Thursday, July 25, 2024

Feds announce dairy subsidies


The federal government is giving $500,000 to Dairy Farmers of Canada for its proAction quality assurance program and $3.5 million over five years to bolster DairyTrace.

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced the subsidies during the annual meeting of Dairy Farmers of Canada in Newfoundland.

So much for the dairy industry claims that it takes no government subsidies because supply management is all it needs.d

Semex among methane reduction winners


Semex is gaining $153,846 as one of four semi-finalists in the Agricultural Methane Reduction Challenge organized by the federal agriculture department.

The others are AbacusBio of Alberta, the University of Saskatchewan and TerraWave Radar Solutions of Manitoba.

The semi-finalists can use their winnings to prepare for the choice of the winner next spring.

Loblaws apologizes to farmers’ markets


Loblaws has apologized for an advertisement urging shoppers to bypass farmers’ markets to instead buy from its NoFrills stores.

“The text was meant to direct customers to our NoFrills local summer produce program,” Loblaws said in its apology on X. (formerly Twitter).

“However, the message in the text didn’t match the spirit of the campaign for this we sincerely apologize.” 

Loblaws posted a message on July 20 to subscribers to its NoFrills internet flyer saying “Skip the line at the farmers’ market. We have fresh produce at low prices.”

Bread price-fixing costs $500 million



Loblaws and parent company Weston have reached an out-of-court settlement of $500 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over a plot to hike bread prices.

Weston owned both Loblaws and Weston's Bakery at the time of the violations.

The company admitted price-fixing after the federal government filed price-fixing claims in 2015 and Loblaws distributed $25 gift cards to customers.

The other major bread company involved in the scheme was Maple Leaf Foods, at the time headed by Michael McCain; it subsequently sold its Canada Bread business to Grupo Bimbo bakery.

In June of 2023, Canada Bread agreed to pay a $50-million fine to settle its part of the bureau’s investigation, pleading guilty to involvement in the price-fixing scheme. 

Parent company Grupo Bimbo, which acquired the business in 2014, acknowledged that Canada Bread had made “arrangements” with senior executives at its competitor, Weston Foods, which led to two wholesale price increases in 2007 and 2011. 

Maple Leaf Foods, which owned a majority stake in Canada Bread at the time, has denied unlawful behaviour at Canada Bread while it was a shareholder.

Loblaw and George Weston have also agreed, as part of the settlement, to co-operate with the plaintiffs by providing information about the arrangements, as the lawsuits remain active against other defendants. 

The Ontario case, for example, includes as defendants Canada Bread Co. Ltd., Metro Inc., Sobeys Inc., Walmart Canada and Giant Tiger Stores Ltd. Others named in the suit have denied participating in the alleged scheme.


Wednesday, July 24, 2024

PED in Wellington County


There has been an outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus at a finishing barn in Wellington County, reports Swine Health Ontario

CFIA fines total $424,600 for second quarter


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued $424,600 in fines for violations of its regulations during the April to June quarter this year.

Ontario accounted for $153,600 of that total.

There were two fines totaling $12,000 for food safety violations in Ontario and 12 fines totaling $141,600 for violations of the Health of Animals Act or regulations.

Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Vernla Livestock wins $25,000 appeal


The Canada Agriculture Review Tribunal has granted an appeal by Vernla Livestock Ltd. against two fines totalling $25,000 levied by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The fines were levied after two hogs arrived dead at Conestoga Meat Packers plant near Breslau.

The tribunal agreed with Vernla that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency did not prove its allegation that the hogs were crowded in the trailer taking them to the packing plant.

Brian’s Poultry wins appeal


Brian’s Poultry Services Inc. has won an appeal, over-turning a $10,000 fine imposed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The CFIA accused the company of animal cruelty while trucking chickens to slaughter during inclement weather.

The company loaded more than 8,000 chickens at Cargill and trucked them to the Maple Leaf processing plant at Bradford.

The tribunal chair, Emily Crocco, wrote that because of CFIA “Inspector (Crystal) Wu’s vagueness about when and how the crates became covered with ice and snow, I find that there was inadequate evidence that the crates were covered in melting ice when the animals were loaded.”

