Thursday, August 18, 2022

IPM heading to Grand Valley, Amaranth

The 2023 International Plowing Match and Farm Expo will be hosted by Grand Valley and Amaranth.

This year’s event is at Kemptville Sept. 20 to 24.

The 2023 match will be Sept. 19 to 23.

“The Headwaters of the Grand” offers outstanding agricultural land and a dynamic group of people who will make the 2023 IPM an outstanding event,” said Robert MacLean, president of the Ontario Plowmen’s Association.  

“We look forward to this opportunity to re-size some of the features that have just grown too large over the years.”

Both local and provincial organizers of the event will meet with the leadership team of the Grand Valley Agricultural Society, the Shelburne Agricultural Society, and the Orangeville Agricultural Society to develop a course of action to work together.




Senator Rob Black pushes soil study

Senator Rob Black, well known for his work with farm organizations such as 4-H, Junior Farmers and Advanced Agriculture Leadership, has persuaded his colleagues to launch another national soil survey, the first since Sen. Herb Sparrow led the 1983 study, Soil at Risk – Canada’s Eroding Future.

Black said much has changed since that study.

For example, cities such as Toronto have expanded into farmland and developers have purchased large tracts that they lease to farmers who have less interest in long-term sustainability.

Black made the announcement at the Elora Raceway which uses its profits to invest in initiatives that benefit agrriculture.

Dr. David Waltner-Toews honoured

Dr. David Waltner-Toews, an esteemed epidemiologist at the University of Guelph, has been honoured by being made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

He is also an author of books that explain pandemics arising from diseases that pass from animals to humans, of poetry and fiction. 

They range from Eat the Beetles, which was Canada’s nomination to the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, to The Origin of Feces to Fear of Landin, judged on of the 10 best mysteries in 2008.

He is a veterinarian and a retired professor at Ontario Veterinary College.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

CFIA lifts another Ontario quarantine


The avian influenza quarantine north-west of Guelph has been lifted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

That brings the Ontario total to 14 quarantine zones that have been lifted.

OPP nab man in corn cab theft

Haldimand detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police have charged Terry William Sikcurrela, 63, of Dunnville after investigating the theft of a corn cab.

He faces charges of possession of property obtained by crime and with theft of an item valued at less than $5,000.

Thief takes a tractor and jewelry

A Norfolk County thief took a tractor and jewelry on Monday from a property on Colonel Talbot Road, Middleton.

He was seen driving the tractor away at about 1:30 p.m.

Some money and food were also taken.

Ontario Provincial Police are asking the public for help, including videos of the tractor, a 2015 Massey Ferguson 4704.

Alberta hemp marketer charged by CFIA

Following an investigation, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has laid six charges under the Food and Drugs Act against 299614 Alberta Ltd.

The charges apply to locations in Stirling and Raymond, Alberta and owner Roger Snow. 

One charge pertains to the alleged obstruction or hindering of a CFIA inspector by failing to provide requested information. Another charge pertains to allegedly advertising hemp hearts in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive, contrary law. That was in Calgary.

The remaining four charges pertain to the alleged advertising of hemp hearts to the general public as a treatment or cure for restoring normal blood pressure, rapid weight loss, controlling blood sugar, reversing type II diabetes, improving circulation, restoring digestive and tissue health, and reducing inflammation,  also in Calgary.

The accused parties are scheduled to appear before the court in Lethbridge, Alberta, on August 24.

Court awards convicted Butch Claire $3.5 million

Ontario appeal court justice Peter Lauwers has awarded Butch Clare, convicted owner of Aylmer Meats, $3.5 million for the loss of his meat-packing business.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs cancelled the company’s licence and Clare was convicted of illegally butchering and selling meat from dead cattle and also slaughtering sick and diseased cattle.

It was done during times when no government inspectors were in the packing plant which therefore should not have been operating.

The original court ruling was that Clare deserved no compensation, but Lauwers said OMAFRA’s actions put the company out of business and Clare was therefore unable to sell it to any buyer who wished to resume meat-packing operations there.

Lauwers accused OMAFRA officials of a “litany of bureaucratic ineptitude” related to the tainted meat scandal. OMAFRA took possession of Aylmer Meats in 2003.

I hope the Ontario government appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada. I hate to see Clare getting a penny.

Canadian pork exports to U.S. surge

The United States imports of pork surged by 43 per cent over the first half of this year, most of it from Canada.

