Thursday, February 29, 2024

Egg levies updated


Egg Farmers of Ontario recently updated its levies and licence fees.

The total will be 54.45 cents per dozen plus HST.

There is also a voluntary research fee of .02 cents per dozen plus HST.

The levy is one cent per dozen less in Zone 9N.

Egg prices, which took effect at the end of February, are $2.68 a dozen for Grade A Extra Large and $2.68 for Grade A Large.

The medium egg price remains at $2.45 and smalls changes to $2.06 per dozen.

The board has also announced pullet quota will be increased by 518,694 units effective June 24.

Three packers get subsidies


Golden Valley Farms Ltd. of Atwood is getting $150,000, Domingos Meat Packers of Arthur $96,000 and Atwood Heritage Processing Ltd. $150,000 from a federal-provincial agriculture departments program.

The subsidies are part of a Meat Processors Capacity Improvement Initiative announced earlier this month.

Matthew Rae, member of the Ontario legislature for Perth-Wellington, recently drew attention to the local beneficiaries.

I find it hard to believe that the owners of Golden Valley Farms Ltd. need corporate welfare.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Financial protection fees poised to increase


The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is proposing increases in financial protection fees that grain and beef producers pay.

It’s part of a total overhaul of regulations that follows the passing of legislation to combine three financial protection plans for farm products, grains and livestock into one act.

OMAFRA said in an on-line posting to open its proposals to comment that:

“The new regulations will be sector specific and are not intended to be significantly different from the existing regulations. 

“Specifically, the new Minister's regulations for Grain and Livestock will continue to set out the following functions while also making necessary updates to enforcement and governance policies and processes:

1. the requirements for dealer and elevator operator licensing; 
2. fees payables to the two Financial Protection Boards; 
3. how payments are paid from the Funds; and 
4. Financial Protection Boards payment of expenses.”

In another section of the online posting, it said:

“An actuarial review of the funds completed in 2021/22 has resulted in a recommendation to increase the check-off fees paid by grain corn, canola and beef cattle producers to ensure that the funds are actuarially sound (i.e. continue to have enough money to pay claims and administrative expenses).

“Check-off fee changes are recommended by the boards. Changes to the check-off fees will be finalized once consultation is complete and recommendation for regulatory changes finalized.’’

And also said: 

“Proposed licensing fee changes would increase the licence application and renewal fees paid by dealers and elevator operators and short fall permit fees paid by operators under the Grain Program.”

MacAulay powerless on advance loans


Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay told the annual meeting of the Canadian Federation of Agricculture he’s powerless on restoring the interest-free portion of advance payments to $350,000.

It has been cut to $100,000, but the loan limit remains at $1 million.

When he was asked about restoring the interest-free portion, MacAulay answered “Perhaps the government can. I can’t.”

It was delegate Ethan Wallace who put MacAulay on the spot.

MacAulay did say he will push for restoring the benefit every chance he gets.

Apparantly it is the Finance Department that decides.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Farm protests continue

 Farmers continue to protest in Europe where the latest disruption is a blockade at the border between Poland and Germany.

They are also in Brussels, throwing eggs and bottles and parking about 900 tractors where agricultural ministers from across the European Union are meeting and promising to do more to cut red tape and help farmers.

The 27-nation European Union has already weakened some parts of its flagship Green Deal environmental policies, removing a goal to cut farming emissions from its 2040 climate roadmap.

But farmers are demanding more.

"We're here again in Brussels today as farmers because the European Union is not listening to our demands. Our demands are for fair revenue," said Morgan Ody, general coordinator of farming organisation La Via Campesina.

"We produce the food and we don't make a living. Why is that? Because of free trade agreements. Because of deregulation. Because the prices are below the cost of production. So we demand the EU to move on this."





World Trade Organization stumbling

There is little hope for progress during the current meetings of the World Trade Organization in Dubai.

The key failure is to revive the disputes-settling system. The United States continues to hold out on naming members to the body.

“Let’s not pretend that any of this will be easy,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the WTO leader, in her opening speech, describing the atmosphere as “tougher” than the WTO’s last 2022 meeting, citing wars, tensions and elections and signs that trade growth will undershoot the organization’s own estimate.