She ruled that there was insufficient evidence that the employees who loaded the truck were aware that the chickens would suffer harm.

There were several theories about how and when they became wet, such as that the cages were loaded with ice when the loading was taking place and that ice melted and made the chickens wet, that road splash during transit could have been responsible or that snow blew into the truck while it waited fror three hours to be unloaded at the processing plant.

Crocco said none of those theories could be verified.

It’s illegal to confine pigs in Massechusetts

An appeal court has upheld a Massachusetts state law that declares it illegal to sell pigs that have been housed in a confined space.

Judge William Young dismissed arguments from Missouri-based  Triumph Foods and out-of-state hog farmers that the federal Meat Inspection Act pre-empted the state law. 

The plaintiffs claimed that the state law created additional, different requirements for pig handling than the federal law.

The judge determined that Massachusetts' law merely bans the sale of non-compliant pork meat and does not regulate slaughterhouse operations directly. This distinction was crucial in rejecting the pre-emption argument.

The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act was enacted through a 2016 ballot initiative, with 77 per cent of voters supporting it. 

It prohibits the sale of pork, veal, and eggs from animals that do not meet certain minimum space requirements for confinement.


Monday, July 22, 2024

Mental health supports expanded

The federal and Ontario governments are investing up to $538,000 to expand the Farmer Wellness Initiative to include Ontario farm workers. 

Nearly $178,000 of that will be for the delivery of services in Spanish.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division, delivers the Farmer Wellness Initiative.

It provides farmers, farm workers and their family members with unlimited access to a free, 24/7 phone line that connects them to tailored mental health counselling. 

Earlier this year, the line expanded to include farm workers, and now the expansion includes the delivery of mental health services in Spanish to better serve international agricultural workers.

The 24/7 phone line offers crisis counselling, risk assessments

and face-to-face phone or video sessions with a counsellor.

“The expansion of services to farm workers and their families reflects the reality that the entire agricultural community experiences unique stressors that require tailored solutions,” said Ontario Agriculture Minister Rob Flack.

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Survey finds farmers doubt governments can help


A survey of 500 farmers and agriculture businesses and professionals has found that they have little confidence that governments can solve some of their greatest concerns such as policy, extreme weather and trade.

Less than 15 per cent “have confidence in government to solve any of the three, while fewer than 22 per cent say they have confidence in private sector solutions. Thus, the uphill battle will evidently persist for years to come.”

The survey and report were done by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute and the University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Food Security.

Tyler McCann, managing director for the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, said the list of chief concerns is not surprising, but the feeling that nobody can do much about them is concerning, especially about domestic policies.

Cookies under recall


Baby Gourmet Organic brand banana raisin oatmeal cereal for babies is under recall because testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found it is contaminated with coronabacter food-poisoning bacteria.

Cronobacter can be fatal to infants and older people whose immune systems are compromised.

It is a bacteria that occurs naturally in the environment and is sometimes found in dry foods, such as powdered infant formula, powdered milk and herbal teas, said a website posting by the Canaadian Food Inspection Agency.

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Swiss cheese meatballs on recall


We Brand swiss cheese meatballs are on recall because testing detected listeria monocytogenes food-poisoning bacteria.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said there is no record of anyone who consumed them becoming sick.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Region says it has bought farmland


The Waterloo Region reports that it has deals to buy about a third of the 770 acres it is trying to buy southwest of New Hamburg for industrial development.

No company has been identified and it may only be a desire to have land available when shoppers show up, as region chair Karen Redman said, adding they have been turned away for a lack of suitable space.

When a company hired by the region began seeking the land, farmers and many others in the Waterloo Region and nearby municipalities objected and started a campaign to stop the assembly.

While the region said it has deals for about a third of the land, a spokesman for the protest group said its tally is about 27 per cent.

Avian flu can spread into udders


Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) can spread among dairy cows via virus from birds, pigs and humans and even into cows’ udders, report researchers at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Examining tissues of infected dairy cattle revealed that both the cows’ mammary glands and respiratory tissues had receptors for flu strains that originated from birds, as well as humans and pigs, the university said in a news release.

The presence of the receptors in the udders of dairy cows is new, and indicates how the HPAI virus has spread to samples of raw (unpasteurized) milk. 

