Tuesday, January 31, 2023

U.S. launches second dairy salvo

The United States has called for a second disputes-settling panel in another attempt to force Canada to open its dairy markets to imports.

It complained in 2021 that Canada assigned the import rights negotiated under the trade deal among Mexico, the U.S. and Canada to Canadian dairy-processing companies that have more interest in marketing their own products than importing competitors’ products.

The panel agreed with the U.S. and said Canada needs to amend its tariff-rate quota permits administration.

The U.S. wants at least some of the import permits given to retailers and wholesalers.

A new panel . . . is necessary because Canada failed to adequately respond to the first one, said U.S. Trade Representative. Katherine Tai.

“The Canadian government’s revised measures have not fixed the problem,” Tai said in a statement.

Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng ssid “Canada will continue to defend our supply management system and the market access which was agreed upon with the U.S. We will stand firm against attempts to renegotiate during this dispute settlement panel process.

Undermining the Canadian case is a report prepared by a team of journalism students in Quebec who talked to a cheese maker who was assigned import permits and said he has no intention of importing from the U.S.

Americans have been unable to fill the quota they won in the trade negotiations.

Special hog virus vaccines

Dr. Susan Detmer is developing regional influenza vaccines against up to five viruses, but so far not for Ontario.

The first ones will be for hog farmers in Alberta and Saskatchewan, then Manitoba and on a fee-for-service basis in Quebec.

She is an associate professor of veterinary pathology at Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

She says the vaccines she is developing will be better than those available commercially because they will be built to tackle the virus strains actually circulating in that region.

In Alberta that’s five influenza viruses, she said.

She has $150,000 in backing for her project.

Feeds often not tested

A national survey found only 40 per cent of beef producers have their feed rations tested and testing in Ontario was even less than the national average.

Now Prof. Cathy Larson of the University of Saskatchewan and  Emma Stephens, a bioeconomist at the federal government’s Lethbridge Research Station, are launching a follow-up study for beef producers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to determine whether they test feed rations and, if so, how often.

They said it should be done at least once a year, but found that many farmers don’t bother as long as they feel their cattle are healthy and doing well.

They will be asking farmers whether they have tested their feed during the last three years, whether they use a probe to gather samples from forages and who on their farm is responsible for testing.

Farmers’ pesticide reviews sought

FMC Corporation is setting up a website to publish farmers’ reviews of the pesticides they use.

“Where better to hear about the effectiveness of a herbicide or insecticide than from a fellow grower who is facing the same pest problems?” asked Krista Henry, marketing communications manager for FMC. 

“Adding reviews to our website shows our commitment to the customer and our willingness to try new and innovative things to help growers solve problems.”

One caution: the reviews can only apply for pesticide uses that comply with label restrictions. Comments on off-label uses will not be permitted because that violates federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency rules.

“We believe we are the first crop protection company in Canada to offer an online review platform for customers to report on their first-hand experience with an FMC product,” said Henry.

Personally, I think this is an idea that deserves broader coverage. 

There should be a place for farmer reviews of all products, especially since the federal government decided to allow the marketing of what are described by some as "foo-foo dust" products.

They used to have to show the products work as advertised, but that's no longer the case for things such as soil and feed additives that are deemed to be "natural" products. That has left farmers in a "buyer beware" wilderness of marketing claims.

Kiwis protect male dairy calves


Fonterra, the sole exporter of New Zealand dairy products, has decided to curb the practice of eliminating new-born male calves, but meat packers said they don’t have enough capacity to handle them.

The policy goes into effect in June and applies to all of Fonterra’s suppliers. New Zealand’s dairy exports are the backbone of the nation’s agriculture.

Fonterra said all bobby (male) calves should be given a “useful life” – either raised for beef, slaughtered for calf veal or used for pet food.

And it said calves will only be allowed to be killed on farm when there are “humane reasons” for doing so.

“The meat industry was concerned about its ability to process more bobby calves because of a shortage of workers and the short timeframe in which bobby calves were born between August and October,” said Rabobank agricultural analyst Genevieve Steven.

Furthermore, dairy cattle did not produce as much meat as regular beef cattle. Steven said there could be benefits if the beef and dairy industries worked together to use bobby calves better.

“The industry first needed to find ways to manage the increased need for bobby calf processing,” she said.

Fonterra said it has been working closely with meat processors, transporters, pet food processors and other industry groups for many months on changes that can be made to support farmers to meet the new terms of supply.