She called on ministers to “roll up their sleeves” and complete negotiations, but seemed to rule out any deal in Abu Dhabi on reforming the body’s mothballed appeals court.

Carbon emissions from Atlantic farms increasing


A new report from the National Farmers Union reveals that Atlantic 

Region farmers are doing a poor job of addressing carbon emissions involved in global warming.

They have increased the use of nitrogen, which contributes to the problem, and the carbon content of soils continues to decline at an increasing rate.

There are fewer cattle on farms which reduces their methane emissions.

That led to an overall decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from farms from about 1.8 million tonnes per year in the 1990s to about 1.5 million in recent years, the NFU said in a news release.

Its study is based on data from the federal government’s Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Fairs to get training subsidy

 The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies, which is mainly fall fairs, is getting $836,250 from the province to train volunteers and run workshops.

The training and workshops will be done by the Rural Ontario Institute.

“Ontario’s agricultural societies play an important role in leading amazing, annual rural community activities. This educational initiative will enhance the leadership, governance skills and best management practices in important rural organizations, and by extension our

agriculture and food industry across the province,” said Ontario Agriculture Minister Lisa Thompson.


“By investing in people who give so much to maintain our rural traditions and communities, we are showing our appreciation for their commitment

and leadership,” she said.

“This support is an investment in the future of agricultural societies across Ontario by developing strong leaders and ensuring the vitality of the agri-food sector and rural communities,” said Vince Brennan, executive director of the Ontario Association of Agricultural

Societies which speaks for more than 200 organizations.


Corn-field fire closes Highway 401


Fire in a corn field prompted Ontario Provincial Police to close a section of Highway 401 Sunday near West Lorne and Graham Road where it meets County Road 76.

About three kilometres of corn stalks burned.

West Elgin fire chief Jeff McArthur said high winds contributed to the fire spreading to the south ditch on Highway 401 near Dunborough Road.

The West Elgin Fire Department had help from the OPP and the Dutton Dunwich Fire Department.

OFA supports farmers’ markets


The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is offering $50,000 to support farmers’ markets.

Successful applicants can get 50 per cent of their costs involved in promoting farmers’ markets, up to a maximum of $2,500.

The new program is to promote marketing and awareness projects to promote and to support local farmers who are participating at farmers’ markets. 

Administration will be handled by the Farmers’ Markets of Ontario association.

“Farmers’ markets are one of the strongest direct links between farmers and consumers, and OFA is proud to partner with FMO to strengthen those connections even further,” said OFA president Drew Spoelstra.


“This new partnership is an excellent complement to the OFA’s Home Grown campaign which focuses on raising awareness of the bounty of food, fibre, fuel and flowers we produce here in Ontario.” 

Former Ontario Agriculture Minister Elmer Buchanan and now vice-chairman of FMO said “active and prosperous farmers’ markets contribute vibrant, healthy communities and we are excited to launch this new collaboration with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and shine a spotlight on the farmers who play such key roles at local markets.”

Saturday, February 24, 2024

JPD Angus wins pasture award

 JPS Angus of Oro-Medonte in Simcoe County is this year’s winner of the Mapleseed Pasture Award.

Scott Fisher, western Ontario sales manager for Mapleseed said JPD Angus “is a wonderful example of a beautifully manicured well-cared for farm, where the cattle get to live their best life.”

Mapleseed and Beef Farmers of Ontario sponsor the competition and award which includes $500 and a bag of forage seed.

JPD Angus is run by the Chalmers family who tend 60 cow-calf pairs, 20 yearling heifers and 20 yearling bulls on 120 acres.

They rotate grazing to protect roots through dry spells and to ensure enough feed for cows and their calves.

Lori and Darryl Chalmers manage the maternity pens, a handling barn, and 50 of the pastured acres. Their sons Evan, Owen and Nolan are all at home and helping wherever needed.

Owen is the lead mechanic and repair specialist.

“It’s a true family effort, “ said Lori Chalmers.

Their daughter Michaela and her husband Chris Stoneman manage the larger group of cattle at a nearby property which has 70 acres of pasture. 