Of broader concern is the presence of receptors from both avian, and human and swine, origin, as a single cell infected by avian and mammalian viruses could lead to potentially dangerous mutations, they said.

Cows’ udders are apparently susceptible to HPAI transmission when there is a supply of a sugar called sialic acid in the mammary glands. 

The connection could shed light on how the virus attaches to hosts and help develop measures to slow the spread. 

At least the research indicates that the glands are part of the direct vector of transmission of the virus, as opposed to being passively infected as the virus is transmitted along other pathways.

The research is detailed in an article in the July 2024 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s peer-reviewed journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Dieters eat more protein


Americans taking weight-reduction drugs are buying more proteins and less snack foods and their grocery-shopping bills are down by 11 per cent, reports Grocery Doppio, a survey analytics firm in its recent report “State of Digital Grocery Performance Scorecard: H1 2024”.

While grocery bills were down by an average of 11 per cent, they increased spending on proteins by 27 per cent.

That’s food such as lean meat, eggs and seafood. 

Other gainers were meal replacements, up by 19 per cent, healthy snacks, up by 17 per cent and whole fruits and vegetables up by 13 per cent.

Accelerator Centre inviting ag innovators


The Waterloo Accelerator Centre which has a strong track record for helping launch high-tech medical and electronic businesses, is inviting applications for agriculture.

Ruth Casselman, the executive director, said the centre recently struck a partnership with the University of Waterloo which spawned dozens of high-tech companies such as Blackberry, Moviovision and Open Text.

The partnership aims to inspire students, faculty and recent graduates to launch businesses that help agriculture and the environment.

The centre will accept five applications between September and March. Applications are open until the end of July.

The program is called the Global Impact Creator Program.

Casselman said about half of the 150 startups at the Waterloo Accelerator Centre are developing new tools related to sustainability.

One of those companies is Caragen which researches and markets microbes that can be added to hydroponic solutions to boost greenhouse crop yields by about 10 per cent.

Caragen gets funding boost


Caragen, a start-up company that makes microbes that boost greenhouse yields of fruits and vegetables by about 10 per cent, has raised $2 million in venture funding.

The company works within the Waterloo Accelerator Centre.

This money will enable the company to expand its marketing into Mexico and the Netherlands.

The microbes are in soils but need to be added to hydroponic-farming solutions to achieve better results.

Danielle Rose, chief executive officer for Caragen, said greenhouse production is becoming more important as field production becomes less reliable and because it produces about 10 times as much per square foot and uses 95 per cent less water.

Caragen research aims to identify microbes that can thrive in hydroponic solutions and to match ones to the plant species being grown.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Grocery code of practice supported


Costco and WalMart Canada have finally agreed to a national code of practice for the grocery industry, but it fails to address scores of fees supermarkets charge suppliers.

Loblaws was also a holdout, saying it would not sign until Costco and Walmart do.

Now the code has support from all major supermarket chains and food suppliers.

The federal, provincial and territorial ministers of agriculture have been pushing for a grocery industry code of practice for almost three years.

The Office of the Grocery Sector Code of Conduct interim board of directors reported Costco and Walmart approvals to Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers while they were meeting this week.

The new code is expected to be implemented by June of next year. 

The board needs to hire an adjudicator who would manage any disputes arising under the code, establish an office to oversee it, and educate people across the industry about the code’s requirements.

“This has been a long process, but we are now able to move forward to implementation which we believe will strengthen the relationship between all stakeholders involved and continue to provide Canadians with a healthy and robust food supply chain,” the board wrote in its report.


 The code is designed to set guardrails for issues such as the fair allocation of product supply to independent grocers, as they attempt to compete with large players who have more market rules if the retailers did not sign on to the voluntary code.

“We all have been really focused on trying to get a voluntary code, because we highly believe that industry should be running this and not government,” said Michael Graydon, co-chair of the steering committee developing the code and chief executive officer of Food and Consumer Products of Canada, which represents manufacturers.

In the spring, Loblaw asked for changes and clarifications to some of the wording in the code, including a specification that grocers are entitled to reject requests for cost increases from suppliers, without it leading to such a dispute going before the code’s third-party adjudicator in an attempt to force their hand. 

