Business & Policy
BC Tree Fruits Cooperative (BCTFC) is excited to officially announce the purchase of 85 acres of land in Kelowna, B.C., with the purpose of building a new facility under the Cooperative’s new “One Roof” plan. In conjunction with this purchase, BCTFC has an agreement in place to sell their property in Penticton, BC. Both transactions will be completed by May 31, 2019.
Vegpro International, a Canadian, family-owned company, is introducing - their most popular products to Western Canada. Fresh Attitude prewashed baby lettuces and salad kits have officially made their debut in the produce sections of Western Canada's grocery stores, and can be found in major retailers.
As a farmer, there will be a lot of options for you when it comes to selling your business. These will be different to those that most other business owners are faced with.
The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Bayer, announced new platform partnership agreements between the company's industry-leading Climate FieldView platform and three Canadian-based ag tech companies, SoilOptix, A&L Canada Laboratories Inc. and AgCon Aerial Corp.
Courchesne Larose, one of the country’s leading distributors of fresh fruits and vegetables, set an unconventional world record as more than 600 participants gathered to assemble the largest fruit salad ever seen on the planet.
An app that measures grain quality via mobile camera, a virtual shared economy for direct farmer-to-consumer purchasing, and new protein sources from recycled seeds are just a few extraordinary innovations highlighted at this year’s Ag Innovation Showcase.The Ag Innovation Showcase attracts the best and brightest in food and ag startups from around the world. This year, the event will host 14 innovators on the main stage, who will each pitch their solutions to an elite group of food and ag industry and investment professionals in hopes of generating interest, partnerships and funding.“The technologies taking the stage next week really bring to life the 10th year’s theme of ‘farm to plate’,” says Rohit Shukla, founder and CEO of Larta Institute, which has produced the event over the last decade. “All of the companies truly exemplify commercial potential, and we are eager to see their projects up close.”The early-stage technology companies to be featured at this year’s event were selected from more than 50 submissions from around the world, based on their potential for industry transformation, and cover a wide range of ag and farming issues, presenting solutions to current challenges across the sector. Leaders from these startups will share how they are strategically approaching areas as diverse as virtual marketplaces, plant protection, soil health and plant nutrient management, precision agriculture, health and nutrition and the distribution of food.Farmers Market goes digitalFor many urban dwellers in the U.S., a typical weekend morning may include a stroll through the local farmers market to grab their fresh, locally-sourced produce. But now, consumers can access farmer produce anytime, thanks to a wholesale local food distribution mobile app created by FreshSpoke, an Ontario-based start up. The company is on the cutting edge of an economic revolution by taking the concept of a “shared economy” to the next level, opening up food supply chains while making it possible for revenue to flow directly to the wallets of farmers and other producers.Snapping grains, Not selfiesThe process for evaluating grain quality has traditionally taken five to 10 days, but can now be done in only five minutes. Argentina-based agtech innovator ZoomAgri has revolutionized grain and oilseed quality determination by bringing AI technology to a simple mobile phone app that captures grain images, analyzes the image in a database, and provides users with grain information in real time.At the showcase, ZoomAgri will be sharing the latest on its upcoming launch of two new cutting-edge products, ZoomBarley and ZoomSpex, which focus on the detection of (spacing) barley, corn and soy grains. “ZoomAgri ́s well balanced mix of engineers, former business executives, and an agronomist allows us to provide solutions from several angles and unique views,” says cofounder Jaap Rommelaar.Gene editing for the future of foodThe food and ag industry are under pressure to produce higher and more nutritive yields, while at the same time struggling to combat herbicide resistant weeds and pests that ever increasingly tax their fields. New advancements in seed engineering and gene stacking may offer a better way to grow with more resilient, positive outcomes. Plastomics is a St. Louis-based gene editing company that has created a unique technology that delivers specialized traits to the chloroplasts of plant cells (tiny energy factories that convert the sun's energy into storable energy-rich molecules of sugars). This technology allows for easy combination of useful traits, reduced development times and costs, and overall improved outcomes for farmers, consumers, and the environment.“At Plastomics, we want to ensure that the future population has access to nutritional food to support a healthy life,” says Sharon Berberich, Plastomics CEO and a founding showcase committee member whose been involved with AIS since its first event in 2009.Over its decade-long history, 97 per cent of showcase presenters have been introduced to new partnership opportunities, and 83 per cent found new investor leads. Presenting companies have collectively raised more than $1.1 billion after their Showcase debut.“We’re especially proud to be able to present these innovations to our audience, selected via a rigorous jury process,” says Shukla. “All of the companies solve real problems facing the most critical of sectors, and have great relevance to buyers, investors and partners.”
The National Corn Growers Association – in partnership with the Honey Bee Health Coalition – is releasing new best management practices (BMPs) to protect bees and other pollinators in and around cornfields.
