Friday, March 31, 2023

CNH buying another guidance company

CNH Industrial is paying $175 million US to buy Hemisphere GNSS and its Outback Guidance system linked to satelites.

CNH owns New Holland, Steyr and Flexi-Coil farm equipment.

GNSS is owned by Chinese geospatial tech firm Beijing Unistrong.

CNH described the deal for Hemisphere as “a critical step that advances our automated and autonomous solutions for agriculture and construction.”

Dairy code approved

A new animal welfare code of practice for dairy farmers will come into effect a year from now.

The National Farm Animal Care Council approved the updated. code after a long period of broad consultations.

“The new code provides important updated standards for the welfare of dairy cattle in Canada,” said Dr. Jeffrey Rushen, Humane Canada representative on the dairy cattle Code Development Committee.

 “The requirements and recommendations are science-informed and will evolve the welfare practices of dairy farmers to better meet the needs of their animals.”

The current code was adopted in 2009.

Viterra bows out of Russia

Viterra has announced it will stop trading Russian grain.

Its announcement comes hard on the heels of Cargill’s decision to stop trading Russian grain at the end of this crop year, July 31.

The decisions flow from Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine last year.

Viterra, which owns the former Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba wheat pools, is partially owned by mining giant Glencore of Switzerland.

Retired cop named to College of Veterinarians

Douglas Reynolds, a retired officer from the Toronto Police Service, has been appointed to a three-year term on the Council of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario.

Sam Vanderveer of Cobourg has been appointed to a three-year term on the Species at Risk Conservation Trust.

MPs vote to exempt grain drying from carbon tax

Members of Parliament voted 176 to 146 to pass third reading of a bill that exempts propane and natural gas used to dry grain and heat barns from the carbon tax.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau was among four Liberals who voted against the bill which was introduced by Ben Lobb, Conservative MP for Huron-Bruce.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

A tithing challenge

Would it not be nice if our supermarket giants would contribute 10 per cent of their profits to food banks?

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

CN Rail spurns Warwick Township

CN Rail has spurned a request that it pay its share of drainage costs to the town of Plymouth-Wyoming and the township of Warwick.

Mayor Gary Atkinson said “CN Rail’s refusal to pay municipalities owed money is disrespectful to local taxpayers who fund municipal services. 

“CN Rail continues to benefit from Ontario’s drainage system but will not pay it’s fair share, leaving the amount owing to fall on the local rural communities”. 

In 2022, CN Rail revised its long-held participation in the Drainage Act, including payment of allocated assessments and advised Ontario municipalities that the Corporation will no longer be paying for drainage assessments for the installation and maintenance of municipal drain infrastructure in rural Ontario. 

“We demand that CN Rail pay its outstanding balance to our municipalities right away,” said Mayor Case.

“It’s outrageous that CN Rail thinks it is above the law and that their financial burden should be borne by our rural community members.” 

The municipalities said CN’s refusal is unlawful and that it is withholding millions of dollars for drainage that benefits its operations.

Ontario Agriculture Minister Lisa Thompson has said Ontario believes the Drainage Act applies to all federally-regulated railways, but there's no evidence she has done anything about it.

Cargill to stop marketing Russian grain

Cargill has announced it will stop exporting grain from Russia at the beginning of the new crop year July 1.

This year its exports account for about four per cent of Russia’s grain exports.

There is not yet any indication whether other global grain-trading companies will follow suit.

Italy to ban lab-generated food and feed

Italy's governing party has given its support to proposed legislation banning the use of laboratory-produced food and animal feed.

If the proposal is passed by parliament, Italian industry will not be allowed to produce food or feed "from cell cultures or tissues derived from vertebrate animals.”

A breach of the rules could result in fines of up to 60,000 euros $(88,328 Cdn).

"Laboratory products in our opinion do not guarantee quality, well-being and the protection of our culture, our tradition," said Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, a senior member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's right-wing Brothers of Italy party.

What a tragedy!

