Business/Policy
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.
Published in Associations
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.”
Published in Federal
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.
Published in Federal
September 12, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – On July 25 and 26, Quebec’s Apple Producers hosted the annual meeting of the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC)’s Canadian apple industry.

Representatives from the industry, from the Quebec and Canadian governments and from the other provinces increased their knowledge of Quebec’s apple industry.

The event, held in the Laurentians, was a huge success.

On July 25, networking among the members of the working group was undertaken in Mont-Tremblant. The crop estimate for each province was discussed. Crop volume for Nova Scotia should be similar to last year’s. Some Ontario producers faced hail that devastated a few orchards; in all, a slight drop in volume is predicted compared to 2016. A high volume of apples is predicted for British Columbia and the number of available Ambrosia is still increasing.

We also discussed the re-evaluation of Captan. Considerable action was taken following last year’s CHC survey of a number of Canadian apple producers. Recently, the various associations answered a second questionnaire from the PMRA in order to prepare arguments in favour of continuing its use in Canadian orchards.

It was proposed that a video be made on the international farm workers programs, stressing the importance of these workers for the horticultural industries of Quebec and Canada, and highlighting the program’s positive impact on the families of the workers. CHC needs funding to produce the video and is asking for the support of all those who can contribute financially.

The next day, members visited many apple-producing and agribusiness sites. Many presentations were made. Here are the details:

The Cataphard Orchards
  • Sexual Confusion, presented by Daniel Cormier, researcher at the IRDA
  • The Apple of Tomorrow, presented by Roland Joanin and Philippe Quinn
Marc Vincent Warehouse
  • The Agropomme Club, presented by Marilyn Courchesne
  • Storex Industries, presented by Chris Treville
Coeur de pomme Orchard
  • Apple Network and a group of experts, presented by Gérald Chouinard, researcher at the IRDA
  • Double grafting, harvester and weather station, presented by Éric St-Denis
Rochon et Frères Farm
  • SALSA handling concept and staking, presented by Éric Rochon
Thanks to Éric Rochon who organized the day in expert fashion, and to QAP employees and regional administrators who helped plan the day. Of course, an event such as this could not have been held without the generous contribution of our partners. We sincerely wish to thank them for having contributed to the success of the meeting.
Published in Associations
While most young men in the early 1900s were likely dreaming about driving a Model-T Ford, Norman M. Bartlett was thinking in an inventive way.

Living in Beamsville, Ontario – the heart of the Niagara Peninsula – had a strong influence on the direction of his thinking. The Niagara Peninsula has possibly the most unique combination of fertile soil types, climatic conditions and access to local markets in Canada.

It is also interesting to note that even at the turn of the century, the consumer was recognizing quality and placing demands on the growers to improve produce quality. This interest in quality plus quite possibly the fact that the major variety of pears grown in this area was (and still is) the Bartlett pear, (an interesting coincidence), were most probably the factors that strongly influenced Norman M. Bartlett’s life in 1912. During that year, he began manufacturing lime sulphur in a 40-inch cast iron kettle and thereby established Bartlett Spray Works. His product was excellent by 1912 standards, and Bartlett gained notoriety with this product as it helped to produce the quality crops the consumer desired. It was not long before other products were added to his list of crop protection materials and demand was spreading into the other fruit and vegetable growing areas of Ontario. Quality and service were synonymous from the very beginning.

Bartlett was a fruit grower as well during this time. The Bartlett farm on Bartlett Side Road in Beamsville consisted of a mixture of apples, grapes and pears – mostly Bartlett pears, of course. A grass-rooted involvement and extreme interest in trying to solve problems and find answers that were sound and profitable to not only Bartlett Spray Works, but to the growers he was serving then evolved. This would become the cornerstone of the foundation that N.M. Bartlett Inc. would still be building on some three generations and more than 80 years later.

Over the next quarter-century, Bartlett Spray Works continued to grow in both product range and geographical coverage. Products such as Paris Green, Bluestone (Copper Sulphate), Microfine Wettable Sulphur, Calcium Arsenate, Nicotine Sulphate, and Arsenate of Lead, to name but a few, were found under the Bartlett label. By this time, Bartlett had designed and built his own hammer mill and cyclone separator to be able to produce the finest ground sulphur in North America.

