Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Belgium’s farmers join tractor protests

Belgium’s farmers are scheduled to block access to the port of Zeebrugge today, joining similar tractor blockades that have taken place in France, Germany, Poland and Romania.

Zeebrugge is Belgium’s second=largest port to the North Sea.

Dutch farmers blocked a highway to Antwerp on Wednesday.

The Belgian farmers are protesting European Union environmental policies and cheap food imports.

Grain imports from the Ukraine are a big issue; Russians have ruined Black Sea export terminals in the Ukraine so overland routes remain the country’s main option.

Chicken agency cuts production


Chicken Farmers Canada, the national supply management agency, is cutting production to 1.5 per cent below base for the production cycle that begins May 5 and runs to June 29.

Ontario shares in the 1.5 per cent cut.

Chicken Farmers of Ontario said on its website that “demand for chicken remains robust” and that production for this upcoming cycle is still greater than a year ago.

Roundup loses again

Bayer was ordered to pay $2.25-billion in damages, the highest amount yet in its ongoing litigation linked to an alleged carcinogenic effect of its Roundup herbicide.

A jury in a Philadelphia court made the award Frida to man who said he developed cancer from exposure to the Roundup.

Bayer shares dropped today and now they have lost 70 per cent of their value since the company bought Monsanto and its Roundup in 2018, reports the Globe and Mail.

The total amount includes $2-billion in punitive damages, which are likely to be reduced on appeal because they exceed U.S. Supreme Court guidance.

In 2020, Bayer settled most of the Roundup cases that were pending at the time for up to $9.6-billion but failed to get court approval for an agreement to prevent future cases. 

More than 50,000 claims now remain pending.

Disease outbreak in Middlesex

There has been an outbreak of porcine deltacoronavirus (PDCoV) at a nursery facility in Middlexex County.

It is the fourth outbreak of the disease in little over a week.

McRib back by popular demand

McDonald’s Canada has brought back the McRib sandwich to some of its restaurants in Canada after the popular menu item disappeared in 2014.

“In the last year alone, our team received thousands of inquiries on social media from very passionate Canadian McRib fans asking to bring it back here,” said Alyssa Buetikofer, vice president and chief marketing officer at McDonald's Canada.

 “The McRib is truly a fan favorite. It appeals to guests of all ages—from loyal followers who have patiently waited a decade for its return, to our newer fans who have only heard the legend,” she wrote on the company’s Canadian website.

The McRib is expected to be available for what the chain described as a limited time, although the fast food giant has been known for bringing back customer favorites from time to time.

The McRib consists of a restructured boneless pork patty shaped like a miniature rack of ribs, barbecue sauce, onions, and pickles, served as a sandwich on a 51⁄2-inch (14 cm) roll.



Merla appointed to species at risk board


Allison Merla of Sudbury has been appointed to a three-year term on the Species at Risk advisory committee.

She becomes the 14th member of the committee.

Merla is an environmental advisor to Vale mining company.

Beef farmers get nutrition primer

Canada Beef is introducing a resource for its members outlining the nutritional value of beef plus recent industry data.

The online resource also details differences between plant and animal proteins and the number of Canadians that consume beef products. 

The “Beef’s Remarkable Nutrition Story” aims to counter negative messaging on eating beef that appears on social media and in news reports, Canada beef said.

The effort includes a digital flipbook that outlines how beef is a “dietary solution for Canadians” in addition to insights from academics and policymakers on the value of beef in a diets.

Canada Beef is funded by producers via approval from the National Farm Products Council which is mainly involved in overseeing national poultry supply management agencies.

EU pondering carbon trading for agriculture

The European Union is pondering carbon trading for agriculture, but it’s not popular with farmers.

There are reports that politicians and civil servants are worried that agriculture will account for 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 unless much more is done.

The proposal would be to add agriculture to an existing system to trade carbon credits.

Avian flu outbreak in Amhersburg


There has been an outbreak of avian influenza at a commercial poultry facility in Amhersburg, which is near Windsor.

It is the first outbreak in Ontario since Oct. 19.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

New report critical of foreign worker treatment

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has issued a new report critical of the treatment of foreign workers.

According to the union's report, employers repatriated 1,600 workers after workplace accidents not reported to provincial authorities between 2000 and 2022, and the UFCW helped 230 workers deemed victims of employer abuse by the Government of Canada.

The report makes 12 recommendations, including giving foreign workers access to collective bargaining, reducing pesticide use on farms, setting minimum standards for housing, language training for workers, and improving safety training.

