Business/Policy
February 28, 2018, Toronto, Ont – Ontario’s new minimum wage is affecting the city’s entire food industry.

On Jan. 1 the province’s minimum wage rose to $14 an hour, after increasing to $11.25 an hour last April. READ MORE
Published in Provinces
February 26, 2018, Osoyoos, BC – Pinder Dhaliwal always knew that the farm was his home no matter what career he chose to follow.

And that’s exactly what the new president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association fell back on after exploring several jobs in his youth.

The 48-year-old farmer from Oliver was recently elected to take over the helm of the BCFGA after former president Fred Steele stepped down. READ MORE
Published in Associations
February 23, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – Apple and lavender grower Harold Schooley and crop protection specialist Craig Hunter are the winners of the 2018 Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) Industry Award of Merit.

It’s the first time in the organization’s history that two winners were selected in the same year. The awards were presented recently at the OFVGA annual banquet in Niagara Falls.

Schooley has farmed in Norfolk County since the mid-1970s, growing apples and more recently adding lavender production to his family’s operation. He joined the OFVGA board of directors as chair of the research section in 2004, a role he has held until the section was retired this year.

“Growers rely on research to help advance the industry and we appreciate Harold’s many years of service on our behalf to ensure we get the research we need to grow our markets and maintain our competitiveness,” says Jan VanderHout, OFVGA chair. “Harold’s insights and expertise have been valued additions, both to our board table and to the fruit and vegetable industry as a whole.”

During his tenure as research section chair, Schooley reviewed hundreds of research proposals for industry relevance, attended countless research-related meetings and events, and represented the grower viewpoint during research priority setting exercises. He is a board member and past chair of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, an active member of the Norfolk Fruit Growers, and was previously involved with the now-defunct Ontario Apple Marketing Commission.

Schooley is also a past recipient of the Golden Apple Award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to the apple industry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and a Masters’ in Plant Pathology, both from the University of Guelph, and lives with his wife Jan on their third generation family orchard near Simcoe.

Hunter has dedicated his career to crop protection, spending 30 years with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) before joining the OFVGA to work on behalf of horticulture growers and becoming an industry-renowned expert in the process.

“As growers we’ve been very fortunate to have Craig’s skills and expertise at our disposal to help ensure access to new crop protection materials and keep old ones available,” says Charles Stevens, OFVGA crop protection chair. “He is a valued and respected resource in global crop protection circles and his efforts on behalf of growers have been invaluable to our industry.”

Hunter helped establish the Pest Management Centre in 2003, Canada’s hub for improving access to newer, safer pesticides as well as promoting novel production practices that reduce agriculture’s reliance on pesticides, and was also instrumental in helping start the Ontario Pesticide Education Program more than 30 years ago.

He’s the longest serving member of the provincial Ontario Pesticide Advisory Committee, chairs the national Minor Use Priority Setting meetings, and is a driving force behind the Global Minor Use Summits that are working towards global registration for crop protection products. Hunter lives in Simcoe with his wife, Jane, and is a graduate of the University of Guelph, holding a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Masters’ in Environmental Biology.

The OFVGA Award of Merit is presented annually to an individual or an organization that has made outstanding contributions to the fruit and vegetable industry.
Published in Associations
February 23, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – The chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association expects labour, energy and trade to be the discussion points this year in the horticulture industry.

The association held its annual general meeting in Niagara Falls this week.

And greenhouse vegetable grower Jan VanderHout will serve another one-year term as chair of the OFVGA. READ MORE
Published in Associations
February 22, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – The Canadian Government recently announced an investment of more than $175,000 to the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) in providing services to Canadian buyers and sellers of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The announcement was made during the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Niagara Falls.

The DRC, which acts as a third party financial dispute resolution body for fruit and vegetable growers, received an investment of $118,795 to deliver an outreach and education initiative on the impending Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and regulations. An additional $58,807 was provided under the same program to support the industry to initiate work toward updating the Canadian grade standards for fresh fruits and vegetables in order to reflect current market and consumer preferences.

"We are very pleased the Government of Canada has provided support to the fruit and vegetable sector for the DRC’s role in the trade and commerce portion of the SFCA as well as modernization of the Grade Standards Compendium for fresh fruit and vegetables,” said Fred Webber, president and CEO of the DRC. “The playing field will be truly leveled when everyone knows the rights and responsibilities associated with the proposed regulatory requirement for a DRC membership. Furthermore, the grade standards play an essential role in evaluating and resolving grade and condition disputes fairly and efficiently.”

"This investment will help provide clarity and confidence to farmers across Canada and ensure Canada continues to produce the same high quality fruit and vegetables to Canadians and the world," added Rebecca Lee, executive director of the Canadian Horticultural Council.
Published in Federal
February 20, 2018, Kelowna, BC – B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham offered some hope of relief for Okanagan fruit growers concerning the minimum wage increases.

Popham said she has heard “loud and clear” about the concerns of the minimum wage being increased beyond $15/hour as of June 2021. READ MORE
Published in Provinces
February 20, 2018, Victoria, BC – Apple, cherry and other tree fruit growers throughout the province will be able to update aging equipment and infrastructure while increasing their marketing and research efforts thanks to a new $5-million Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund announced recently at the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association annual general meeting.

The fund will be open to tree fruit growers, producers, and processors to support three key areas of priority:
  • Research: cultivar, disease and pest research.
  • Marketing: export market opportunities and market development research.
  • Infrastructure: sector-based infrastructure modernization such as new equipment.
“This funding is so important to the future of our industry,” said Fred Steele, outgoing president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association. “We need help controlling new invasive pests like the brown marmorated stinkbug, and marketing is an area where we need to invest in new varieties.”

“This funding will also help with our very successful replant program. This investment, at a time when we are challenged in the marketplace, will ensure that we continue to make progress that leads to a bright future for the tree fruit sector.”

Portions of the fund can also be used to address any oversubscription of the B.C. government’s Tree Fruit Replant Program over the next four years. This year, the province provided an additional $300,000 in funding for the replant program, to meet the demand from tree fruit growers.

“This fund will help family-run orchards and the sector as a whole with advancements that make B.C. tree fruit more competitive in the marketplace,” said Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. “The $5-million investment reflects this government’s commitment to partner with B.C. growers to help modernize their practices, and help them share their great-tasting apples, cherries and other fruits, with more customers here at home and around the world.”

The B.C. government will be engaging with the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association and other partners to set up the fund and establish the process for awarding funding. It is anticipated the fund will be active for the next three to four years.
Published in Provinces
February 20, 2018, Kelowna, BC – It’s not something politicians like to talk about but Okanagan fruit growers say it’s something that needs to be addressed.

The B.C. Fruit Growers Association says it’s time governments begin talking about the possibility of a deer cull because the deer are destroying their orchards. READ MORE
Published in Associations
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
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

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