Business & Policy
March 22, 2017, Barrie, Ont – Ontario start-up FreshSpoke is tackling the distribution challenges that, until now, have kept most farmers and micro-producers out of the wholesale market. “Consumers are demanding more local and sustainable sourcing on the part of institutions, retailers and food service,” states Marcia Woods, CEO of FreshSpoke. “But the existing food system doesn’t make it easy or economical to buy or sell on a commercial scale.” FreshSpoke is tackling this problem with an app that handles the order, payment and delivery for the producer and gives food service and retailer buyers a direct pipeline to fresh, local food, delivered to their door. “We’re building a shared delivery system on a commercial scale starting with our own food producers so they can make extra cash delivering for producers who don’t,” explains Woods. By the summer of this year, FreshSpoke expects to have third-party commercial drivers on board to keep up with the pace of demand as it expands across the province. FreshSpoke is the latest in a growing list of peer-to-peer platforms referred to as the sharing economy, an economic movement that has experienced rapid growth over the past five years. “To get fresh, local food onto menus, chefs had to spend precious time or be willing to pay a premium to distributors,” states Mia Andrews, president of the Canadian Personal Chef Association. “Now with FreshSpoke they can easily buy directly from the producer and get orders delivered at a fair price.” FreshSpoke’s sellers range from breweries, wineries and artisanal food makers to farmers and growers like garlic farmer Bart Nagel, who operates Bulbs of Fire near Mildland, Ont. “Small farmers like myself know there’s a wholesale market for our product but finding those buyers and figuring out delivery on top of everything else we do in a day is impossible,” says Nagel. “FreshSpoke is the first solution I have seen that offers a way to reach the market directly and get my orders where they need to go for a fair price.” FreshSpoke’s web and mobile applications give wholesale buyers in food service and retail businesses free access to a growing inventory of locally produced products from more than 100 producers across the greater Golden Horseshoe region. The fees for local food producers range from free to $900 per year. To find out more about FreshSpoke or register for an information session, visit their web site at freshspoke.com.
March 1, 2017, Boise, ID – Three types of potatoes genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine are safe for the environment and safe to eat, federal officials have announced. The approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late last week gives Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Company permission to plant the potatoes this spring and sell them in the fall. READ MORE
February 6, 2017, Caribou, ME – McCain Foods has started trials examining soil fumigation with several of its growers.In an effort to boost yields with its contract growers of russet processing potatoes, McCain Foods has been conducting trials of fumigation on a small number of acres with farmers who have had yield problems with nematodes, verticillium wilt and other fungal soil pests. The Florenceville, NB, company has been conducting similar trials with its growers in Canada. READ MORE
December 1, 2016, Lowell, OR – Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, Inc., a global blueberry breeding and nursery stock company, has named Dr. Paul Sandefur as manager of its U.S. breeding program.
November 30, 2016, Kelowna, BC – The B.C. Tree Fruits Cooperative board of directors is pleased to announce the hiring of Stan Swales as chief executive officer effective Nov. 28, 2016. “After a long search, we are excited to move forward with our selection of Stan,” said B.C. Tree Fruits Cooperative President Jeet Dukhia. “The board of directors is confident Stan will build on the trust between cooperative members and staff while working towards a strong, sustainable industry for our members.” Swales started in the industry in 1985 at Okanagan North Growers Co-Op in Winfield where he spent 20 years in various roles, including both horticulture and operations. From there, Swales moved to Growers Supply Co. Ltd. as the general manager where he remained for 10 years. For the last year, he was with BASF Canada as a business representative. “I am thrilled to be back with the cooperative as the new CEO,” stated Swales. “Over the span of my career in the industry, I have worked in some capacity at almost every level. With that comes the understanding of the needs and challenges both the membership and the cooperative face and I feel I can draw on my experience to help guide our cooperative moving forward.” Swales will be in the office full-time starting Dec. 27. Chief Financial Officer Warren Everton will remain acting CEO until then.