The Stonemans also take the lead on genetics and show the cattle at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and at local qualifying shows.

The Hyatt family of Circle H Farms at Rainy River won this year’s  Environmental Stewardship Award.

Shawn, Tracy, Gord and Pat Hyatt manage about 250 cows, 50 bred heifers and more than 130 background calves on pastures that have many trees, riparian areas, ponds and natural waterways. 

They practice rotational grazing have installed off-site watering systems, use solar energy and add baled forage to pastures.



Friday, February 23, 2024

Ontario Pork was hacked

Ontario Pork was hacked in October and paid a ransom to get back “some crucial data,” pork board director Arno Schober and chairman John DeBruyn told farmers attending the Zone 3 annual meeting at Elora.
Arno Schober

Andy DeBruyn

DeBruyn said the office is still in the process of updating its information technology systems. 

Schober assured the farmers that there was “no compromise of (their) data”.

At the time of the breach, Tyler Calver, a spokesman for Ontario Pork, told Ontario Farmer that there had not been a hacking and that the loss of website information was an internal issue related to upgrading software.

This year is the first under a revamped governance structure, but it has had little impact on those elected as directors.

Schober was acclaimed for Zone 4 and Tanya and Tara Terpstra for Zones 1 and 2.

Tanya Terpstra

Tara Terpstra

Elections are ongoing and at the annual meeting March 21 in Guelph, three directors at large will be elected.

PAWS having little impact on farming

Dr. Lee Anne Huber


The new Provincial Animal Welfare System (PAWS) is having little impact on farmers, judging by comments Sara Munoz of PAWS made at a meeting in Elora of hog producers from Waterloo, Wellington, Simcoe, York, Grey, Bruce and Dufferin.

Only about four per cent of the 18,000 complaints people filed with the agency were about farmers, she said.

And when inspectors respond to a complaint about a hog, beef, dairy of poultry farmer, they take along somebody from their provincial commodity association. Often the farmer’s veterinarian is also involved.

And they use the national codes of practice as a guide in judging whether livestock or poultry are being abused.

She said so far PAWS has been focussed on pet shops and aquariums when it comes to spot checking for violations. There has been no spot checking for agriculture where PAWS is relying on complaints.

Stewart Cressman of New Dundee asked if there have been cases of neighbours using PAWS to punish neighbouring farmers they don’t like. Munoz said that’s always a risk.

Dr. Lee Anne Huber of the University of Guelph reported on trials to determine whether increasing lysine levels for gilt and sow rations has benefits for mammary development and milk production.

So far the trials have shown a moderate response in gilts but none in sows, nor any increase in the weight of pigs born. Now she is going to look into impacts on milk production and sow body scores at the end of lactation.

She said that on her family’s farm, they top-dress sow rations with full-fat soybeans.

Pork outlook is for improvement

Justin Shepherd

Justin Shepherd, senior economist with Farm Credit Canada, told a number of pork producer meetings recently that the outlook is for improvement by spring, but that’s coming from a position of losses for both hog producers and pork packers.

Hog producers can anticipate a return to profits by May and continued slow improvements as the year unfolds.

Part of that is because feed costs are coming down because corn prices are declining. But soybean meal costs are holding steady as soybean prices hold up because of strong demand for vegetable oils for biofuels, he said.

He spoke recently to zone meetings for Huron, Perth, Waterloo, Wellington, Grey/Bruce and Simcoe/York.

He said the Canadian economy is weak and likely to stay that way while the United States is on the rebound.

He expects the Bank of Canada will begin to ease back interest rates in the summer, but about three million Canadians whose mortgages will come up for renewal this year and next will still be facing substantial increases when their five-year deals expire.

That will curb consumer spending and have an impact on inflation.

On the other hand, the labour market remains tight and wages are increasing which usually results in greater spending and pressure on inflation. 

He said the Bank of Canada will be keeping a close watch on wage rates and the United States monetary policy.

He warned that if Donald Trump wins election in November, he is likely o follow through on his promise to increase tariffs on everything. That will directly impact Canadian hog and pork prices.