After over ten years of serving the agri-food sector in Ontario, the Agri-Food Management Institute (AMI) will be transferring its resources to industry allies and winding down its operations as a result of changes to its funding structure.
The North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association Inc. (NAFDMA) has announced the selection of Corey Connors as its new executive director. This appointment comes after Charlie Touchette, who provided NAFDMA with association management services for nearly 20 years, formally concluded his tenure effective May 1, 2018. The selection of Connors was made after an extensive national search overseen by the NAFDMA Board of Directors. “We are thrilled to formally announce Corey’s appointment,” said Tom Tweite, President of NAFDMA.Connors joins NAFDMA with over 17 years of leadership experience in the agriculture, retail and attractions industries. Most recently, he served as chief staff executive of the North Carolina Nursery & Landscape Association (NCNLA). Prior to NCNLA, he served in advocacy roles for several prominent national and international trade groups including the Society of American Florists (SAF), the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA). Connors holds a Master of Arts in Political Management from the George Washington University and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Clarion University.“It is a genuine privilege and honor to serve this dynamic, growing industry,” said Connors. “Agritourism and farm direct marketing provide an unparalleled opportunity for consumers to reconnect to the family farm, creating unique experiences and rare opportunities to make precious memories.” He continued, “Our charge is clear: NAFDMA must provide cutting-edge tools and resources that support our community of innovators who seek to grow farm profitability while providing immeasurable benefits to their hometown.”Connors begins his tenure at NAFDMA under a new operating structure, with the organization previously hiring on two additional direct employees last fall. This positions the association to have a stronger pulse on industry trends and will provide the opportunity to launch new member-focused programs and services. The first employees hired by NAFDMA include Membership Development and Services Manager, Lisa Dean and Education and Operations Manager, Jeff Winston.“Interacting with motivated farm operators and entrepreneurs is rewarding. It is truly my pleasure to service our members,” said Dean.“Having worked for this industry over the past five years, I’m excited to elevate the educational offerings that NAFDMA provides to each of its members,” said Winston.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) recently released a report that details the important contribution rural municipalities make and outlines the unique challenges they face. The comprehensive report titled Rural Challenges, national opportunity – Shaping the future of rural Canada includes recommendations encouraging the federal government to tackle these challenges head-on and raise Canadians’ quality of life nationwide.“When it comes to providing the infrastructure necessary to support a strong economy and high quality of life, rural governments are faced with two key problems—the challenge of serving dispersed communities and the limits of their fiscal and administrative capacity,” said FCM’s rural forum chair, Ray Orb.The report provides recommendations to address the realities rural municipalities face. Key recommendations of this report include: Applying a ‘rural lens’ to all federal policies and programs aimed at empowering smaller communities to better support local needs Designing future rural infrastructure programs that provide long-term predictable funding with flexibility to account for rural realities Committing long-term predictable resources to expanding broadband internet access in rural, northern and remote communities “This report tells the story of the significant contribution rural municipalities make to the nation’s economy, but it also highlights the fiscal squeeze they face due to low population densities and the exodus of younger generations,” added Orb. “But as a key driver of economic growth, we know that investing in rural Canada means building a better country for everyone.”FCM is leading the way in advocating for new tools that empower rural communities to build tomorrow’s Canada and has secured unprecedented federal investment in recent years. The full report is available here.The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of municipal governments, with nearly 2,000 members representing more than 90 per cent of the Canadian population.
Trespassing on farm property is a growing concern for Ontario farmers. From rural trail hikers detouring into a pasture to ATV drivers ruining crops, farmers have dealt with all types of unwanted visitors on the farm who leave varying degrees of damage. The latest threat to farmers, especially livestock farmers and transporters is the increasing risk of activists trespassing, invading, breaking into barns and harassing farmers, their families and employees.
As the spring arrives and the fields begin to come alive I often find myself distracted by what I spot in the fields parallel to my travels. One of the things that has always fascinated me about farming is how different growing conditions and crops can be from region-to-region and field-to-field.
“It is an exciting prospect, to be sure,” says Robert Spencer, commercial horticulture specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF). “Fruit is something that is generally loved by most people. It is healthy, and there are lots of good options to consider.”
The governments of Canada and Ontario are helping the province's corn farmers better manage future occurrences of the plant disease deoxynivalenol (DON) in their crops.
The governments of Canada and British Columbia are investing in the B.C. strawberry, blueberry and raspberry industries to help market competitiveness in berry production through innovative genetics and practices in the province.
More data than ever is being collected in agriculture and the industry is challenged with how to best put it to use to support profitable and sustainable food production.
Greenhouse gas is a significant player in climate change and Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists have developed a tool that helps mitigate agriculture’s contribution.
The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry recently heard from witnesses with expertise in soil health. The Honourable Robert Black, who joined the Senate last year after a 30-year career in the agricultural industry, proposed that the committee undertake a study on soil health.
