Monday, July 31, 2023

Third tentative deal reached

A third tentative deal has been reached between 49 employers and 7,400 unionized longshoremen and warehouse workers in British Columbia.

The workers voted down two previous tentative deals.

Contracting out and wages are key issues.

In the second deal covering four years, the median wage would reach $163,000 a year.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Allan Dawson joins Hall of Fame

 Allan Dawson, 67, has been voted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.

He is a veteran reporter for the Manitoba Co-operator newspaper.

Dawson, who retired last July, was lauded by the hall of fame for his work to build “awareness and understanding in the agricultural community through unbiased details and well-researched reporting on complex issues affecting the industry, and those who make their living from it.”

In 2017 he won first prize in the news category for the 
North American Agricultural Journalists’ association.

Dawson worked in agriculture journalism since 1980.

I am honoured to call him a friend.

Port workers vote against deal

Port workers in British Columbia have voted down a deal negotiated by their union leaders.

It is the second time they have rejected a deal.

Despite the lack of a deal, bulk shipments of grain and coal have continued to move to export markets.

The employers have a large number of casual workers who were not eligible to vote.

The union leaders say they want to negotiate directly with the 49 employer companies and not with the association that has been negotiating on their behalf.

The deal they rejected called for a 19 per cent wage increase over four years and would have brought the median annual income to more than $163,000.

One of the key union demands is restrictions on hiring out work.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Salmonella from poultry proves persistent

Federal health authorities in the United States say a persistent strain of salmonella in poultry is responsible for numerous outbreaks among people. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labels strains of bacteria as persistent when they cause illnesses over months or years. 

Salmonella infantis REPJFX01 “is a leading strain of salmonella found in chicken produced in the United States,” the CDC said on a new web page.  

“In the past, REPJFX01 has spread to people through contaminated chicken in the United States and through exposures through international travel,” the agency said in a post last week.

Through 2022, data on 2,900 people infected with the multi-drug resistant strain had been reported to PulseNet, according to the CDC.


Those sickened reside in all 50 states, and illnesses were first reported in 2012.

There were outbreaks in British Columbia in 2014 and 2015.

Weather worries wheat producers

Wheat producers are anxious about the weather for the coming week as they hope they will be able to harvest their crop before it sprouts or is hurt by other wet-weather challenges.

Russel Hurst, executive director for the Ontario Agri-Business Association, reports that:

- Eighty per cent of the soft red wheat that has been harvested is going milling grade. Main downgrading to date has been mildew in some pockets of the province.

-       Seven per cent showed signs of sprouting.

-       Falling numbers are ranging from low 200's to high 300's which is fairly wide range from a milling quality standpoint. 

-       Am awaiting harvest sampling stats from Grain Farmers of Ontario to ground truth what we are seeing and this sample data.

-   Harvesting is done on more than 95 per cent of the wheat in the deep south, 75 per cent in midwestern Ontario and just nicely started in more northern regions - i.e. 25-35 per cent.

   - Yields have generally been good, variable depending on management practices and rainfall events, but not exceptional yields across the province generally.

The weather in the next five to seven days is critical. 

He said via e-mail that "at this point growers should be harvesting wheat when the opportunity presents itself as quality will/is rapidly declining - i.e. test weight, increased sprouting, lower falling number.

He said there have not been many reports of fusarium contamination, but the Canadian Food inspection Agency did release a notice on yellow dwarf bunt, "which came as a bit of a surprise to us."

That was specific to Thunder Bay region. There are also some spots in British Columbia.

The CFIA is cautioning the trade that this disease could threaten Canada’s exports, so it must be kept out of the supply chain.

No wheat from these infected areas may be moved without a CFIA certificate based on lab test results.

Wheat standards changes nixed

The Canadian Grain Commission has withdrawn its proposals to increase the standard test weight and reduce “foreign material” tolerances for Western Red Spring Wheat.

No changes were proposed for Ontario wheats.

The Saskatchewan Development Association and the Saskatchewan Wheat Producers Association were the principal objectors to the proposed changes which were supported by elevator operators.

The Grain Commission staff told the Western Canada advisory committee in April that the proposed changes would have only a minor impact and only on a small number of producers.

At the April meeting of the Eastern Canada advisory committee, Doug Chorney asked why there is no advisory committee for corn.


Yet another lawyer appointed


The provincial government has appointed yet another lawyer to the Animal Care Review Board.