November 1, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved commercial planting of two types of potatoes that are genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that causes late blight. The potatoes next must clear a voluntary review process through the Food and Drug Administration as well as get the okay from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The approval covers Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co.'s Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties of the company's second generation of Innate potatoes. READ MORE
March 3, 2017, London, Ont – Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jeff Leal, has appointed Elmer Buchanan, a farmer and former provincial ag minister, as trustee of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers’ (OPVG) board. “I have been closely monitoring the 2017 contract negotiations between Ontario's tomato growers and processors and was recently informed by growers, processors and the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission (OFPMC) that negotiations have reached an impasse, jeopardizing this year's crop season,” Leal said in a written public statement. “Risking this year's tomato crop, and the thousands of jobs that support it, is something I am not prepared to do.” According to Minister Leal, Buchanan will temporarily assume the powers of the OPVG board to negotiate 2017 contracts, until elections for a new OPVG board can be held, preferably before Dec. 31, 2017. In a letter to the OPVG board dated March 3, 2017, OMAFRA Deputy Minister Greg Meredith explained that the government of Ontario was forced to take immediate action by making a regulation under the Farm Products Marketing Act. “This regulation is now in force and has the effect of terminating the terms of office of the members of OPVG holding office immediately before the regulation came into force and terminating the terms of office of the members of each district vegetable growers’ committee holding office immediately before the regulation came into force,” Meredith stated in the letter addressed to "Negotiating Agency Members." “This was a difficult decision to make; however it was felt that action was needed to respond to what the government had heard from the OPVG itself, the [OFPMC] and industry stakeholders about the deteriorating state of negotiations and the need to ensure that negotiations continue so that contracts are in place for the 2017 processing vegetable crop.” The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processors’ Association (OFVPA) sent out a press release March 3, 2017, supporting the provincial government’s announcement. “Working with our grower partners, we believe there is an excellent opportunity for improvement that will benefit the whole value chain,” said Steve Lamoure, president of the OFVPA. “We look forward to working jointly with the OPVG, their appointed trustee, and our grower partners in putting together the details of this progressive move.”
January 13, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Former Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) chair Brenda Lammens has been named the 2017 recipient of the organization’s Industry Award of Merit.
December 16, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – The annual general meeting of CanAgPlus, the corporation that owns and operates the CanadaGAP Program, was held Dec. 8, 2016, in Ottawa.Members considered a number of resolutions submitted by the membership. One resolution was referred to the board of directors for further discussion and a report back to the 2017 AGM. Three resolutions were voted on and defeated.CanadaGAP program participants elected four new directors to the CanAgPlus board: Jack Bates, Tecarte Farms Hugh Bowman, Agri Group of North America Cathy McKay, Nature's Bounty Farm Jody Mott, Holland Marsh Growers' Association The new board of directors met subsequent to the AGM and reappointed Jack Bates to the chair and Hugh Bowman as vice-chair."We're pleased to be working with a strong group of directors who have solid experience with the CanadaGAP program," stated Bates. "The board is made up of a good cross-section of representatives from various sectors of the industry."Newly elected board members will serve a two-year term for 2017 and 2018.The annual report presentation and copies of the report are available at: http://www.canadagap.ca/publications/annual-report/
Farm Credit Canada, the Grape Growers of Ontario and the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival are pleased to announce that Jamie Quai of Quai du Vin Estate Winery in St. Thomas, Ont., is the 2016 Grape King.