He said Canadians have been buying more pork, not because they prefer it, but because beef is too expensive. That’s why the technical demand for pork is running lower than actual consumption. Both pork and chicken inflation rates were lower than the overall inflation rate for food last year.

He said the food price index will be increasing at a lower pace, but not to expect a decline.

While Canadian consumption of pork is good news, about 70 per cent is exported and a big customer, China, is producing so much of its own that it is in a sharp sow culling phase. It ramped up production capacity after African Swine Fever forced a sharp reduction in the national herd – some estimate as much as 50 per cent – and nore has more production capacity than needed.

The United States remains Canada’s prime pork export market followed by Mexico which takes 12 per cent. Shepherd said the pork industry needs to seek more export markets and there’s potential to the west because of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

The Statistics Canada count of pigs shows a five per cent in Quebec this January from a year ago, Ontario holding steady and Manitoba increasing.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Loblaws posts another record profit

Loblaws continues to pile up record profits in the face of political criticism and public anger.

The company’s fourth-quarter net earnings available to common shareholders rose to $541-million or $1.72 per share, compared to $529-million or $1.62 per share in the same period the previous year which set a record.

Fourth-quarter revenue increased by 3.7 per cent to $14.5-billion.

For the full year, Loblaw’s revenue grew by 5.4 per cent last year, to $59.5-billion. Net earnings available to common shareholders grew by 9.4 per cent, to nearly $2.1-billion or $6.52 per share, compared to $1.9-billion or $5.75 per share in 2022.

Loblaws said its prices increased less than Statistics Canada’s measure of food prices, but the government data includes restaurant meals.

Just before it released its fourth quarter report, Loblaws announced it plans to open 40 new discount stores in the next 12 months and to add another 30 stores to the 24 already converted from Provigo to Maxi.

The House of Commons Agriculture Committee sent letters to Loblaws and Walmart last week, warning that if they fail to come on board voluntarily with a code of practice, it will “recommend that the federal and provincial governments adopt legislation to make it mandatory.”

Much of the code deals with supermarket bullying of suppliers, such aa unilaterally declaring it would reduce their invoices by two per cent. They did that twice.

That's what's been public; what goes on in private is more intimidating. Losing access to the shelves of any of the three largest supermarket chains would devastate many of Canada's most popular food processors.


Oxford nursery has PDCoV


A nursery barn in Oxford County is the latest dealing with an outbreak of Porcine  Deltacoronovirus reports Swine Health Ontario.

It is the fourth this month and there have been another two outbreaks of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus which is similar but more severe.

Conflicting claims on organic sales

The government says organic food sales declined for the first time in history, but the Organic Trade Association says they increased by four per cent and at twice the rate of increase in 2021.

The government’s figures were presented by Sharon Raszap Skorbiansky, research economist with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, during the 100th anniversary Agriculture Outlook Conference.

Raszap Skorbiansky said the difference is that the USDA’s numbers are inflation adjusted to 2023 dollars, while the OTA is using nominal dollars.

She said the organic foods market “was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, by high food price inflation, the economic downturn and changes in consumer purchase patterns.

Sales fell by three percent in 2021 and another 3.5 percent in 2022, the last year for which there is available data.

The Organic Trade Association said food sales reached a record $61.7 billion in 2022 and said the market “grew despite challenging headwinds.” 

Quebec dairy herd judged best managed


 Ferme Drahoka Inc. of Kamouraska, Que., has been judged the best-managed dairy herd in Canada.

The awards reflect scores calculated by Lactanet.

The farm is owned by Francis and Sylvain Drapeau who milk 119 cows in a pipeline set up. 

Sunny Point Farms  Ltd.,of Densmore Mills, Nova Scotia, placed second, only one point behind the Drapeaus. Phillip and Lori Vroegh run that farm.

Lochdale Holsteins of Alexandria, Ont., came in third. It is owned by David, Anne Marie and Andrew MacMillan who milk 78 cows in a pipeline system.

Last year’s winner, Full Send Farms/Stewardson Dairy of Thedford, came in 10ththis year.

Rosenhill Farms of St. Albert, FriedRidge Dairy of Plattsville and Dutchdale Farms of Lucknow came in seventh, eighth and ninth.

Lactanet, the national milk recording and farm data service, uses a  number of factors to come up with the Herd Performance Index scores. 

Among them are milk value, udder health, age at first calving, calving interval, herd efficiency and longevity.

McLaughlin elected Ontario Beef chairman


Craig McLaughlin of Renfrew County has been elected chairman of Beef Farmers of Ontario, taking over from Jack Chaffe who has held the post for three years.

McLaughlin runs a cow-calf backgrounder business. He has been a director for nine years and vice-president of the Canadian Cattle Association.

Others elected during the recent annual meeting are Tom Kroesbergen to represent feedlot owners, Jim Whitley to represent cow-calf operators and Ralph Eyre director at large.

McLaughlin and past president Matt Bowman were chosen directors for the Canadian Cattle Association.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Hog research gets $10.6 million

The federal government has promised $10.6 million for hog industry research.

The money will go to Swine Innovation Porc which is supported by the Canadian Pork Council and provincial hog marketing boards. 

In a news release, SIP said that it would spend up to $20.1 million in combined government and industry funding over the next five years on the sector’s research priorities. 

These include climate change and the environment, sector resilience, economic growth, and communication and knowledge transfer, the SIP news release said.

Research topics include new vaccines, antimicrobial alternatives,feed strategies, and genetics.



Bean Growers fund weed research


Ontario Bean Growers is donating $600,000 and an anonymous donor $1.4 million in weed research at the Ridgetown College campus of the University of Guelph.

The money will fund a research chair and fills a gap when Dr. Peter Sikkema is due to retire this year.

It will also support the Huron Research Station for the next 10 years,” the Ontario Bean Growers said in a news release.

Salad kits under recall


Taylor Farms Mexican Style Sweet Corn Chopped salad kits are under recall because Canadian Food Inspection Agency testing detected Salmonella food-poisoning bacteria.

The kits were distributed in Ontario and to all provinces and territories east of Ontario.

Taylor Farms is based in Salinas, California and markets in Canada via Costco.  It had a recent recall for Listeria monocytogenes contamination in cheese it used from Rio-Lopez Foods Inc., also distributed via Costco Canada.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Cricket dung is on sale

 SureSource Agronomy, a cricket farm at Petrolia, Ontario, is offering cricket dung for sale as fertilizer.

It recently received fertilizer approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The new crumble, the first of its kind in the Canadian market, will be marketed under the brand name Kickin’ Frass™. 

It consists of cricket dung, shed exoskeletons and residual plant-based cricket feed.

SureSource said Kickin’ Frass has benefits for as horticultural, greenhouse and specialty crop growers such as increased yield and nutrient use efficiency, earlier fruiting, and significant and sustained soil improvement. 

Because Kickin’ Frass is all natural, it is approved for organic growing systems. 

“Studies have demonstrated that cricket frass used as a fertilizer or soil amendment delivers a wide range of nutrients and micronutrients essential to plant health and growth,” said Rob Wallbridge, agronomy sales lead at SureSource Agronomy.

“Research is also showing that our Kickin’ Frass product supports beneficial microbes and biological activity in the root zone. This improves soil structure and promotes steady water and nutrient retention, and enhances plant health, yield, and profitability. In essence, it is a natural ‘super fertilizer’.”

Kickin’ Frass will initially be available as a dry crumble for maximum application flexibility. The product will be available in bulk, 1,000kg

 (2,204 lb) totes and 25 kg. (55 lb) bags. SureSource also has the capacity to do custom blending and packaging.

Tribunal rules against Minnema

Rein Minnema of Glencoe has lost his appeal over Ontario Pork’s elections last year for director for Zone 1.

Minnema argued that Maaike Campbell, one of three directors elected at a Feb. 23 zone meeting, was not eligible because the Campbells had sold their hog operation.

But at the hearing by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal, Campbell said she marketed five hogs last year from a backyard operation and sold as freezer meat.

She is a former vice-chair of Ontario Pork.

Had her election been deemed invalid, Minnema would have been elected because he was the fourth and only other candidate.

The Campbells own two operations, the one in Brooke Township that they sold in 2022, and another at Arkona in which both Ms. Campbell and her husband are involved.

The tribunal ruled that the five backyard hogs Campbell raised and sold qualified her as a hog producer in Zone 1, and therefore dismissed Minima's appeal. 

Pork board helps set food bank record


Ontario Pork’s sponsorship of a food drive at a Kitchener Rangers hockey game helped set a record.

In total 1,071 pounds of food was collected, along with $4,643.90 in cash donations.

When combined with a similar event in December, the result was enough for close to a 19,000 meals which is a record.

While the Kitchener Rangers won the game with the Guelph Storm, "the Food Bank of Waterloo Region was the real winner," said Ontario Pork Board chairman John de Bruyn."

With help from the community we were able to do a great job collecting cash and food donations that will really go a long way to help those facing food insecurity."  

“Seeing the food donation bins overflow, seeing people make financial donations, it really warms my heart." said Kim Wilhelm, chief executive officer for The Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

 "We often think about donating at the holidays, but the reality is food insecurity happens 365 days a year, so all year-round events like these are important to help remember the more than 58,000 people living right here in Waterloo Region who are struggling to put food on the table."  

"Our partnership with Ontario Pork really means the world to us," said Feed Ontario’s Director of Development & Partnerships, Stephanie Ashton-Smith. "2023 was really the toughest year that food banks have faced, it's almost at crisis levels and we expect that to worsen in 2024. So, any opportunity to have events like this to bring the community together and to raise awareness of food insecurity is really crucial."      

Ashley-Smith and Wilhelm receive a cheque from the event

PDCoV outbreaks in Haldimand


There have been two outbreaks of Porcine Deltacoronavirus in Haldimand County.

Swine Health Ontario reports that one is in a nursery facility, the other at a farrow-to-finish operation.

Senate preparing migrant worker report


The Senate is wrapping up fact-finding and is due to release a report on migrant workers this spring.

It will repeat much of what has already been reported about poor housing, employers who abuse workers and broken promises.,

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has been working on the report for about a year.

Chair Senator Retna Omidvar said after a recent trip to Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick that many workers told her about poor working and housing cojditions, 

unscrupulous recruiters, and exploitative employers.

"We heard about conditions that were, frankly, intolerable," said Omidvar. "At the same time, we also saw housing that was really decent."

One discovery was the difficulties moving from one place to another as worker demand shifts because work permits are restrictive.

"I think that we could serve them all better if we moved from temporary work permits that tie you to a singular employer and move to, what I would call, regional sector work permits," Omidvar said.

"We're also keen on making sure that essential sectors of our Canadian economy are able to continue to produce, manufacture, and put their products on the shelf," she said. "We heard they cannot do this without migrant workers."

Some employers are innovating on behalf of their employees. Omidvar recalled a seafood plant in Prince Edward Island that sponsors workers for permanent residency, something many advocates argue is essential.

Just as CBC’s Fifth Estate program revealed abuses in recruiting foreign students in India, this committee heard about how some temporary foreign workers are being misled into  believing that work permits are a pathway to permanent residency in Canada. Others charge as much as $80,000 for recruitment fees, sometimes for employers or jobs that do not exist.

"People come to Canada with false expectations, which have been provided to them by unethical consultants overseas. We can't do anything about the consultants," Omidvar said. "But I believe we can do much better in reaching the populations through our consulates and embassies in sending countries."

"For the first time, we are seeing a shift in public opinion," she said. "We have not invested as a country in housing for decades. No level of government has invested in public housing, and all of a sudden, immigrants are to blame. I think that needs to be called out."

The situation with foreign students is remarkably similar. The Fifth Estate talked to a farmer’s daughter from India who is living with in a Toronto-area house with eight other students on the main floor and another six in the basement.

In Kitchener, East Indians have bought new homes and filled them with students that pay $900 a month for a single room. Conestoga College alone has more than 30,000 foreign students this year, all of them trying to find housing and part-time jobs that are both scarce.

Unlike the temporary foreign worker program, the federal government reacted promptly to the Fifth Estate reports by announcing it will cut foreign student permits by 50 per cent.