In Ontario, there is a shortage of cattle for beef feedlots so they import from elsewhere. There is a demand for bob calves, both for veal and for beef feedlots. There is some supply of calves from dairy cows that have been mated with beef sires.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Large greenhouse bankrupt

Lakeside Produce of Leamington has filed for bankruptcy.

Documents show it owes creditors about $188 million and has assets of only $3,580,000.

In 2016, the company received a $1-million grant from the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund for an expansion. It was expected to create 200 jobs to add to its workforce of about 300.

The first meeting of creditors will be held on February 2.

U.S. Senators push against Canadian dairy tariffs

Two United States senators have written to President Joe Biden’s administration calling for action against Canadian dairy-industry protectionism and Mexico’s nationalist energy policy.

In both cases they want the U.S. to enforce provisions of the free trade agreement among the three nations.

The Senators, both leaders on the Senate Finance Committee, are Democrat Ron Wyden from Oregon and Republican Mike Crapo from Idaho.

The pact’s “full potential remains unrealized,” they said. The senators said USTR “must ensure that the United States gets what it bargained for” and asked trade chief Katherine Tai to take “decisive action to ensure full compliance” with every chapter of the pact. 

The letter comes a day after Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jayme White met with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts in San Diego and emphasized the importance of making meaningful progress in the ongoing talks over Mexico’s energy policy under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that went into effect in 2020, replacing the two-decade-old NAFTA. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

CFIA lifts Strathroy-area quarantine

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has lifted a quarantine in the Strathroy area put in place on Nov. 29 to stop the spread of highly-pathogenic avian influenza.

It has now lifted 178 quarantine zones it had put in place since the spring migration of birds last year.

There are another 112 that are still active, many of them in lower mainland British Columbia. 

More than seven million birds have either died of the disease or euthanized as a control measure.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Lloydminster food businesses catch a break

Pity the poor food businesses in Lloydminster Alberta and Saskatchewan.

If you want to sell beef, pork or poultry from the Alberta side to a store on the Saskatchewan side, your establishment will need certification and meet standards from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The same for an egg producer in Saskatchewan wanting to market to a business on the Alberta side.

But things are about to change.

A pilot project is about to get underway allowing trade within Lloydminster without having to meet the federal government’s requirements for trade over provincial borders.

FCC paints rosy outlook

 Farm Credit Canada’s economists say this should be a good year for farmers.

High grain and oilseed prices are likely to hold up, fertilizer costs will moderate to a one per cent increase after soaring last year and livestock, dairy and poultry profits should be good.

Farm cash receipts are expected to increase by 4.6 percent to $98.8 billion. That compares with an increase of 14.1 per cent last year. 

Prices are likely to continue fluctuating more than usual, predicts Desmond Sobool, principal economist with FCC, but not by as much as in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

Oilseed and protein meal prices will be heavily influenced by what happens in Brazil and Argentina, two countries that accounted for 57 percent of global soybean exports and just under half of the world’s corn exports last year.

“What happens in South America does have a huge impact on global commodity prices,” Sobool said during a recent FCC webinar.

Argentina is enduring its worst drought in 40 years, while Brazil has experienced timely precipitation.

“Overall, it’s a bit ambiguous what’s going to happen in South America, but it is definitely something we want to keep our eye on,” he said.

U.S. fed and feeder cattle futures prices increased in the second half of 2022 and at the start of 2023 remain above their five-year average values.

“This is going to be good news for feedlots and a return to profitability in 2023,” said Sobool. “There is some much-needed optimism in the beef sector, which has not been there for a while.”

Ranchers are culling herds because of drought in the United Statesand high feed costs, so for the first time in a decade, heifers will account for more than 30 per cent of cattle slaughter.

That sets the stage for good demand for Canadian cattle.

FCC chief economist J.P. Gervais said hog prices should support profitability in that sector as well, although prices are expected to fall in the second half of the year.

Hog farm cash receipts are expected to increase 7.7 percent to $7.2 billion. Meanwhile, feed costs will drop eight percent from 2022 levels.

The Canadian Dairy Commission is increasing the support price for butter on Feb 1, estimating it will result in a 2.2 percent increase in the milk price. Farm cash receipts for the dairy sector are forecast to increase 5.7 percent to $8.7 billion.

Workers are still in high demand, both on farms and right through the supply chain of processors, wholesalers and retailers. Job vacancy rates are more than double pre-pandemic levels, so Gervais said farmers should prepare for that labour shortage.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

China is gobbling up food



China is gobbling up international food supplies, leaving some small and poor nations in peril.

China has a goal of becoming more self-sufficient in food production, but that’s unlikely to happen, according to author Ted Bilyea of the Canadian Agriculture Policy Institute.

In fact it’s likely to import more meat, dairy, feed grains and oilseed meal to satisfy increasing demand for protein-rich foods.

Partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war on the Ukraine, the number of people facing acute food insecurity has soared from 135 million to 345 million since 2019.

Despite a detailed plan to increase self-sufficiency China’s rate of food self-sufficiency has fallen from more than 100 per cent in 2000 to 76.8 per cent in 2020 and is projected to fall to 65 per cent by 2035, Bilyea writes, citing a study published last year by Orange Wang.

China sees itself as dependent on food imports from countries allied with the United States and fears such dependence particularly for meat, dairy and oilseeds.

Agri-food exporters tend to view China as an essential market, but highly risky due to China’s arbitrary use of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to control trade flows as needed to balance its domestic market, along with the use of market denial for geopolitical leverage. 

Meat and dairy products are particularly problematic, as with more economic growth, the more that demand expands relative to supply, and the less likely that China will be self-sufficient, writes Bilyea.

From the broad economic point of view, grain and forage cannot competitively be moved to animals; animals must be moved to feed, simply as a matter of the feed conversion ratio (weight of feed relative to weight of gain) and transportation costs.

But China lacks the feed grains and oilseed meals to support growth in livestock production that it wishes to control. 

Nevertheless, to become more self-sufficient in meat production, China is growing more dependent on imported feed grains, oilseeds and forages in addition to increasing meat imports. 

Assuming economic growth returns as the pandemic recedes, meat consumption in China may well also resume its growth track. One of the more detailed forecasts indicates a doubling of meat and dairy requirements between 2010 and 2050.

One of the premier’s top goals is to diversify food supplies away from the West to countries along China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but taking food from those countries will leave them short of enough to feed their own populations might trigger political unrest.

There are also issues of environmental degradation.

South America is another area from which China is increasing imports, but that increases demand for corn and soybeans to feed cattle, hogs and chicken which, in turn, means more rainforest area is likely to be cleared to grow crops.

In fact, Bilyea said some blame China as chiefly responsible for land clearing in the Amazon basin.

Stabilizing grain acreage and increasing the production of soybeans and other oil crops within China is possibly achievable, but even the current plan to increase oilseed self-sufficiency by increasing soybean production to 23 million tonnes by 2025, from 16.4 million tonnes in 2021, which is China’s five-year plan, is only a fraction of the 100 million tonnes of soybean imported Bilyea noted.

“Progress on both increases in grains and oilseeds remains challenging,” he wrote.

The unintended consequence of trade diversion as a result of a Chinese retaliatory tariff on U.S. soybean was laid out quite well by in another researcher’s report in 2019, Bilyea wrote. 

It projected the conversion of 12.9 million hectares of Brazilian rainforest to replace soybeans previously sourced from the U.S., some of it to pasture cattle.

“Indeed, China has made significant progress replacing trade with the U.S. and its allies while becoming the most important trading partner of most of South America. However, this entails significant unintended costs in the form of environmental destruction,” Bilyea wrote.

He also said China is, understandably, increasing its storage capacity for grains and oilseeds to buffer disruptions in supply. But it now has more than half of the world's supplies of stored wheat, rice and soybean meal.

That means exporters, including Canada, have less in storage to deal with disruptions that trigger urgent demand for food.

Canada is in a good position to make money selling food to China and others, but there are political risks, such as on-again, off-again bans on pork and canola from Canadian companies.

And Bilyea said so far agriculture trade opportunities have not been a high priority with politicians in Ottawa and the provinces.



Collingwood pulls out of water association

Collingwood town council has voted to withdraw from the Ontario Municipal Water Association because its executive director, Ed Houghton, was judged guilty of a conflict of interest when he was Collingwood’s acting chief administrative officer.

At the time, he was also chief executive officer of Pollus Power Corporation. Collingwood held a half interest in that company. 

Houghton was involved in negotiating its sale to Powerstream Incorporated in 2012 and using the proceeds to buy two Sprung buildings for the town’s recreation facilities.

The town called for a judicial inquiry which was led by Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco who found that Houghton was involved in “undisclosed conflicts, unfair procurements and lack of transparency (that) stained both transactions.”

Egg within an egg

Corrie and Jason Adamson of Leamington had an unusual attraction in their store – a huge egg that is actually an egg within an egg.

It is almost as big as an orange or one of the apples they two on their Simpson Orchards business.

They had the egg on display in their store for a couple of weeks and said people were coming in asking to look at it.

During the storm this week they decided to livestream a gathering of local people as they cracked the egg open which is how they found there was another 

ATCO buys Strathroy wind farm

ATCO is buying the Adelaide Wind Farm near Strathroy from Suncor as part of a $713-million deal with Suncor that features wind farms in Alberta.

The Adelaide-Metcalfe wind farm has been operating since 2015, has 18 turbines, a meteorological tower and an electrical collection system and a substation.

It is partly owned by Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

Suncor said it sold to invest more money in hydrogen and renewable fuels.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Tech billionaires invest in dairy supplement

Bill Gates of Microsoft, Jeff Besoz of Amazon and Jack Ma of China’s Alibaba are all investing in Rumin8, an Australian company that turns seaweed into a supplement for dairy rations.

Rumin8 reduces methane production, believed to be a cattle-related contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

They are putting about $16 million into Rumin8 via Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures investment fund.

U.S. pays dairy farmers another $100 million


The United States government is sending $100 million to dairy farmers, the final instalment on a $350-million package to help them deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The payment is for fluid milk and is to make up deficits in market prices and revenues due to the pandemic.

So what about this?


 The United States has always been generous with subsidies for dairy farmers, so much so that Canadian governments felt they could not match those supports and therefore risked losing Canada’s dairy farmers to the competition.

The Canadian solution is supply management. It shifts the cost of supporting dairy farmers from federal and provincial governments to consumers.

But that also means the poorest families in the nation are paying as much as the wealthiest in dairy-industry supports.

The Uruguay round of global trade negotiations aimed to restrain subsidies, doing collectively what politicians were too timid to tackle individually.

There was an agreement to convert all subsidies and trade barriers into tariffs and the intention was to then phase down those subsidies during subsequent negotiations.

Canada disappointed trade partners by setting its dairy and poultry tariffs quite high, but they lived with it and focused their efforts on bilateral or regional trade negotiations to get some access to Canadian markets around those high tariffs.

I think it’s time to go back to the original intention to have everybody reduce their subsidies and trade barriers. Not bilateral, not regional, but global.

Instead of simply trying to retain dairy tariffs, Canada should set a target for cutting farm subsidies in return for however much our dairy tariffs could come down.

That would help putting Canadian farmers on a more competitive footing. 

And if there is truly a level playing field, I think Canadian dairy and poultry farmers are good enough to capture a significant slice of the U.S. markets, particularly for fluid milk and poultry marketed in nearby cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo.

Metro profits soar

Metro, Canada’s third-largest supermarkets owner, announced profits increased by 11.4 per cent to $231.1 million for its first fiscal quarter.

It then increased its dividends by 10 per cent.

It said inflation was mainly responsible for the increase in sales by 8.2 per cent to $4.67 billion.

It said suppliers have asked for more than 27,000 price increases averaging 10 per cent.

Canada’s three largest supermarket owners – Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro – are facing criticism for their profit increases at a time when many low-income households can no longer afford some foods.

They are also criticized for putting too much pressure on suppliers.

CFIA seeking new president

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency needs a new president because Dr. Siddika Methani resigned this week.

She has been president since February, 2019.

She ran into flak, particularly from the National Farmers Union and urban activist groups, over proposals to allow gene editing technology to be used in plant and animal breeding programs.

The NFU said her proposal was remarkably similar to a lobbying document from CropLife Canada whose members are producers of pesticides and seeds.

But there has been widespread support from the Canadian agriculture community which supports the proposal to allow gene editing technology without a heavy burden of government oversight and regulations.

The technology differs from genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) because it does not involve the transfer of genes from one species to another, such as from bacteria to plants as is the case with Roundup-Ready crops.

That’s why, for example, Dr. Vilceu Bordignon, an associate professor in the Department of Animal Science at McGill University, spoke in favour of gene editing when he addressed the Banff Pork Seminar this week.

Gene-editing companies merge

Cibus and Calyxt, which both specialize in gene edited crops, will merge. 

“We can accomplish things with better accuracy and speed that is going to change the scale of breeding opportunities in which farmers can expect big changes in what’s possible in the next 10 years,” said Rory Riggs, co-founder of Cibus and newly named chief executive officer of the merged company.