September 12, 2016, Guelph, Ont – Ontario’s two berry grower organizations are proposing to join forces and create one new organization. The Ontario Berry Growers’ Association and the Ontario Highbush Blueberry Growers’ Association have received agreement from the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission (OFPMC) for conducting an expression of opinion vote among all eligible growers of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in Ontario. Berry Growers of Ontario is the new name proposed. “We’re planning Berry Growers of Ontario in order to help us growers earn better returns,” explained Jenn VanDeVelde, a berry grower and current director of the OBGA. “There are so many issues facing growers today that require a strengthened organization to effectively address on growers’ behalf.” “The new organization will give us the structure and authorities we need to better serve growers,” stated Steve Kustermans, a blueberry grower and current chairperson for the Ontario Highbush Blueberry Growers’ Association. “A unified voice for all berry growers will enable us to better get government’s attention and resources to support our sector.” The new organization is not seeking any authorities related to pricing or control of supply. It will be directing its efforts towards marketing and promotion, research and grower advocacy. “Our budget will be lean and modest,” said VanDeVelde, “and will ensure that growers of each crop receive a fair allocation of resources towards that crop leading to more research, promotion and crop protection for every crop that we represent.” The proposed board of directors of nine will be comprised of three growers of each of the three crops. If growers vote in support of the proposal and subsequently the establishment of a new board is supported by the OFPMC and ultimately the Ontario Government, one of the key differences between Berry Growers of Ontario and the two existing organizations is that membership in the new organization will be mandatory rather than voluntary. Mandatory membership means that every grower of two or more acres of any combination of the three crops will be required to pay membership fees each year based on the number of bearing acres in production. This structure provides a fair and transparent way to fund the activities of the organization. The OFPMC expects to conduct the vote in late October and early November. Producers must be entered in the OFPMC’s database in order to receive a mailed ballot. Growers that do not currently belong to one of the two existing organizations need to inform the FPMC analyst, Laurinda Lang, right away so that they receive a ballot. Laurinda can be reached during business hours by calling (519) 826-3242. More information is available in the growers and members section of the OBGA website at http://ontarioberries.com/site/growers-and-members.html
March 8, 2017, Victoria, BC – British Columbia’s value-added food companies will increase their chances of having their products sold outside of Canada by participating in a Government of Canada- and British Columbia-funded program to help them meet international food safety and traceability requirements. The approximately $2-million Post-Farm Food Safety and Traceability Program will offer participants up to $35,000 to: conduct food safety and traceability assessments to identify and document risks, issues and opportunities to improve food safety and traceability capacity, systems and practices; access training to increase the food safety and traceability expertise of their staff; and implement Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Best Practices (BPs) and recognized Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety practices and traceability systems in their operations. The two-year program will improve agrifood businesses’ capacity to address current issues and to meet emerging national and international food safety and traceability requirements. It is being delivered by the Food Processing Human Resources Council and is cost-shared with participants. Application forms, guidelines and related documents are available at: http://postfarmfoodsafety.com/home/ . The program targets B.C. food-processing businesses seeking first-time certification in internationally recognized HACCP-based food safety assurance programs. Additionally, the program targets B.C. companies that use recognized food safety and traceability standards, implement food safety and traceability systems, effectively manage food safety risk, and create opportunities to access new markets and increase sales. For additional information and applications for the new program, visit: http://postfarmfoodsafety.com/home/ .
February 23, 2017, Victoria, BC – Due to an underwhelming response by users to register their wells, the province has extended its waiver of the application fee to December 31, 2017. The new Water Sustainability Act took effect February 29, 2016 and includes licensing requirements for all non-domestic groundwater users. As a result, all wells used for irrigation and livestock watering must be registered. READ MORE
The B.C. tree fruit replant program is having a positive affect on the province’s fruit growing industry and has been so popular, the province’s Ministry of Agriculture has provided additional funds.