Bartlett Microfine Sulphur was known to growers as the best available. Soon word spread to other industries and Bartlett Microfine Sulphur was used extensively in the manufacture of rubber and explosives in Eastern Canada by companies such as Firestone, Uniroyal, CIL, and Dupont. When the use of dusts became the newest application method during the 1950s, Bartlett Spray Works met the challenge to produce quality products. The grind mill became instrumental in producing high quality superfine dusts.

The involvement of other Bartlett family members was also critical to the success of the company, which was incorporated in 1951 and renamed N.M. Bartlett Manufacturing Company. The three Bartlett children – Evelynne, Jim and George – all were involved in the family business. The children first helped out on the farm and, when old enough, became active in the spray works. George and his future brother-in-law, Hec Little, directed a staff of six involved in production, Evelynne managed the office and billing, and Jim looked after deliveries of the product, which included deliveries to the province of Quebec by the 1940s.

From the beginning, Norman had an inventive mind and enjoyed challenges. Therefore, it was not surprising that he designed and built fruit grading and sorting equipment as early as 1930. The Bartlett equipment set a world standard for excellence of handling fruit and vegetables. In fact, during the 1950s and 1960s, Bartlett equipment was built for growers in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Israel, France, and United States as well as Canada.

In Canada, this equipment introduced the Bartlett name into other areas of the country. Bartlett equipment and the Bartlett reputation became know to all fruit and vegetable growers from coast to coast. All of these additions to the Bartlett line complemented the crop protection products, which remained the mainstay of the overall business.

Jim Bartlett took over the leadership of the company in the late 1950s when his father, Norman, suffered a stroke. After a full and eventful life with many credits to his name, Norman passed away in 1970 at the age of 77.

During the late 1960s and 1970s, the next generation of the Bartlett family became involved. The company name changed to N.M. Bartlett Inc. during the late 1970s and growth through service and commitment remained strong. The leadership provided by Jim to the company blossomed out into the industry.

Jim spent considerable time and effort working for effective policy. He advocated tirelessly on behalf of the industry to the federal government on issues of cross border importation. He championed the first minor use registration of pesticides program in Canada in 1977 to help keep Canadian horticultural growers competitive. And he was an early promoter of the need for federal help to bring new crop protection products to the small acre crops that make up the diverse horticulture industry in Canada.

Jim served as chair of the national organization now known as CropLife Canada and was involved in the creation of the CropLife Ontario Council – working to balance the interests of the industry with the interests of society.

He was an active member of a group that brought the first Ontario horticultural conference in Toronto. Today, that annual event is known as the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention and Jim’s grandson, Matt Peters, has served as its president. He’s one of eight grandchildren that represent the fourth generation in the Bartlett family business.

Jim continued to be actively involved in all the aspects of the business until 1981, when he had a severe heart attack. At that time, his brother-in-law, Hec Little, son-in-law Don Peters, and son, Craig Bartlett, became the management nucleus with Jim serving as a semi-retired advisor. This management team oversaw a broadening sales force of 13 across Canada and continued successfully through the 1980s. When Jim retired in 1987, he was elected as Chairman of the Board, and his son, Craig Bartlett, became president of the company.

Jim passed away in 2011, one year shy of the business celebrating 100 years. He was conducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame in November 2016, recognized as a visionary, passionate advocate and respected voice in Canadian agriculture. He left behind a lasting legacy in a family business that continues to have a positive impact on Canadian horticulture.

The values set out by Norman and Jim have been carried forward in the third and fourth generation’s business goals and commitments. Service and dedication to the horticultural industry in Canada is still first and foremost.

In the words of Craig Bartlett: “We at N.M. Bartlett Inc. are proud of the heritage and values that the first two generations established, and the company looks forward to a future where we will continue to apply these time-tested values.”

Norman Bartlett himself would have been proud of the accomplishments to date of the little, privately-owned family business he started 105 years ago.
Published in Companies
September 7, 2017, Niagara, Ont – The Grape Growers of Ontario, Wine Council of Ontario and Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario have successfully negotiated a grape price agreement for the 2017 harvest.

This agreement recognizes the various price categories within the industry, and includes an important proviso for both processors and producers to actively participate in developing a sustainable industry wide plan following harvest.  

“The constant in our industry is the consistent grape quality our growers produce every year to make 100 per cent Ontario grown wine,” said Matthias Oppenlaender, chair of the GGO. “This agreement recognizes that growers, with their wine partners, can work together to collectively build and strengthen our grape and wine industry’s future.”

WGAO members purchase some 85 per cent of the grapes grown by independent farmers in Ontario for VQA and International Canadian Blend (ICB) wines, and we are very pleased that grape growers and processors have arrived at an agreement for grape prices in 2017,” stated Del Rollo, chair of the WGAO.

“I’m pleased we were able to reach an agreement on grape pricing for the 2017 harvest,” said Len Pennachetti, chair of the WCO. “The agreement provides price certainty, which will help wineries plan and potentially grow their businesses.”

Ontario’s grape and wine industry is a significant economic driver to the provincial economy which contributes over $4.4 billion economic impact through jobs, tourism and taxes, particularly in the province’s designated viticulture areas: Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County, Lake Erie North Shore, and the emerging South Coast region.
Published in Marketing
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 improvements

The 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 funding

The 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 popularity

Grape 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 Line

Wine grape growers continue to invest in improvements to their production.
Published in Provinces
August 18, 2017, Vancouver, British Columbia – The governments of Canada and British Columbia are working under the AgriRecovery disaster framework to determine the type of assistance that may be required by British Columbia’s agriculture sector to recover from the impact of wildfires.

The announcement was made following the first meeting between Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay and B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.

Government officials are working together to quickly assess the extraordinary costs farmers are incurring and what additional assistance may be required to recover and return to production following the wildfires.

The types of costs under consideration include:
  • Costs related to ensuring animal health and safety.
  • Feed, shelter and transportation costs.
  • Costs to re-establish perennial crop and pasture production damaged by fire.
"Our Government stands with producers in British Columbia who are facing challenges and hardships because of these wildfires. Together, with our provincial counterparts, we will work closely with affected producers to assess the full scope of their needs and help them get back in business as quickly as possible," Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said. 
Published in Business & Policy
August 18, 2017 - The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) recently held an AgriWorkforce Roundtable to discuss challenges and possible solutions to address the critical agricultural labour shortage in Canada.

Participants included primary producers, processors, retailers, policy makers and academics – all putting their heads together to come up with new solutions to what is becoming a persistent problem; how do you attract and retain farm workers?

Marc Smith, retired Assistant Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva and Senior Extension Associate opened the discussion with an international perspective on shared agricultural labour challenges among the United States and Canada.

Smith started off by identifying several trends in the U.S. agricultural labour climate:
• Regardless of government policy, people seeking employment in agriculture will be scarce.
• Economic and other motivations to develop and adopt labour-saving technologies are growing.
• Political and economic pressures will force minimal wages higher in many states.
• Perception of agriculture as an unattractive field for careers is a perennial challenge.

The consequences of these U.S. agricultural labour trends has resulted in a 20 per cent decline in available agricultural workers between 2002-14; an annual loss of US $3.1B to fruit and vegetable production due to labour shortages; and a declining U.S.-born population willing to work on farms.

In Canada the gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. This was a key finding of Labour Market Information (LMI) research by CAHRC entitled Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future. The LMI research also revealed that Canadian primary agriculture had the highest industry job vacancy rate at seven per cent - higher than any other industry in Canada. This resulted in $1.5-billion in lost sales.

Poor worker compensation is often cited as the primary reason for low interest in working on farms. However, Smith notes that agricultural wages in the U.S. have gone up faster than any other sector in the past 10 years with the median wage being $13.23/hr ($17.76 Cdn) as of April 2017. In Canada, farm hourly rates averaged $17.50/hr in 2016.

Smith advocates that wages alone are not the issue but rather what is needed is a coordinated effort to improve labour policy, on-farm workforce needs, and farm practices.
Smith suggests that farmers need to develop realistic policies that attract and retain workers. Investment in leadership and management capacity within the agricultural industry is also needed to encourage innovation, research and development for long-term solutions to the already critical agricultural workforce.