Riggs says the merger and the first products the new company will bring to market have the opportunity to cement the idea of a “real business” behind gene editing. They include pod-shatter-resistant canola.

“Because of the advances in gene editing technology, it’s time for the industry to consider the ‘Productivity Trait Business’ as a natural competitor or counterpart to the ‘Crop Protection Chemical Business,’” he said. 

The Cibus vision is to build a platform for every major crop to deliver crops that resist pests and diseases and enhance fertilizers by using genetics as opposed to chemicals. 

The new company will focus on the five dominant global crops: corn, wheat, soybeans, rice and canola; that are planted on 500 million acres in North America, South America and the European Union. 

“The first canola product is for pod shatter reduction,” he said.

Cibus has received germplasm from 10 seed company customers for its patented pod shatter trait.

It will begin transfer to our customers in North America this year with the expectation of commercial launch in 2025 of our first “Powered by Cibus” traits, he said.

In addition, this year we are preparing to transfer two different herbicide resistance traits in rice in the elite germplasm of a leading North American rice seed company for commercialization,” he said.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Piglet ramp eases work strain

Hylife has won the Dr. F.X. Ahern Prize for Innovative Pork Production at the 2023 Banff Pork Seminar for a ramp it developed to ease the strain of vaccinating piglets.

Instead of stooping to pick up piglets for vaccination, they are herded into an alley and up a ramp where staff can pick them up at waist level.

After they are vaccinated, they slide down a ramp and return to their housing.

Temple Grandin, known world wide for her research on animal welfare, said this system ought to be in every sow barn.

I can’t say enough good things about it. It should go industry wide. I was amazed how well those little pigs used the ramp; that’s the kind of stuff that makes handling easier,” she said.

Dutch cows housed in a boat

 Peter and Minke van Wingerden are tending 40 dairy cows in a boat in the port of Rotterdam.

The Dutch husband-and-wife team are experimenting with a high-tech dairy they call Floating Farm.

Their herd of Maas-Rijn-Ijssel cows produce about 757 liters of milk daily which they process into butter, yogourt and cheeses, all on the boat.

Wingerden got the idea when he was in New York and saw how hurricane Sandy devastated the city. His solution is to  nearly 929 square meters of space for farming that floats on the water. If successful, his experiment would not be vulnerable to rising sea levels or destructive floods.

Wingerden is an aquatic engineer.

Should a weather crisis arise, a waterborne farm isn’t necessarily stuck in place. An urban farm that serves city dwellers also reduces carbon emissions associated with food transportation. And a farm on water also helps to take a little pressure off the global land squeeze.

The Van Wingerdens’ experimental farm floats on pontoons, rising and falling with the tides which, in Rotterdam, fluctuate about eight feet .

The rubber-floor on the top level has robotic milkers. There is a gangplank to a small pasture on land.

The middle level is where the milk is processed into butter, yogurt and other dairy products. It is also equipped to gather rain and desalinate ocean water for the cows.

The manure is processed into fertilizer for local soccer fields where grass clippings are kept to feed the cows.

 The bottom level of the boat is for storing and aging up to 1,000 rounds of gouda-style cheeses.

Joshua Faulkner, a research assistant professor and the program coordinator for the University of Vermont’s farming and climate change program, says extreme weather has rendered the world of farming unrecognizable from what it was only decades ago. 

“Farmers used to be able to count on certain things being normal, like dates of planting and dates of harvesting. Over the past 10 to 15 years, these assumptions have been thrown out the window and farmers are having to rewrite the book.”

Another approach is vertical farming in structures somewhat like high-rise buildings.

Gold Leaf Technologies in Guelph offers plans for farmers to get started. 

It says on its website that “besides the obvious benefits of more locally grown produce, increased nutrition and freshness, lower transportation costs and positive climate impacts, another advantage of vertical farming is a dramatic decrease in the amount of water required to produce the crops.

“Some estimates see vertical farming using 90 to 95 per cent less water than traditional farming, an incredible figure which will become more important as we work to increase the preservation of our water resources.”





Monday, January 23, 2023

Turkey board challenges agency

 Turkey Farmers of Ontario marketing board and the Canadian Egg and Chicken Processors Association are challenging the national agency’s production plans.

The Ontario board won a challenge it filed with the Farm Products Council of Canada in March, then two organizations filed complaints in September.

A hearing that was scheduled for Jan. 18 was postponed and a new date has yet to be set.