Loblaw also asked for more details on how dispute resolution would work, and how any future changes to the code would be made.

Loblaw is the nation’s largest supermarket company with many banners such as Zehrs, T&T, Independent , No Frills, Valu Market and Superstore.

The code would not prevent retailers from charging the kinds of fees that have caused conflicts with suppliers in the past, and which are ongoing. 

The Globe and Mail reports that on July 3, Sobeys sent a letter to some of the suppliers who deliver products directly to its stores, announcing a five per cent deduction that will apply to all their products starting on Sept. 2. 

The letter, said the deduction would offset “billing and invoice management” expenses.

The change is ensuring consistent rates are charged to the subset of Sobeys’ suppliers who deliver direct to stores, said Sobeys spokesperson Karen White-Boswell wrote in an emailed statement.

Colorado still testing 150 for bird flu

Colorado state authorities are still awaiting results from many of at least 68 workers who have shown symptoms of infection by highly-pathogenic avian influenza.

There are more than 150 workers at the layer chicken operation.

Officials said workers may have shucked their protective masks as the temperature in the area topped 37.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has this distributed post-exposure antiviral medicine as a precaution to more than 150 workers at a poultry farm hit by avian flu.

Five of those workers from the commercial egg layer operation on a farm in Weld County have been found to be presumptively positive by results from CDPHE’s State Public Health Laboratory, with four already confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The five workers were part of a catching crew.

Beyond Meat loses its lustre


Beyond Meat, the darling of the United States investment community several years ago, wants relief from more than $1 billion in debt.

The Wall Street Journal reports the company is in negotiations with bondholders.

It also notes than in its last quarterly report, its cash reserves had declined to less than $175 million.

Beyond Meat made by far the biggest splash in the plant food launch of modern versions of vegetarian burgers.

Maple Leaf Foods was among large meat-packing companies that invested heavily in producing plant-based protein meats.

Feds give $6 million for beef exports

The federal government is giving $5 million to the beef industry to bolster exports.

Up to $5.9 million will go to Canada Beef and up to $453,000 to the Canadian Cattle Association.

The money is for advertising campaigns, incoming and outgoing trade missions, technical training and educational seminars.

Beef exports have been increasing from $2.7 billion in 2022 to more than $5 billion last year.

The top buyers have been the United States at $4 billion, Japan at $351 million, Mexico $284 million, South Korea $122 million and Vietnam $79 million, according the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Manure contains PEDV and PRRS


Researchers at Iowa State University have found that manure spreading on farm fields can increase the risk of hig farms being infected with Porcine DeltaCorona virus (PEDV) and/or Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory virus (PRRS).

They found plenty of PEDV in samples drawn from manure pits despite the absence of clinical symptoms of  the virus in oral fluids. 

The research, funded by the Swine Health Information Center Wean-to-Harvest Biosecurity Research Program, in partnership with the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research and Pork Checkoff, investigated the risks of manure spreading to introduction and spread of pathogens across wean-to-finish sites. 

The odds of a PRRS or PEDV outbreak within four weeks after manure spreading are higher than farms not close to manure spreading.

 A total of 2,903 pig lots were placed across 612 wean-to-finish sites. Of those, 1,444 pig lots had at least one manure spreading event with 517 reporting at least one PRRSV onset and 114 reporting at least one PEDV onset. 

The odds of PRRSV onset within a four-week period following spreading manure increased 1.7 times as compared to lots that were not spread. 

he PEDV positivity in manure was significantly higher than for PRRS.

Danone’s Silk milk kills two


Two people have died after being sickened with listeriosis monocytogenes food-poisoning bacteria.

It was in Silk-brand plant-based drinks sold as alternatives to milk and made in an Ontario facility for global dairy giant Danone.

Health Canada reported the deaths in an advisory issued Wednesday night, which have occurred out of 12 listeriosis cases — 10 in Ontario, and one each in Quebec and Nova Scotia, according to the federal agency's count — that are under investigation.

The agency says people became sick between August 2023 and early July 2024.

Earlier this month, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency recalled certain Silk and Great Value (Walmart) brands of oat, almond and coconut refrigerated beverages over possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

The president of Danone Canada, the manufacturer of the recalled drinks, said the company was working to investigate the circumstances surrounding the contaminated drinks.