It is not enough to simply pay required wages and comply with regulations. Employee compensation should also include how workers are treated and have their needs accommodated such as providing housing, access to the internet, transportation, communications in their own language, offering English as a second language training, job training, flexible hours, and creating a sense of community. It is important to make workers feel welcomed, valued and confident.

Finally, modifying farm practices to reduce the need for labour is another way to reduce on-farm workforce pressures. This may include adopting new technology that negates the need for human workers, changing crop mixes to less labour intensive commodities, or moving production operations to streamline efficiency.

To help attract and retain a motivated workforce, CAHRC has developed several tools to help farm managers including: AgriSkills – customizable and commodity specific on-farm training programs; Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business; and Agri Pathways – promoting careers in agriculture. For more information on these and other CAHRC offerings visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.

In the meantime, Smith says producers should champion farmers that are doing a great job with their workers and get the word out that agriculture is a rewarding and fulfilling career with a strong future.
Published in Business & Policy
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.”
Published in Federal
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.
Published in Provinces
August 17, 2017, Ontario - The Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG) and the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processors Association (OF&VPA) are continuing with a bursary fund to support and encourage individuals pursuing a career in any aspect of the processing vegetable industry.

These organizations are working together to ensure that there are new individuals who will have the interest, skills and abilities to further develop and grow this sector of Ontario’s agri-food
economy.

Sponsor donations allow the OPVG and the OF&VPA to offer up to five bursaries to students this fall. These include bursaries in memory of former OPVG directors Jim Whitson and Ken Epp. Note that the Jim Whitson bursary is awarded to a student attending Ridgetown College. The award in memory of Ken Epp receives an additional $1,000 from the fund established in his name by the OPVG. Applicants must be a resident of Ontario and registered as a full-time student at any college or university entering the second, third, fourth or post graduate year of study which relates in some aspect to the processing vegetable industry.

If you require further information regarding the bursaries, please contact:
Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers at 519-681-1875.
The Bursary Application Form is available at www.opvg.org or on request from the OPVG office (519-681-1875). Applications must be submitted no later than October 15th and will be received by regular mail at 435 Consortium Court, London, ON N6E 2S8, by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or fax (519) 685-5719 and can also be submitted online at www.opvg.org/opvg-bursary/.
Published in Associations
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
Published in Food Safety
August 15, 2017 - The PMRA have proposed to cancel the registration of both lambda-cyhalothrin (Matador/Silencer/Warrior) and phosmet (Imidan).

The decisions can be found here:

Lambda-cyhalothrin – https://onvegetables.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/cyhalothrinlambdaprvd2017-03.pdf
Phosmet – https://onvegetables.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/phosmetprvd2017-07.pdf

The decisions state that lambda-cyhalothrin poses an unacceptable risk from dietary exposure (worst case scenario cumulative food residues would be too high), while phosmet poses a risk during application and post-application activities. The proposed precautions such as revised restricted entry intervals would not be agronomically feasible (e.g. 12 day REI for scouting carrots, 43 days for moving irrigation pipe).

Public consultation is now open until September 23 (lambda-cyhalothrin) or September 30 (phosmet) so if growers wish to make comments on these proposed decisions you can submit them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or talk to your growers’ association who can comment on your behalf.
Published in Chemicals
August 14, 2017, Morgan Hill, Cali. – We are pleased to announce the promotion of John Nelson as Vice President of Sakata America Holding Company and its primary operating subsidiary of Sakata Seed America, effective September 1st. John is currently the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at Sakata Seed America, a position he’s held since 2004.

“I am truly looking forward to the next phase of my career. This industry has a lot to offer globally and Sakata will continue to be a major contributor to the well-being of our distributors, growers and consumers.” says Nelson.

John is a long-standing industry vet, beginning his career in 1985 at Northrup King in Gilroy, California, where he spent nearly five years in the marketing department.

In November 1990, John joined Sakata Seed America to manage advertising for vegetables and ornamentals. Over the years, as John’s involvement grew into the sales arena, his focus shifted to vegetables. In 2004, John took on the responsibility of director of sales and marketing for Sakata.

“John’s experience will help strengthen the Sakata team and add value to Sakata’s affiliates all over the world”, says Dave Armstrong, President-CEO of Sakata Seed America. “John brings a deep understanding of Sakata’s culture and expansive product line to his new executive position, ensuring he will be a crucial asset to our company’s strategy.”