It highlights the dangers migrant agricultural workers face, from substandard housing to chemical hazards, in an industry that generated $134.9-billion for the Canadian economy in 2021.

"The tens of thousands of migrant workers are an integral part of the multi-billion dollar Canadian agricultural industry, providing crucial labour while working in conditions that have been described as "systematic slavery" by workers," said the union.

Last September, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Tomoya Obokata, raised concerns about the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, saying employer-specific work permits make workers vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

The report details the stories of repatriated several workers after suffering injuries on the job.

One migrant worker in Southern Ontario said he was presented with a flight ticket back to Mexico when his ankle was broken by a supervisor playing a prank with a cart. Another, who became ill after months of working with pesticides, was pressured to return to Guatemala.

"I was assigned to spray pesticides, something I had never done before. When I asked by supervisor how to protect myself, she asked me if I was gay," said the worker, identified as Gonzalo.

Canada's Attorney General currently faces a $500-million class action filed by two migrant farm workers who claimed temporary foreign worker programs violated their Charter rights. The suit alleges while workers pay into Employment Insurance, they are denied access to the program's benefits. It also alleged the programs were racist because they targeted Black and Indo-Caribbean workers.

The report calls on the federal government to end employer-specific work permits, terminate eligibility for the SAWP and TFWP for employers who withhold personal documents, including passports and health cards, from workers, and sign the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

It also demands the federal government establish a tribunal to review and appeal repatriation decisions.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Roundup loses again

Bayer was ordered to pay $2.25-billion in damages, the highest amount yet in its ongoing litigation linked to an alleged carcinogenic effect of its Roundup herbicide.

A jury in a Philadelphia court made the award Frida to man who said he developed cancer from exposure to the Roundup.

Bayer shares dropped today and now they have lost 70 per cent of their value since the company bought Monsanto and its Roundup in 2018, reports the Globe and Mail.

The total amount includes $2-billion in punitive damages, which are likely to be reduced on appeal because they exceed U.S. Supreme Court guidance.

In 2020, Bayer settled most of the Roundup cases that were pending at the time for up to $9.6-billion but failed to get court approval for an agreement to prevent future cases.

More than 50,000 claims now remain pending.

EU pondering carbon trading for agriculture

EU pondering carbon trading for agThe European Union is pondering carbon trading for agriculture, but it’s not popular with farmers.

There are reports that politicians and civil servants are worried that agriculture will account for 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 unless much more is done.

The proposal would be to add agriculture to an existing system to trade carbon credits.

Livestock are emitters, but various crop management measures can capture carbon. 

Beef trade with U.K. blamed

Beef protectionism by the United Kingdom is also being blamed for “a pause” in trade talks, not just Canada’s refusal to allow more dairy imports as previously revealed.

The Canadian beef industry is opposed to any deal that includes exclusion of beef produced from cattle that receive hormone supplements.

That standard has effectively kept most beef out of Europe, yet European beef has been steadily making inroads in the Canadian market.

Negotiations that have been going on for two years suddenly broke off last week when the U.K. negotiators walked out. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

A third outbreak of hog disease

 There has been a third outbreak of Porcine Deltacoronavirus (PCDoV) within four days.

This one is a nursery barn in Elgin County.

The other two were a farrow-to-wean barn in Haldimand County and a finisher barn in Wellington County.

Ryding-Regency trial not yet begun

A court in Toronto has set March 6 as the next date to consider charges the Canadian Food Inspection Agency laid against Rying-Regency and its principals in June of 2021.

Their beef-packing business went into bankruptcy following the charges, as has another company that tried and failed to revive the business.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency laid charges against Ryding-Regency Meat Packers Ltd., Beef Boutique Ltd., Canadian Select Meat Inc., and Anthony Petronaci, Ellen Cosman, and Chuck Oulton of Toronto.

Europe dividing on cultured meats

Europe is dividing on the issue of meats developed by culturing cells in fermentation tanks.

While some countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, are funding research into the technology, a coalition of 12 other countries came out with a declaration this week opposing the technology and products.

These countries, led by Italy, France and Austria, have  asked the European Union to reconsider the bloc's regulatory approval process for novel foods, and to add additional investigations into cultivated meat before the EU Food Safety Authority makes a decision about the products.

“These practices represent a threat to primary farm-based approaches and genuine food production methods that are at the very heart of the European farming model,” the delegates wrote in a letter to the Council of Ministers.