"The news in this notice is devastating and our most sincere sympathies go out to the families and loved ones during this difficult time," Frédéric Guichard wrote in a statement.

Guichard said the company has conducted the recall and removed affected products from retail shelves.

Meat packers ask for better trade trade regs


The Canadian Meat Council and the Washington-based Meat Institute have jointly asked their federal governments to improve regulations that hamper trade.

“By streamlining regulatory and customs procedures, eliminating non-science-based trade barriers, and enhancing collaboration on global issues such as technology, sustainability, and foreign animal disease, the Canadian and U.S. governments can promote greater resilience, cooperation, and growth within the North American meat industry,” said Chris White, president of the Canadian Meat Council.

Chris White

They asked for joint food safety risk assessments, mutual recognition of food safety technology approvals, enhanced sampling transparency and sampling plans that reduce product destruction at the border.

The two groups outlined their requests in a letter to the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council.

They called for pilot projects within the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA trade pact) such as instituting pre-screening and streamlining sampling across borders.

They also say food waste could be reduced by ending the destruction of shipments deemed unacceptable for minor infractions, such as labeling.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Canadian on advisory board In Brazil


Mayo Schmidt, chief executive officer of Nutrien Ag Solutions, has been named to an advisory board in Brazil to deal with concerns over the opening of a new potash mine by Brazil Potash.

Mine construction has been completed.

Brazil imports about 98 per cent of its potash requirements and Nutrien is the world’s largest supplier.

Nutrien bought a couple of fertilizer retail companies in Brazil including 12 owned by Agrosema Comercial Agricola Ltd. and Tec Agro Group which owns 25 retail outlets and is also Brazil’s largest soybean seed supplier.

A former minister of agriculture for Brazil is also on the advisory board.

PED in Perth County nursery



Swine Health Ontario reports there has been an outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus at a nursery in Perth County.

It is the third outbreak this month.

Finisher barns in Huron and Grey-Bruce had outbreaks reported on July 8.

Chicken production to edge up


The national agency for supply management of chicken production has set a goal of a one per cent increase above base quota for the fall.

Ontario gets a 1.5 per cent increase to 73,888,671 kilograms

CFIA collects $138,700 in Ontario penalties


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency collected $138,700 in penalties from Ontario people who violated the Health of Animals Act and regulations.

Nationally it collected $204,800.

There were no fines levied in Ontario for food safety violations.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Chobani has milk that lasts nine months


Chobani has created a dairy milk, called Chobani Super Milk, that can be safely kept at room temperature for nine months.

But it’s not for sale. The company will be donating it for disaster relief.

Chobani took the North American dairy industry by storm when it launched Greek-style yogourt in 2005 from a facility in upper New York State.

Hamdi Ulukaya, who immigrated from Turkey, quickly expanded to sell across the United States and even Canada despite a stiff tariff.

At one point he planned to build a plant in Ontario, but apparently Quebec blocked that initiative, so he built the plant at Twin Falls, Idaho.

Chobani said its goal for the shelf-stable milk is to provide nutrition during disaster relief efforts. 

Super Milk includes 50 percent more protein than traditional milk, 25 percent more calcium, and 25 percent less sugar.

Another cow infected with bird flu


Samples collected from a dairy cow in Oklahoma in April have been found to contain highly-pathogenic avian influenza.

Oklahoma becomes the 13th state to have found the virus in a dairy cow and the 157th cow infected with the virus that is deadly to poultry, nearly harmless to people and mild in cattle.

Testing has now found that the virus can pass among cows via the air and to calves via milk from infected dams.

Ontario hog market report

  • Base Formula Price: Decreased from $227.46 (June 14) to $218.33 per ckg.
  • Previous Year’s Price: $238.86 per ckg.
  • Average Price: $255.12 per ckg.
  • Low Price: $231.70 per ckg.
  • High Price: $278.50 per ckg.
  • Weekly Average Dressed Weight: 104.25 kg.
  • Market Hogs Sold: 86,834, 94% of the previous year.
  • Weaned Pig Value: $56.77 per pig.
  • Feeder Pig Value: $90.06 per pig.