Sakata is actively recruiting to fill the position of senior sales-marketing manager, vegetables.

Sakata Seed America, which celebrates its 40th year of business in NAFTA and Central America this year, is focused on expansion of personnel and infrastructure to continue successful growth.
Published in Companies
August 10, 2017, Leamington, Ont – Joe Sbrocchi will assume the general manager role at the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), effective Sept 18th, 2017.

Sbrocchi has been active in a number of roles in the greenhouse sector for the last eight years. Previously, he has held management roles with national retailers like Sobeys and Walmart providing a solid body of work throughout the entire value chain.

“We are pleased to have a quality leader join the OGVG at a point where his experience, skills and leadership can significantly support our sector”, said George Gilvesy, OGVG chair.

“I believe my lifetime in produce and in particular the past eight years in the greenhouse sector have prepared me well for this role,” said Sbrocchi. “I am looking forward to representing Ontario greenhouse growers to the very best of my abilities.”
Published in Associations
August 10, 2017, Morgan Hill, CA – Next week, Sakata Seed America will host its annual California Field Days in Salinas [August 14-16] and Woodland [August 16-18], Calif.

This will be the 31st year Sakata has hosted the event, which continues to grow every year.

“We began hosting these trials in the small field in Salinas back in 1986,” said John Nelson, sales and marketing director with the company. “Since, it’s continues to expand with our growing infrastructure and has become our largest vegetable event of the year, showcasing the best of Sakata’s genetics and serving host to our customers, media, retail and more. We look forward to celebrating 40 years of business in NAFTA at this year’s trials.”

Those attending Sakata’s field days this year will see a few new modifications. Most notably, it will be the inaugural year Sakata will host its Woodland (warm-season crops – melon, onion, pepper, tomato, pumpkin, squash, watermelon) trials at the new Woodland Research Station; an investment in land, greenhouses, offices and other facilities slated for completion of the first phases in 2018. To learn more about Sakata’s Woodland development, check out the 40th Anniversary video.

In Salinas (cool-season crops – broccoli, beet, spinach, etc.) trials, customers will be greeted with an updated Broccoli Master. This information-rich piece of literature serves as the ultimate reference guide for all things Sakata broccoli, including ideal varieties for every growing region and other important information for successful broccoli cultivation.

“This will be the third generation of our Broccoli Master, and it has always been well-used by our dealers and growers alike,” said Matt Linder, senior broccoli product manager and Salinas Valley area sales manager. “It contains all the great information you need on our varieties right at your fingertips, and is heavy-duty enough to be kept in your truck or pocket when in the field. It’s been a few years since we’ve had an updated version, so we’re excited to include some great new additions we’ve recently added to our broccoli line, such as Millennium, Diamante, Eastern Magic, Eastern Crown and Emerald Star.”

For a digital copy, visit Sakata’s website; physical copies will be debuted at next week’s trials, and available for direct mail thereafter.
Published in Research
August 9, 2017, Charlottetown, PEI – Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay recently opened the first regional engagement in Charlottetown, PEI, as part of the ongoing consultations regarding the development A Food Policy for Canada.

“Today’s session marks the continuation of the important, in-depth conversation we are having about A Food Policy for Canada,” he said. “The decisions we make as a government, and as individuals, about food have a major impact on not only our health and well-being, but on our environment, our communities, and our economy. Conversations like the one we are having today are vital to ensuring the food choices we make are the right ones, while ensuring we meet the growing world demand for high quality foods produced by our farmers and ranchers.”

The session, which includes stakeholders, Indigenous representatives, experts, and key policy makers, is the first in a series being held across the country over the next two months.

Public consultations on A Food Policy for Canada were launched on May 29, 2017, via an online survey. Due to a strong response from across the country, the comment period for the online survey was recently extended to August 31, 2017. A Food Policy Summit also took place in June that brought together more than 250 participants with diverse expertise and experience to discuss a broad range of food-related issues, related to:
  • increasing access to affordable food;
  • improving health and food safety;
  • conserving our soil, water, and air; and
  • growing more high-quality food.
Published in Federal
August 8, 2017, Wallaceburg, Ont – In the midst of uncertainty about the structure of their organization, Ontario processing vegetable growers recently received a strong show of support from all three general farm organizations in Ontario.

