to buy the remaining shares of Pilgrim’s Pride it doesn’t already own after buying 80.21 per cent of Pilgrim’s shares since 2009.

The letter from Menendez and Rubio also wants the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to conduct a review of the JBS purchase of XL Packers of Brooks, Alta., Canada’s second-largest beef-packing plant.

It was in dire straits after some of its beef was discovered to be contaminated with E. coli 0157 food-poisoning bacteria.

JBS is now the largest meat-packer in the world and it recently told a meeting of financial analysts that it is shopping to buy more.

Dr. David Hunsberger dead at 64

Dr. David Hunsberger of Listowel has died. He was 64.

He was a president of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association and a partner in Listowel Veterinary Clinic, now named Heartland Animal Hospital.

He was born and raised on a farm near Baden famous for purebred Jerseys.

Olymel pork strike could soon end

The Syndicat des travailleurs d’Olymel Vallee-Jonction said it has reached a tentative deal that could end the strike by about 1,000 workers at the Olymel pork-slaughtering plant in Quebec.

The workers have been on strike since the end of April, resulting in the euthanization of thousands of pigs in the spring and arrangements to ship market-ready hogs as far as Alberta.

The Quebec pork marketing board is urging the company to take the heaviest-weight market hogs first when it resumes operations.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

TruHarvest regains CFIA licence

The licence suspension against TruHarvest was lifted July 19.

It was suspended on June 16 for failure to meet Canadian Food Inspection Agency standards.

The business is in the former Ryding-Regency beef-packing plant in Toronto. That company declared bankruptcy after the CFIA suspended its licence.

That company and a number of officials are facing charges and are to answer in Old City Hall court in Toronto on Sept. 28.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Phages promoted to reduce antibiotics

Proteon Pharmaceuticals, a company that specializes in developing bacteriophage therapies for the livestock sector, has secured investments totalling 21 million Euros ($31 million Cdn) to accelerate the commercialization of its products. 


Phages are a normal body defence against invaders.


Proteon Pharmaceuticals' bacteriophages aim to reduce the reliance on antibiotics within aquaculture and livestock farming. 


The bacteriophages reduce the need for antibiotics, improve on-farm performance and increase the sustainability of protein production, the company says.


Proteon Pharmaceuticals has developed bacteriophage cocktails that address Salmonella and Avian Pathogenic E. Coli infections in poultry production as well as Pseudomonas and Aeromonas infection in aquaculture. 


The company’s products are registered and commercially available in selected markets throughout Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa.


Proteon Pharmaceuticals’ product development pipeline includes solutions for mastitis in dairy cows.  


The products are built using of natural bacteriophages in cocktails that are precision-designed using an AI-supported platform technology, the company says.

Public upset about large-scale farming

The public is upset about large-scale livestock and poultry farming, according to a survey of 2,143 Canadians conducted by EKOS for World Animal Protection.

About 60 per cent said they are concerned that antibiotic resistance is spreading because of the prophylactic use of antibiotics by farmers, so they want antibiotic use on farms to be limited to treating infections.

They note that antibiotic-resistant genes have been identified in waterways where manure and eroded soil enters from nearby large-scale hog farms in Manitoba.

This is concerning because once in the environment, superbugs can reach humans in multiple ways.This includes swimming in or eating fish from contaminated waterways. Superbugs can even be transmitted through eating crops that have been watered with contaminated sources,” the animal welfare organization said.

The organization also raised concerns about agriculture’s contribution to greenhouse gases and global warming.

The organization said “preventing the next pandemic is also on the minds of Canadians. The poll shows 82 per cent believe preventing future pandemics are very or somewhat important issues when deciding who to vote for.

“There is a strong link between industrial animal farming and pandemics. Previous pandemics such as the avian flu and swine flu have come from farms and some scientists predict the next pandemic could come also from a farm. In industrial farms across Canada and around the world animals are kept in overcrowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions, making it easy for diseases to spread.

“Furthermore, the United Nations Environment Programme in a recent report, cites 'increased demand for animal protein' and 'unsustainable agriculture intensification' (mostly of animals) as two of the top seven drivers of pandemic risk.”

World Animal Protection is trying to make its views heard during the upcoming federal election campaign.

After a lifetime of farming and farm reporting, I have to say I agree with much of what this organization is saying.

I am appalled when I see the condition of beef cattle in the largest feedlots in the United States.

I am no fan of the acres of concrete for dairy cattle on the largest farms in California and the multi-million-bird egg, chicken and turkey farms in the U.S.


I see little respect for life on these farms which operate much like an auto assembly plant - efficient and profitable, but not nice.






France bans killing male chicks

France’s agriculture minister has announced a ban on the killing of male chicks by crushing or gassing, effective next year. 

Each year, 50 million male chicks are culled in this way, Julien Denormandie said in an interview posted on the website of daily Le Parisien. Only females, future egg-laying hens, are kept alive.

“France is the first country in the world, along with Germany, to end the crushing and gassing of male chicks,” Denormandie added.

The two countries indicated they will try to convince their European Union partners to outlaw the practice at a council of EU agriculture ministers.


Animal welfare organizations have long lobbied for a similar ban in North America.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Chicken Famers of Ontario garners subsidy

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario is receiving a subsidy of up to $103,812 from the federal and provincial governments to extend it digital platform launched in 2015.

CFO Connects will invest in its farm audit process and improve reporting which it said will lead to “even greater efficiency and productivity in sector regulation and increased ability for the chicken supply chain to respond to the risk of avian diseases.”

CFO chairman Ed Benjamins said “modernizing our business transactions and auditing functions through digitization is one way that CFO is supporting farmers in doing what they do best, feeding Ontarians with safe, healthy, locally-grown chicken.” 

There ought to be a ban on taxpayer-funded subsidies for supply management sectors. They get more than enough via supply management.

California company uses fungi to make milk

The Perfect Day company is using fungi to make dairy protein that it says is “molecularly identical” to the protein in cow’s milk.

Company co-founder Ryan Pandya said it means that the “milk” can be used to make dairy products such as cheese and yogurt.

“We were interested in the question of what is in milk … that gives it incredible versatility and nutrition that is somehow missing from the plant-based milks,” he said.

Perfect Day has assembled the gene that codes for whey protein in cow’s milk and introduced it into a fungus. 

When the fungus is grown in fermentation tanks it produces whey protein which is then filtered and dried into a powder used in products including cheese and ice cream — which are already on the shelves in the United States and Hong Kong.

It’s for “people who still love dairy, but want to feel better about it for themselves, for the planet, and for the animal,” said Pandya.

The process is similar to producing insulin from human genes.

Feds announce $1.44 billion for Telesat

The federal government is investing $1.44-billion in Telesat to provide broadband Internet to Canada’s rural and remote areas.

Telesat’s  Lightspeed global network is composed of 298 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites operating 35 times closer to the earth than traditional telecommunications satellites.

The company has committed to $3.6 billion in capital expenditures in Canada, as well as $1.6 billion in Canadian operating expenses over the next 15 years.

Telesat Lightspeed will enable broadband Internet and LTE and 5G connectivity in Canada starting in 2024, ultimately connecting approximately 40,000 households in rural and remote regions, the company said.

Telesat also attracted $400-million in investment from the Quebec governmentearlier this year, and announced a further $109-million partnership with the government of Ontario in early August.

Three mental health projects funded


The federal and provincial governments are providing $430,000 to fund three projects related to rural-communities mental health.

They money is for: 

·       A survey on farmer mental health and agricultural literacy of mental health professionals. It will be led by Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton of the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph and Dr. Briana Hagan who will develop materials for health professionals. 

·       A project for community and  workplace supports for the  mental health of international agricultural workers in Ontario. The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) will research existing mental health services and recommend strategies to improve mental health and well-being services and psychosocial supports available to agri-food workers. 

·       A Survey on mental health impacts of disruptive events in  rural Ontario. It will be led by Dr.Leith Deacon of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph. This project will collect community data on challenges and experiences faced by vulnerable populations and highlight successful initiatives in rural communities to make recommendations on ways to support the development of appropriate response plans for COVID-19 and future disruptive events.