They said that cultivated meat is a potential threat to the economy and public health.

They want the EU to launch a broad public consultation period and to conduct an impact assessment. 

The group also asked the governing body to establish clear labeling guidelines that would prohibit the use of "meat" terms on meat and dairy analogues.

I wonder what an inquiry into commercial production of meats might conclude.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Britain walks on trade talks


British negotiators have walked out of trade talks with Canada, reportedly because they can’t get access to the Canadian cheese market.

Brtiain was able to export cheeses to Canada as part of the European Union, but lost that a few years after it withdrew from the European Union.

It had interim access to continue marketing cheeses to Canada, but that has now expired.

Canadian dairy farmers gained a promise from the Canadian government that it will not yield any more access to dairy markets in future trade deals.

Both sides are dug in.

"We have always said we will only negotiate trade deals that deliver for the British people. And we reserve the right to pause negotiations with any country if progress is not being made," a U.K. government spokesperson told CBC News.

Canada’s International Trade Minister Mary Ng said "we will not negotiate an agreement that is not good for Canadians and not good for our Canadian business, farmers and workers."

She described the negotiations as “paused”.

Survey underway on immigrant workers


The Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development has posted a survey for those who nominate people to come to the province under its Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (ONIP).

Through the OINP's Employer Job Offer (EJO) streams, the ministry nominates individuals for permanent residence who have job offers from Ontario employers seeking to fill labour market needs that cannot be met domestically. 

Employers can use the program for foreign workers or those already in Canada with temporary work visas.

The ministry is seeking feedback on the employer requirements for its EJO streams; document requirements; whether additional consideration should be given to priority sectors; and employer experience using the program.

The survey is on the government website at

Farmer protests expanding

Protesting farmers blocked several roads across France on Wednesday, set bales of hay alight and sprayed liquid manure at a local prefecture to press the government to loosen regulations and help protect them from cheap imports and rising costs.

They complain that retailers are pressuring their prices lower in response to public complaints about rising food prices.

Farmers said the protests, with long lines of tractors snarling roads, would continue as long as their demands are not met, posing the first major challenge for new Prime Minister Gabriel Attal.

In Germany, protestors have blocked ports over angry reaction to a reduction in tax breaks.

In the southwestern French city of Agen, famous for its dried prunes, angry farmers set fire to bales of hay, old tyres and rubbish they had dumped in front of the wrought-iron gates of the prefecture, which represents the central state locally, reported Reuters news agency.

One truck sprayed liquid manure as dozens of police stood by without intervening, footage by BFM TV showed. Moments later, another truck lifted burning tyres and rubbish over the high gates and dumped it in the prefecture courtyard.

Fearing a spillover from farmer unrest in Germany, Poland and Romania, the French government has already postponed a draft farming law meant to help more people become farmers, saying it will beef up the measures and ease some regulations.

The government will soon make proposals, its spokeswoman Prisca Thevenot said earlier in the day, without giving details.

President Emmanuel Macron is also wary of farmers' growing support for the far right ahead of the European Parliament elections in June.


New wheat herbicide approved


UPL Corporation Ltd. has gained registration for its Batalium herbicide to be used in wheat fields where it controls grasses and broadleaf weeds.

The company said “we understand the needs of wheat growers and have utilized our formulation expertise to create an effective all-in- one product.

“Batalium is designed to meet the current and future demands of growers who are seeking simple solutions. It enables them to cover more acres in less time while maximizing the value of their crop input dollar.” 

Batalium offers control of critical weeds, including Group 1 resistant wild oat, kochia, cleaver, buckwheat, and storksbill, the company said. It is fast acting and long lasting, has a wide application window, and features excellent crop safety.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

More local input urged for electricity planning

The final report from the Ontario Electrification and Energy Transition panel calls for more input from local municipalities in planning for the future of electricity in province.

"Acknowledging the need for a strengthened framework for local energy planning and decision-making, and taking steps to facilitate its implementation, is a critical recommendation," said QUEST Canada’s executive director Tonja Leach.

"Ensuring municipalities are actively involved and adequately supported in the energy transition is vital for realizing our goal of a sustainable energy future," she said.

Quest Canada said it is pleased that the report cited its Net-Zero Communities Accelerator Program and Energy Transition Policy Program. 

The final report said there needs to be effective collaboration and integration in energy planning across fuels, especially electricity and natural gas, across end use sectors and across levels of government, to ensure investments and innovation can be deployed in a way that unlocks their full value.