Ontario’s three provincial farm organizations came together to pen a joint letter to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission in support of the issues raised by the Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance.

“The Alliance represents farmers who grow 14 different types of processing vegetables in the province who are concerned about proposed changes to Regulation 441 that would dramatically reduce grassroots representation for our sector,” said Francis Dobbelaar, chair of the Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance. “We are truly grateful for the tremendous support shown to our group by these three leading organizations.”

Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, the National Farmers Union – Ontario, and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture represent the majority of Ontario farmers, including the approximately 400 processing vegetable growers. In their letter to the commission, which discussed proposed changes to Regulation 441/400, the groups call on the commission to consult directly with processing vegetable growers regarding any proposed governance changes that would impact the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers  organization.

“The goal of the Alliance is to restore a fully grower elected OPVG board with the authority to negotiate prices, terms, conditions and contracts for Ontario’s processing vegetable growers,” said Dobbelaar. “We are anxious to get on with the innovative plans we had in the works before the commission dismissed the OPVG board and senior staff – including establishing industry advisory and market development committees. We welcome innovation and change that will help strengthen and sustain our industry with profitability for both growers and processors.”
Published in Associations
August 4, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) recently held an AgriWorkforce Roundtable to discuss challenges and possible solutions to address the critical agricultural labour shortage in Canada.

Participants included primary producers, processors, retailers, policy makers and academics – all putting their heads together to come up with new solutions to what is becoming a persistent problem; how do you attract and retain farm workers?

Marc Smith, retired assistant director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, and senior Extension associate, opened the discussion with an international perspective on shared agricultural labour challenges among the United States and Canada.

Smith started off by identifying several trends in the U.S. agricultural labour climate:
  • Regardless of government policy, people seeking employment in agriculture will be scarce.
  • Economic and other motivations to develop and adopt labour-saving technologies are growing.
  • Political and economic pressures will force minimal wages higher in many states.
  • Perception of agriculture as an unattractive field for careers is a perennial challenge.
The consequences of these U.S. agricultural labour trends has resulted in a 20 per cent decline in available agricultural workers between 2002-14; an annual loss of $3.1B [US] to fruit and vegetable production due to labour shortages; and a declining U.S.-born population willing to work on farms.

In Canada, the gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. This was a key finding of Labour Market Information (LMI) research by CAHRC entitled Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future. The LMI research also revealed that Canadian primary agriculture had the highest industry job vacancy rate at seven per cent – higher than any other industry in Canada. This resulted in $1.5-billion in lost sales.

Poor worker compensation is often cited as the primary reason for low interest in working on farms. However, Smith notes that agricultural wages in the U.S. have gone up faster than any other sector in the past 10 years with the median wage being $13.23/hr ($17.76 CDN) as of April 2017. In Canada, farm hourly rates averaged $17.50/hr in 2016.

Smith advocates that wages alone are not the issue but rather what is needed is a coordinated effort to improve labour policy, on-farm workforce needs, and farm practices.

Smith suggests that farmers need to develop realistic policies that attract and retain workers. Investment in leadership and management capacity within the agricultural industry is also needed to encourage innovation, research and development for long-term solutions to the already critical agricultural workforce.

It is not enough to simply pay required wages and comply with regulations. Employee compensation should also include how workers are treated and have their needs accommodated such as providing housing, access to the internet, transportation, communications in their own language, offering English as a second language training, job training, flexible hours, and creating a sense of community. It is important to make workers feel welcomed, valued and confident.

Finally, modifying farm practices to reduce the need for labour is another way to reduce on-farm workforce pressures. This may include adopting new technology that negates the need for human workers, changing crop mixes to less labour intensive commodities, or moving production operations to streamline efficiency.

To help attract and retain a motivated workforce, CAHRC has developed several tools to help farm managers including: AgriSkills – customizable and commodity specific on-farm training programs; Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business; and Agri Pathways – promoting careers in agriculture. For more information on these and other CAHRC offerings visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.

In the meantime, Smith says producers should champion farmers that are doing a great job with their workers and get the word out that agriculture is a rewarding and fulfilling career with a strong future.
Published in Federal

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