Business & Policy

December 12, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Vive Crop Protection and United Potato Growers of America (UPGA) are pleased to announce that Vive Crop Protection is now a United Potato Partner. “We create new possibilities for potato growers that increase yield, quality, and productivity on their farms,” stated Darren Anderson, Vive’s president. “We’re committed to the growth and success of potato growers and are excited to be a United Potato Partner. If you’re a potato grower, we want to meet you and understand how we can help with your operation.” “UPGA is happy to welcome Vive Crop Protection as a potato partner,” said Mark Klompien, president and CEO of United Potato Growers of America. “UPGA’s Potato Partner Program supports offerings of innovative and productivity-enhancing products to our potato grower members, and we look forward to working with Vive toward that end.” Darren Anderson will be introduced at the 2018 Potato Business Summit in Orlando, Florida and Vive staff will be on-hand at the UPGA booth to meet with growers.
November 6, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – A company involved in shipping seed potatoes from P.E.I. to Venezuela has successfully appealed a court order to pay more than $79,000. In a recent decision, two of three P.E.I. Court of Appeal judges agreed to vacate a summary judgment order for HZPC Americas Corporation to pay Havanlee Farms Inc. READ MORE
October 23, 2017, Florenceville-Bristol, NB – McCain Foods Ltd. has opened its new $65 million potato specialty production line at its flagship facility in Florenceville-Bristol, N.B. The new 35,000-square-foot production line is the company’s largest capacity expansion investment in Canada in nearly 10 years, McCain Foods officials said. READ MORE
October 19, 2017 – Bayer’s Vegetable Seed Division is introducing a new watermelon concept. The solid dark green “Emerald” type watermelon may be new to some in the industry, but varieties in the product line have been successful over the last few years, explains Kike Rossell, a regional watermelon product specialist with Bayer. “The Emerald type varieties have been grown commercially throughout the North and Central America watermelon production regions over the last three to four years. They have proven to be consistent varieties from an agronomic standpoint while also providing high brix, excellent flavour, and a firm, crisp texture.” Growers and shippers agree the “Emerald” work extremely well as the dark green rind makes it stand out from other watermelon varieties. “I’ve had customers request them,” said Greg Leger of Leger & Sons, a Georgia-based watermelon grower/shipper that has grown and sold the Emerald type for the last few seasons. The Emerald type line offers varieties for the fresh and processing markets with 60, 45, and 36 count offerings and a dark red firm-flesh that is desirable for processors. “After the success we’ve seen the last few years, we knew it was time to promote the Emerald type in a big way to the industry,” says Rossell. “We are excited about the potential of the varieties for our customers.”
October 10, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Vive Crop Protection recently announced that company CEO, Keith Thomas, has been elected to CropLife America’s board of directors for a three-year term. “I am excited to contribute to CropLife America’s mission supporting modern agriculture,” said Thomas. “We are relatively new to the U.S. crop protection industry, but we’ve had a big impact. Our election to the CropLife America board recognizes our commitment to the industry. We plan to be here for the long-term.” “We look forward to the business experience and academic perspective Keith brings to the CLA board,” said Jay Vroom, CropLife America’s CEO. “These qualities, combined with his interest in the role the industry plays in sustainability aligned with our technology innovation, makes him a great addition to the main governance body of CropLife.” “Innovation is incredibly important to farmers today,” he added. “Using new technologies we can improve sustainability, productivity, and crop quality. As an innovative, technology-based company, we are proud to be part of this industry.” Thomas is also a governor of the University of Toronto and is the chair of its Business Board.