It also said that building and maintaining public support for electrification and the energy transition is important and should be achieved “with a principled pragmatic approach, grounded in cost-effectiveness and solutions tailored to the specific, often local needs and circumstances of people as customers, citizens and community members.”

“Most importantly,” said Leach, is that “Ontarians need to be able to see themselves and their community in the province’s clean energy economy vision.”

QUEST Canada is a registered Canadian charity that supports communities in Canada on their pathway to net-zero.

Another case of hog disease


Swine Health Ontario is reporting another outbreak of Porcine Deltacoronavirus, this time at a farrow-to-finish farm in Haldimand.

It follows on the heels of another outbreak at a finisher farm in Wellington County.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Robinson named to Senate

 Mary Robinson of Prince Edward Island and past president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture has been appointed to the Senate.

She is currently vice-president of the World Farmers’ Organization.

She will serve as an independent Senator, as is the case with all appointments made by the Liberals.

Robinson is a sixth-generation farmer through her involvement as a managing partner in Robinson Group of Companies which includes farms, P.E.I. Agromart and Island Lime.

"I'm quite relieved that I don't have to keep keeping the secret," she said when reached by CBC News late Monday. "I have to say, I'm a little overwhelmed by the amount of calls and texts and emails and reach-outs that I've had... It's been really heartwarming and exciting."

Robinson said (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau called her just over a week ago to ask if she would be interested in the Governor General naming her to the Senate. 

The Canadian constitution entitles Prince Edward Island to four Senators and it has had only three since May, 2021, when Mike Duffy resigned.


Monday, January 22, 2024

PDCoV detected in Wellington County


Porcine Deltacoronavirus (ODCoV) has been detected in a hog finisher facility in Wellington County.

It is the first case of this virus posted this year on the website run by Swine Health Ontario.

ADM CFO steps aside

Vikram Luthar, chief financial officer for ADM (Archer Daniel Midlands) is stepping aside because the board of directors has ordered an outside audit after the United States Securities Exchange Commission asked the company to voluntarily give it documents related to internal transactions involving the nutrition division.

Ismael Roig has been named interim chief financial officer while Luthar is on administrative leave.

“The Board takes these matters very seriously,” said Terry Crews, Lead Director, in a news release. “Pending the outcome of the investigation, the board determined that it was advisable to place Mr. Luthar on administrative leave. The board will continue to work in close coordination with ADM’s advisors to identify the best path forward and ensure ADM’s processes align with financial governance best practices.”

The company said it is cooperating with the SEC and ADM with the audit committee’s oversight is working with its advisors to complete the investigation.      





Call to action on hunger, poverty

The vice-president of the United Nations’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) issued a call to address the root causes of hunger, extreme proverty and extreme inequity when she addressed a recent meeting of leaders in Berlin, Germany.

Gérardine Mukeshimana said “in a year where close to half of the world’s population will go to polls, it is essential not to lose focus on medium-term investment. We must not let increased humanitarian demands and short-term election goals derail efforts to build resilient, sustainable, and equitable food systems.”

She said the systems are essential in helping to adapt to global crises such as climate change and wars.

In 2021, more than three billion people couldn’t afford a healthy diet. Food systems are currently responsible for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, 80 per cent of biodiversity loss and 70 per cent of freshwater consumption, the organization said in a statement.

“To seize the huge opportunity that food systems transformation presents, we need to invest in the hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, who produce one third of the world’s food and up to 70 per cent of the food in low and middle-income countries. 

“This is the only path to a food-secure and stable future, as well as the most cost-effective by far,” said Mukeshimana who has served as Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources in Rwanda.

The cost of inaction for the people and the planet is estimated at $12 trillion US ($16.12 trillion Cdn) a year in environmental, social, and economic damage to communities, families, livelihoods and lives, it said.

This is significantly higher than the cost of action, calculated to be between $400 and $530 billion Cdn. per year of additional investment, representing less than half of one per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Additionally, transforming food systems can help the world unlock $6.05 trillion Cdn. in new business opportunities every year.

Mukeshimana said that investing in medium to long-term rural development has proven to be a more efficient and empowering way to support poor rural populations. For every dollar invested in developing the resilience of rural people so that they can endure and cope with crises and extreme weather events, up to $10 can be saved in relief assistance in the future.

