Business/Policy
February 15, 2018, Fredericton, NB – After years of research and development, 15 of the newest varieties of potatoes were displayed in Fredericton to give growers a starchy taste of the future.

Each year, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Research and Development Centre in Fredericton hosts a fair of sorts, where researchers get to show off new varieties to farmers and companies. READ MORE

 

Published in Research
February 15, 2018, Portage La Prairie – The Manitoba government and J.R. Simplot Company recently announced a major investment and expansion in the company’s Manitoba-based operations near Portage la Prairie.

“Manitoba delivers in so many ways that will help make this project a success,” said Mark McKellar, food group president for J.R. Simplot. “It has access to quality potatoes, a strong grower community, availability of highly skilled employees and distribution routes that continue to expand our footprint. We are convinced Manitoba’s business-friendly environment made this the right decision for the J.R. Simplot Company.”

Simplot confirmed the $460 million construction project is expected to begin this spring and will increase the size of the facility from 180,000 to 460,000 square feet. The expansion will more than double the plant’s need for potatoes from regional growers, while increasing its employment by 87 expected new full-time positions. Current operations are expected to continue during construction, with expanded processing capacity expected in fall 2019.

The investment package provided by the Manitoba government includes tax increment financing up to $6.31 million to assist with anticipated capital investments and road improvements. Manitoba will also provide up to $522,000 in employee training contributions, based on the number of new positions.

Manitoba Hydro will provide $1 million in Power Smart program funding for electrical and natural gas efficiency projects, based on the plant meeting program guidelines.

As part of the expansion, Simplot will incorporate similar industry-leading energy and water efficiency processes which were first established at the company’s plant in Caldwell, Idaho.

Simplot has been an outstanding corporate and community partner since establishing its operations in Manitoba,” said Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler. “This investment further cements their reputation as a pillar in Manitoba’s agriculture and food processing sector. The plant’s increase in capacity also presents a tremendous opportunity for Manitoba farmers to strengthen their partnership with a reliable local processor and increase potato production in Manitoba.”

Founded in 1929, J.R. Simplot Company is headquartered in Boise, Idaho and has operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and China, marketing products to more than 40 countries worldwide.

Manitoba growers annually harvest over 65,000 acres of potatoes, representing one-fifth of the Canada's total potato crop and making Manitoba the second-largest producer in the country.
Published in Companies
Storytelling is a valuable skill in today’s society. Showcasing your business or that of a signature farm product with a story is one of the best marketing strategies you can have. Who doesn’t love a great story?
Published in Marketing
There are now seven generations of farmers in Delta, B.C. behind (and in front of) Pacific Potato Corp., and while the potato was always a dietary staple, it wasn’t until recent generations that it became this family’s mainstay.
Published in Production
The frustration in the room was palpable.
Published in Associations
February 12, 2018, Guelph Ont – A not-for-profit food business incubator in Toronto is helping entrepreneurs get their fledgling food companies off the ground.

Food Starter offers food prep, processing, packaging and storage facilities to industry entrants at a reduced rate, as well as courses to teach entrepreneurs about key aspects of the food industry, like food safety, regulatory compliance, labelling, accounting, marketing, business management and human resources.

The Toronto Food Business Incubator partnered with the City of Toronto to access funding from Growing Forward 2 to develop and launch Food Starter in November 2015.

“A lot of people here are good at recipes but don’t know about all the other things needed to run a food business,” explains Carlos Correia, Food Starter’s facility manager. “We cover all aspects of business development to give them information they didn’t know existed but would be road block to keep them from moving forward.”

Food Starter’s incubator clients are new food entrepreneurs who access shared space by the hour on an as-needed basis to develop or perfect new recipes, scale up production or get ready to launch their first product.

Esther Jiang has been using Food Starter’s training courses and incubator space to launch Gryllies, a line of high protein pasta sauces using cricket flour from Norwood, Ontario’s Entomo Farms.

Food Starter has been paramount to setting us up for success. In food, there are a lot of boxes to check and this is building that foundation to launch us for the market place,” she says. “Without Food Starter, everything would have taken 20 times longer and I don’t know that I would still be doing this if it wasn’t for their help.”

Food Starter’s seven accelerator units are available for longer-term use where clients can bring their own equipment into a dedicated space but still receive support and advice from Food Starter experts and fellow entrepreneurs.

Jaswant’s Kitchen is a family-run Indian spice blend company that co-owner Simi Kular says was ready for its own space to increase production and grow their business.

Food Starter has taught us what a food production facility entails, from food safety to pest control and Good Manufacturing Practices,” explains Simi. “And learning from the experts and the other businesses here is invaluable – the collaborative relationships make it fun to come to work every day.”

Correia says the ultimate goal is to have entrepreneurs outgrow their accelerator space and move into their own facilities – like Rob Fuller of The Duke Brothers. His cold-brew coffee business has taken off after less than a year with Food Starter and he’s ready to spread his wings.

“I had an idea but not a lot of direction or background. I learned a lot from Food Starter’s courses and being able to use the space here,” he explains. “Food Starter encourages you to grow, they understand your business, and I’ve had a quick growth curve from start to running a business thanks to their support.”

According to Correia, Food Starter meets a critical need for early stage training and support for new food businesses in Toronto, and space in the incubator is in demand.

“Our main focus is to develop business. We create jobs and we’ve already seen some of those results as companies here at Food Starter are hiring staff as they grow,” says Correia.

“We couldn’t develop this without the funding we’ve received. Food Starter is an amazing concept that gives a lot of benefit to new start-ups, and this facility wouldn’t be possible without that support,” he adds.
Published in Marketing
February 12, 2018, Kentville, NS – Perennia, a not-for-profit corporation in Nova Scotia that assists farmers, recently announced that Neslihan Ivit had joined its team as a wine quality specialist for a two-year term.

Her position is a unique collaboration between Acadia University and Perennia where she works from both locations directly with the industry to maximize the quality of the wines produced in Nova Scotia. 

Neslihan holds an MSc of viticulture and enology from Montpellier SupAgro, Bordeaux Science Agro and Universidad Politecnica de Madrid and a BSc in food engineering from Middle East Technical University. She has international winemaking experience, including California, Chile, France, Spain and Turkey.
Published in Companies
February 8, 2018, Lucky Lake, Sask – Some new life is being breathed into a massive potato facility once owned by the Saskatchewan government.

In the 1990s, the provincial government spent millions of dollars trying to develop the provincial potato industry before abandoning the plan completely.

Now, Vancouver-based United Greeneries plans to open a marijuana facility in a massive 60,000 square foot facility once owned by Spudco in Lucky Lake, roughly 130 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon. READ MORE
Published in Vegetables
February 7, 2018, Edmonton, Alta – Alberta's government will immediately boycott all imports of wines from British Columbia, Premier Rachel Notley announced Feb. 6, escalating the inter-provincial spat over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.

The province's tough stance follows B.C.'s call last week for further review of the oil-spill risk from the pipeline expansion, a move that could delay a project Alberta sees as vital to its economy. READ MORE
Published in Provinces
February 7, 2018, Victoria, BC – A pilot project that matches new farmers looking to get their start in B.C. agriculture with available fertile farmland in the Metro Vancouver area will kick off in 2018, thanks to a $25,000 investment from the governments of Canada and British Columbia.

The project is led by the Young Agrarians, in partnership with Farm Folk City Folk Society. This Metro Vancouver project builds on the success of a two-year pilot in partnership with the City of Surrey, and in collaboration with Quebec’s L’ARTERRE. It addresses a major challenge for new farmers – gaining access to expensive land in Southern B.C.

“My mandate includes getting more young people farming, and making sure that they have the land to farm on through projects like the Metro Vancouver land-matching project is an essential first step,” said Lana Popham, B.C. Minister of Agriculture. “Part of why we established Grow BC was to help young farmers access land. I believe strongly that agriculture has the potential to unlock prosperity throughout our entire province, and we need farmland and farmers to make that happen.”