In its letter to the council, the Ontario turkey board said the national agency was supposed to change the way it carves up the national target for production into provincial shares, but what it actually did was apply a slightly-amended formula that hardly changed the allocations.

Ontario’s share increased by only three-tenths of one per cent.

The situation for turkeys is similar to long-standing complaints by Ontario’s chicken marketing board that finally, after years of intense lobbying and complaining, resulted in a new formula that gives Ontario more than its traditional percentage share when production targets increase.

Since then Ontario’s chicken industry has been getting more production rights than before and it has implemented new policies providing space for non-quota-holding farmers to raise a few turkeys and for new-entrant entrepreneurs to be granted quota to explore production and processing for niche markets.

In the case of turkeys, the Ontario board asked in its complaint filed after production allocations were set in March for two million additional kilograms of production quota.

It said it’s needed to supply processors with enough turkeys for further processing to meet demand, some of it from distributors with national reach.

As a temporary, one-off measure, the national agency granted Ontario nine million kilograms of additional quota.

That is the issue the processors have raised in their complaint. They said the agency did not follow normal practice to consult other stakeholders and to consult data to inform its decision.

The Ontario turkey board argues that by continuing to sprinkle quota across the country according to historic market shares means Ontario is chronically short while some other provinces have more than they need.

The Ontario board and processors are asking the national council to decline the Turkey Farmers of Canada (national agency) proposal for production targets and provincial allocations for the 2022-23 quota year.

If the council approves that request, it will put pressure on the national agency to amend the formula it uses to carve up national production targets into provincial shares.





Friday, January 20, 2023

Two PED outbreaks

Swine Health Ontario reports two outbreaks of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus this week, the first since Sept. 13.

The one in Oxford County is a nursery-to-finish operation, the other in Perth is in a farrow-to-wean operation.

Farm machinery demand remains high

Farmers are shopping for farm machinery, but finding dealers are low on inventory and prices are high.

And the supply will remain tight all year long, according to a report from Farm Credit Canada.

Prices are high partly because much of the machinery comes from the United States and exchange rates have pushed prices up.

FCC economist J.P. Gervais said demand is high because farmers selling crops at higher prices have more money to spend.

Inventories are low because manufacturers have not yet fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic impacts of supply chains and staff.

Tractor inventory levels are down 42 per cent and combines are down 47 per cent from the five-year average, he noted. Inventory will remain low through 2024, the report predicts.

Organic exports to U.S. face new rules

 Organic-product sales to the United States will be facing a new set of rules.

It’s a total overhaul of the rules first established in 1990.

The new law is:

•Increasing authority for more rigorous on-site inspections of certified operations.

•Requiring uniform qualification and training standards for organic inspectors and certifying agent personnel.

•Requiring standardized certificates of organic operation.

•Requiring additional and more frequent reporting of data on certified operations.

•Creating authority for more robust record keeping, traceability practices, and fraud prevention procedures.

•Specifying certification requirements for producer groups.

Organic operations, certifying agents, and other organic stakeholders affected by the rule will have one year from the effective date of the rule to comply with the changes.

The United States Department of Agriculture clearly stated the new rules apply to imports.

CFIA identifies more contaminated cheeses

When people fell ill, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency went looking for the source which was suspected to be cheese.

What it found was Listeria monocytogenes, first on products from Le Cendré de Notre-Dame in the Temiskaming area of Quebec, then in La Vache à Maillotte brand Mélo-Dieux cheese from La Salle.

Now it has identified two more cheeses, Le Fromage au Village’s Le Casimir and Angelus brands. The company is at Lorraineville, Que.

All of the cheeses are soft surface-ripened products.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Avian flu hitting hard

“This is the largest animal emergency that the United States Department of Agriculture has faced in this country,” Gino Lorenzoni, an assistant professor of poultry science and avian health at Pennsylvania State University, told NBC News this week.

There have been 732 outbreaks affecting 57.87 million birds.

In Canada there are 117 current quarantines in effect and almost seven million birds are affected. British Columbia is by far the hardest hit province with almost daily outbreaks since before Christmas.

Canada has had a total of more than 280 outbreaks.

Efforts to prevent infections in commercial and backyard flocks are particularly difficult in that HPAI infections can come from wild birds. In addition to direct exposure, fecal matter can contaminate the grounds around farms and yard, the NBC reported.

The situation is identical in Canada.

 The USDA on Thursday announced a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for HPAI in the U.S., with the agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requesting public comment to define its scope.