But the strong U.S. dollar and pork demand also brought imports from Denmark, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Spain and Finland.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said pork imports are remaining high in July and August and forecasts the year will end with a 32 per cent increase over last year.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Thieves disable security, then steal $11,000 worth

Thieves in Elgin County disabled the security system from a property at Jackson Point, Bayham.

They took copper cable, a Honda Power Pack GX270 pump and various chemicals valued at more than $11,000.

The theft happened between Aug. 4 and 24. Elgin detachment of the Ontario Province Police is investigating.

Feds support animal welfare

The federal agriculture department is giving three organizations about $3 million to update codes of practice for animal welfare.

The lion’s share goes to transporters via Animal Health Canada at Elora.

The Canadian Cattle Identification Agency in Calgary gets $52,140 to evaluate the use of ultra high frequency scanners to read cattle identification tags. It will improve response times to animal disease outbreaks.

The Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council gets $36,750 to update its animal welfare program for hatcheries.

Dan-Bred makes deal with Alliance Genetics Canada

Hog-farming customers of Alliance Genetics will be gaining access to some of the world’s best Durocs because of a deal reached with Dan-Bred Canada, subsidiary of Dan-Bred in Denmark.

Dan-Bred Canada gained access to top Durocs here when it brought in Total Swine Genetics, the Tavistock-area farm of Arnold Ypma.

AGC was formed in 2013 through partnership agreements with more than a dozen nucleus herds and nearly 10,000 purebred sows from Duroc, Landrace and Yorkshire lines, it drew on genetics developed over the previous 40 years in Ontario.

It now works with numerous nucleus and multiplier herds, including one in Alberta. According to manager Dave Vandenbroek  the company maintains “a good market share in selling first-generation crosses to farmers in Ontario and Alberta and has a good market for terminal sires’ semen.

Inflation rate declines, but not food

Canada's inflation rate declined to 7.6 per cent in July, the first decline in a year, reports Statistics Canada.

But food inflation increased to 9.9 per cent, led by  bakery products, non-alcoholic beverages, eggs and fresh fruit.

In June, inflation hit a 39-year high of 8.1 per cent, with gasoline prices the single biggest contributor to the overall rate increase.

By contrast, gasoline prices declined by 9.2 per cent from June.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Kemptville suddenly cites farmland preservation

Residents of Kemptville who don’t want a new prison are calling for preservation of 70 hectares of farmland that have been bought for the development.

They are also pursuing a judicial review.

The province has promised to give the municipality 40 hectares.

The residents’ main objection is that they were not adequately consulted and that the province did not follow proper procedure.

In 2020, the provincial government quietly approved plans to replace the Brockville jail with a new 235-bed correctional facility in Kemptville for both men and women at all security levels, although the majority will be minimum- or medium-security inmates. 

The new facility is scheduled to be completed in 2027.

Viterra ignores Russian sanctions

Viterra Ltd. has continued to work in the Russian market despite sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

The Globe and Mail reports that it still operates a Russian bank that has been under Canadian sanctions since 2014 and a grain terminal.

The Globe also notes that the Canada Pension Plan and one for British Columbia employees are major investors in Viterra. It is controlled by Glencore of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

An employee who tipped off the Globe said Viterra’s Ukrainian staff are angry that the company continued operations in Russia after the Feb. 24 invasion.

The risks attached to the decision to keep operating in Ukraine were made plain in June when Viterra’s sunflower seed oil terminal in the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv was struck by a Russian cruise missile. One Viterra employee was injured in the attack, which saw two of the company’s oil containers explode into flames, sending debris flying into the surrounding neighbourhood.

Viterra’s background includes the Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta wheat boards.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Two treated for rabies

Two people are being treated lest they contracted rabies from a bat.

The bat was confirmed as infected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The people were exposed at Melanchton, near Orangeville.

Government officials have responded by placing bait containing rabies vaccine, hoping to prevent the disease from spreading among wildlife.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Farmers seek more temporary foreign workers

Demand for temporary foreign workers has soared by 75 per cent over the previous two years, topping 44,000 over the first three months of this year.

Farmers accounted for more than half of those applications.

A cherry orchard In British Columbia set a record, requesting 630.

Restaurant chains and Maple Leaf Foods were other prominent applicants.

Perth internet project completed

It has cost nearly $1.6 million to deliver fibre-optic internet service to 110 households in Slabtown, Bornholm and Willow Grove, Perth County.

Seems costly.

The federal and provincial governments each contributed $219.50.

Cargill donates $10 million

Cargill is donating $10 million US to the World Food Programme, it’s largest donation ever..

The Ukraine crisis has triggered global price spikes in food, fuel and fertilizers that threaten to push countries around the world into famine, the agribusiness giant said. The grant comes at a moment of unprecedented need, with 345 million people facing severe hunger and 50 million teetering on the brink of famine, Cargill said in a news release.

"The result will be global destabilization, starvation and mass migration on an unprecedented scale. Together with World Food Program USA, the U.N. World Food Programme is sounding the alarm, engaging private sector partners, and working to ensure action is taken to avert this looming catastrophe," Cargill said.

JBS profit drops 9.8 per cent

JBS profit declined by 9.8 per cent to $766 million for the second quarter.

Beef North America revenues declined by 4.6 per cent, but profits increased by 2.7 per cent,

The unit includes the former XL beef-packing plant in Alberta.

A greater-than-expected increase in cattle prices squeezed the company's margins. Higher input costs also weighed on the results.


Thursday, August 11, 2022

Fire claims 50 cows

More than 50 dairy cows died recently in the barn fire in Essa Township.

No people were injured.

Several farm buildings were damaged and estimates peg the dollar loss at $5 to $6 million,

“No cause has been determined yet, the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office (OFM) has been notified of the fire,” Heydon said in an email. “OFM investigation staff will contact Essa Fire (Monday).”

The property is located near the County Road 27 and 20th Sideroad intersection.

A grass fire had also broken out in the area, Barrie Fire Chief Cory Mainprize, whose department provided mutual aid at the scene, confirmed Sunday afternoon.

At the height of the incident, more than 30 vehicles from six fire departments — Adjala-Tosorontio, Barrie, Essa, Innisfil, New Tecumseth and Springwater — were at the scene.

CFIA lifts another quarantine

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has lifted the avian influenza quarantine from an area stretching from Markham to Lake Simcoe.

The outbreaks appear to be well over in Ontario.

Peanut M&Ms ranked above beef and pork

A researcher at Tuft’s University has ranked peanut M&Ms above beef and pork for nutrition.

The research by Dr. Dariush Moaffarian, a cardiologist, nutrition researcher and dean at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science, was funded by Bill Gates of Microsoft.

Gates opposes animal farming and invests in plant protein and cell culture as alternatives.

Moaffarian ranked foods, including candies and junk foods, on nine nutritional values and assigned scores from zero to 100.

The higher the score, the better they are nutritionally.

Pork and beef sausage were at the bottom at one.

Cheddar cheese is at 25, peanut M&Ms at 35, grilled chicken breast at 57 and General Mills Cocoa Puffs at 64.

Moaffarain has been advising government officials and healthcare professionals across the world throughout his career, according to his curriculum vitae. He is co-chair of a task force preparing to present to the White House at the Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health next month..

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Swiss Chalet draws $1.2-billion bid

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is bidding $1.2 billion to buy the 44.2 per cent of Recipe Unlimited Corp. that it does not already own.

Recipe owns Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s and The Keg, plus others.

The Phelan family, which founded Recipe predecessor Cara, would continue to hold a stake in the private business through Cara Holdings Ltd. Cara currently holds nearly 22 per cent of the company’s shares.

The offer represents a 53.4-per-cent premium to Monday’s $13.51 closing price for Recipe’s shares, the company said..

MTY Food buying Famous Dave's

MTY Food Group Inc. of Montreal is buying the Famous Dave's restaurant chain from BBQ Holdings Inc. for $257 million..

In addition to Famous Dave’s, BBQ Holdings operates eight other brands with more than 200 franchised and more than 100 corporate-owned restaurants under the Village Inn, Barrio Queen and Granite City banners. The company has a presence in 37 U.S. states, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

MTY owns more than 80 restaurant brands, including South Street Burger, Mucho Burrito, Big Smoke Burger, Baton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar, Papa Murphy’s pizza, and TCBY frozen yogurt shops. As of the end of May, its network included 6,660 stores, 99 per cent of them franchises.

“This transaction combines highly complementary businesses,” said Eric Lefebvre, chief executive officer of MTY.

 “BBQ Holdings’ restaurants are well established within each of their respective markets with a strong network of franchise partners, well-run corporate owned locations, and a best-in-class management team.”

The combined network is expected to generate more than C$4.8 billion in sales annually. 


Feds back poultry insurance

The federal government is contributing $1.2 million to back poultry-industry reciprocal insurance programs for diseases.

The national egg agency gets $408.485. Two Quebec marketing boards, one for hatching egg producers, the other for chickens, are getting funding.

Deborah Whale of Wellington County led efforts to establish protocols for reciprocal insurance programs for poultry and livestock. There was no industry uptake at the time.

Egg farmers were interested, mainly because of the risk of having flocks condemned for salmonella.

Now the interest is for coverage related to highly-pathogenic avian influenza.

Two million birds have died or been sacrificed for control on 109 premises in Canada this year.

Monday, August 8, 2022

CFIA lifts Wingham AI quarantine

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has lifted an avian influenza quarantine zone around Wingham.

There have been no outbreaks in Ontario for more than a month, but there have been two new ones in Quebec this month.

Thieves steal irrigation equipment

Ontario Provincial Police are asking for help to nab thieves who stole $18,000 worth of irrigation equipment from a farm south of Walsingham in Norfolk County.

The owner said the theft took place between July 26 and Aug. 2.

It is a Cadman irrigation system..

Seitz to remain Nutrien ceo

Ken Seitz, who took over in January as interim chief executive officer of Nutrien has been confirmed in that position for the future.

He took over from Mayo Schmidt who lost support from the board of directors.

Seitz grew up on a dairy farm in Saskatchewan and is heading Nutrien during chaotic times = COVID=19, supply chain disruptions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The company announced in June that is would increase potash production by 20 per cent.

It’s quarterly profit doubled to $3.6 billion, but it has cautioned investors that it expects  a decline is coming, mainly because it is having challenges meeting nitrogen demand.

Nutrien said “under Mr. Seitz’s leadership, Nutrien has achieved record results, delivered bold actions in response to changes in agricultural markets, advanced the organization’s sustainability strategy and brought together key parties to help navigate unprecedented global food security challenges.”

Berkshire-Hathaway loses $48.3 billion

 Berkshire-Hathaway lost $48.3 billion in its most recent quarter.

The company owns many companies, including Tim Horton’s, Burger King, Popeyes and Kraft-Heinz.

It’s major investments are in re-insurance and insurance companies, including Geico.

Despite the huge net loss, “the results show Berkshire’s resilience,” said James Shanahan, an Edward Jones & Co. analyst who rates Berkshire “neutral.”

“Businesses are performing well despite higher interest rates, inflation pressures and geopolitical concerns,” he said. “It gives me confidence in the company if there is a recession.”

Premium Brands buys Golden Valley

Premium Brands of Vancouver has bought the second half of Golden Valley Farms.

It is also buying King’s Command from American Foods Group. The two deals cost $86.5 million.

Premium Brands now owns about 30 companies, including Belmont Meats in Toronto.

Golden valley Farms in Arthur was started by P+H’s Butterball turkey division and by Piller’s Sausages and Delicatessens Ltd.

Premium Brands owns Piller’s. It already owned half of Golden Valley.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

CFIA lifts Wingham AI quarantine

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has lifted an avian influenza quarantine zone around Wingham.

There have been no outbreaks in Ontario for more than a month, but there have been two new ones in Quebec this month.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Saputo profits soar

Raw milk price increases seem to be good for Saputo Inc., the nation’s largest milk processor.

Revenues for its most recent quarter increased by $800 million to $4.3 billion.

Profits soared from $53 million to $139 million from the same quarter last year.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Maple Leaf profits plunge

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. reports a $54.4-million loss for its second quarter, despite a 3.1 per cent increase in sales to $1.195 billion.

The company is reducing its plant proteins business, a process that will continue well into next year. It expects the plant protein market will expand by 10 to 15 per cent.

President and chief executive officer Michael McCain said “this chaotic and unpredictable operating environment is unprecedented in my 40-year career in the food industry. 

“Driven by a post-pandemic economy and the tragic conflict in Eastern Europe, we have been unable to hire adequate people resources to operate our supply chains, experienced unnatural agricultural and trading markets, and realized hyper-inflation that has been challenging to keep up with pricing. 