January 23, 2017, Victoria, BC — Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick says he will now attend a major conference of B.C. farmers Jan. 26 after earlier bailing on the event to attend a $5,000-a-plate Liberal Party fundraiser with Premier Christy Clark. The flip-flop came hours after The Province reported exclusively that Letnick had cancelled on 9,000 farmers and ranchers attending the Pacific Agriculture Show in Abbotsford. READ MORE
January 18, 2017 – The U.S. government has launched a trade enforcement action against Canada at the World Trade Organization, stating that B.C.'s liquor regulations discriminate against the sale of U.S. wine. U.S. Trade representative Michael Froman wrote in a recent news release the regulations breach Canada's WTO commitments by giving local B.C. wine an unfair advantage. READ MORE
March 20, 2017, Winnipeg, Man – Government officials were in Winnipeg recently to provide remarks at the Canadian Horticultural Council 95th Annual General Meeting, where he announced more than $274,000 in Growing Forward 2 funding to help expand markets for Canadian potatoes. This project, funded under the AgriMarketing Program, provides the CHC with up to $274,714 to help grow foreign and domestic markets for Canadian potatoes, through trade shows, targeted advertising, incoming missions, market research and development, and product promotion.“The Canadian Horticultural Council and the Canadian Potato Council appreciate the funding received through the AgriMarketing Program, Market Development Stream, to support the export growth of high quality Canadian seed and fresh potatoes,” said Keith Kuhl, outgoing president of the CHC. This investment is part of the federal government’s plan to help Canadian farmers expand markets at home and abroad. “The funding has allowed Canadian growers to maintain a presence in international markets by participating in tradeshows, international standard setting processes, and in phytosanitary market access activities,” said John Bareman, chair of the CHC’s Potato Committee.
In late January, I walked into the first afternoon of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Industry Conference with a swagger in my step. I was going to learn something that many in my sphere of influence were still struggling with: What to expect from a Trump presidency.
December 15, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is pleased with the federal government's announcement yesterday that the cumulative duration limit, or "four-in, four-out" rule, will no longer apply to temporary foreign workers. In recent meetings with government officials, CFA has expressed concern that this rule has created unnecessary hardship for employers already struggling to fulfill their labour requirements. It has limited the pool of available, experienced workers and led to significant retraining costs while reducing productivity. Ultimately, it has limited opportunities for temporary foreign workers to attain permanent residency. CFA continues to see increased pathways to permanent residency as a vital component of any long-term strategy to reduce Canadian agriculture's labour shortages."The government's early action on this file is a critical step forward and CFA is eager to work with government and industry partners in the coming months on a more comprehensive suite of meaningful changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and broader labour market programming," said CFA President Ron Bonnett.Removing the cumulative duration rule was one of several recommendations that CFA presented to the House of Commons human resources committee earlier this year.With recent research from the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council highlighting nearly 60,000 vacancies in primary agriculture alone – a figure expected to increase to 114,000 by 2025 – these changes come as a welcome and important move towards meaningful change.Labour constraints in agriculture continue to cost the industry approximately $1.5 billion in lost sales each year. Farm groups reiterate that this multi-faceted issue requires a long-term strategic approach that includes: improved engagement with groups that are under-represented in the domestic agricultural labour force amendments to Canada's immigration policy ways to make Canada's skills training programs more supportive of farms and on-the-job training. CFA looks forward to obtaining more details of the new requirements for employers to advertise job opportunities to under-represented groups. Connecting with these communities is a priority for the industry and CFA is working with other stakeholders to address current barriers that confront those interested in working in the sector.Interested parties are encouraged to refer to the Agriculture and Agri-food Workforce Action Plan, developed by a Labour Task Force involving more than 75 organizations, as a roadmap to improving Canada's agricultural labour market.