“Investing in resilience is as urgent as addressing humanitarian needs. In the long run building resilience will save more lives and improve more livelihoods, and it is a sustainable solution. 

We count on Germany's support to continue showing their leadership and commitment to reducing hunger and poverty and increase resilience in rural areas,” said Mukeshimana.

IFAD is seeking  $2.69  billion in new funding to support a $13.43 billion program of work for about 100 million rural people over the next three years.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Chicken board expands insurance

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario marketing board is expanding its disease insurance program to cover outbreaks of reovirus.

The plan was launched in 2018 to cover outbreaks of avian influenza.

The insurance is offered by the Poultry Insurance Exchange (PIE), a reciprocal which delivers insurance and risk management services to members of the poultry industry in Canada. 

“Ontario has experienced the impact that disease poses for our sector,” said chicken bosrrd chairman Murray Opsteen, and “we know that avian influenza is a global threat to poultry production and the entire Canadian chicken industry has been managing through the most recent outbreaks since onset in the spring of 2022. 

“Reovirus is a threat as well, which is why the CFO Board has been working to provide this additional insurance peril – bolstering our risk management strategy and further supporting our farmers.”

The new PIE reovirus insurance coverage includes elements such as veterinary fees, laboratory fees, cleaning and disinfection fees and a quantification model designed to assist farmers with loss of income. 

“PIE is pleased to begin offering reovirus insurance to CFO farmers,” said incoming PIE general manager André Bourbonnière.

Denise Hockaday, the chicken board’s general manager, said “this new insurance peril is a positive advancement within our risk management framework and is being implemented as a deliverable of the 2023-2025 CFO Strategic Plan.” 

“We would like to thank the Ontario chicken industry value chain, namely the Association of Ontario Chicken Processors and Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg & Chick Commission, for their advocacy and support of this important initiative.”





Friday, January 19, 2024

PED outbreak in Oxford


There has been an outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus on a farrow-to-finish hog farm in Oxford County.

It is the fourth outbreak this year reported by Swine Health Ontario which provides information so the industry can take extra precautions

China sets pork production record


Culling prompted by low hog prices in China pushed up pork production last fall, setting a record annual production of 57.94 million tonnes.

That’s 4.6 per cent more than 2022. 

China was still recovering from disastrous outbreaks of African Swine Fever that wiped out between a quarter and a half of hogs several years ago. It also prompted a major restructuring of hog production which is now led by large corporations.

In the fourth quarter, production reached 14.93 million tons, seven per cent more than the same quarter the year before.

Major hog breeders, including Muyuan Foods Co. and Wen's Foodstuff Group Co, reported increased hog sales in December, with Muyuan selling 6.6 million hogs, an increase of 25 per cent from November.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Skim milk challenges supply management

Canadians have an increased appetite for butter, cream and cheese which is undoubtedly good news for dairy farmers.

But it comes with a bit of a cloud – increased supplies of skim milk.

And trade rules restrict Canadian exports, so some made-in-Canada solutions are needed.

The federal government is offering $333 million to processors as part of concessions made in trade deals with the United States and Mexico, with the European Unin and with Pacific-rim countries and in Western Canada some of that is being invested in a plant to process skim milk.

But the biggest volumes are in Ontario and Quebec.

The Ontario government, in a joint deal with Ottawa, announced this week that it will open applications for dairy processors to tap into another $8-million fund.

Murray Sherk, retiring chairman of Dairy Farmers of Ontario, said at the annual meeting this week that  “processing and finding markets for all components in a trade-restrictive environment has been a challenge to solve.”

Mark Hamel now dairy chairman


Mark Hamel of Elmwood is the new chairman of Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

The Bruce County farmer has been a board member since 2018 and was elected vice-chairman last year.

He takes over from Murray Sherk of Plattsville who has been a board member for 12 years and chairman for four years. He is also vice-president of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Roger Boersen, DFO board member for Region 10 was elected as vice-chair and Don Gordon, Board Member for Region 5, was elected as second vice-chair.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Olymel union calls for government help

The United Food and Commercial Union representing workers at Olymel’s plant at Red
 Deer, Alta., is pleading for government help.

“Our union believes it is time for the provincial government to step up and provide tangible relief for food workers and their families,” UFCW said in a news release.


Olymel has indicated it wants to reduce the workforce by about 200, has said it is laying off 50 and is offering early retirement to those 55 and older who have at least 10 years of service with the company.

The union said it expects the layoffs to be temporary and “ is confident about the future viability of the pork processing facility.”