“While our results fell short of expectations  . . . we see signs of these conditions abating,”he said.

Meat Protein Group sales grew to $1,160.2 million, an increase of 3.8 per cent, but the plant protein business took a $18.6-million restructuring charge. It lost $10 million on sales of $40 million.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Sharp decline in beef herd


The beef herd has declined by more so far this year than in the previous 35 years, according to an agricultural economist at Oklahoma State University.

National cow slaughter has increased by 14 per cent.

In Oklahoma it’s because of severe drought that has driven ranchers to sell cattle.

Auction-house volumes doubled and cull cow prices plunged from $89 to $69 hundredweight.

Calves are being weaned early and cattle on pasture are going to market at lighter weights.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Dairy farmers switch ad agencies

Dairy Farmers of Ontario has hired a new advertising agency, Broken Heart Love Affair and its affiliate, Lifelong Crush.

The agency was hired to develop “a refreshed brand strategy designed to build emotional connections between consumers and the province’s dairy farmers,” said Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

“We are honoured to be selected to work with DFO and remind consumers just how much they love dairy,” said Bev Hammond, chief business officer at the agency.

 “We understand there are real farm families behind all of our beloved milk and dairy products, and knowing the work we do with DFO will help increase consumption and support those Ontario families is something we’re really excited about.”

Broken Heart Love Affair has no fixed address.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Veggie burger exits from McDonald’s

McDonald’s Restaurants has ended its trials with Beyond Meats  plant-protein burgers.

It’s not yet clear whether it will continue with them in Europe.

It first tested them in Canada, then 600 outlets in the United States.

Employees indicated sales were disappointing.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

CFIA lifts AI zone around Hanover

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has lifted its avian influenza quarantine zone around Hanover.

That is a significant improvement for Ontario’s poultry industry because the area is home to a large hatchery and some large chicken and turkey farms.

Province willing to subsidize worker innovations

The provincial government has opened the second round of funding under its Ontario Agri-Careers Support Initiative with offers $80,000 ti $200,000 per employer

Those who employ up to 50 workers are eligible for up to $80,000 and if two or more collaborate they could be eligible for up to $200,000.

It’s a federal-provincial program that “will aim to help the sector attract, support and retain the workers ,”a joint news release said.

Examples of pilot projects that could be eligible for funding include:

-transportation initiatives for employees to commute to the job site 

-childcare options for working parents 

-language proficiency solutions for workers 

Rabobank optimistic about pork

Rabobank’s global outlook for pork is generally optimistic.

It says global trade will pick up after China’s imports “have increased greatly in the past month” and are expected to remain strong.

Producers are getting some relief from soaring feed and energy costs.

African Swine Fever continues to spread in Asia and Europe.

The United States sow herd has declined by eight-tenths of one per cent from a year ago.    

Consumer demand is “resilient” because beef and poultry prices are high.

It says things to watch for are currency fluctuations, diseases including African Swine Fever, consumer purchasing of pork, COVID-19, grain harvests in Europe, China and the United States and geopolitics.

Loblaws sales, profits are up

Loblaws reports that sales and profits were up.

It is Canada’s largest supermarket and drug store owner.

Adjusted profit was $566-million,up from $464-million in the second quarter last year.

Revenues were $12.85-billion, an increase of $356-million.

Owner Galen Weston said merchandise sales were a drag on revenues, but he feels good about the company’s inventory controls so there won’t be many fire sales of items such as Joe Fresh clothing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Report calls for reforms for foreign workers

A Canadian union has made 20 recommendations to improve conditions for temporary foreign workers, many of them employed on farms and at agribusinesses such as meat-packing plants.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union and the Agricultural Workers Alliance said in their report, The Stqtus of Migrant Agricultural Workers in Canada 2022, that the pandemic revealed chronic problems, such as poor and crowded housing, below-parity wages and lack of avenues to make their voices heard.

While Ontario and the federal government provided some funding to address pandemic-related housing, isolation, quarantine and wage concerns, Pablo Godoy of the UFCW union said there still are no penalties for employers who abused workers.

“What kind of levies are being placed against the employers to make sure they don’t do them again? Are we making sure there’s an actual method through which a worker can voice concern and be guaranteed not to be repatriated, given an open work permit, or have their case investigated?” she asked.

But Saskia Rodenburg, speaking for Employment and Social Development Canada, said it takes things seriously and employers who abuse temporary foreign workers (TFWs) face monetary penalties and/or bans from the program. 