December 6, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, shares the Canadian Horticultural Council’s (CHC) concern over France’s ban of products from countries where dimethoate is registered as a pesticide. Dimethoate is used for control of sucking and chewing insects and fruit flies, and is currently used in orchards after harvest for control of western cherry fruit flies. READ MORE
December 5, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – Canada’s agriculture sector faces a persistent lack of sufficient workers with the right skills and in the right places. Labour shortages have doubled over the last decade and are projected to double again to 113,800 positions before 2025, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report. This report relies on research findings from a three-year agriculture labour market research project conducted by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) in collaboration with the Conference Board. “The agriculture sector is having difficulty recruiting and retaining domestic workers. As labour shortages have expanded, the sector has increasingly turned to temporary foreign workers to fill the labour gap,” said Michael Burt, director of industrial economic trends with the Conference Board of Canada. “Finding solutions to the labour shortages in the years to come is critical for the future growth of the sector.” The report – Sowing the Seeds of Growth: Temporary Foreign Workers in Agriculture – examines why temporary foreign workers (TFWs) play such an important role in the agriculture sector’s workforce. It finds that the industry faces unique recruitment and retention challenges that are contributing to its growing labour shortages. These challenges include an aging workforce, the rural location of many operations, and negative perceptions about working in the sector. Highlights of the report include: Labour shortages within Canada’s agriculture sector have doubled over the past decade and are expected to double again by 2025. At its seasonal peak, the sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at seasonal lows. Three-quarters of the sector’s labour gap has been filled by temporary foreign workers. The most prominent challenge is the large seasonal fluctuations in employment. At its seasonal peak, the agriculture sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at its seasonal lows, which represents a 30 per cent fluctuation. The average difference between the seasonal peak and low in employment for all other sectors is just four per cent. These seasonal fluctuations are why more than three quarters of agricultural TFWs arrive as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. TFWs have become a key part of the sector’s continued operations and will likely continue to play a growing role in the future. TFWs have been able to fill three-quarters of the industry’s labour shortage gap and now represent one-in-10 workers in the sector. In addition to easing much of the sector’s labour shortages, TFWs have contributed to the growth in agricultural production over the past decade and have supported the employment of Canadians in the sector. Many farm operators indicate that they would have closed, leading to Canadian job losses, had they not had access to TFWs. Finding solutions to the sector’s growing labour gap in the years to come is important. However, just paying more or buying more machines are not the panacea they would seem. For example, wages in agriculture have risen relative to the average for all sectors over the past 15 years, but the number of Canadians willing to work in agriculture has shrunk. At the same time, a dramatic increase in the amount of machinery employed per worker has contributed to agriculture experiencing the strongest labour productivity gains of any major sector over the past 20 years. Yet, the sector’s labour gap has continued to expand. One potential solution may be re-evaluating the effectiveness of Canada’s immigration programs so that they better meet the needs of the agriculture sector. With federal immigration policies geared toward attracting high-skilled workers, they offer few pathways for permanent residency for lower-skilled workers, even though agriculture has a critical need for them. A path toward permanent residency for migrant workers, who are filling a permanent market need, would assist farm operators in finding a permanent solution to their labour challenges. This research was funded by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).
The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is receiving a $920,000 federal investment from the federal government to develop new disease-resistant apple and greenhouse tomato varieties that will contribute to the long-term growth and profitability of these two sectors.
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
August 22, 2016, Alliston, Ont – The 2016 Ontario Potato Field Day, hosted on August 18 by HJV Equipment in Alliston, was a very successful event. Approximately 250 growers, crop consultants and potato-industry personnel gathered in a friendly atmosphere to see the latest potato equipment, new potato varieties and the trade show. Potato growers from Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Quebec also attended the event. More than 100 new potato varieties were on display, including for the fresh, processing and specialty markets. For the fresh market, the variety Actrice (Real Potatoes) caught the attention of many growers because of its attractive tubers with smooth, shiny skin. Actrice is an early, yellow-fleshed variety that is very tasty. Primabelle and Panamera (HZPC Americas) are two yellow-fleshed varieties that got good reviews from potato growers. Among the russet potatoes for the French fry market, Alta Strong (Real Potatoes) and Pomerelle Russet (Pommes de Terre Laurentiennes) were well rated by growers. There was interest in Kalmia (La Patate Lac Saint-Jean) a white-fleshed, fresh-market variety that could also be used as a French fryer. Double Fun (HZPC Americas) had the nicest skin among the purple-fleshed varieties. It also has very good culinary traits. Among the trade show exhibitors, the Quebec company Lab’eau-Air-Sol demonstrated the use of spore traps for foliar diseases of vegetables. Douglas Ag Services provided the latest information on chloropicrin application to control soil-borne diseases. Displays by Gorman Controls (PEI) and GRB Ag Technologies (Ontario) focused on storage management. Potato growers attend this important annual event to obtain practical, up-to-date information on varieties and the latest potato production technology. It is also a chance for growers to meet in a friendly, informal setting to discuss problems.