October 6, 2017 – The Grand Falls and Florenceville-Bristol, NB, growers banquets were held in August 2017 to recognized the top grower partners of McCain. Les Fermes LP Thériault & Fils of Drummond was named the 2016-2017 McCain Champion Potato Grower for Grand Falls during the 43rd annual McCain Growers’ Banquet held August 22 at Centre E.& P. Sénéchal. Lakeside Farms of Greenfield was named the 2016-2017 McCain Champion Potato Grower for Florenceville-Bristol, NB, during the 44th Annual McCain Growers’ Banquet held August 23 at the Northern Carleton Civic Centre. Allison McCain, chairman of McCain Foods Limited, Shai Altman, president of McCain Foods Canada, and Christine Wentworth, VP of agriculture NA extended personal congratulations to Lakeside Farms, and Les Fermes LP Thériault & Fils as well as all of the McCain growers. McCain expressed the importance of New Brunswick agriculture and the need to continuously be innovative in farming practices. “Early adoption of farm practice innovations is essential to ensuring New Brunswick growers and McCain can compete in global markets,” she said. Wentworth thanked the growers for their “loyalty, dedication and contribution to McCain over the last 60 years” and wished them a safe and bountiful harvest, while Altman reiterated that the company’s partnership with the growers is critical for the business.  “McCain is a proud Canadian company,” he said, “and you all have a part to play in that.  We look forward to a bright future ahead.” ​Marc Thériault of Les Fermes LP Thériault & Fils of Drummond was thrilled to be announced as the Champion Grower. The Thériault family has been contracting with McCain for 44 years, has been in the Top 10 17 times, and this was their second time winning the Champion Grower title. “It’s a great feeling and makes me feel appreciated for all the hard work that I’ve given,” said Marc. “It takes dedication, hard work, employees that care and, of course, some good luck too.” Arthur Tweedie – with sons Peter, Paul and grandson Matthew – of Lakeside Farms was surprised and delighted to be announced as the Champion Grower. The Tweedie family is only one of two grower families that have been providing potatoes to McCain since the company started 60 years ago, in 1957. They have been in the Top Ten eight times and this is their second time claiming the Champion title. When asked what it took to achieve the first place standing, Peter said “following advice from McCain agronomists and talking to other growers about best practices was really helpful, but a lot of it was just good luck and help from Mother Nature.” Other growers who qualified for the top 10 Florenceville-Bristol roster, in order of final standing were: Kilpatrick Farms (Brian Kilpatrick with son, Jared – Greenfield) Valley Farms Ltd. Florenceville (Under management of Jeff Miller and Colton Rennie) G and C Culberson Inc. (Cory Culberson with father, Gerald - Jacksonville) B and C Young Farms Ltd. (Blair Young with son, Chad - Bedell) Herb Culberson Farms Ltd. (Herb Culberson – Jacksonville) Double B Farms Ltd. (Dana Bubar with son, Aaron – Hartland) Meduxnekeag Farms Ltd. (Daniel Metherell – Jackson Falls) R H McLean Farms Inc. (Randy McLean with son, Jason – Maplehurst) Wilmot Farms (Kevin Taylor – Lakeville) The other growers who qualified for the top 10 Grand Falls roster, in order of final standing were: Ed & Dan Levesque (Edmund & Daniel Levesque with sons Eric and Denis – Saint-André) Northwest Potato Farms (Michel & Lise Levesque and son Marc – Saint-André) Desjardins Farms (Denis and René Desjardins – Drummond) Eagle Farms (Gilles Godbout and his son, Mathieu – Saint-André) Ferme GIL Roberge (Guildor Roberge and his son Luc – Saint-André) Super Farms Potatoes (Jean-Guy, Jules, Luc & Andre Levesque – Saint-André) Les Fermes Poitras (Rock Poitras and his son, Luc – Saint-André) Andre Daigle Farms (Andre Daigle and his son Mathieu – St-Leonard) Les Fermes Mario Levesque (Mario and André Levesque – Saint-André)
December 11, 2017, Penticton, BC – Derek & Tannis Axten of Axten Farms Ltd, Minton, SK, and Véronique Bouchard & François Handfield of Ferme aux petits oignons, Mont-Tremblant, QC, were chosen as the national winners from seven regional farmers at Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer (OYF) Program’s national event held last week in Penticton, B.C. Both families assessed the challenges they face in farming and found new and innovative ways to address them, one taking over a generational farm and the other starting from scratch. “Once again, the seven regional finalists exceeded our expectations as innovative, forward thinking, young agricultural leaders,” said Luanne Lynn, OYF past president. “The judging process of evaluating their applications, presentations, and interviews was not easy. The national winners are strong role models and oozed with everything positive in their agricultural operations.” Understanding that high inputs and timely rains were not always sustainable on a southern Saskatchewan grain farm, Axten Farms began to research their soil food web and soil biology. Their motto became “soil is our most valuable resource so how can we improve its health” and, the microscope became their best soil health tool. With cost of production and the soil’s health as their key focus, they have now incorporated intercrops (seeding one or more crops together), cover crops, controlled traffic farming (using same track for all operations), compost extract and compost teas into their operation. It is a real change in mindset for a Saskatchewan farmer. Working with a human resource specialist, Véronique and François developed an employee guide that has helped to minimize the employee challenges that comes with their vegetable industry. They feel that enjoying your work, humour, a sense of achievement, and positive feedback all contribute to job satisfaction for their local employees. Aux petits oignons is fully organically certified, and offers weekly subscriptions for vegetable baskets as well as produce through their farm and local markets. They want to recreate the bond between urban residents and farmers while building confidence in authenticity, quality and freshness of their product. Every year this event brings recognition to outstanding farmers in Canada between 18 and 39 years of age who have exemplified excellence in their profession while fostering better urban-rural relations. Axten’s and Bouchard/Handfield were chosen from seven regional finalists, including the following honourees from the other five regions: Gary & Marie Baars – Chilliwack,BC Marc & Hinke Therrien – Redwater, AB Brent & Kirsty Oswald – Steinbach.MB Dusty Zamecnik – Langton, ON Lauchie & Jolene MacEachern – Debert, NS All the finalists exemplified pride, passion and professionalism in the agriculture industry. Celebrating 37 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
December 8, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – The Prince Edward Island Potato Board has a new executive as a result of its recent board of directors meeting. Darryl Wallace of Cascumpec was elected as the new chair of the board. Darryl and his family own and operate Wallace Family Farms. Darryl represents the processing sector for the West Prince District on the board. The new vice-chair is Jason Hayden of Pownal. Jason and his family own and operate Eastern Farms Ltd. Jason represents the tablestock sector for the Charlottetown District. The third member of the executive committee is John Hogg of Summerside, who was elected secretary-treasurer. John represents the processing sector for the Summerside District. Also joining the board is Chad Robertson of Marvyn’s Gardens. Chad will be representing the tablestock sector for the Montague/Souris District. The remaining board directors are Rodney Dingwell, Alex Docherty, Fulton Hamill, Glen Rayner, Wayne Townshend, David Francis, Mark MacMillan and Harris Callaghan. Ashton Perry of Elmsdale also participates in board meetings as a representative of the PEI Young Farmers Association. The board also recognized the efforts of retiring member Owen Ching, tablestock representative for the Montague/Souris District, for his service over the past few years.
November 10, 2017, Wallaceburg, Ont – The Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance (PVGA) released its official response to the itemized list of proposed changes the Farm Products Marketing Commission announced on October 12 to Regulation 440 of the Farm Products Marketing Act. “We have carefully reviewed the list of changes the commission is proposing to Reg 440, and will be providing a detailed response as part of the online consultation period,” says Francis Dobbelaar, PVGA chair. “We are extremely disappointed and concerned with several of the changes and the impact they will have on growers.” Regulation 440 governs a number of important issues impacting the processing vegetable sector in Ontario, including the negotiation process between growers and processors. PVGA points to three particular portions of the proposed Reg 440 changes that will cause the most concern for Ontario growers – the implementation of a new two-round negotiation process, removal of final offer arbitration for contract negotiations, and the creation of a new Industry Advisory Committee with grower representatives hand-picked by the commission rather than elected by and accountable to the growers. PVGA believes all 10 grower positions on a new Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) must be chosen by growers and not appointed by the commission. Given that the current OPVG board is not fully grower elected, PVGA requests that IAC members for 2017/2018 are elected directly by growers. PVGA opposes the creation of negotiating agencies that would see that growers associated with a particular processor are able to negotiate directly with that processor. PVGA does not support changes that would eliminate final offer arbitration and the process that currently requires arbitrators to select one party’s final offer in its entirety. “We are encouraging every processing vegetable grower to take part in the consultation process on Reg 440,” says Dobbelaar. “We need to have our voices heard, and advocate for the kind of industry that encourages innovation, collaboration and progress.” PVGA’s detailed response to Reg 440 changes are posted at PVGAlliance.org. Growers are reminded there is one remaining in-person consultation on November 23 and online submissions are open until December 11, 2017. All details are available on the Farm Products Marketing Commission website.
October 30, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The Advanced Farm Management Program (AFMP) is open for registration for the 2017-18 fall and winter season. Sessions specific to direct farm marketers are being offered by the Agri-food Management Institute (AMI) in partnership with the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association. “This program is designed for Ontario farm business owners and managers who want to elevate their management skills to improve their business performance,” says AMI Executive Director Ashley Honsberger. “We know from our past research that good farm management habits are directly linked to stronger profitability and that continuous learning is the number one habit of Canada’s most successful farm businesses.” AFMP includes five intensive one-day sessions with farm management specialists who will cover key business concepts and help participants apply these to a case study. At the end of the program, participants will have a completed management action plan for their farm business that’s ready for implementation. Tuition is $725 plus HST and includes breakfasts and lunches. A second participant from the same operation can register for $450 plus HST. Participants who register by November 10, 2017 receive a 10 per cent early bird tuition discount; program costs are subsidized by AMI. Final registration deadline is November 20. The direct farm marketer sessions will take place at the Best Western Plus, Milton, on November 30, December 18, January 15, January 29 and February 12, with a weather-related make-up day scheduled for February 26 if needed. For more information or to register, visit www.advancedfarmmanagement.ca, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call AMI at 519-822-6618.
October 13, 2017, St. Catharines, Ont – Grape harvest is in full swing in Ontario, and the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) welcomed the opportunity to meet with Premier Kathleen Wynne in the vineyards of grape grower Bill George in Beamsville, Ont. The Premier had a birds-eye view of the vineyards from the seat of a harvester. The harvest is at the mid-point with white varieties such as Riesling and Chardonnay typically harvested early in the season followed by the later maturing red varieties. While the rain has slowed down harvest this week, the return to warm and dry weather is expected over the next week. The Grape Growers of Ontario were pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the Premier to discuss topics of importance to grape growers and hear first-hand about issues that are impacting farm families. The planned increase in minimum wage is one of the key issues for growers. “While we appreciate the intent behind the increase in minimum wage to improve the livelihood of minimum wage earners, we explained clearly the impact that it will have on farm families, and are pleased that the Premier understands our issues”, said Matthias Oppenlaender, chair of the GGO. “Normal labour costs for horticulture farms are about 65 per cent of operating earnings, making it the highest on-farm expense,” added Bill George, vice chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association. “The increase announced for next year can push labour costs to as much as 90 per cent of operating earnings.” There is a very real need for financial assistance to transition to the higher minimum wage to protect family farms, as well as support for local VQA wine made of 100 per cent Ontario grown grapes to ensure a market for the fruits of their labour.
September 20, 2017, Calgary, Alta – New research released recently by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) shows that an increasing number of Canadians feel the food system is headed in the right direction. According to the study, which examined consumer concerns and expectations surrounding food transparency and the overall food system, showed an increase in the number of Canadians who believe the food system is headed in the right direction from 30 per cent in 2016 to 43 per cent this year. While consumer confidence is increasing, an equal number of Canadians (43 per cent) say they aren’t sure if the food system is on the right track, down from 50 per cent in 2016. These findings are significantly different than the American consumers’ findings from 2016, which showed more definitive opinions with 55 per cent choosing right direction and only 23 per cent saying they were unsure. The 2017 CCFI Public Trust Research occurred in-the-field in June, asking 1307 Canadians about top life concerns, specifically their level of concern, trust and transparency expectations related to food and how it’s grown. Those polled clearly identified food companies to be the most responsible for providing information about food and how it’s grown. Other food system partners including farmers, government, restaurants and grocery stores also ranked highly as being responsible for transparency. “Canadians are looking for credible information to make informed decisions about their food,” stated Crystal Mackay, president of CCFI. “This research reinforces that everyone in the Canadian food system, from the farm through to grocery stores and restaurants, should engage in conversations about food.” Those polled are personally concerned and want more information about specific topics, including food safety, environment and farm animal treatment. Consumers are looking for information on food company websites such as third party audits, track record, practices and policies that demonstrate their values. When studying these elements of transparency, accuracy rose to the top as the most important attribute to Canadians. Many Canadians are unsure about their food or how it’s grown, but want to learn more. Canadians ranked the rising cost of food and keeping healthy food affordable as their top two life concerns above rising energy costs, healthcare and the economy for the second year in a row. These findings and other insights are key areas for discussion when leaders from across the entire Canadian food system meet at the CCFI Public Trust Summit in Calgary. Find out more by reading the full 2017 CCFI Public Trust Research report on www.foodintegrity.ca.
November 22, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Ontario has passed sweeping labour reform legislation, which includes increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Currently at $11.60 an hour, the minimum wage will rise under the legislation to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018, with the increase to $15 coming in 2019. READ MORE
October 16, 2017, Vancouver, BC – Five small B.C. wineries have been granted permission to bring their concerns to the Supreme Court of Canada in the interprovincial shipping of liquor case R. v. Comeau. The Supreme Court will hear the case in early December 2017. R. v. Comeau is the first court case in which any winery in Canada has had an opportunity to address the legal barriers to interprovincial shipping of wine made from Canadian grown grapes. Curtis Krouzel (50th Parallel Estate), Ian MacDonald (Liquidity Wines), Jim D'Andrea (Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery), Christine Coletta (Okanagan Crush Pad Winery), and John Skinner (Painted Rock Estate Winery) each own and operate vineyards and wineries that produce wine exclusively using 100 per cent B.C. grown grapes. These five producers head a coalition of more than 100 small wineries from British Columbia who seek to change the law governing interprovincial shipping of wine and liquor across Canada. As such, the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Comeau will determine the fate of the B.C. wine industry for decades to come. “The Supreme Court of Canada will hear from the two parties to the appeal (the New Brunswick Crown and Mr. Comeau) as well as a couple dozen other ‘interveners’ at the hearing on December 6 and 7, 2017,” explained Shea Coulson, counsel for the five winery owners. “After the hearing, the court could take up to a year to make its decision." Coulson's aim is to inform the court about the alleged negative impact on small B.C. wineries created by interprovincial barriers that prohibit shipment of wine to Canadians across the country. “The court has to balance many complex interests, but my clients will argue that it is possible to incrementally change the law to permit interprovincial shipments of Canadian wine, and why it is of fundamental importance to the future survival of the industry to remove these barriers,” he said. Whichever way the court decides, R. v. Comeau will have a monumental effect on the Canadian liquor industry and addresses questions at the heart of Canada's federalist constitution.
September 5, 2017, Ontario - The popularity of a seven-year-old program designed to give wine grape growers funding for production improvements shows no signs of abating.When the first-come, first-served application process opened in June for the marketing and vineyard improvement program, the program’s administrator, Agricorp, received enough applications for the available funding in just one day.There is $2 million worth of funding for the 2017-2018 program year, and another $2 million for the 2018-2019 program, says Agricorp spokesperson Stephanie Charest. The intake of the 152 applications was for both years, as requested by industry.Government funding for production improvementsThe Grape Growers of Ontario website says the program provides funds to growers to help with the costs of improving their production of wine grapes. Successful applicants can get payments for up to 35 per cent of their project.Chair Matthias Oppenlaender says with the funding taken up so quickly, it clearly shows there’s a need for more money in the program.He’s used the program in the past for his Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyard for wind machines and improved harvesting technology.There are 17,000 acres of grapes vines in south, southwestern and eastern Ontario. In 2016, growers harvested about 70,000 tonnes of wine grapes valued at $95.3 million.Split fundingThe 2017-2018 program will fund 73 to proceed with their proposed projects. Growers then submit claims once they have completed the work.The remaining applicants are placed in sequence for the 2018-2019 program. Agricorp will know how many growers will get funding in that program year once it gives them the go-ahead in the spring of 2018 to proceed with their project.Program popularityGrape Growers of Ontario officials aren’t surprised by the intense grower demand.CEO Debbie Zimmerman says farmers use the money for a variety of items, such as weather mitigation measures and machines to improve vineyard production and sustainability.“It’s an important program,” Zimmerman says. It helps growers mechanize their vineyards and invest in innovation. You get to try some new strategies to help grow grapes in a cold climate.”Bottom LineWine grape growers continue to invest in improvements to their production.
August 17, 2017, Vancouver, B.C. - The new British Columbia government confirmed it won't tinker with the previously-announced $.50 increases to BC's general minimum wage and liquor server wage. Effective Sept. 15, the general minimum wage will increase from $10.85 to $11.35 and the liquor server wage will increase from $9.60 to $10.10."Restaurants Canada supports reasonable minimum wage increases that ensure our employees keep up with the cost of living, are announced well in advance to give businesses time to adjust, and do not trigger large menu price increases or a reduction in entry-level employment," said von Schellwitz. "We're concerned when governments move too quickly and at the wrong time, as it hurts businesses, customers and employees."The association doesn't want to see a repeat of the job losses in Alberta, where an arbitrary push for a $15 minimum wage cost more than 4,700 hospitality industry jobs in 2016 alone, and where the youth unemployment rate spiked to over 14 per cent.Our members are equally concerned by the Ontario government's about-face on minimum wage policy, moving abruptly from linking minimum wage increases to the cost of living, to pushing for a $15 minimum wage in just 18 months. This decision, combined with other labour reforms, is putting 187,000 jobs at risk, 17,300 in the restaurant and hotel industries alone.  It will also double inflation, increase household costs for consumer goods and services by $1,300 a year, and increase deficits for all levels of government."Restaurants Canada is pleased that the BC government is maintaining the previously-announced 2017 minimum wage increases that small businesses have been preparing for. We look forward to working with the new government and Fair Wages Commission on future minimum wage increases that raise wages without costing entry-level employment opportunities," concluded von Schellwitz.
June 19, 2017, Fredericton, NB – The development of the wild blueberry sector has been identified as a significant growth opportunity in New Brunswick’s economic development plan. “The time is ripe to realize the full potential of this sector,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet. “Your government is committed to working with industry stakeholders to make the most of this exciting opportunity.” Wild blueberry production has more than tripled over the past decade. The expansion of the sector was identified as a key opportunity for development in the New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan, the government’s framework for growing the economy and creating jobs for New Brunswickers. “With the optimal climate, geography and land availability for wild blueberry development, the sector has huge potential for growth,” said Doucet. Six components have been identified as necessary to help the industry prosper in New Brunswick: Diversification of markets to find new global buyers. Identification of value-added opportunities. Increased production to meet future value-added demands. Increased storage capacity to stabilize inventory. Expanded consumption within the province via the Local Food and Beverage Strategy. Opportunities for capital investment from the private sector. There are 39,000 acres, both private and Crown land, currently under production in multiple locations and at various stages across the province, from the Acadian Peninsula to Charlotte County. The wild blueberry industry currently supports an estimated 440 jobs. The government recognizes that First Nations communities have an interest in becoming more involved in the industry, and is working with those communities to ensure that they have opportunities to participate. More than 300 farm families are involved in the province’s wild blueberry industry. New Brunswick accounts for 25 per cent of Canada’s overall production.
June 13, 2017, Wolfville, N.S. – Nova Scotia plays host to the National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC) from June 15 to 19, 2017 in the Annapolis Valley.Twenty-two talented wine tasters will be arriving in Wolfville from seven Canadian provinces as well as London, England to pick the winners from among 1700 wines and ciders made in Canada.“Nova Scotia hosted these awards back in 2011, and while that is only a short number of years ago, our industry has developed greatly,” says Gillian Mainguy, executive director of the Winery Association of Nova Scotia. “We are particularly pleased that the awards fall on the heels of the Atlantic Canada Wine Symposium. Together the events present a fantastic opportunity to showcase what we do best in Nova Scotia.”“There has been great deal of energy emanating from the Nova Scotia wine industry in recent years,” says WineAlign VP David Lawrason, co-head judge of the National Wine Awards. “It is much like the energy within the sparkling wines and Tidal Bay whites that are now defining the region. Every one of our judges can’t wait for our time in Nova Scotia to tap into that vibe and experience some Atlantic hospitality.”
October 19, 2017, Erinsville, Ont – Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is climbing down from another controversial tax proposal to address the concerns of farmers and fishers. Morneau made the announcement at a farm alongside Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay in Erinsville, Ont., about halfway between Toronto and Ottawa, and three area Liberal MPs. Morneau said the government is abandoning the proposed tax reform that would have restricted the conversion of income into capital gains. READ MORE  
October 4, 2017, Vancouver, BC – As dairy products, Bombardier aircraft and softwood lumber continue to bedevil trade relations between Canada and the U.S., negotiators will have to add wine to their list of issues to resolve. The U.S. has filed a second complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over what it perceives as B.C.’s unfair rules regarding wine sales in the province’s grocery stores, according to a release from the WTO. READ MORE
September 20, 2017, Old Chelsea, QC – The Government of Canada is committed to working with the agricultural industry in developing new risk management assessments and tools that help farmers manage risk. The federal government recently announced a $461,816 investment for the Canadian Organic Growers. This funding will be used to conduct a study of the risks involved in transitioning from conventional production to organic production. This first-of-a-kind study will reach out to organic producers across the country, as well as others in the sector. The data collected will be used to identify techniques that farmers can use to help reduce risk and manage their shift to organic production. “More than ever, Canadians are looking to purchase organic products grown and made in Canada; however supply is not keeping pace at home or abroad,” said Rochelle Eisen, president of Canadian Organic Growers. “There is a growing environmental and economic case for transitioning to organic agriculture in Canada and by enhancing our knowledge on the subject, we can develop effective tools, programs, and policies that can better support a farmer’s journey to sustainable, organic production.”
September 15, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) and the Canada Institute of the Wilson Center are pleased to co-publish a short piece on approaches to food safety cooperation in Canada and the United States. With NAFTA renegotiation talks in full swing, it is a critical time for a conversation on protecting and improving our shared food supply chain. As think tanks and think networks, CAPI and the Wilson Center know the importance of good debate and a robust marketplace for ideas. This short piece, written by Rory McAlpine and Mike Robach, encourages just such debate. "The contents of the piece represent an opportunity for our two organizations to present to our respective stakeholders on the frontlines of Canada-US economic policy some new thinking on important food safety issues", said Don Buckingham, president and CEO of CAPI. "Food safety is not just about consumer protection, it's about enhancing the competitiveness of the Canada-U.S. agri-food supply chain around the world. A well-functioning food safety regime helps to increase global demand for safe and wholesome North American food products." "During a period of trade upheaval and fractured supply chains, it is particularly important to bring practical suggestions to the table that will build trade, increase competitiveness and safeguard the protection of consumers," added Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute of the Wilson Center. The short piece is available here.
September 12, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Representatives from four different government departments and departmental organizations recently made the trip to Norfolk County, known as “Ontario’s garden”, to observe the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) in action. Officials from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC); Service Canada; Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) participated in a two-day tour, which stopped at 12 farms and included greenhouses and packing facilities. Government officials picked the farms they wanted to visit, so as to make sure they were seeing typical SAWP environments, and not just ones hand-picked by the tour organizers. READ MORE
August 4, 2017, Boise, ID – Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have completed the food, feed, and environmental safety assessments of the J.R. Simplot Company’s second generation of Innate potatoes. The authorizations enable the potatoes to be imported, planted, and sold in Canada, complementing the three varieties of Innate first generation potatoes that received regulatory approval last year. Health Canada conducted a comprehensive safety assessment and approved the use of Innate second generation potatoes for food. In addition, CFIA determined that these potatoes are “as safe and nutritious as traditional potatoes” for use as livestock feed, and that the potatoes do not present increased risk to the environment when compared to currently cultivated potato varieties in Canada. The second generation of Innate potatoes contains four beneficial traits of relevance to potato growers, processors and consumers: Protection against the late blight pathogen Reduced bruising and black spot Reduced asparagine, which contributes to reduced acrylamide in cooked potatoes Lower reducing sugars, which further contributes to reduced acrylamide while enhancing cold storage capability These traits were achieved using genes from wild and cultivated potatoes to adapt the standard Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet, and Atlantic potato varieties. Innate late blight protection trait can convey up to a 50 per cent reduction in annual fungicide applications typically used to control late blight disease. This disease was a contributing cause of the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-19th century and remains a major constraint for production and storage. Further, research shows that Innate second generation potatoes help reduce waste associated with bruise, blight, and storage losses by reducing waste at multiple stages of the value chain, including in-field, during storage and processing, and in food service. That research suggests that these traits will translate to less land, water, and pesticide applications to produce these potatoes. Lower asparagine and reducing sugars mean that accumulation levels of acrylamide can be reduced by up to 90 per cent more when these potatoes are cooked at high temperatures. In addition, lower reducing sugars enable cold storage at 3.3 Celsius for more than six months without significant degradation in quality. According to academic estimates, if all fresh potatoes in Canada had Innate Generation 2 traits, potato waste (in-field, during storage, packing, retail and foodservice for fresh potatoes) could be reduced by 93 million kilograms. In addition, CO2 emissions could be reduced by 14 million kilograms, water usage reduced by 13 billion liters, and a total of 154,000 fewer pesticide hectare-applications would be needed. “This is a big technology advancement for the Canadian potato industry,” said Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada. “As long as proper stewardship guidelines are followed, Innate biotechnology provides growers a promising option to significantly reduce waste, chemicals, and pesticides.” “We’re excited to offer the latest generation of Innate potatoes to the Canadian marketplace,” said Susan Collinge, Ph.D., vice president of Simplot Plant Sciences, a division of the J.R. Simplot Company. “Innate second generation potatoes offer important benefits while staying within the potato genome to create a quality crop.”
November 14, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Are you a vegetable or fruit grower who needs to up your on-farm food safety game? Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF), with support from Growing Forward 2, are offering Bridging the GAP: Making CanadaGAP Work on Your Farm. This one-day workshop will be offered in two locations – Airdrie on November 29, 2017, and Leduc on December 6th, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CanadaGAP is a food safety program for companies that produce, handle and broker fruits and vegetables. The program is designed to help implement and maintain effective food safety procedures within fresh produce operations “This introductory workshop is targeted at those growers who are looking to sell into retail or food service markets but require certification or to those who are unsure about where to start thinking about food safety,” says Kellie Jackson, development officer, AF. “Facilitators will help you to better understand the benefits of an on-farm food safety system, how CanadaGAP works, and walk you through assessing risk on your farm. A producer will share how CanadaGAP has affected their business and a produce buyer will talk about why they want suppliers to be CanadaGAP certified.” This workshop will be the precursor to two other workshops planned for January and February 2018. The first will be to further CanadaGAP understanding to help participants to become certified once enrolled in the program, while the second workshop focuses on maintaining certification and implementing process improvements that address risk. To register for one of the introductory workshops, call 1-800-387-6030 or register on line at https://eservices.alberta.ca/bridging-the-gap-workshop.html. Cost is $30 plus GST per person and includes coffee and lunch. For more information, contact Kellie Jackson at 403-948-8538.
August 15, 2017 - The Council of Canadians is pressing the provincial government to keep genetically modified potatoes out of P.E.I. soil.Council chair Leo Broderick questions the science behind Innate generation 2 potatoes, and added P.E.I. would be better off staying away from the controversy surrounding genetically modified food. He noted P.E.I. is already attracting attention as a producer of genetically modified salmon. READ MORE
February 8, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – Effective April 1, 2017 CanadaGAP will introduce an unannounced audit program in response to new GFSI benchmarking requirements.What is an unannounced audit? Unannounced audits will not be scheduled in advance with the producer. The certification body will provide two to five business days' notice that the auditor is coming. An unannounced audit will take place instead of a scheduled audit (NOT additional to a scheduled audit). The producer will pay the regular audit fee for the unannounced audit. Only if needed, the certification body or auditor may contact you ahead of time (e.g., early in the season) To confirm the scope of your operation's certification To confirm in general when certain activities are occurring (e.g., harvesting, packing, shipping, etc.) NOT to identify a specific time for the audit. When will unannounced audits occur? Like all CanadaGAP audits, unannounced audits must occur while activities relevant to the scope of your operation's certification are occurring. You cannot block off "busy periods" like harvesting or shipping. Unannounced audits can occur during periods of high activity. Be audit-ready You can refuse the first notification, for valid reasons as determined by the certification body. You cannot refuse the second notification. Not responding to the notification (phone or email) from the certification body or auditor will be considered an ACCEPTED notification.  If you are not prepared to proceed with the audit when the auditor arrives, you will still be charged for the cost of the auditor's time and travel. If possible, the auditor will return for another unannounced audit during the current season. Note that it may be impossible for the auditor to return during the current season due to scheduling demands. In other words, not being prepared for the unannounced audit could put your operation's certification in jeopardy. Who will be chosen for an unannounced audit? The new unannounced audit program will be for those enrolled in CanadaGAP certification Options A1, A2, C and D.  The certification body will choose five per cent of its clients each year. Over time, all individually certified companies will have an unannounced audit. Those enrolled in group certification Option B already have an unannounced component to their option. Option A3 will also see the introduction of an unannounced component in 2017.  What about random audits? If you are enrolled in CanadaGAP certification Option A1 or A2 (four-year audit cycle) 1) there is no change to your four-year audit cycle, and 2) there is no change to the way that random audits work. You would still be informed in advance if you've been randomly selected for an audit. However, you may not be told the exact date of your audit. It could be an unannounced audit. Likewise, if you already expect to be audited this year (because you are due for an audit in your four-year cycle), this audit could be unannounced. "Unannounced" means you won't know more than two to five business days in advance of the date of your audit. You will still know in advance that you are having an audit sometime this year. "Although certification options A1, A2 and A3 are not GFSI-recognized, the CanAgPlus board has chosen to include all certification options in the unannounced audit programme to improve the overall rigour of CanadaGAP certification," explained Heather Gale, executive director for CanadaGAP. Why are unannounced audits being introduced? To meet new GFSI requirements To respond to market signals To ensure that producers are maintaining their program on a continuing basis "We need to be ready to demonstrate to our customers that CanadaGAP-certified companies can meet program requirements at any time," commented Jack Bates, chair of the CanAgPlus board.A presentation outlining the new unannounced audit program is available on the CanadaGAP website at: http://www.canadagap.ca/publications/canadagap-presentations/.
“Vineland is scouting the world for new fresh grape varieties suited to the Canadian climate with consumer appeal.”
November 1, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian government recently announced it has secured market access for Alberta seed potatoes to Thailand. Effective immediately, Alberta becomes the third province to have an export agreement with Thailand, joining Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, both of which secured export agreements in 2009. Combined, these three provinces form about 76 per cent of Canada’s seed potato exports. Alberta’s seed potato exports to Thailand could be worth up to $2 million annually, according to industry experts, adding to the $5 million on average exported annually to that country. The increased access will advance the competitiveness of, and create new opportunities for, the seed potato sector. “The Potato Growers of Alberta are pleased to have worked with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to profile our seed industry to Thailand officials and to receive approval to export seed to their country,” said Deb Hart, seed potato coordinator with the Potato Growers of Alberta. “Alberta has a very innovative and progressive seed potato industry and is looking forward to the opportunity to grow low virus, high quality seed varieties requested by the Thai potato industry.”
September 27, 2016, Charlottetown, PEI – Greg Donald is upbeat discussing the upcoming harvest, until talk turns to potato tampering. Donald, the general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board, would rather the topic get buried like, well, a needle in a haystack. READ MORE

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