The previous Surrey pilot matched new farmer Roger Woo with David Feldhaus, a local landowner. Woo, a former chef with a passion for local, organically grown and sustainably farmed produce, was just the type of person that Feldhaus was searching for when he was looking to expand agricultural activity on his farmland.

“I knew I wanted to farm in B.C., but I saw significant challenges to acquiring the appropriate farmland in the Lower Mainland,” said Woo. “Through the land-matching program, I’ve been able to find a supportive land owner who has agreed to let me farm his land. I came to this process with my farm dream, and have received step-by-step support to make it a reality.”

The land-matching project screens owners of underutilized land and farmers ready to start a business, and supports the parties in the development of legal contracts. The goal is to create seven to nine new farm operations in the region in 2018 with secure leasing agreements. 

“For years we have wanted to make a positive change with our farm,” said Feldhaus. “In a short time, the Young Agrarians were able to understand our needs and the goals that we had for our farm, and helped guide us through the land-matching process, matching us with a great young farmer. Seeing our fields blooming with row after row of organic vegetables is proof of the value provided by the land-matching program.”

“We are excited to see investment at all three levels of government in this program and the future of new and young farmers in B.C.,” said Sara Dent, Young Agrarians B.C. program manager. “Fifty per cent of farmers in Canada under 35 lease land. The prohibitive cost of farmland in southern B.C. means that we have to facilitate solutions to land access if we want to see a future generation farming the land.”
Published in Provinces
February 7, 2018, Kelowna, BC – There will be two candidates running for president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association when fruit growers gather for their annual general meeting in Kelowna February 15 and 16.

North Okanagan orchardist Jeet Dukhia and BCFGA vice-president Pinder Dhaliwal will bid to succeed current president Fred Steele, who has chosen to not seek re-election. READ MORE
Published in Associations
February 7, 2018, Kelowna, BC – Agriculture and food production contribute to the fabric of British Columbia in terms of food supply, economic activity and community strength.

The question is clear: How can B.C. continue to build its agriculture industry?

For the past two days, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham has been providing her vision to local leaders, and hearing their ideas on ways to ensure British Columbia has secure farmland and secure farmers in the future.

“Agriculture has a way of bringing people together and I have been sharing my exciting ideas to Grow BC, Feed BC and Buy BC,” Popham said. “However, when you walk into a room and a local legend like orchardist Fred Steele is there, it is time to listen. I want to thank Fred and all the growers in the Okanagan for their leadership and advice during my visit.”

The British Columbia government is building opportunities for the province’s tree-fruit sector with programs that will encourage new growers, and increase production and a higher consumption of B.C. tree-fruit products today and for future generations.

The tree-fruit replant program received another successful intake for the 2018 planting season. It is helping growers replace fruit trees with new, high-value and high-quality fruit, such as Ambrosia and Honeycrisp apples, as well as late-season cherries.

The replant program has been so popular that the B.C. government has provided an additional $300,000 in funding for fiscal year 2017-18, so even more growers can take part in the tree-fruit replant program.

“Whether it’s a freshly picked apple from an orchard in the Similkameen, tasty Oliver cherries, a fruity glass of award-winning Okanagan wine or a jar of local honey, agriculture is for everyone,” Popham said. “The Okanagan is a vital part of our food system and part of B.C.’s heritage, and I look forward to continuing to work with people in this region and building B.C. agriculture.”

British Columbia is Canada’s largest fruit producer, with over 296,000 tonnes of fruit valued at $397 million in 2016.
Published in Provinces
February 5, 2018, Ottawa, Ont – As communicated recently, the CanadaGAP manuals have been updated for 2018.

Version 7.1 of the Fruit and Vegetable and Greenhouse Manuals can now be found on the CanadaGAP website at http://www.canadagap.ca/manuals/downloads/.

Why are manuals updated?
  • To respond to user requests. CanadaGAP receives many requests each year asking us to clarify wording in the manual or the intent of the requirements. Most requests come directly from producers or from those working with producers (consultants, auditors, etc.) who need the expectations explained more clearly or who suggest ways to simplify the wording.
  • To maintain technical rigour of the program as science, industry, buyer, or government requirements change. There are still many unanswered questions in food safety research, and as the science progresses, technical requirements must keep pace. We are also in an environment of fast-paced change in food safety regulations both in Canada and internationally.
  • CanadaGAP is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Most major customers now require certification to a GFSI-recognized program. To maintain recognition, CanadaGAP must implement updates whenever GFSI makes changes to its requirements.
  • The CanadaGAP program has been reviewed for technical soundness by federal and provincial governments. To maintain our government reconition, CFIA requires that CanadaGAP review the manuals regularly and submit changes for approval by government.
  • CanadaGAP's Stakeholder Advisory Committee reviews all proposed changes and often brings forward suggestions of their own. They meet once a year to discuss requests for changes.
How do I update my manual?

As part of the CanadaGAP program, you are required to go through and update your manual each year to meet the requirements found in Section 24. The release of Version 7.1 is the optimal time to go through your manual to review its currency and to update it with the 2018 changes.

CanadaGAP has the following material available on the website to help you:
  • Outline of Main Changes to the CanadaGAP Manuals - an overview of the changes for 2018
  • Revisions document - shows changes from the previous version
Additionally, a PowerPoint Presentation of the Main Changes for 2018 is available on the website at http://www.canadagap.ca/publications/presentations/.

There are a number of ways to update your manual for 2018. You do NOT need to reprint the entire manual.
  1. Use the Outline of Main changes handout to get an over view of the changes. Determine which changes affect your operation (there may be few or none).
  2. When you have identified the changes that affect you, we encourage you to view the revisions document, as it provides the detailed wording.
  3. Reprint only the pages that contain changes that affect your operation. Print from the PDF version if you want a formatted, clean copy without the tracking.
  4. Insert any new pages into your existing manual, showing you have completed (checked off) any new procedures relevant to your operation.
  5. Go through each section, make updates as needed, and initial at the bottom to show that you have reviewed your manual.
  6. It is wise to reprint the entire Glossary,or at least print/review any changes to definitions. The terms that have been redefined are listed in the Outline of Main changes handout. Changes (usually clarifications) to terminology are important to understand, as they can impact how program requirements are met.
  7. On the title page of your manual, cross out last year's version number/date and write in "Version7.1 2018", or print a new title page.
Updating your CanadaGAP Forms for 2018
  • Find out which record-keeping templates (CanadaGAP Forms) have changed. These are identified on the Outline of Main changes handout.
  • There is a new Form (V) to accompany the new requirement in Section 2.
  • There are a few changes to other forms.
  • Some changes may not be applicable to your operation.
  • Determine whether the changes pertain to you.
  • Start using the new versions of the Forms.
Published in Associations
February 2, 2018, Summerland, BC – Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.’s third non-browning Arctic apple variety, Arctic Fuji, has been approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Health Canada (HC).

The CFIA and HC announced recently that the Arctic Fuji variety “did not pose a greater risk to human health than apples currently available on the Canadian market. In addition, Health Canada also concluded that the Arctic Fuji apple would have no impact on allergies, and that there are no differences in the nutritional value of the Arctic Fuji apple compared to other traditional apple varieties available for consumption."

Arctic Fuji trees will join the growing commercial orchards of Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny apples in spring 2018.

“Canadian approval of the non-browning Arctic Fuji is great news for our company and even more exciting for families looking to add another favorite apple variety to their healthy diets and lifestyles,” said Neal Carter, president of OSF. “There has been very strong interest from retailers as we launched our first product – fresh, preservative-free Arctic Golden slices – and we look forward to introducing additional Arctic non-browning varieties into Canada and U.S. markets soon.”