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Feds to fund FMD vaccine bank

The federal government’s budget includes $57.5 million over five years to fund a Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank, answering a request Beef Farmers of Ontario has had for two years.

“While an FMD outbreak in Canada would be devastating to our sector, having a dedicated vaccine bank in place to ensure early vaccination and a robust response plan will help us control the spread of the disease, and protect our export markets and the livelihoods of farmers as much as possible,” said BFO president Jack Chaffe.


The budget also increased the cap on cash advances from  $250,000 to $350,000 for the 2023/24 program year.

Chaffe said BFO is grateful for the interest-free Advance Payment Program loans.

Pig trucker pleads guilty

Andrew Blake, driver of a pig-loaded truck that ran over and killed an animal rights protestor in Burlington, has pleaded guilty.

He could face a fine of up to $50,000 and three years in prison.

Regan Russell, a 65-year-old animal rights activist, was run over June 19, 2020, during a demonstration outside of the Sofina Fearmans Pork facility as a semi-trailer pulled into the plant.

Russell was a regular protester at the plant, where trucks are often stopped by protesters and pigs given water.

Japan lifts beef ban

Japan has lifted its remaining ban of beef from Canada.

It imposed a ban about 20 years ago after the first case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy was discovered in an Alberta cow.

In 2019 if lifted the ban on beef from Canadian cattle less than 40 months old.

Since 2018, the value of Canadian beef exports to Japan has risen from $215 million to $518 million.

“Cattle producers are grateful for the removal of trade barriers for processed beef in Japan, our second-largest export market for beef,” said Nathan Phinney, president of the Canadian Cattle Association.

Tractor repair not covered by tribunal

The length of time it takes to complete tractor repairs is not covered by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Tribunal says a decision handed down recently.

A farm couple filed an appeal under the Farm Implements Act, but the tribunal wrote it doesn’t have jurisdiction in the case which did not involve breach of warranty or replacement parts.

The complaint was the length of time it took Delta Power Equipment to repair a 5640 Ford/New Holland tractor that needed work on the power take-off, power steering, three-point hitch and clutch.

The tribunal, chaired by Glenn Walker, wrote “there do not appear to be provisions in the Act that would assist the applicants. 

“The parts supply warranty is well expired and does not seem relevant anyway, and the parts quality warranty does not seem to be at issue (unless the clutch issue fits, but the allegation is that the flywheel may not have been resurfaced – a quality of work issue, not quality of repair parts).


“The emergency repair parts provisions only apply within the first The tractor was purchased in 1993.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Ten million dollars on offer for improving sustainability

The federal and provincial governments have put up $10 million for projects that increase energy efficiency and lower costs.

It’s for food processing companies who have projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by investing in new technologies, equipment and for modifying buildings and facilities.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and Ontario Agriculture Minister Lisa Thompson made the joint announcement today.

Friday, March 24, 2023

E. coli prompts meat recall

Elkhorn Valley Packing of Kansas is recalling pork because it may be contaminated with E. coli food-poisoning bacteria.

The recall comes just as research has been published establishing that E. coli in meat can lead to urinary tract infections which are common, especially among women.

It is the first time the cause of urinary tract infections has been pinned to E.coli.

Pork producers honour Douglases and Myers

Ontario Pork marketing board honoured former long-term director Marion Myers and long-term director Ron Douglas and his wife, Sharon, for their years of service educating the urban public.

Myers was the first woman elected to the board in 1975 and has always been a feisty blunt-speaking representative for Frontenac, Glengarry-Prescott, Ottawa-Carleton-Lanark, Renfrew and Nation Valley.

She was a director from 1975 to 1992 and then from 2000 to 2010. During her years of service she has chaired the audit committee, been involved with the In Transit Loss Account, and the Toronto Stockyards Land Development Board.

Ron Douglas served as Huron County delegate for many years, Sharon was with him at the Pig Mobile at the Royal Agriculture Winter Fair for 40 years, and “even the late Queen Elizabeth was amused during a meat-and-greet with the oinkers at a Golden Jubilee event in Toronto in 2002,” the board said.

The Douglas team was on the road with the Pig Mobile nearly 100 days a year for decades.

Ten fertillizer winners unveiled

The 10 applicants to share $2 million from Ontario government’s fertilizer challenge have been unveiled.

Pursell, and company based in Alabama, was the first winner to be announced earlier this month. It is partnered with Sollio Agriculture in a $20-million venture at St. Thomas.

The winners now announced are:

  • BioLiNE Corp.
  • CanGrow Crop Solutions
  • CRF AgriTech LP
  • Escarpment Renewables
  • Haggerty AgRobotics
  • International Zeolite Corp.
  • ReGenerate Biogas
  • SureSource Commodities
  • Woodrill Farms

Nuba drink under recall

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has identified Clostridium botulinum, a dangerous bacteria, in Nuba brand’s Carob drink.

It is under recall from outlets across Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia and the CFIA said it may have been distributed in other provinces and territories.

Nuba, based in Oakville, was started by a mother and daughter team from Egypt.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Chicken production increasing again

Summer-time chicken production is allowed to increase by 4.6 per cent in Ontario following a national agency meeting to establish production plans for June 4 to July 29.

Ontario may produce up to 75,629,247 kilograms of the national goal of 217,512,281 kilograms.

The national increase is four per cent above base.

Production goals for the next cycle are to be discussed by the national agency on May 20.

Pork Council delegate is a hot issue

One of the hottest issues to arise at the annual meeting of the Ontario Pork marketing board was the selection of a non-board member to be one of two Ontario delegates to the Canadian Pork 


The board changed its policy from two board directors to fill the positions to one board member and one producer chosen from the membership ranks.

During the debate it emerged that five current board directors expressed an interest in being a delegate.

A few debaters made it clear that they believe James Reesor, a producer from the Niagara area, is a good delegate who is well informed about national pork-industry issues.

But those who wanted the board to revert to choosing only board directors said they want somebody who is well informed about Ontario industry issues and able to brief the Ontario board about developments at the national council.

The Ontario board forwards about $960,000 in annual fees to the Canadian Pork Council.

The vote was 44 to 24 to revert to the policy of choosing only board directors as delegates.


The vote was 36 to 31 in favour of a Perth County resolution asking the pork board to hire an expert in computer security to determine the degree of risk among producers and to provide advice about protecting against hackers.

Some said that’s something that ought to remain the responsibility of individual producers.


There was an Oxford County resolution noting that funds from the former Ontario Stockyards have restrictions on their use that Ontario Swine Improvement may not meet. In the end, the delegates approved an amended resolution that leaves it to the pork board to discuss the issue with Ontario Swine Improvement Inc.

OSI will need to demonstrate that the funding it receives from the sale of the stockyards needs to be used for research to benefit the general population of Ontario hog producers.


A Bloc Quebecois Member of Parliament, in a fight to retain his riding, has introduced a private member’s bill to prevent Canada’s trade negotiations from making any concessions that harm the interests of quota-holding dairy and poultry farmers.

While debaters said they realize this is pure politics, and not likely to become Canadian policy, they want MPs to know that the pork industry wants trade negotiators to improve market access for Canadian pork industry exports.

But some of the debaters also made it clear that their opinions about trade negotiations differ sharply from supply-management farmers.

They said it’s fine for supply management to speak up for its interests, but it should also be fine for pork producers to speak up for theirs.

Stuart Skinner of Perth County threw the cat among the pigeons when he said supply management producers compete with pork producers when a neighbourhood farm comes up for sale.


Perth County introduced a resolution to narrow the definition of a member of the pork board to exclude those who have no ownership in the industry, such as renting a farm and producing hogs on contract.

While there was general agreement that those eligible to vote and to hold office in the pork board should be committed to the industry and have skin in the game, there were some who noted that retired parents could have 40 years of experience in hog production and time available to serve.

Swine research could prove costly

The Ontario Pork marketing board could be on the hook fo $3.6 million to build new research facilities at the University of Guelph’s Elora campus.