No matter how determined an industry is, without proper support from the country’s governing bodies it can be difficult to push forward and improve production and profits.
The agency responsible for safeguarding Canada’s food supply has new leadership.
Canadian farmers and food processors across the country work hard every day to put safe, high-quality food on our tables, while driving our economy and creating good, middle-class jobs. Farming can provide an amazing lifestyle with great rewards, but it can also be hard on mental health. Farmers and their families often face high levels of stress because of forces that are beyond their control, such as weather, disease, commodity prices, and trade.
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) welcomes the recent announcement by the Canadian government whereby it is providing targeted relief from the federal carbon tax on fuels for heating greenhouses. This targeted relief is a positive step by the federal government to recognize the unique needs of domestic food production.The greenhouse vegetable sector has quickly become an economic driver in the province, generating over $920 million in farmgate sales in 2017. Using modern and efficient technologies, Ontario greenhouse growers are able to produce fresh product year-round in Canada’s northern climate, complementing Ontario’s bountiful field grown fruit and vegetable production. Without relief, carbon pricing has the potential to negatively impact the competitiveness of greenhouse and field production of fruits and vegetables, both of which compete in the global marketplace.“The reality is that farmers have already been incentivized to become energy efficient as it has been necessary to remain competitive,” says Jan VanderHout, chair of the OFVGA. “Today, we thank the federal government for recognizing the specific needs of greenhouse production.”The OFVGA looks forward to ongoing dialogue with the federal and Ontario provincial governments to support all of Ontario’s fruit and vegetable farmers as stewards of the air, land and water that they depend on to contribute to Canada’s food security and the economy.
The CanadaGAP website offers many useful resources to help participants succeed in the CanadaGAP program.
Food business owners across Canada can now apply for a licence under the new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations by accessing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s online portal, My CFIA. These regulations will protect Canadian families by making the food system even safer by focusing on prevention and allowing for faster removal of unsafe food from the marketplace.
CanadaGAP, an internationally recognized food safety program for fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers, has successfully achieved recognition against the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Version 7.1 benchmarking requirements.The recognition encompasses three CanadaGAP certification options: B, C, and D (for repacking and wholesaling).Heather Gale, executive director, comments that "CanadaGAP appreciates the rigour of the GFSI benchmarking process. GFSI recognition of CanadaGAP provides the fruit and vegetable industry the option to implement a made-in-Canada program that meets GFSI's high standard and satisfies the food safety requirements of customers in domestic and international markets."Jack Bates, chair of the board for CanadaGAP, adds that "GFSI recognition will allow CanadaGAP-certified companies to remain competitive and maintain access to customers who require certification to a GFSI-recognized food safety program."Scope of GFSI RecognitionCanadaGAP has been GFSI-recognized for certification options B and C since 2010. Option D (for repacking and wholesaling) was originally recognized by GFSI in 2016. Re-benchmarking is required each time GFSI updates its benchmarking requirements.Recognition of the three CanadaGAP certification options has once again been granted for the following GFSI scopes: BI - Farming of Plants D - Pre-process Handling of Plant Products (includes packing/repacking and related activities such as cooling, trimming, grading, washing, storage, etc.).
When plants are growing outdoors, it’s no surprise that they are at risk for pest activity. But even once produce is harvested and brought inside for storage and packaging, it can fall victim to pests’ appetites. In fact, pest infestations that are established during storage can put your produce at increased risk, as it is easy for pests to move and spread quickly in the closed environment.While a pest infestation in the field might be obvious as plants show signs of fatigue, develop deformations or die, an infestation in the warehouse can pass under the radar if it is not monitored. So, it’s important for your Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan to include strategies for protecting your fruits and vegetables as you prepare them for storage and shipment. IPM strategies focus on preventive techniques, like exclusion, maintenance and sanitation and use sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices to manage and control pests.Fresh fruits and vegetables are vulnerable to pest infestations because of their succulence and the aroma they produce. Pests can infest produce items at any point in the supply chain, and improper packaging can make it easier for them to access your produce. Here are some of the most common pests that attack harvested fruits and vegetables:SpidersSpiders prey on insects and are naturally inclined to be found on foliage and vegetation. Therefore, harvested produce will harbour spiders. While in the field, spiders do help keep insect populations in check, but you don’t want them on your produce when it gets packaged and shipped.SpringtailsSpringtails are tiny insects that jump around when disturbed. They are attracted to moisture, dampness and humidity. They normally live in damp soil and feed on mold and fungi. So, naturally they will be found concealed in foliage and on plant stems, especially on vegetables that grow at soil level. As a result, they can easily make their way into packaged produce once harvested.Fruit FliesAs their name suggests, fruit