They can be fined and booted out of the program.

It’s also considered a program abuse if employers exact retribution whistleblowers, she said.

Yet Godoy said workers continue to be at risk due to lack of information and understanding of workplace standards or laws meant to protect them. 

The report alleges that agriculture workers, locals and migrants in Ontario are subject to discrimination and face exclusion from the province’s Labour Relations Act. 

“This is the root cause of the labour precarity of agricultural workers in these provinces,” the report said.

The report said provinces should copy Manitoba’s model to regulate and penalize recruiters or temporary worker agencies that exploit workers.

Godoy said “until there’s an ability to have representation in the program, any change is kind of null and moot because there’s a lack of oversight or actual inspection day to day.” She added that not all employers are abusive.

“The argument can be made that some workers are being forced to work longer, in sometimes more dangerous or difficult situations than Canadian workers who have the protection of Canadian labour law,” Godoy said. 

Godoy said the pandemic showed the need to expand or ensure social security networks and systems are accessible to all people working in Canada. TFWs pay employment insurance and worker compensation premiums, but are too often denied coverage, she said. “People deserve access to the things they’re paying into.”

Rodenberg said “I think there have been more conversations at all levels of government that gives us hope more changes are to come and more protections for workers are on their way, especially now that we’re facing a labour shortage and there’s talks about expanding temporary foreign worker programs.”




Tuesday, July 26, 2022

U.S. pork producers get pandemic pay

Hog farmers in the United States are in line for $62.8 million to compensate for the COVID-19 pandemic. This is on top of $50 million already paid them.

The cheques should start arriving this week, said the U.S Department of Agriculture.

There is nothing comparable for Canadian hog farmers who are in direct competition for the North Ameican and export markets.

The subsidy applied to hog sales on a spot market from April 16 to Sept.1, 2020. 

 “In order to provide more targeted support to hog producers affected by the pandemic (the government) was able to increase funding to provide full payments to producers instead of applying a payment factor,” said program administrator Zach Ducheneaux. 

The program is capped at 10,000 head per farm, no matter how small or large or who owns it.

Election changes

Some election changes that most people don't notice are:

No postings on the Ontario government website that announces appointment to boards and commissions. 

No more almost daily news releases announcing either new contracts to install fibre optic cable for internet services, or the completion of contracts.

A marked decline in photo ops to present companies and organizations with government cheques.

Meat and plant proteins should unite, study says

The meat and plant protein industries should unite as a single protein industry, improving their lobbying stance, said a study released today from the University of Calgary.

It stands in contrast with the fears many in the beef, pork and poultry industry have that plant proteins will steal significant portions of their markets.

“Governments should look at the beef and plant protein industries as one protein market with multiple commodities,” the authors say they learned from participants at a protein industry roundtable held recently at the University of Calgary. 

“The synergies between the sectors can be used to present a strong, sustainable, trusted brand for the Canadian protein market, both domestically and internationally, driving investment for infrastructure and innovation that could improve Canada’s global position for protein production and export. 

“The government should consider developing policies and regulations that can help facilitate such a collaboration,” the study published by the Simpson Centre for Food and Agriculture Policy said.

By presenting a united front, the protein industry has a better chance of lobbying governments for mutually beneficial changes, attracting more investments for infrastructure to increase efficiency and reliability, educating consumers on the synergies between the industries and branding Canadian protein as a sustainable, reliable and abundant market. 

Branding is a key factor in the protein market — consumers, investors and governments need to see the plant and beef protein sectors as partners, not competitors, the authors said.

They need factual information from the industry — rather than be influenced by misperceptions spread by social and mass media — to be satisfied with the agri- products being produced and with the methods of production. 

The roundtable participants cited one example of a synergy with benefits on multiple levels — using the by-product from plant protein production to feed cattle. 

This helps with sustainability in both the beef and plant protein industries, particularly with current global supply chain issues brought on by drought, conflict and other factors. 

It is also environmentally friendly and demonstrates that the industries can work together for each other’s benefit. 

This type of innovative synergy would also improve consumers’ perceptions of the beef and plant protein industries, besides driving investment and expansion. 

Governments need to consider the opportunities that a unified protein market can provide for Canada. A strong, sustainable protein market has the potential for exponential growth, particularly with ongoing global supply chain issues and food security concerns, the study said.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Wage fixing found in U.S. poultry industry

Three giants in the United States poultry industry have been caught colluding to set pay for their workers, including farmers who raise their chickens.

The federal Department of Justice said the provisions of consent decrees signed by Cargill, Sanderson and Wayne Farms prevents them from exchanging compensation information for 10 years.

 They also agreed to a decade of antitrust compliance monitoring and to stop "deceptive conduct toward chicken growers that lowers their compensation." 

One of the main issues was the “poultry tournament system” that has growers competiting to see who comes out best and wins top compensation.

The system is described in the Super Size Me II documentary where a grower who helped researcher Michael Moore found himself demoted from top to bottom and suffered a big cut in compensation.

The settlements also would ban G. Jonathan Meng, president of Webber, Meng, Sahl and Company (WMS), a data consulting firm, from the industry.

“Through a brazen scheme to exchange wage and benefit information, these poultry processors stifled competition and harmed a generation of plant workers who face demanding and sometimes dangerous conditions to earn a living,” said principal deputy assistant Attorney General Doha Mekki of the justice department’s antitrust division, in the posting.


“Today’s action puts companies and individuals on notice: the antitrust division will use all of its available legal authorities to address anticompetitive conduct that harms consumers, workers, farmers and other American producers.”

“This resolution yields significant reforms to the poultry tournament system, including ending one of its most troubling aspects around deceptive base prices, and enhancing transparency in contracting, earnings and inputs that will protect and benefit growers as the United States Department of Agriculture has proposed in our Packers & Stockyard Act rulemaking,” said Andy Green, USDA’s senior adviser for fair and competitive markets.

Calf hutching challenged by welfarists


Calf hutching challenged by welfarists


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is suing a Wisconsin dairy farmer claiming that separating calves from their dams is cruel.

But an animal welfare researcher says practice can protect calf health. On the other hand there's growing interest in potential benefits of cow-calf bonding.

PETA filed a lawsuit in California this week against Organic Valley, which is based in La Farge, Wisc.

The complaint alleges that Organic Valley’s claims of producing milk with humane animal practices are misleading because their farmers separate calves from their mothers shortly after birth, a standard practice in dairy farming.

“These practices are not ‘humane’ and do not comport with established ‘highest standards’ of animal care ‘above and beyond other standards’—including provision of ‘social’ settings—that (Organic Valley) touts on its labels,” the lawsuit said.

Jennifer Van Os researches animal welfare on dairy farms for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She said cow-calf separation is standard for dairy farms around the world. She said the practice started as a way to prevent newborn calves from contracting diseases from other cows in a herd.

“Newborn dairy cows are vulnerable to disease because their immune system is still developing,” Van Os said. “Their immune system develops in a way that’s a little bit different from that of humans. So it came from good intentions, and it was done for the sake of the animal.”

She said older research has also found that removing a calf almost immediately from their dam, or mother, caused less stress for both animals. So that became the standard practice for many farms.

Van Os said there are different ways to house calves, but many farms use calf hutches. These are partially-enclosed, outside shelters that were developed to allow for good ventilation and for farmers to more easily monitor the young animals.

She said dairy cows are precocial animals, meaning they are capable of independent activity very shortly after birth and aren’t as dependent on their mothers. But research has shown that they do benefit from social interaction with other calves their age, such as learning how to get along with others in the herd and getting a chance to play.

“There’s a strategy that has been gaining traction and it’s called social housing, where you keep calves with others of the same age without adult cows. So they could be housed as a pair or in small groups or larger groups,” Van Os said.

She said about a quarter of U.S. farms are already housing calves in groups, and she’s had a significant number of Wisconsin producers reach out to learn how they can adopt the practice on their own farm.

Throughout her work studying cow welfare and educating farmers on ways to improve, Van Os said she has often been asked whether keeping a calf with their mother would be a better option.

“A lot of these questions come from people within the dairy industry — dairy farmers themselves and other people in sort of the food supply chain — because it’s actually not a new concept, keeping cows and calves together. It just isn’t the standard practice,” she said.

Van Os said some dairy farms in Wisconsin already keep calves with their dams. She’s collaborating with another animal welfare scientist, Kate Creutzinger from UW-River Falls, on a new project to observe the natural behavior of cows and calves living together on pasture at these farms, with the hope of creating a model for other farms interested in adopting the practice.