But board chairman John DeBruyn said he remains optimistic that the federal government will approve funding of about $2.5 million, much as it did for new facilities at Elora for dairy and beef research.

On the other hand, five applications for funding have so far yielded nothing, prompting Marion Meyers, a former board chair, to ask the board why it hasn’t secured federal government funding and who will be on the hook if the feds don’t come through.

DeBruyn said the agreement the pork board entered with the university and the province called for pork producers to find 20 per cent of the money, which would be $3.6 mllion.

This year’s pork board budget contains $2 million for the project, $1.5 million of it held over as unspent from last year’s budget.

Ontario Agriculture Minister Lisa Thompson lavished praise on the pork board for investing in the swine research centre and said “we are going to attract the very best” researchers.

She also praised the board for its participation in a recent trade mission to Japan and for being on top of issues such as animal welfare, the environment, sustainability and communications with consumers.

She said the province is dedicating $2 billion to agriculture, including a $1.77 billion five-year deal with the federal government, which is a 25 per cent increase from the previous deal.

Another $340 million has recently been announced for provincial funding of research at the University of Guelph.

She said the budget, to be released the day after she was speaking, will include $2 million over two years to invite proposals that will include made-in-Ontario solutions to the demand for fertilizers.

And she said there will be funding to update soils information, some of it dating to the 1920s preparation of Ontario soil maps.

“It is time,” she said. It will include providing data in digital format.

“The future is bright for Ontario agriculture,”she said.”The world is looking to us and our farmers are up for it.”

More carrots, fewer brick-bats for politicians

Veteran politician John Milloy of Kitchener told the annual meeting for the Ontario Pork marketing board that they need to offer more praise and less criticism if they want to influence politicians.

Blasting politicians for perceived mistakes and failures will leave a long-lingering bad taste that will hamper efforts to get what farmers want from their governments, he said.

He was an Ontario Liberal member of the legislature for 11 years, a cabinet minister for seven and served in the Prime Minister’s office under Jean Chretien.

He said farmers should make an effort to inform their politicians, including those representing nearby urban ridings. He praised John Wilkinson of Stratford for inviting him and other city MPPs to tour farms.

Because politicians are overwhelmed with work and lobbyists, he said the pork farmers ought to keep their requests brief and focused on two or three top-priority issues. Leave the rest for the future.

It will be easier to bring them forward after a rapport has been established.

He said farmers who expect politicians to put effort into responding to them need to put effort into communicating with them. For example, if your effort is forwarding a copy of a petition, you will probably get only a canned response.

He said producers ought to take every opportunity to inform people about how they farm and the issues they face because those people will also be engaging directly or indirectly with politicians.

He said MPPs typically do constituency work and meetings on 

Fridays and what they hear and learn they will report Mondays at caucus meetings.

If what MPPs from your riding match what MPPS from other parts of the province report, it has multiplied impact, he said.

Ontario preparing for African Swine Fever

A number of farmers quizzed their leaders about how well prepared the pork industry is for an outbreak of African Swine Fever when they met at the annual meeting of the Ontario Pork marketing board.

“Are we 100 per cent prepared?” one asked, noting that he has been hearing about the threat for five years.

The threat is that an outbreak could immediately cut off exports which account for 70 per cent of Ontario hog production. It would also burden farms that are hit with monstrous costs to depopulate,  clean and disinfect and resume operations.

General manager Ken Ovington answered it’s “not likely” that the industry will ever be 100 per cent prepared, but said it’s in much better shape now than 10 years ago.

He said euthanasia protocols and slaughter-plant plans are well advanced and there is a system in place to keep producers and industry partners informed.

Ovington said Ontario Pork staff are working with peers in other provincial marketing boards and is preparing requests for funding for four projects under the federal government’s recently-announced funding for ASF preparedness.

Rene Roy, chairman of the Canadian Pork Council, said it has taken the lead on the industry-wide committees established to address the challenges. 