flies are attracted to ripening and fermenting fruits and vegetables. Female fruit flies lay their eggs under the surface of fruits and vegetables. Therefore, a detailed inspection of random samples of fruits and vegetables to detect eggs and larvae is crucial to preventing a pest infestation in your processing and storage facilities. Sampled fruits should be cut through and examined for eggs and larvae, which are visible to the eyes.Indian Meal MothsWhile they only feed on dried fruits and vegetables, Indian meal moths are the most common stored product pest in food-handling facilities, homes and grocery stores. They are primarily attracted to dry foods and can damage products as their larvae spin silk webbing that accumulates fecal pellets and cast skins in the food. Common signs of an Indian meal moth infestation include the silk webbing, buildup of droppings in the food product and pupal cocoons along walls, shelving and ceilings.PreventionOnce harvested and packed, fruits and vegetables must continue to breath to maintain their freshness. So, packaging often has aeration pores that can make produce vulnerable to pest attacks, and it is difficult to find packaging that is impervious to all pest activity. However, there are some packaging materials that should be avoided for produce.Wooden containers can harbour wood boring insects. When exposed to moisture, they also can rot or cause mold and fungal growth that attracts insects which can spread and infect the packed produce. Rough, wooden boxes or bamboo like packaging can cause bruising and damage produce, which attracts insects. Materials less capable of withstanding stress also can damage produce, as they are vulnerable to tears, which can expose or damage the fruits and vegetables. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right type of packaging for your produce.In addition to avoiding these materials, keep an eye out for packaging that doesn’t seal properly. Even the best packaging doesn’t stand a chance if it’s not closed all the way or has a hole. At the end of the day, your goal should be to make it as difficult as possible for pests to reach your fruit and vegetable products.Fruit and vegetables are susceptible to pest infestations while they are growing. And once in storage, it’s easy for a pest infestation to spread quickly – especially with such an abundance of food for the pests to thrive on. So, it’s important to take steps to manage infestations in the field and to establish controls to help prevent infestations from being brought inside and spreading once in storage.In the field: Pest prevention starts with Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) in the field that reduce conditions conducive to pest infestations. Extensively monitor for pest activity by inspecting or scouting plants regularly during growing season to catch infestations early. Reduce pest attractants by practicing good sanitation (phytosanitation) and eliminating onsite harbourage sites such as weeds, piles of compose, standing water and idle unused equipment. Remove fallen, overripe or rotting fruits from the fields, as this could attract fruit flies and other pests. At time of harvest, inspect extensively for insects and spiders on produce. Harvest produce when they are dry. This prevents pest and diseases from clinging on them. Clean and sanitize harvest equipment, bins and tools before and after harvesting. Avoid or prevent bruising of produce. The bruising attracts insect pests, especially fruit flies. In processing and storage:As a first step, implement these post-harvest handling practices:Sanitation Have written cleaning and sanitation operating procedures for equipment and the facility. Clean and sanitize packaging, handing bins and equipment regularly to prevent build-ups and habourages. Regularly clean spills or trapped produce, especially in hard to reach areas and dead voids in packaging conveyer machines and equipment footing, as well as under and inside pallets. Ensure floor drains have undamaged cover grids or traps to prevent trapping fruits and vegetables in the drain. This creates a breeding ground for fruit flies, drain flies and phorid flies. Using drain brushes, mechanically clean floor drains at least every two weeks or so. Ensure the floor is void of cracks and tile gaps. The floor should be smooth and level for effective cleaning. Practice good fruit and vegetable waste management to avoiding attracting pests and creating harbourage sites. Exclusion Air curtains, sensor doors and roll-up doors keep flies from entering into processing or storage areas. Install pest monitors like insect light traps and pheromone traps. Repair screens and weather stripping around doors and windows. Storage and Shipping Use the first-in, first-out rule for storing and distributing products to avoid fermentation. Keep products off the floor on racked shelves. Keep products refrigerated when you can. Temperature regulation and maintaining your cold storage system keeps the produce fresh and keeps pests away. Allow proper illumination and ventilation to keep moisture down and discourage pest activity. Avoid crisscross movement of packed produce to prevent pest contamination. Ensure transportation vehicles are clean and temperatures are regulated. Inspect packaging for pest activity prior to loading and shipping. In addition to these preventive steps, be sure to monitor pest activity closely – indoors and outdoors. This will help you identify trends and adjust your pest management program to meet the unique needs of your property. You should also talk with your pest management provider about your process for storing and packaging food. They can offer recommendations specific to the types of produce you grow and help adjust your pest control program accordingly.Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is a quality assurance manager with regulatory and lab services with Orkin Canada.
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Plant Canada 2019 Annual MeetingSun Jul 07, 2019
Commercial Seed Production with Patrick SteinerWed Jul 10, 2019
NAFDMA Agritourism Farm Tour Tue Jul 23, 2019
Potato Association of America Annual MeetingSun Jul 28, 2019