Arctic apples have a unique trait that prevents enzymatic browning even when apples are bitten, sliced, or bruised. Through biotechnology, the enzyme in apples responsible for browning has been turned off. The resulting non-browning advantage benefits every sector of the supply chain, reducing food waste and boosting product appeal.

“It’s an exciting time at OSF,” said Carter. “This latest announcement allows us to continue looking ahead toward providing new non-browning varieties and additional value-added fruits and vegetables. Arctic apples are just the beginning for OSF.”

The announcement follows approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) of the Arctic Fuji variety, granted September 23, 2016. Arctic apples will be available commercially in select U.S. cities this fall and in additional areas of North America over the coming years as fruit availability increases.
Published in Companies
I am envious of people who, at least from the outside, look like they have their life together and in order. They have a successful business but are not working 24/7/365 just to pay their bills. They take holidays at least once a year and maybe more often. They seem to be able to make a decision and go with it.
Published in Marketing
Love for asparagus is growing in the U.S., Canada and Europe, which is music to the ears of those at Asparagus Farmers of Ontario (AFO) and its offshoot seed firm, Fox Seeds.
Published in Marketing
Life was much simpler growing up during the 1970s and 1980s in rural Ontario. Well, I think it was. The rules were pretty straightforward – don’t steal, don’t lie, be home before dark, etc. You knew what was expected and what would happen if you didn’t meet those expectations.
Published in Marketing
January 18, 2018, Regina, Sask – Canadians are once again gearing up to celebrate their pride and passion for an industry that puts food on tables across this country and around the world every day.

Canada’s Agriculture Day will be held on Feb. 13 this year, marking the second annual celebration of the sector of the economy that employs one in eight Canadians – from farmers and their suppliers to food processors and retailers.

“It’s a time to showcase all of the amazing things happening in Canadian agriculture and help consumers see the connection to where their food comes from and the people who produce it,” said Candace Hill, manager of Agriculture More Than Ever, one of the driving forces behind Canada’s Agriculture Day.

The first-ever Canada’s Agriculture Day on Feb. 16, 2017 inspired hundreds of events across the country, opened doors to food conversations through social media and showcased the industry to young people who attended a day-long, event in Ottawa, alongside industry and political leaders.

“Canadian agriculture is an innovative, vibrant and forward-thinking industry, which plays a significant role in our economy,” said Lawrence MacAulay, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

“As Canadians, we can be proud that we produce among the safest, high-quality food for our country and the world,” MacAulay said. “Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector contributes over $110 billion to our economy and Canada’s Agriculture Day is an excellent opportunity to take stock of our success and celebrate.”

This year’s celebration promises even more events, social media conversations and will once again feature a roster of dynamic speakers in Ottawa geared to building a better understanding and appreciation of the industry, as well as inspiring young people to consider the career opportunities in agriculture and agri-food.

Bob McDonald, best-selling author and host of CBC’s Quirks and Quarks, will be one of the Ottawa event’s keynote speakers. He is able to provide meaning behind some of the more complex scientific issues we face on this planet.

“The future of agriculture depends on attracting youth, so we especially want to appeal to young people who are not always aware of the wide range of career opportunities in agriculture,” Hill said. “It’s all about celebrating this dynamic and growing industry while engaging in fun, respectful and informative dialogue.”

The key to successful Canada’s Agriculture Day starts with the participation of farmers, according to Crystal Mackay, president of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity. Their most recent survey showed Canadians consider farmers among the most credible sources of information when it comes to making informed decisions about their food.

“Farmers and the entire food system have a great story to tell which helps earn consumer trust and confidence in food,” Mackay said. “Consumers want to know more, and Canada’s Agriculture Day is a great way to start the conversation in person and on social media.”

Hill said to watch for events and activities happening in communities across Canada, including those sponsored by industry associations, businesses and Agriculture More Than Ever partners.

Individuals can also participate by making a meal for your family with all Canadian foods, snapping a farm or food photo and sharing it on social media using hashtags like #CdnAgDay and #FarmLife, or by giving back to their community by volunteering at the local food bank or soup kitchen.

For more ideas on how to celebrate Canada’s Agriculture Day or for a list of community events, visit AgDay.ca.
Published in Associations
January 17, 2018, Guelph, Ont – Vast amounts of data are being collected on Canada’s farms through the advent of precision agriculture technology and the Internet of Things (IOT).

Many types of tools, equipment and devices gather data on everything from crop yields to how many steps an animal takes in a day. However, much of that data is underutilized because it’s collected by systems that don’t or can’t communicate with each other.

The need for better decision-making on farms through better data use resulted in Ontario Precision Agri-Food (OPAF), a partnership of agricultural organizations led by Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT) that’s developing an open agri-food innovation platform to connect and share data.

The goal, according to lead director Dr. Karen Hand of Precision Strategic Solutions, is getting data, wherever it exists (both data repositories in industry or government and data generated by countless sensors) so it can be used to help advance important food production issues like food safety, traceability and plant and animal disease surveillance.

For example, information about the prevalence and control of insect pests like cutworms that damage soybean crops lies with many different people and organizations, including university and government researchers, crop advisors, input suppliers and farmers.

“There is no single spot where all of the information about a particular pest can be accessed in a robust, science-based system and used in decision-making and that’s where OPAF’s platform will help,” Hand said.

Pilot projects are underway with Ontario’s grain, dairy and poultry producers to identify their needs in areas like crop protection, sustainability and food safety and how OPAF can provide data-driven solutions to benefit farmers.

“We sit down with farmers, advisors, associations, government and researchers to find out what data they have, where they exist and if we were able to connect them, what value or benefit that would offer participants – either specific to the commodity they are producing or on larger food-related issues such as food safety or impact on trade,” she explains.

And OPAF’s efforts are gaining global recognition. Earlier this year, Internet of Food and Farm 2020, a large project in the European Union exploring the potential of IOT technologies of European food and farming, recognized OPAF as one of three global projects to collaborate with.

“This is going to be changing the face of data enablement in Canada and contributing globally,” said Tyler Whale of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies (OAFT). “We are creating a platform that is the base of something new, and although we are piloting this in Ontario, it will be available nationwide to those who want to use it.”

OPAF partners include OAFT, University of Guelph, University of Waterloo, Niagara College, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Livestock Research Innovation Corporation, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Farm Credit Canada, Ontario Agri-Business Association, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, and Golden Horseshoe Farm and Food Alliance.

This project was funded by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists with GF2 delivery in Ontario.
Published in Research
January 9, 2018, Morell, PEI – The federal government is supporting new automated processes at Green Meadow Farms to help increase productivity, allowing employees to focus their skills in other aspects of the business.

A repayable contribution of $155,141 – provided through ACOA’s Business Development Program – will help Green Meadows purchase and install new automated sorting and bagging equipment at its Morell farm. The technology upgrades will improve efficiency and productivity at the operation.

“At Green Meadow Farms, we are continuously looking for ways to update our operation to compete in the global marketplace,” said Anneke Polstra, one of the founders of Green Meadow Farms Inc. “With this repayable contribution from ACOA, we are able to invest in new packaging technology that will support the work of our staff and help us keep up with growing industry demand.”

Green Meadow Farms Inc. was established in 1993 by Anneke and Reitze Polstra, and is now managed by brothers, Terry and Thys Polstra. The 2,000 acre farm has more than 1,000 acres of potatoes and grain in production with up to 14 full-time and part-time employees.

“Nearly 25 years ago, the Polstra family moved to the Island and began a successful farm operation,” said Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay. “Hard work and a continued commitment to updating the technology in their processing facility has allowed them to remain competitive and to create employment in rural P.E.I. I applaud their successes and am pleased to show support for this latest investment.”

Published in Federal
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