July 22, 2016, Smithville, Ont – There is a delicate balance in nature between predator and prey. There are many natural pests, for example, that can threaten an orchard of fruit crops, but also many predators that can help keep those pests at bay. But what if the species helping to manage pest populations themselves become at risk? That’s where on-farm protection of species at risk by farmers and landowners and the Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program (SARFIP) come in. SARFIP, delivered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) provides cost-share funding for farmers to implement best management practices that help protect essential habitats of species at risk located on-farm. The range of possible activities under the program applies to orchards, croplands, grasslands, stream banks, shorelines, wetlands, and woodlands. Peter and Mary Bosman of Lincoln Line Orchards, a family-run fruit farm in the Niagara Peninsula, try to work with nature as much as possible to keep their trees healthy. They grow 15 apple and five pear varieties on their 65-acre orchard, as well as some peaches and plums, with about 80 per cent of their fruit being retailed through their on-farm store outside of Smithville. A partnership with FoodShare gets their small pears into approximately 250 Toronto schools through a snack program. Last year, the Bosmans accessed cost-share funding through SARFIP to install bat boxes throughout their orchards as a way of providing habitats for the little brown bat, an endangered bat species in Ontario. Bats are essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems as they eat a lot of insects, including farm pests, and little brown bats are one of only two bat species in Ontario that are known to use human structures, such as barns, attics and abandoned buildings, as summer maternity colony habitats. Bat populations are declining around the world, including Ontario, often because of disappearing habitat. In Ontario, bats also face challenges from a disease called White Nose Syndrome (a fungus that thrives in cold, humid environments) which disrupts bats’ hibernation cycles, burning up essential body fat supplies before the spring when they can begin foraging again. “We’re not sure how many there are in the area currently, but we hope we can attract them by giving them habitats in our orchards,” explains Peter. “Bats hunt insects and moths and if we can increase the bat population, they’ll help us with natural insect control in the orchard.” Four bat boxes have been installed atop long poles throughout the orchard. Each box can hold up to 600 bats, and all are close to water sources – either the farm’s ponds or Twenty Creek, which flows through the property. To be eligible for SARFIP cost-share opportunities, Ontario farm businesses have to complete a third or fourth edition Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) workshop and have a verified complete Action Plan, as well as implement at least one SARFIP-eligible best management practice directly related to an action identified in their EFP Action Plan. The Bosmans have previously completed projects through cost share programs delivered by OSCIA, as well as with Niagara Conservation, and are appreciative of funding programs like SARFIP to support on-farm improvements. “We have six children on our family farm and our grandson is the fifth generation, so we try to do what we can to be natural and support nature,” says Bosman.
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OMAFRA welcomes new vegetable crop specialistMarch 15, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Ontario’s newest vegetable crop…
CanadaGAP program receives government recognitionMarch 13, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – CanadaGAP is very pleased…
Feds help expand markets for Canadian potatoesMarch 20, 2017, Winnipeg, Man – Government officials were in…
2017 Muck Crops ConferenceWed Apr 12, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
2017 Canadian Produce Marketing Association ConventionTue May 09, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
2017 Potato Growers of Alberta Golf TournamentThu Jul 06, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
18th Annual Enology & Viticulture Conference & Trade ShowMon Jul 17, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM