Canada

April 20, 2012, Charlottetown, PEI – P.E.I.’s potato industry has nothing to fear from Ottawa’s decision to stop providing a spray-down service for vehicles at the Newfoundland ferry terminals, says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

Last week, Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials confirmed the service would end, eliminating six CFIA jobs at the ferry terminal in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. CFIA officials will, however continue inspecting vehicles, just not rinsing them, Ritz said. READ MORE

Published in Associations

Apr. 18, 2012 - The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) will distribute approximately $250,000 for agricultural safety and health initiatives across Canada this year under the Canadian Agricultural Safety and Health Program (CASHP).  The closing date for CASHP applications is Friday, April 27, 2012.

CASA’s executive director Marcel Hacault says this year’s focus will be on funding projects that develop new farm safety resources to support the Canada FarmSafe Plan. “We’ll especially be looking for proposals that promise to deliver educational resources for health and safety training across the country.”

The independent team that chooses projects to receive CASHP funds will also consider projects that:

  • develop provincial or territorial safety organizations to champion ag safety and health initiatives;
  • transfer knowledge in engineering, education, health and social behavior via a practical resource for producers;
  • develop activities to support the annual Canadian Agricultural Safety Week regionally and nationally.

CASHP is funded nationally by the federal-provincial-territorial Growing Forward initiative.

Individuals, partnerships, organizations and associations, universities, colleges, co-operatives, marketing boards, aboriginal groups, non-profit organizations including industry-led councils, and non-government and government corporations including provincial Crown corporations and municipal governments are considered eligible recipients for funding under the program.

Download the application forms at http://www.casa-acsa.ca/project-grants or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to request a form. Call 1-877-452-2272 with questions about the forms or the program.

For a list of CASHP projects supported in 2011-12, go to http://www.casa-acsa.ca/project-grants

Published in Federal

April 18, 2012, Saskatoon, Sask – The federal government recently announced a $200,000 investment for new equipment to provide additional processing options for fruit growers and clients of the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre.

The investment will expand the food centre’s capacity to process small fruit and extract juice from raw mash. Local fruit processors and food producers will now be able to develop new product lines from this refining process.

Saskatchewan’s fruit growers have reached production capacity on current product lines (jams, pies and syrups). This new equipment will allow fruit processors to affordably produce condensed liquid in volume for commercial use and develop snacks and/or juices.

"This investment will allow the food centre to purchase equipment to commercially extract and purify juice from Saskatchewan grown fruits,” said Muriel Garven, chairperson of the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre. “The equipment includes a Bucher Vasilin juice press and auxiliary equipment to purify the juice for use in value added products.”

“There is identified demand for juice, concentrates and powders derived from Saskatchewan fruits. Fruit growers and processors will benefit from the food centre’s increased capacity to assist in exploring new opportunities in the ingredient and health markets."

Published in Federal

April 17, 2012, Hillier, Ont – An Ontario wine company is expanding its customer base and potential for export sales thanks to a $42,000 boost from Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

The investment was announced at Hinterland Wine Company Ltd. and will be put toward the purchase and installation of new sparkling wine processing equipment at its facility in Hillier, Ont.

The new equipment will provide Hinterland with product quality control, enhanced wine flavour, and shorter production times, helping the company to increase its sales and better meet customer demand. This in turn will boost the demand for Canadian-sourced grapes, supporting local farmers.

“We are thrilled to have received the API investment, enabling us to purchase highly specialized sparkling wine equipment,” said Vicki Samaras, president, Hinterland Wine. “As a small family-run business, this program allows us to focus on growth while continuing to specialize in what we believe to be a world-class product.”

This repayable contribution is being delivered by the Agricultural Flexibility Fund (AgriFlexibility) through the AgriProcessing Initiative, a five-year, up to $50-million initiative designed to enhance the competitiveness of the agri-processing sector in Canada. It provides support to existing companies for projects that involve the adoption of innovative and new-to-company manufacturing technologies and processes that are essential to sustaining and improving the sector’s position in today’s global marketplace. For more information on this program, visit www.agr.gc.ca/api.

Published in Federal

Welcome to the new portal for the Annex Business Media agriculture magazines. The goal of this site is to provide the reader with a one-stop multimedia platform for their agriculture interests, whether it is Top Crop Manager, Canadian Poultry, Manure Manager, Fruit & Vegetable or AgroBiomass.

Over the past few weeks, we at Annex have been rolling out new features on the website, and will be continuing to make changes over the next few months to service you and the content.

Multiple times a week, new content will be added to each of the websites under the Ag Annex banner, which will vary from videos to news bulletins and features, all of which will be accessible on the main page. Or, if you want to only view items for a particular magazine and topic, use the tags that pop up on the navigation bar to help guide you to the content you would like.

If there is something you like or even dislike about the site, please feel free to leave a comment at the end of an article or email David Manly, the web editor, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

And for all the news, please be sure to follow our new @AgAnnex twitter account, as well as the accounts for all our magazines:

Canadian Poultry - @canadianpoultry

Manure Manager - @ManureManager

Fruit and Vegetable - @FruitVeggieMag

Top Crop Manager - @topcropmag

Published in Fruit

April 13, 2012, Saskatoon, Sask – Young and beginning farmers will find it easier to start and grow their farm businesses with the help of a new $500 million loan program, which was recently introduced.

This new loan offers qualified producers who are under 40 years of age loans of up to $500,000 to purchase or improve farmland and buildings. Producers between the ages of 18 and 39 make up approximately 16 per cent of Canadian producers, according to the 2006 Census. The Farm Credit Canada (FCC) Young Farmer Loan includes features and options that address this demographic, and support their long-term success. These include:

  • variable rates at prime plus 0.5 per cent and special fixed rates
  • no loan processing fees

The Young Farmer Loan enhances FCC’s suite of existing products and services that support young producers, such as the FCC Transition LoanFCC Business Planning AwardFCC Learning events and publications, FCC Go Ag! events, and FCC Management software for both accounting and field management.

For more information on the FCC Young Farmer Loan, visit www.fcc.ca/youngfarmerloan.

Published in Companies

April 11, 2012, Portage La Prairie, Man – The Government of Canada is investing in a vegetable processing facility that will benefit local growers and create 20 jobs during the first year of production.

Canadian Prairie Garden Puree Products Inc. received an investment of $2.5 million to increase production of their high-quality purees.

The repayable contribution, provided by the Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP), will help the company expand its puree manufacturing facility to commercial-scale production, using a novel production process that is new to the Canadian market. The system is economical to operate and leaves a small environmental footprint.

The company will manufacture vegetable purees using a new processing technology that uses rapid steam-infusion cooking to retain the colour, texture, flavour and nutritional quality of the products in the puree. Quality purees are ideal for producing soup and baby food, as they provide superior quality and extended shelf life.

“This initiative is very important for the vegetable and fruit growers in Manitoba,” says Kelly Beaulieu, P.Ag., company vice president. “The vegetables and fruit produced in Manitoba are of premium quality and the puree format we developed is a superior method for providing global export opportunity.”

Local farmers will also benefit from the project. Producers will be able to use more of their harvested crops since they often have produce that is both fresh and healthy but not a suitable size and shape for direct sale.

Published in Federal

April 11, 2012, Ottawa, Ont – University of Guelph professor John Cranfield is calling for more spending on agricultural research if Canada is going to maintain its competitiveness in global markets.

His comments were part of a presentation to agri-food leaders in Ottawa at an April 5 conference called Growing Our Future: Making sense of national food strategies hosted by the Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy, a new organization out of the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph. Cranfield was one of five agricultural economists at the conference offering insights on national agri-food strategies.

Cranfield’s talk showed that Canada’s spending on agricultural research is falling behind other countries.

“Canada’s not keeping up to the rest of the world,” says Cranfield. “As a result, we may be compromising our competitiveness.”

Cranfield suggests three possible ways to invest more in agricultural research. The first, he says, is simply increasing government spending on research. However, with budget constraints, that’s not always an option for every area that requires research. The second approach could be for producer and commodity groups to create their own funds by using research check-offs applied to the sale of agricultural commodities. Thirdly, Cranfield argues that an effective approach could be government-matching programs to bump up private investment in research.

But according to Cranfield, simply spending more money on research doesn’t necessarily create competitiveness. It's important for government initiatives to be strategically directed. Some research, such as enhancing flavor or taste of foods, for instance, may be more readily funded by private industry, so government dollars aren’t necessary. Other research, especially in primary production or food safety, isn’t as likely to attract private dollars, and represents areas where public investment is warranted, especially in light of the high return to these activities.

“It’s not enough just to throw money at research,” says Cranfield. “It’s crucial to think carefully about where it's being spent. Government funding should be directed where it will have the most impact and where other funding sources are lacking.”

Other speakers at the conference where Cranfield offered these observations addressed specific issues regarding national agri-food strategies. Their presentations offered economic perspectives on which aspects of agricultural policies make sense and which are counter-productive to national fiscal growth. The keynote speaker at the conference was Joseph Glauber, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief economist. Glauber gave an overview of U.S. farm policy and the World Trade Organization.

Published in Provinces

April 9, 2012, Victoria, BC – The Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C. (IAF) welcomes three new directors to its board.

Dale Krahn of Abbotsford, B.C., representing the poultry sector; Ken Bates of Delta, B.C., representing the field vegetable, berry and mushroom sectors, and Rick Gagner of Surrey, B.C., representing the post farm gate sector were appointed following the foundation’s March 23 annual general meeting.   

“We welcome our new directors and look forward to working with them,” said IAF board acting chair, Peter Levelton. “We also thank our departing chair, Stuart Wilson, and directors Derek Janzen and Bar Hayre for their six years of service, the maximum allowed by IAF policy. We will miss their passion and dedication to the industry.”  

Continuing IAF directors are Peter Levelton (Richmond/greenhouse, floriculture and nursery), Gay Hahn (Surrey/post farm gate), Debbie Aarts (Chilliwack/dairy), Chris Byra (Chilliwack/farm supply), Jens Larsen (Merritt/other livestock), Jim Tingle (Prince George/community agriculture) and Rob Dawson (Cawston/tree fruit and grapes). Directors re-appointed for a further two-year term are Paula Brown (Burnaby/emerging sectors), Irmi Critcher (Taylor/grains, oilseeds and forage) and Ernie Willis (Princeton/cattle).

Also sitting on the board are non-voting directors John Berry (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) and Grant Parnell (B.C. Ministry of Agriculture).

Published in Associations

Apr. 2, 2012, Ottawa, ON - Responses are mixed on the agriculture side in response to Canada's Economic Action Plan 2012, introduced in late March by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. On one hand, the government is cutting over $300 million from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), but there are also a number of funding additions to encourage trade, food safety and reimbursement for flood damage.

The cuts

According to the 2012 budget, "[the] Agriculture and Agri-Food portfolio organizations will streamline their operations and reduce operating costs, while making sure services are provided to farmers and the agriculture industry in the most cost-effective and efficient way."

The description goes on to mention that the AAFC and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will merge and integrate a variety of functions, including research goals, to make it "easier for farmers and industry to get the information on technological advances they need to succeed."

The CFIA saw its budget cut from current levels to decreases of $2.1 million in 2012-13, $10 million in 2013-14 and a staggering $56.1 million by 2015. These cuts will be accomplished by transforming how it interacts and delivers services to clients with regards to permits, licences and registration, as well as for the provision of technological, interpretive and specialized advice.

The document also states that the CFIA will have to change how they monitor and enforce non-health and safety food labelling regulations through the introduction of a web-based label verification tool that will allow customers to bring concerns directly to the approppriate companies and associations. Lastly, the budget states that, "the Government will also repeal regulations related to container standards to enable industry to take advantage of new packaging formats and technologies, while removing an unnecessary barrier for the importation of new products from international markets."

The additions

While there are a large number of cuts, some areas of the AAFC do receive a financial boost. For example, the budget proposes funding for the Canadian Grain Commission of $27 million in 2012-13 and $17 million in 2013-14. This will allow the commission to move to "a sustainable funding model" and realign its fee structure for services.

Food safety also received some attention in the budget, with $51.2 million being split between the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada and the CFIA, to continue enhanced surveillance, early detection and improved response capabilities to foodborne illness emergencies.

"Time and time again we have demonstrated that food safety is a priority for this Government," added Minister Ritz in a press release from Marketwire. "Our Government's Budget, once again, reaffirms our strong commitment to consumers and the food industry."

Of great relief to many farmers that struggled in the 2011 floods was a $99.2 million commitment over three years to fund "permanent flood mitigation measures."

The budget also focused on international trade and partnerships to help expand and open export markets. It proposes to undertake the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history, strengthening trade with the United States, the European Union, Japan, India, China and many more to help reduce red tape and making it easier for farmers and industries to do business.

This will be accomplished by having the AAFC consolidating the delivery of grants and contributions programs out of only one branch.

What's next

With the budget only recently announced, there is a lot that is still unknown about where the cuts for the AAFC will come from. But, with the agriculture sector being one of the most stable and resilient during the economic downturn according to the budget, the future is uncertain whether these will help or hinder the industry.

Canadian 2012 Budget

Published in Fruit

March 23, 2012, Richmond, BC – British Columbia cranberry producers are benefiting from a $218,500 investment in research to test new cranberry varieties and provide growers the information they need to increase their productivity and profitability.

The investment will help the B.C. Cranberry Marketing Commission (BCCMC) select the most promising new cranberry varieties for B.C. conditions, and determine the best growing mediums and horticultural practices for each new, higher-yielding cranberry variety. Much of this research will be conducted at the newly established Cranberry Research Centre in Delta, B.C.

“Cranberry farmers deeply appreciate this support and the recognition of the importance of our facility,” said Todd May, commissioner of the BCCMC. “This acknowledgement further reinforces the dedication and financial commitment of our farming families toward the future of the cranberry industry in British Columbia.”

The BCCMC has been a part of the province’s cranberry farming since 1965. The commission regulates the transportation, processing, packing, storage, and marketing of cranberries grown in B.C. It also supports the industry by providing production research, grower education, and promotional activities for domestic and foreign markets.

Published in Research

March 22, 2012 - Ontario's Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program's Two-Year Review Report was released today, recommending a 20 per cent drop in FIT-based pricing for solar, and a 15 per cent reduction for wind-generated power. This reduction would range from 9.6 per cent for solar rooftop projects above 500 kW to reductions in the 31 per cent range for solar projects of all kind (rooftop or ground mount) 10 kW and less. Prices will now range from 34.7 c/kWh to 54.9 c/kWh. |READ MORE

Published in Fruit

March 22, 2012, Charlottetown, PEI – The PEI Potato Quality Institute (PQI) has expanded its facility in the West Royalty Industrial Park to offer local potato farmers more efficient disease testing, thanks to investments made by the federal and provincial governments and industry partners.

This new expansion will allow for the addition of a potato disease testing facility and improve efficiencies for Island potato farmers.

The Government of Canada, through ACOA, has invested $190,833 to help with the purchase of new equipment for the facility. The Government of Prince Edward Island, through the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, PQI and the P.E.I. Potato Board, has also invested a combined investment of $381,667 to assist with required building renovations to facilitate the new testing procedures.

It’s hoped the investment will allow the P.E.I. Potato Quality Institute to offer improved services to farmers, helping small and medium-sized businesses to continue to create jobs and economic prosperity, said government representatives. It’s also hoped lab improvements will assist with ensuring healthy potato seed stocks for growers and allow the industry to be more competitive in global seed markets.

“We welcome this collaboration with both levels of government that will help our industry move forward with the most recent advances in testing technology,” said Gary Linkletter, chair of the P.E.I. Potato Board. “This will facilitate our participation in export markets and improve our testing procedures used to maintain crop health. We appreciate the government investment at the PEI Potato Quality Institute and are pleased that they recognize the contribution that our industry makes to the provincial economy.”

Published in Federal

Mar. 21, 2012 - Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) is neither surprised nor concerned that electricity prices from renewable sources under the Feed-in tariff (FIT) are expected to drop by at least 25%.

The Government of Ontario has demonstrated leadership by passing the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) and should aggressively leverage its smart investment, maximizing ratepayer benefit while strengthening the emerging green economy.

The prices paid for renewable energy under the FIT are based on a "cost plus a reasonable return on investment" model.  The scheduled two-year review of the FIT program was always intended to transparently adjust prices as costs fell.

By 2014, Ontario will phase out all of its remaining coal and by 2016, 25.62 TerraWatt hours (25,620,000,000 kWh) of power will need to be replaced as four of the province's 20 nuclear reactors come to the end of their lives.  There are options for replacing this power generation and almost all are cheaper than rebuilding Darlington nuclear facilities.

A portfolio of sustainable energy, options including: conservation, FIT procured renewables, combined heat and power (CHP) and potentially water power imports from Quebec, represents a real bargain both environmentally and economically.

The two-year review and revitalization of the FIT program has always been in the cards. It shouldn't be delayed - it is time for Ontarians to move forward and seize the opportunity!

Background - How and Why Renewable Energy is critical to affordable energy

Contrary to rhetoric espoused by some, a portfolio of sustainable energy (conservation, CHP, water power imports and FIT procured renewables) is the cheapest option as we rebuild and reinvest in our long neglected electricity grid and replace our retiring coal and nuclear.  For electricity buying Ontarians, more important than the FIT review is challenging the assumption that an expensive rebuild of our nuclear plants is necessary. 

In just over two years Ontario's FIT, combined with growing global demand for renewable energy has driven down the cost of renewable energy generating technology.

Renewable power under the FIT program with its fixed twenty-year contract will keep the average price of power lower in Ontario as we begin to invest and to pay for fuel costs associated with new natural gas and nuclear power.

To ensure this investment in the future is not burdensome, Ontarians need to continue building upon their conservation efforts - after all the lowest cost power is the power we don't use. A renewed focus on energy conservation will lead to businesses, homeowners and industry consuming less and saving on their bills.

Published in Fruit

March 13, 2012, Saskatoon, Sask – ACC Farmers’ Financial (ACC), a not-for-profit organization comprising 19 producer associations and marketing boards, has signed an agreement designating Farmers of North America (FNA) to offer its national farm cash Advance Payments Program (APP) and its provincial Commodity Loan Program (CLP).

Currently operating primarily in Ontario, ACC administers loans for several thousand agricultural products across different sectors of agriculture from beans and beef to tobacco and zucchini. ACC is the exclusive provincial administrator for the Commodity Loan Program in Ontario and is a nationally appointed administrator of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Advance Payments Program.

Since its inception, ACC Farmers’ Financial has delivered over $2 billion in operating funds to Canadian producers.

FNA is a private farmer business alliance with 10,000 members across Canada, with a business mission dedicated to improving farm profitability.

The Advance Payments Program provides up to 18 months of financing for commodities that are commercially sold, with up to $100,000 interest-free and an additional $300,000 available at Prime Interest Rate.

FNA will handle the day-to-day operations for its members, receiving and submitting applications while ACC retains all legal authorities and accountabilities to its stakeholders.

Coverage will include the production of grains and oilseeds for commercial sale (i.e. corn, soybeans, wheat, and canola), horticultural crops, animal feed, and more. FNA will offer these crops initially in Ontario with the objective to take the program across the nation.

FNA recently partnered with the British Columbia Agriculture Council whose members grow a wide range of crops. FNA hopes to make the benefits of ACC interest-free cash advances more available to horticulture industry in that province, through the prairies and across Canada.

Published in Federal

March 13, 2012, Ottawa Ont – Canada’s horticulture industry has solutions to address Canada’s healthcare spending crisis. But co-ordination across government and industry sectors is needed to effect change.

That was the message behind a networking reception hosted on Parliament Hill March 11 by members of Hort4Health, a working group of the Horticulture Value Chain Round Table. Members include farmers, retailers, food processors and input suppliers.

“An active lifestyle and a diversified diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important to keep Canadians healthy and manage our healthcare costs,” said Alison Robertson of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, chair of Hort4Health. “In Canada, we’re very lucky that we can grow a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. However, all Canadians need to have access to the great produce we’re growing and that’s why we’re advocating for industry and government co-ordination and collaboration on this issue.”

Hort4Health is urging provincial and federal ministries to work more collaboratively with each other and with farmers and non-governmental organizations active in the food and nutrition field. Many individual or localized nutrition efforts currently exist, but there is no national collaborative initiative in place. Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle may reduce the risk of some types of chronic diseases, promote healthier body weights and help improve the well-being of Canadians.

The networking event drew more than 100 Members of Parliament, including Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, as well as government staff and agriculture and food industry representatives.

“Healthy eating is an issue that affects all Canadians, whether in rural, urban or remote communities,” said Robertson. “With a collective approach, we can do a better job of encouraging Canadians to pursue healthier lifestyles through active living and boosting their consumption of fruits and vegetables.”

Published in Federal

The Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia (WBPANS) is looking to the future.

Published in Fruit

Ron Gerold, with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) sector development and analysis directorate, believes Canada’s apple-growing community can learn something from the nation’s potato growers.

Published in Food Safety

A little over six years ago, I received a phone call from the manager of an agricultural organization asking me if I would be interested in serving on the group’s board of directors as a representative of the trade businesses that served the organization.

Published in Associations

As you read this editorial, the holiday season has come and gone and the new year is in its early days.

Published in Federal

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