He said “we’re better prepared than ever,” but much work remains to be done. The work now is focussed on the immediate response to an outbreak. He said this is something new for government officials who are usually responding to crisis and have not been proactive.

Stephen Heckbert, new executive director, said the council’s top priorities are developing a strategic plan, improving communications and advocating around African Swine Fever.

He said a new producer manual on best practices has passed Stage One approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for PigSafe and PigCare.

The deadline retailers had set to have sows out of gestation crates has been delayed from 2025 to 2029.

He said Japanese inspectors recently completed visits in Ontario and Quebec to verify protocols for producing pork that has not been produced with the help of ractopamine growth promotant.

Stacey Ash briefed the meeting on communications and marketing initiatives, including the development of videos featuring farmers. They will soon be aired on a new communications website.

Farm family sets up respite cabin

The Bergsma family of Lambton County is building a cabin in a 50-acre woodlot to serve as a respite for farmers and first responders dealing with stress.

It’s their answer to the suicide of 18-year-old Travis Bergsma who had just finished building a hog barn on the farm he purchased as was moving the first hogs into the facility.

His parents had also just finished building a new barn.

Diane Bergsma said they never noticed that Travis was so stressed. They knew he was feeling stress, but considered it normal and short term related to all that was unfolding then.

Since that travesty in 2020, the family of seven children has continued to ponder what could and should be done to help farmers and first responders experiencing mental health issues and stress.

Travis was a member of the local volunteer fire department.

The cabin they decided to build is called Three Oaks Respite Cabin and will be ready by August.

There will be registered therapists from the National Farmers Health Alliance to tend to those taking advantage of the respite.

“We hope that will prompt them to seek ongoing professional therapy,” Diane said.

There will be a tractor parade Aug. 12 to mark the opening of the cabin.

Information about the project is at .

Toronto politician stirs trouble for farmers

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, a Toronto-area Member of Parliament, has caught the attention of farmers because he has introduced a private member’s bill that raises alarm that modern farming could trigger a pandemic.

What’s doubly worrisome is that Erskine-Smith is rumoured to be a candidate to become leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Stephen Heckbert, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council, said he has launched an effort to inform MPs about the pork industry’s preparedness to deal with epidemics.

And the council is pointing out that pork farmers’ biosecurity measures kept COVID-19 from devastating the pork industry and the Canadian supply of safe food.

“We were ready,” he said.

“It’s a matter of education,” Heckbert said in a private interview during the annual meeting of the Ontario Pork board in Guelph.

Heckbert some of Erskine-Smith’s proposals indicate he favours converting Canada’s farming and food industry out of meats, dairy and poultry into plant based foods.

The bill says in part that:

“after consultation with the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Minister of Industry and provincial governments, provide for measures to

  • (i)reduce the risks posed by antimicrobial resistance,
  • (ii)regulate commercial activities that can contribute to pandemic risk, including industrial animal agriculture,
  • (iii)promote commercial activities that can help reduce pandemic risk, including the production of alternative proteins, and
  • (iv)phase out commercial activities that disproportionately contribute to pandemic risk, including activities that involve high-risk species.”

  • Another section says:

  • a summary of the measures the Minister of the Environment intends to take to reduce the risk that the commercial wildlife trade in Canada and abroad will lead to a pandemic, including measures to regulate or phase out live animal markets, and . . .”

  • The bill has passed first and second readings in the House of Commons, but isn’t going forward until it is assigned to a committee.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

TruHarvest has folded

TruHarvest, the venture that took over Toronto beef-packing plant Ryding-Regency, is out of business.

Vice-president Chuck Oulton said in a recent interview with that it ran ouf of money to achieve its goal of slaughtering 1,500 head a week.

When it closed it was doing about 700 a week with 140 employees working three days a week.

The plant was put back into business by the Burgin family of Forest, a revival that was much needed in a province short of beef-slaughter capacity.

Oulton said TruHarvest was a supplier to niche markets, such as halal and kosher, and those buyers are left with little or no Canadian supply.

“With a new business, there’s only so much chance you have with the banks to get financing for expansions,” Oulton said. “The Burgin family put a lot out there to try and make this a success. I really do think they gave it their all.”

India and Viet Nam are pork markets

India and Viet Nam are bright prospects for increased Canadian pork exports, economist John Cranfield of the University of Guelph told the annual meeting of the Ontario Pork marketing board in Guelph recently.

Viet Nam, for example, has little land or ability to produce feed grains, yet is a major consumer of pork and that’s likely to increase as incomes continue to rise, he said.

India is also experiencing improved incomes and with that comes demand for meat protein, he said.

Nigeria, with 240 million people and a rapidly-increasing population, is another market prospect to which Canada should pay attention, he said.

Canada has the land, water and expertise to continue increasing pork exports, he said.

He praised the pork board for taking the initiative to address consumer concerns about animal welfare, the environment and sustainability and urged them to make sure Canadian consumers get the message.

He said competition is coming from plant-based proteins where the technology and costs are likely to keep improving, led by technology-savvy startups that later will be bought by large-scale producers such as Maple Leaf Foods which has built a large plant in Indiana.

That plant is not going to go away, he said, despite a slump in sales.

He also predicted competition will be coming from “cellular” meats produced in fermentation tanks from stem cells harvested from pigs.

He said much will depend on hog these competitors and pork producers position their products.

He urged the pork industry to join with governments and companies to strategize how to open markets in countries such as Viet Nam, India and Nigeria. Africa is the only continent that will continue to experience population growth, he said.

The rest of the world is in a decline in the population of people younger than 15 years, he said.

Axel Ndayisaba
of Agriculture and AgriFood Canada briefed the meeting on trade negotiations, including current talks with the United Kingdom, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and countries applying to gain entry into that deal, and with India and the ASEAN association (10 countries) for Asia.

He said Canada’s strategy with the United Kingdom is to wait to see what happens to its application to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and then to seek increased access for Canada to the U.K.’s agriculture and food markets.

When Stewart Cressman challenged him over the European Union’s ongoing demands that have stifled Canadian pork exports, he said Canada presented a report on carcass disinfection procedures and safety and the E.U. has said it will take it five years to evaluate that information.

He said the difficulty is the strong farmer lobby in member countries in the European Union. Stewart countered that the free trade deal that was signed in 2016 seems to be a “worthless piece of paper.”

He said Canadian imports of beef from Ireland surged as soon as the deal was signed.

He said Canada is maintaining a close watch on U.S. proposals to allow country of origin labeling of meat, eggs and poultry products, but so far it is for voluntary labeling which may not impact Canadian exports or prices.

Ottawa is also keeping a close watch on Proposition 12 in California that could force hog producers all across North America to transition out of confinement housing for sows.

Quebec pork producers and Olymel still talking

Quebec’s powerful hog marketing board continues intense negotiations with Olymel and other smaller pork packers over a deal that would end up reducing hog production rates by 1.2 million hogs per year.

Rene Roy, a director of the Quebec board and president of the Canadian Pork Council, said they have been talking eight hours per day for the last week and said he thinks they are close to a deal.

He said production cuts will be mandated across the board.

He said Olymel will be closing one of its hog-slaughtering plants and it will have to reduce production from its farms the same as all other Quebec hog producers.

Olymel owns some of the largest and most modern hog farms in the province.

Roy said it’s hard to predict the full extent of the fallout from the crisis, but he does expect a large percentage of older farmers with smaller operations to retire from pork production.

The need to convert housing from sow gestation crates to mingling in pens will prompt some to quit rather than invest in renovations, he said.

There are others producing under contract and they may also quit, he said.

He expects there will be a significant increase in the export of weaner pigs to the United States and some movement of market hogs to the U.S.

Economist Steve Meyer of Kerns Associates in Iowa said any surge of Canadian exports from Quebec might prompt producers there to call for countervailing duties to offset any help Canadian governments provide to Quebec producers.

Roy said the federal and Quebec governments are involved in discussions to provide help to the industry.

Meyer also said he has heard no producer concerns about competition from Canadians in meetings he has attended in the U.S.


Steve Meyer
Both Meyer and Roy were at the annual meeting of the Ontario Pork marketing board at Guelph.

African swine fever surges in China

There has been a surge is positive tests for African Swine Fever in China’s main hog-producing provinces in the north.

There were as many positives in January as for the entire previous year, reports Reuters news agency.

Jim Long of Genesus Pork, which sells breeding stock to China, said African Swine Fever is the reason marketings of pigs of all sizes and ages have recently increased.

An initial wave during 2018 and 2019 killed millions of pigs and led to a global increase in in meat prices.

Chinese farms have significantly improved hygiene and procedures since then to reduce the impact of the virus, but it still circulates constantly, often spiking in winter, said Reuters,


"We guess that the current swine fever infection area in northern production areas may be reaching 50 per cent,” said analysts at Huachuang Securities in a report on Monday.

Reuters quoted an anonymous farm manager saying the outbreak has not yet subsided.

"We continue to believe the low China hog price is due to many pigs going to slaughter at any weight due to ASF [out]breaks,”Long wrote in a report this week.

Ontario clamping down on abuse of farm workers

Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton is increasing fines for employers who abuse migrant workers.

He said the “scumbags” abusing migrant workers will be found, fined and put behind bars.

Farms, businesses and people who are convicted of withholding a foreign national’s passport or work permit could face fines of $100,000 to $200,000 for every worker whose rights are abused.

“While most employers care about their workers, some continue to take advantage of them, including illegally holding their passports and work permits. This obviously leaves workers vulnerable,” said McNaughton. 

“Migrant workers are afraid. That’s why every possible chance I get, I tell migrant workers that they’re protected under the labour laws here in Ontario,” he said.

“Please, come forward if there’s injustices out there.”

Under the Working for Workers Act, 2023, individuals convicted of withholding passports would be liable to either a fine of up to $500,000, up to 12 months imprisonment, or both. 

Corporations convicted would be liable to a fine of up to $1 million.

Food inflation remains high

Food prices were 10.5 per cent higher this February than a year ago, much higher than the overall inflation rate of 5.2 per cent.

And there is scant expectation that food prices will decline any time soon.

But the overall inflation rate declined by the most it has since April. In January it was 5.9 per cent. 

The Bank of Canada aims to keep inflation below two per cent, so there remains a long way to go.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Olymel hikes wages

Even though the union contract stretches to 2027, Olymel has opened it to hike wages in an effort to attract and retain workers at its Quebec hog-packing plants.

Starting wages increase from $17 to $19.20 and hour and after a year of employment increase to $21.20.

The company is in financial straits and has been pressuring the pork marketing board to sharply reduce production by 850,000 hogs after two other reductions in the previous year.

It has also stopped buying hogs from Ontario.

The hog board wants the cuts to be across the board, but Olymel said it needs to run its relatively new and large farms at or near capacity.

U.S. frets about foreign farmland owners

United States worries that China and Russia are buying up farmland are unfounded according to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Canadians are by far the biggest foreign landowners, most of it forests.

In fact, Canadians account for a third of the land that foreigners own in the U.S. - about 12.8 million acres.

China owns 383,935 and 127,000 of that is by pork producer and packer Smithfield Foods Inc. which is owned by WH Group of China.

Russians own 73 acres.

Four European countries collectively own as much as Canadians - 12.8 million acres held by Dutch, Italian, United Kingdom and German citizens.

Sobey’s profits down

Empire Company Ltd., owners of Sobey’s, Freshco and Foodland supermarkets, took a $32-million hit from a cyber attack in November and has reported fourth-quarter profits of $125.7 million compared with the same third-quarter results of $203.4 million last year.

Last year’s profit included a big gain on real estate.

The company said shoppers have shifted to lower-priced items because inflation of about 11 per cent on groceries is pinching budgets.