James Rhodes of Kitchener is the 20th lawyer now on the board. He has been appointed to a two-year term.

It hears appeals from livestock and poultry farmers and pet owners whose animals were seized by officials or who have been issued orders under the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act.

Rhodes ran for mayor of Kitchener in 2014, but withdrew before voting day.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Danner appeals OMAFRA registration


Frank John Danner of New Hamburg has filed an appeal against AgriCorp’s requirement that he register his farming operation.

Robert Fuller of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeals Tribunal set Sept. 7 for a hearing.

Peter Kofzeff of Owen Sound has also filed an appeal with the tribunal against the same Farm Registration and Farm Organizations Funding Act administered by AgriCorp.

Workers reject Windsor Salt deal

Members of Unifor Local 240 have voted against a deal their bargaining team reached with Stone Canyon, owners of Windsor Salt.

Two other Unifor locals’ voting has been put on hold while union and company officials try to sort out “dynamics and legalities”, the union said.

The strike began Feb. 17 and has resulted in shortages of some types of salt, such as Windsor’s water softening salt.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

MacAulay returns as ag minister


 Lawrence MacAulay, 77, is now the federal minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Marie-Claude Bibeau has moved to Revenue Minister.

MacAulay has been Minister of Veterans Affairs.

Bibeau won the 2015 election for Compton—Stanstead  in the Eastern Townshipsof Quebec.

She was appointed Minister of International Development that year and Agriculture Miniser in 2019.

MacAulay was first elected in 2088 for Cardigan riding in Prince De==Edward Island.

He has served as minister of Agriculture and Labour, as Solicitor General and as Secretary of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

He was critic for Fisheries and Oceans and Seniors and was vice-chairman of the House of Commons Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.


Sausage makers expand


Johnsonville LLC of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is partnering with Winkler Meats of Manitoba to invest $52.8 million to expand the plant at Winkler, Man.

The federal and Manitoba governments are providing $2.4 million.

The grant is expected to fund the purchase of new harvesting and processing equipment to support a high-capacity packaging line at the facility. 

The project also is expected to reduce freight-related greenhouse gas emissions from trucks transporting sows for slaughter.

For its part, Johnsonville plans to continue to buy pork for its products from the joint project.

“We're confident that with our respective capabilities and experience, Johnsonville and Winkler Meats can continue providing a solid pork supply chain and quality products for retail customers and our end consumers," said Johnsonville’s chief executive officer Michael Stayer-Suprick.

Johnsonville sources some of its live sow supply from Western Canada,.

Loblaws sales, profits increase


Loblaws sales increased by 6.9 per cent to $13.7 billion in its second quarter and met earnings shot up from $387 to $508 million compared with the same quarter last year.

Yet Loblaws spokesperson Catherin Thomas claimed the company’s margins are down. She claimed costs are rising faster than prices it charges customers.

How can margins be down, but profits shoot up? Loblaws!!!

Friday, July 21, 2023

Bonnet gets national council job

Ron Bonnet, former chairman of the Ontario and Canadian Federations of Agriculture, has been appointed by the National Products Council to canvass commodity organizations to elicit their interest in setting up national promotion agencies.

There are agencies for beef and pork and they have authority to collect fees on domestic and imported animals.

National Farm Council gains two Ontario women



Two Ontario women have been appointed to the National Farm Products Council which oversees national marketing agencies for the poultry industry and promotion prograns for several comodities.


Bonnie den Haan has been appointed to a four-year term as vice-chair.


She is a dairy producer and processor with her husband John den Haan and two daughters operating Haanview Holsteins and Sheldon Creek Dairy.


Their two sons work in the dairy industry and farm with their families.


 She received a Bachelor of Sciences in Agriculture from the University of Guelph in 1981 and is a graduate of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program. She has been a board member of both Dairy Farmers of Ontario and Dairy Farmers of Canada and is past Chair of the Farm and Food Care Ontario Board. 


Samantha Haverkamp has been appointed a council member for four years. 


She farms outside of Woodstock, Ont., as a hatching egg producer. She is a graduate of the University of Guelph with a Diploma in Horticulture, Bachelor of Science Degree in Honours Agriculture, and a Certificate in Business. 


Prior to joining the family farm in 2019, she worked for a financial institution lending to agriculture and commercial businesses.


 She also worked for an agriculture input company buying grain, selling fertilizer and other crop inputs after graduating.


She is currently on the Ontario Broiler Chicken Hatching Egg Producers Association (OBCHEPA), and has been the chair of the association since 2022 and a board member of the Poultry Industry Council.

Both appointments were made by Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

Union, Windsor Salt reach a deal


Negotiators have agreed on a deal to end a strike that began Feb. 17 at Windsor Salt.

Union members will vote on the deal July 26.

Unifor represents workers at three units. Local 240 represents the office employees while Local 1959 represents workers at the Ojibway Mine and a separate unit at the evaporation processing fields. 

About 350 union members work at the mine.

Windsor Salt was bought by Stone Canyon which also owns Morton Salt. It is the first negotiations with the new owners.


Farm fields to become labs

The federal government is putting up $9.2 million for an Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association initiative that makes farm fields “living labs”.

The project will measure the benefits of adopting best management practices, such as adequate manure storage, nitrogen and measures that reduce carbon emissions.

Some of the money will be spent to involve local producer, farm organizations, federal and provincial researchers and indigenous groups in knowledge transfer.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Saputo deal worries farmers

Dairy farmers in New South Wales, Australia, are worried that if a deal Saputo has to sell two processing plants to Coles supermarket chain might mean Saputo would stop bidding to buy their milk.

They have made their views known to the country’s competition watchdog.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the transaction “raised strong concerns” among “a significant number of industry participants”.

The ACCC said the deal would “result in a major structural change” in Australia’s dairy sector. If approved, the acquisition would be the first time a supermarket “owns and operates its own milk processing facilities”, the regulator said.

The deal would see Coles buy two plants in Laverton North in Victoria and in Erskine Park in New South Wales for around $95 million Cdn. 

At present, Coles acquires raw milk from farmers in Victoria and New South Wales. The retailer processes the milk at these plants under an arrangement with Saputo.

“For NSW dairy farmers, concerns have been raised that this acquisition may change Saputo’s incentives to continue acquiring raw milk in NSW. 

“If Saputo does exit NSW as a result of the acquisition, this would leave limited competition in regions of NSW, which could result in farmers receiving lower prices for their raw milk,” said Mick Keogh, the deputy chair of ACCC.

Ports strike off again

 The on-again, off-again strike by port workers at Vancouver and Prince Rupert, B.C., is off again.

Members of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) halted their 13-day strike on July 13, but walked off the job again starting on Tuesday afternoon, for 24 hours.

When that was ruled illegal because the union failed to provide 72-hour notice, the union filed notice that it would resume the strike Sunday.

Now the union has cancelled that notice and has instead filed an appeal against the ruling of the Canadian Labour Board that Tuesday’s strike was illegal.

About 6,000 of the ILWU’s members are in the Vancouver region, 1,000 in the Prince Rupert area and the rest on Vancouver Island.

They are members of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) union.

On Tuesday, the ILWU’s caucus that includes representatives of locals rejected the tentative four-year pact that had been approved on July 13 by the union’s bargaining unit.

“The ILWU has followed Canadian labour law which holds that a strike continues from the moment of job action until the ratification of a collective agreement,” the union president said.

The Globe and Mail, citing confidential sources, said the tentative four-year deal provides for wage hikes of five per cent in each of the first two years, followed by increases of four per cent in each of the final two years.

That is a total of 18 per cent nominally, and works out to a compounded wage hike of 19.2 per cent over four years.


Farmers urged to step up cybersecurity


An attack on a hog operation has a professor calling for the agriculture industry to step up cybersecurity.

Ali Dehghantanha, Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity & Threat Intelligence at the University of Guelph’s Cyber Science Lab said a hog farm is the first in Ontario to face a ransom demand from hackers and the first to demand animal welfare improvements, not money.

Dehghantanha said agriculture is about five years behind the curve in cybersecurity.

He said his lab has been asked to look into 20 cybersecurity issues reported from southern Ontario in the first half of 2023 and said more are coming because ransomware has become easier to acquire.

He said the first step should be setting up a committee of industry representatives, technology experts, and others to design cybersecurity standards “rooted in the reality of the industry.”

The ransom demand against the hog operation falsely accused the operation of animal abuse, providing video footage which has proven to not be from the farm that was targeted.

California romaine faces testing

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is requiring sampling and testing of California-grown romaine lettuce before it can enter Canada.

It follows several years of food poisoning related to bacteria which many believe is in water used to irrigate romaine crops in California.

The testing requirements will be effective September 28 to December 20.

Russia’s navy losing ports


While Russia has blocked exports of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea exports, it’s navy continues to lose ports.

Russia has also repeatedly bombed the port of Odesa, destroying a grain elevator owned by Viterra and holding 60 tonnes of grain. It contrasts with the two world wars in Europe that avoided bombing food-supply chains.

Russia has been warning the world that any ship approaching a Ukrainian port "will be regarded as potential carriers of military cargo."

This obvious threat to sink commercial shipping appears to be an attempt to prevent ships from taking on Ukrainian grain. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked Turkey to join him in a new arrangement to protect grain ships without Russia's involvement. Turkey has yet to respond.

Turkey controls the straits through which all ships use to pass to and from the Black Sea. It closed the straits to military ships the day Russia invaded the Ukraine.

The threat to sink commercial shipping marks an escalation that can only be carried out under a state of declared war, said Tanya Grodzinski, a naval historian at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont. 

That's something Russian President Vladimir Putin has been anxious to avoid by calling it a "special military operation."

Russia's famous Black Sea fleet, already hurt by the humiliating loss of its flagship Moscow, faces an uncertain future and the possible loss of both its bases and its naval supremacy.

And in the north three narrow straits separate Denmark from Sweden; the widest, between two Danish islands, is a mere 16 kilometres across and now they are both members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Russia can still use its ports, including St. Petersburg, for commercial shipping.

It has shifted its military ships to ports in the Arctic and Pacific.

Poultry processor pays for price-fixing

Last month, Harrison Poultry agreed to a $2.8 million settlement with the Commercial and Institutional Indirect Purchasers (CIIPPs) class. 

On Tuesday, Illinois federal judge Thomas M. Durkin approved the agreement.

This is the eighth lawsuit involving poultry price-fixing.

Harrison Poultry has also agreed to provide cooperation to support the ongoing prosecution of the case. 

When combined with previous settlements, this brings the total recovery for the CIIPP class to $107.7 million.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

B.C. ports face renewed strikes

Union members will be setting up picket lines at British Columbia ports this weekend, continuing a strike that has crippled trade, including exports of Canadian pork, beef and grains and imports of farm machinery and other agriculture inputs.

B.C. port workers say they will resume striking after the job action Tuesday that was ruled illegal, and they were ordered back to work Wednesday morning.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada served the B.C. Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) with a 72-hour strike notice starting Saturday morning, the association said.

The BCMEA says resuming strike action that had halted cargo movement for 13 days at the start of the month was "unnecessary and reckless."

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union of Canad rejected a tentative mediated deal it said didn't address cost of living issues for workers.

That prompted federal Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan to call the renewed strike action illegal after the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) ruled Wednesday morning it was "unlawful." 

The union did not give the required 72-hours notice before striking, according to CIRB's decision.




U.S. wants food competition

The United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A) is offering up to $15 million to 31 states that have signed on to a program to evaluate issues that reduce competition and threaten supply chains in a number of agriculture sectors.

The program is designed to help the state attorneys general to identify and address “anticompetitive market structures in agriculture and related industries” that lead to higher prices and limited choices for consumers and producers.

Not in Canada where the Competition Bureau merely wrings its hands as it approves mergers. And ignores the evidence it has received about anti-competitive deals between GrayRidge and Burnbrae who dominate egg grading in Ontario and some other provinces.

The bipartisan effort stems from a request from more than a dozen state attorneys general who previously asked the U.S.D.A. for help regarding agricultural competition issues.

The new Agricultural Competitive Partnership will study price gouging and other practices that negatively affect consumers when it comes to food, retail, meat and poultry processing and other related industries, the department said. 

The research effort will include conflicts of interest among food producers, misuse of intellectual property and anticompetitive barriers across ag supply chains.


U.S.D.A. also is forming a partnership with the non-profit Center for State Enforcement of Antitrust and Consumer Protection Laws that already provides similar support to states. 

The American Antitrust Institute also will offer resources to states involved in the project, U.S.DA. added.


No carbon tax break

Despite approval from the House of Commons, a bill to exempt farmers from paying the federal government’s carbon tax failed to make it into law.

It lacked royal assent when Parliament adjourned for the summer.

A study published by the federal agriculture department estimated the carbon tax at $5.50 per acre of corn in 2019. Now that is $6.34 per acre.

A pork farmer in Manitoba estimates it costs him $80,000 per year.

“It’s disappointing that this bill didn’t receive royal assent,” said Rick Prejet, chair of Manitoba Pork.

He said the tax hurts the pork industry’s competitiveness in export markets. About 70 per cent of Canada’s pork is exported.

Confit on recall

Delusional Sauce Co. is recalling its Chili Garlic Confit because it detected clostridium botulinum in a batch.

The bacteria affects nerves and people who fall ill can expect recovery to take a long time.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Hog producers improving

A national survey has concluded that pork producers have increased productivity and reduced their environmental impact by eight to 10 per cent over the last 30 years.

Dr. Mario Tenuta, the senior industrial research chair in 4R Nutrient Stewardship and a professor at the University of Manitoba, said “you name it, it's improved, in terms of water, electricity or fuel, feed all improved and there is a number of reasons for this. 

One is genetics and another is incorporating ingredients from the food industry and distiller’s mash from ethanol and booze production in rations.

“It's really positive for the industry to see this trajectory that we've had and I think we can identify areas of improved trajectory for the near future,” Tenuta said.

More gains can be made if we change the diet even more, continue to improve barn design, go to renewable energy sources and further modernize production, he said.

Three new PED outbreaks

Swine Health Ontario reported three more outbreaks of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, all involving finisher barns, on its website Monday.

Two are in Perth County and one in Oxford.

Sheep fee issue escalates


The Canadian Sheep Agency and three provincial sheep organizations in Western Canada got involved in an appeal filed by Roger Albers of Alberta and Matt Lynch of Ontario against a marketing fee charged by Sheep Farmers of Ontario.

That raised the issue of whether the four could participate in a public hearing before the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.

The tribunal has ruled that the sheep federation may participate, but not the associations representing shepherds in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

They all oppose Ontario’s right to charge a fee on sheep brought in from their provinces.

Albers and Lynch are asking the tribunal for:

   A determination that Ontario Sheep Farmers (OSF), in the impugned orders, directions, decisions, policies or regulations has acted outside the scope of its jurisdiction;

   That the tribunal direct OSF to issue a directive to every person, including a broker/dealer, an auction market, or a processor, who receives sheep or wool to immediately stop deducting the license fee from the sale proceeds payable to non-resident producers.

No date has yet been set for the public hearing.

Mediation underway for Windsor Salt

 A mediator is trying to achieve an end to the strike at Windsor Salt.

Unifor Locals 1959 and 240 representing about 250 members have been on strike since Feb. 17.

Unifor Local 240 president Jodi Nesbitt said they are meeting with a non-binding mediator to resolve some outstanding issues

The main issue has been the company’s desire to contract some work to companies that do not have unions.

Food inflation registers nine per cent

Statistics Canada reported that food prices were nine per cent higher this June than a year ago.

But mortgage rates were 30 per cent higher.

Gasoline came down and was the main factor in an overall decline in the inflation rate to 2.8 per cent compared with 3.4 per cent last month.

The Bank of Canada aims to keep inflation below two per cent.

It hit a high of 8.1 per cent in June of last year.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Russia seizes Danone, Carlsberg assets

Russia has effectively nationalized the Russian assets of Danone and Carlsberg.

The companies failed to execute an exit plan by the Russian deadline.

The exit terms would have basically stripped the companies of half the value of their assets, either by sale or taxes.

The Russians have also added more regulations to companies seeking an exit from Russia.

Last grain ship leaves Ukraine

The last ship loaded with grains for hungry people left Odessa over the weekend, then Russia announced it is pulling out of a deal to allow grain shipments.

A deal which allowed for Ukrainian agricultural products to be exported safely through a Russian naval blockade enabled delivery of 33 million tons of wheat, corn and other grains to market over the past year, and was credited by the United Nations for helping lower global food prices by 20 per cent. 

The World Food Program – which is battling food shortages in Afghanistan, Yemen, and East Africa – bought 80 per cent of its wheat from Ukraine during the first half of 2023.

Russian President Vladimi Putin told South African President Cyril Ramaphosa that he won’t allow grain exports to resume because promises to remove obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertilizer have not yet been met.

Russia has withheld ship permits since June 26.

Russia repeatedly threatened to quit the deal, brokered by the U.N. and Turkey in July 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It had been previously extended for two months on May 17.

Ukraine and Russia are among the world’s top grain exporters.

Russia’s war on the Ukraine has left millions of some of the world’s poorest people, especially in Africa, without a secure supply of grain.

It has also pushed grain prices significantly higher and, secondarily, costs for baked goods breakfast cereals and processed foods that contain a substantial amount of grain.