Future Planning
June 23, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - The decisions we make as individuals and as a country about food have a direct impact on our health, environment, economy, and communities.

Today, over 250 participants, with diverse expertise on food issues, are wrapping up a unique two-day Summit in Ottawa, marking an important step in the development of A Food Policy for Canada.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, along with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Yvonne Jones, and Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs), spoke to participants this morning, on the second day of the Summit.

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretaries highlighted the importance of hearing from Canadians, including experts and key stakeholders, in developing a food policy.

A Food Policy for Canada will be the first-of-its-kind for the Government of Canada and will cover the entire food system, from farm-to-fork.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Jean-Claude Poissant, and on behalf of Minister of Health, Greg Fergus, Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylmer, were on hand on the first day of the Summit to welcome participants from across the country.

Participants at the Summit included representatives from community organizations, academics, Indigenous groups, industry, stakeholders, and officials from all orders of government, who added their voices and contributed to discussions on a broad range of food-related challenges and opportunities in areas related to:

• increasing access to affordable food;

• improving health and food safety;

• conserving our soil, water, and air; and

• growing more high-quality food.

The Government of Canada wants to hear from Canadians about what is important to them when it comes to food opportunities and challenges.

Online consultations were recently launched at www.canada.ca/food-policy and remain open until July 27, 2017. Engagement on the development of the policy will continue throughout the summer and fall.
Published in Federal
June 19, 2017, Fredericton, NB – The development of the wild blueberry sector has been identified as a significant growth opportunity in New Brunswick’s economic development plan.

“The time is ripe to realize the full potential of this sector,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet. “Your government is committed to working with industry stakeholders to make the most of this exciting opportunity.”

Wild blueberry production has more than tripled over the past decade. The expansion of the sector was identified as a key opportunity for development in the New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan, the government’s framework for growing the economy and creating jobs for New Brunswickers.

“With the optimal climate, geography and land availability for wild blueberry development, the sector has huge potential for growth,” said Doucet.

Six components have been identified as necessary to help the industry prosper in New Brunswick:
  • Diversification of markets to find new global buyers.
  • Identification of value-added opportunities.
  • Increased production to meet future value-added demands.
  • Increased storage capacity to stabilize inventory.
  • Expanded consumption within the province via the Local Food and Beverage Strategy.
  • Opportunities for capital investment from the private sector.
There are 39,000 acres, both private and Crown land, currently under production in multiple locations and at various stages across the province, from the Acadian Peninsula to Charlotte County. The wild blueberry industry currently supports an estimated 440 jobs.

The government recognizes that First Nations communities have an interest in becoming more involved in the industry, and is working with those communities to ensure that they have opportunities to participate.

More than 300 farm families are involved in the province’s wild blueberry industry. New Brunswick accounts for 25 per cent of Canada’s overall production.
Published in Provinces
June 14, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - A coalition of voices that represent beer, wine, spirits, foodservices, hospitality, farmers and suppliers in Canada is pushing back on the federal government's plan to impose never ending tax hikes on beverage alcohol.

Beer Canada, Restaurants Canada, Spirits Canada and the Canadian Vintners Association launched corkthetax.ca to engage Canadians and raise awareness of the escalator tax mechanism on beer, wine and spirits buried within Budget 2017.

The proposed tax mechanism has to be approved by the Senate of Canada which may yet disallow the policy because it imposes future tax increases while avoiding Parliamentary scrutiny.

Canadians already pay some of the highest taxes on beverage alcohol in the world. For example, the average price of 24 bottles of beer in Canada is 50 per cent tax. That is over and above payroll taxes, income taxes, municipal property taxes, licensing fees and a myriad of other taxes that are built into the price.

"Two things in Budget 2017 negatively impact domestic brewers: a two per cent increase to the excise duty on beer and a mechanism that will automatically hike excise by the rate of inflation every year," explained Luke Harford, President of Beer Canada. "The two per cent is not helpful but this escalator, the automatic annual tax hikes, will do far more damage and we are hopeful the Senate will stop it."

Jan Westcott, President of Spirits Canada said: "Spirits consumers already shoulder more than their fair share of tax and the Government plans to take more and more every year without ever having to justify an increase or check-in on the condition of the industry."

A hidden excise escalator that automatically increases the tax on beverage alcohol is unfair to lower and middle income Canadians. Excise is a regressive tax and is based on volume, not on price. The hidden escalator will have the biggest regressive impact on Canada's "value priced" wines, beers and spirit brands where excise makes up a higher proportion of the final price.

"On the one hand the Government talks about strengthening the middle class and on the other, they plan on imposing automatic annual tax increases on the drinks middle-class Canadians enjoy," said Joyce Reynolds, EVP of Government Affairs at Restaurants Canada.

Excise is levied at the point of production and the government expects producers to pass the cost onto customers through higher prices. Canadian excise rates are already high. Rates here are 56% higher than they are in the US.

"It is a very competitive marketplace and there are many challenges agri-food producers are bracing to overcome," highlights Dan Paszkowski, President and CEO of the Canadian Vintners Association. "Trump's low tax and buy American plans, a new free trade agreement with Europe, and with the renegotiation of NAFTA - now is not the time to pile on with automatic annual tax hikes hidden from consumers."

The proposed legislation to implement the escalator tax is included in Bill C-44 and will make its way through the Parliamentary process by mid-June. The coalition hopes the Senate will take note of the opposition to never ending tax hikes on beverage alcohol.
Published in Business & Policy
Last month Statistics Canada released the results of the 2016 Census of Agriculture. Like many of you, I was eager to read up on the results and discover how our industry has changed in the five years since the last survey was conducted.

Some findings, such as the edging up of the average age of farm operators from 54 in 2011 to 55 in 2016, aren’t all that surprising. After all, aging is a fact of life. Other findings, however, gave me pause. For example, Statistics Canada found that even though the average age of farmers has increased, only one in 12 operations have a formal succession plan outlining how the farm will be transferred to the next generation.

In other words, the vast majority of Canada’s farm operators have not taken steps to safeguard the businesses they’ve worked long and hard to build.

Experts in the field agree there are many reasons farmers shy away from succession planning, including fear: fear of change, of creating conflict within the family, of losing one’s identity as a farmer, and of confronting the fact that not even the healthiest among us live forever. Then there’s the time required to craft a plan and implement it when there are still animals to feed, seeds to plant and suppliers and customers to work with, plus all the other tasks that contribute to a farm’s long-term success. Perhaps one of the most significant barriers, though, is the daunting scope of work the term “succession planning” entails.

Though we can’t do that work for you, the editorial teams behind Agrobiomass, Canadian Poultry, Fruit & Vegetable, Manure Manager, Potatoes in Canada and Top Crop Manager have partnered to help ease the way with our first annual Succession Planning Week.

From June 12 to 16, we’ll be delivering a daily e-newsletter straight to your inbox, packed with information and resources to help you with succession planning in your operation. Each e-newsletter will offer practical advice and suggestions you can use, whether you’re an experienced farm owner wondering if your succession plan needs some tweaking or an aspiring successor wondering how to start the succession conversation.

But that’s not the only conversation we want to kick-start. Share your succession planning tips and success stories on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #AgSuccessionWeek. The best of the best will be published on our website (FamilyFarmSuccession.ca) and included in Friday’s e-newsletter.

We hope Succession Planning Week offers valuable information to help you keep your operation growing, now and for generations to come.
Published in Business & Policy
June 9, 2017, Fredericton, N.B. - Housed in Canada’s centre of excellence for potato research along the Saint John River Valley in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s scientists maintain a living library of nearly 180 potentially high-value potato gene resources.

Canada’s potato gene bank, or Canadian Potato Genetic Resources, is part of an international commitment to global food security.

If disease or a natural disaster strikes and potato crops are devastated, researchers from anywhere in the world can turn to the gene bank to rebuild the stock.

Researchers can also call on the gene bank for resources to help them develop stronger, more disease-resistant and environmentally-resilient varieties.

"We preserve some potato varieties that are of unique value to northern latitude climates, varieties that are adapted to shorter seasons with longer daylight hours. Only certain star varieties are grown by the potato industry so in the interest of preserving genetic diversity, an important part of our role as gene bank curators is to back up our genetic resources," said Dr. Benoit Bizimungu, Gene Resources Curator, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Unlike other gene banks that preserve seed-propagated crops like grains, the potato gene bank is made up of live tissue cultures or tubers which are perishable and require- constant maintenance.

Plantlets are grown in aseptic conditions in test tubes that are stored in temperature-controlled growth chambers for six to eight weeks at a time. The collection is then refreshed,continuously monitored and periodically tested for contaminations.

Microtubers, or tiny potatoes about the size of a raisin, are also produced in test-tubes and preserved for up to a year as a backup. A duplicate collection of microtubers is kept at AAFC's Saskatoon Research and Development Centre.

"It's well worth it," says Dr. Bizimungu of the work involved in conserving high-value potato genetic diversity. "There are many potato varieties that aren't grown today that have traits that are of current or future interest to researchers and educators. Preserving these varieties ensures valuable attributes, and even those with known susceptibility to certain diseases, are kept for the development of future, better varieties."

The collection is comprised of heritage varieties, modern Canadian-bred varieties, as well as strains known to show differential reactions to certain diseases and breeding lines with specific traits scientists are interested in studying.

In addition to Canadian varieties, the collection also includes varieties from the U.S., Peru and many European countries including Ireland, the Netherlands and Estonia.

Canadian Potato Genetic Resource is part of Plant Gene Resources Canada (PRGC). The mandate of PGRC is to acquire, preserve and evaluate the genetic diversity of crops and their wild relatives with focus on germplasm of economic importance or potential for Canada.
Published in Vegetables
May 30, 2017, Victoriaville, QC - The Government of Canada is investing $4.28 million in a project at Cégep de Victoriaville

Federal funding is allocated through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, which will enhance and modernize research facilities on Canadian campuses and improve the environmental sustainability of these facilities.

Cégep de Victoriaville will use the funds to establish an organic agriculture research facility. The facility will include multi-purpose buildings and greenhouses where work will be done in plant breeding and organic fruit and vegetable production, enabling Canada to be more competitive in the organic food market.

Operations of this new research infrastructure will be managed by the cégep's Centre d'expertise et de transfert en agriculture biologique et de proximité (centre of expertise and knowledge transfer in organic agriculture and local farming).

A total of $9.62 million is being invested in this project:
  • The Government of Canada is providing $4.28 million
  • Cégep de Victoriaville and other partners are providing $5.34 million
Published in Research
May 24, 2017 - The International Potato Center (ICP) researchers have been working with NASA to understand how potatoes could be cultivated on Mars through a series of experiments on Earth.

We spoke to CIP sub programme science leader for integrated crop and system research, Jan Kreuze, and NASA Ames geobiologist and researcher, Julio Valdivia–Silva, about their otherworldly project.

Valdivia–Silva says the partnership between CIP and NASA came about through the organisations' mutual interest in growing crops under difficult conditions.

"The initiative came from CIP, with the intention of solving problems around cropping in desert areas as a result of climate change and desertification," Valdivia–Silva explains. "Meanwhile, NASA was interested in the project for the need to grow crops in future human colonies outside Earth."

But why potatoes? Kreuze says this is down to the minimal amount of water potatoes require per kilogram grown compared to other major cereals, as well as their ability to withstand a wide range of environmental conditions, their nutritional value, and their fast growing, high yield nature. READ MORE
Published in Research
May 19, 2017, Guelph, Ont. - Thought leaders from the farming and food industry will gather in Calgary September 18-20 at the second annual Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) Public Trust Summit.

Transparency in our food system is no longer optional; so farmers and ranchers through to the largest food companies need to know more on how to effectively earn public trust in our food and how it’s grown.

“The CCFI Public Trust Summit is not ‘just another meeting.’ It’s an experience for you to come and learn from the entire food system,plus help shape the path forward for earning trust in Canadian food and farming,” says Crystal Mackay, Canadian Centre for Food Integrity.

This year’s theme “Tackling Transparency — the Truth About Trust” kicks off with a full day of Experience Alberta farm and food tours on September 18th, capped off by an evening celebrating the “Science of the Six-Pack.”

Brew masters will be on-hand to walkthrough how local barley, hops, yeast, and water combine to make pints of beer.

The second day’s highlights include:
  • Release of the 2017 CCFI public trust in food and farming consumer research
  • World class speakers with a variety of perspectives and insights on transparency and trust
  • A lively consumer panel of millennials sharing exactly what they think about food and farming
The conference wraps up with a “Connecting with Canadians” working breakfast on September 20, where attendees will learn more about what they can do and idea swap on what’s happening in Canada to engage with consumers.

The inaugural CCFI Public Trust Summit, held last June in Ottawa, sold out with an incredibly diverse representation from food companies, retail and food service, government, academia, farmers and food influencers, like bloggers and dietitians.

Read Fruit and Veg Magazine’s coverage of the 2016 Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, Public Agriculture Summit: https://www.fruitandveggie.com/marketing/its-a-matter-of-trust-20066

For more information, visit: www.foodintegrity.ca
Published in Business & Policy
May 18, 2017, Guelph, Ont. – The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) applauds Minister Leal for highlighting the need to reform business risk management programs for farmers.

The Federal-Provincial-Territorial meeting of Ministers of agriculture was held recently in Ottawa to discuss the next agricultural policy framework.

During the meeting Minister Leal advocated on behalf of Ontario farmers when he urged his provincial counterparts to work together to address business risk management as part of the new agricultural policy framework, which is to be revealed at their July meeting.

“OFVGA would like to thank Minister Leal for his leadership in tackling a reform to Ontario’s business risk management programming,” said Jan VanderHout, Chair of Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. “Our member associations appreciate the efforts made to bring this important issue to the table during national discussions.”

Our sector is pleased to see that there is recognition by the provincial government for the need towards rebuilding these programs.

It is vital to have sustainable risk management programs that meet the needs of farmers, which allow them to focus on what they do best: growing local food.

“Farmers are tasked with managing risk as part of their livelihood,” said VanderHout. “We don’t have to look too far to see the unpredictability with farming, and the most recent weather events with extreme flooding in parts of the province are an example of that. OFVGA thanks the government for their support in dealing with issues such as this.”
Published in Business & Policy
May 10, 2017, United States - A key U.S. potato industry organization is asking the Trump administration to address its concerns in upcoming negotiations.

The U.S. National Potato Council (NPC) is calling for action in any upcoming NAFTA renegotiations.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, John Keeling, NPC’s CEO, said the group “... is strongly supportive of improving the conditions for trade that we confront with Canada and Mexico.”

He also noted that the two countries represent important markets for U.S. producers. Canada is the second-largest export market with annual sales of US$315 million or 17.8 per cent of U.S. exports. Mexico comes in third with annual sales of US$253 annual, equalling 14.3 per cent of annual U.S. exports. READ MORE
Published in Federal
April 25, 2017, Montreal, Que. - Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (la Caisse) presented its strategy for Québec's agri-food sector, and also announced the creation of a $125-million fund to invest in every segment of the sector's value chain, targeting both companies seeking to accelerate their growth and farmers who operate family businesses, and their successors.

La Caisse has been investing in agri-food processing and distribution/marketing for many years. The strategy presented aims to maximize la Caisse's impact and expand its presence throughout the value chain and among all types of businesses and of projects by covering the entire agri-food sector.
This strategy is built on four pillars:
  • Supporting young farmers and entrepreneurs who want to take over a business or create new market leaders;
  • Backing owners and the family-farm model in the production segment;
  • Reinforcing technological transition by improving access to modern equipment;
  • Supporting growth and the expansion of operations in regional and international markets in industries where they are competitive.
To further support projects in the agri-food sector, la Caisse has announced the creation of the Fonds agroalimentaire CDPQ. This $125-million fund will be used to make direct investments (between $1 million and $30 million) in every segment of the value chain, with farmers and in projects and SMEs.

Specific criteria and targeted investment amounts vary for each segment in the value chain, as shown in the table available on the Caisse's website.

Investments in the agri-food sector will also be made through funds, in partnership with those active in the industry and other experts in targeted markets (between $5 million and $30 million). The Fund will target investments meeting certain criteria, including:
  • A well-structured business plan;
  • A well-established management team to provide farmers and entrepreneurs with proper support and structure;
  • A transition and succession plan;
  • A solid performance track record and growth strategy;
  • An investment structure positioning la Caisse as a long-term partner for sustainable businesses and projects.
READ MORE
Published in Companies
April 24, 2017, Toronto, Ont – Canada's agri-food leaders want Prime Minister Trudeau to create an Agri-Food Growth Council to focus on actions that will unleash growth in the industry, according to the Canada as an Agri-Food Powerhouse report, released today by the Public Policy Forum (PPF) and the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI).

The report is a summary of roundtable discussions held in March 2017 with more than 150 agri-food stakeholders across Canada. It builds on the February 2017 report issued by the Minister of Finance's Advisory Council on Economic Growth, which emphasized the potential for Canada to become "the trusted global leader in safe, nutritious and sustainable food for the 21st century."

"The stakeholders we talked to made it clear – the agri-food sector needs to be a national economic priority. Establishing an Agri-Food Growth Council that reports to the centre of government and includes leaders from across the broader food system has the potential to drive this growth agenda, triage and resolve issues, and galvanize this diverse sector around a common vision," said David McInnes, special advisor to the board and former CEO of CAPI. "We heard repeatedly that the potential for inclusive growth is enormous, especially if we put a strong emphasis on the greater societal benefits delivered by Canada's agri-food sector, such as improved nutrition and environmental sustainability."

The report also calls for the creation of an inter-departmental agri-food task force, to improve alignment within government and resolve priority regulatory obstacles. Following are some of the most common comments from stakeholders during the roundtable meetings:
  • The aspirational vision — being the trusted global food leader – should be the lens through which all relevant policies and strategies are assessed
  • The responsiveness of our regulatory system should be made a comparative advantage that ensures both consumer protection and a nimbler, modernized regulatory environment. This would help encourage investment, innovation and competitiveness
  • While export growth must be prioritized, there are also opportunities to drive significant growth domestically, particularly among small and medium enterprises. This requires swift action on internal trade barriers
  • Delivering co-benefits – enhancing health and natural capital – is crucial to building public trust and strengthening our global food brand
"Our trusted food brand, leading-edge technology and responsiveness to changing consumer trends put Canada in a strong position to satisfy the appetite of the world's growing middle class for high-quality food. With an empowered sector, better alignment and bold actions, Canada can seize this opportunity to be a global agri-food superpower," said Edward Greenspon, Public Policy Forum president and CEO. "The agri-food sector can unleash significant economic growth and deliver broad societal benefits for decades to come. Now is the time to make it happen."

In February 2017, the Advisory Council on Economic Growth, established by the Minister of Finance, released its second wave of recommendations, which emphasized the potential for Canada to become "the trusted global leader in safe, nutritious and sustainable food for the 21st century." Using the advisory council's report as a starting point for discussion, the PPF and CAPI partnered on a coast-to-coast consultation convening roundtables in Charlottetown, Montreal, Ottawa, Guelph, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary and Vancouver to hear from more than 150 sector leaders and stakeholders. The full report is available here.
Published in Business & Policy
April 19, 2017, Peterborough, Ont. - The Greenbelt Fund has announced plans to fund 24 local food projects, aimed at ncreasing access to local food across Ontario, made possible with funding from the Government of Ontario.

The Ontario Government will be investing over $830,000 in 24 innovative projects.

These projects include:

Earth Fresh Farms - Increasing Access for Ontario's New Innovative White Potato ($42,900)
Earth Fresh Farms will work with 9 Ontario growers to grow premium Polar White potatoes and extend the season for Ontario white potatoes. The project is expected to increase the market for Polar White, Ontario potatoes significantly, with increased sales of well over $1m a year.

Bayfield Berry Farm - Increasing Processing of Ontario Fruit Juices, Cider, Preserves & Fruit Liqueurs ($37,250)
Bayfield Berry Farm will expand their on-farm processing facility to meet growing demand for fruit juices, ciders, preserves and fruit liqueurs. The expansion will allow Bayfield Berry Farm to develop packaging and labelling, including requisite nutritional information, to sell their products to wholesale and retail markets, in addition to their on-farm shop. The project is expected to increase sales by up to 50% in their first year.

Cauldron Kitchen Inc. - Local Food Entrepreneurship Program ($5,000)
Cauldron Kitchen will launch a Local Food Entrepreneurship Program for 4-8 participants to build the skills to create a viable local food business. Participants will have access to business development classes, mentoring and commercial kitchen use.

Cohn Farms Processing and Distribution Hub ($72,500)
Cohn Farms will be scaling up capacity at its processing and distribution hub to meet growing demand for local food, which is outpacing supply. The project is expected to double the number of farms supplying Cohn Farms to 25-30, create over 15 full-time equivalent jobs, and increase sales of local food by over $4m per year.

Deep Roots Food Hub Grow West Carleton – Food Hub ($48,500)
Deep Roots Food Hub will increase access to local produce by investing in a new co-packing approach for its roots cellar, providing storage, distribution and marketing opportunities to area farmers. In addition, the project will expand the Good Food Box program and include an "Eat West Carleton" promotional campaign.

Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario - Supporting Local Food Market Access for Ecological Growers Across Ontario ($14,475)
The Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario will increase market access for small to mid-scale ecological producers by providing specialized training through workshops and farm tours, including selling to new markets (eg. Food hubs, retail, wholesale, farmers markets), on-farm value-added opportunities, and new and emerging markets (eg. World crops, heritage grains, ecological fruit).

Farmersville Community Abattoir – Processing Equipment ($30,141)
Farmersville Community Abattoir is a new, not-for-profit initiative to establish a community-owned abattoir to meet the needs of the farming communities in Leeds and Grenville, Frontenac, Lanark and Ottawa-Carleton. By establishing a community-owned facility, Farmersville Community Abattoir will help ensure the long-term viability of the agricultural system in Eastern Ontario for 1,300 farmers in the region and increase local food sales by $240,000.

Farms at Work – Tides Canada Initiatives Expanding Impact and Sustainability of Local Food Month in Peterborough ($15,000)
Farms at Work will expand the impact and improve the sustainability of Peterborough Local Food Month, by working in partnership with Transition Town Peterborough to facilitate local food-related workshops, events and tours throughout September and culminating in the Purple Onion Festival.

Flanagan Foodservice Homegrown – Local Food Project ($42,840)
Flanagan Foodservice is Canada's largest family-owned foodservice distributor and will increase sales of Ontario foods by increasing its local food offerings, improving traceability, and investing in a promotional campaign to improve awareness of Ontario food available to its customers. The project is expected to increase local food sales by $1 million in 2017.

Greenhouses Canada - Northern Ontario Mobile Growing Facility ($52,283)
Greenhouses Canada will purchase a mobile "grow truck" to serve as an indoor demonstration and training site, and allow for transportation of fresh produce to remote northern communities (including on seasonal ice roads). The project is expected to increase local food sales by $117,000.

Halton Healthcare Good For You, Locally Grown – Phase 2 ($51,500)
Halton Healthcare will build on the progress made to increase local food served in its hospitals by working with farmers, manufacturers and other industry colleagues to develop recipes using Ontario food that meet the nutritional needs of patients. The project will also establish branding to identify local food choices to patients, as well as a marketing campaign to promote the local food offerings at Halton Healthcare facilities.

Len & Patti's Butcher Block - Improved Production Efficiency to Increase Ontario Raised Pork, Beef, Lamb, Elk & Goat ($46,438)
To meet growing demand for Ontario raised meats, Len & Patti's Butcher Block will invest in modernized machinery to increase production capacity. The project will include a new smoke house, tumbler, sausage stuffer, and patty machine. The increase in production capacity is expected to increase the sale of local meat by $2.5 million by the end of 2017.

Local Line Inc. - Local Line Food Hub Project ($28,316)
Local Line will build custom local food hub software for Ontario food hubs, based on a market assessment of the needs of Ontario's existing food hubs. The platform will leverage existing Local Line marketplace and reporting software to create easy-to-use software for new and established local food hubs.

Munye Kitchens Increasing Local Food Outreach – Multi-Ethnic African Communities & Beyond ($23,495)
Munye Kitchens will create a local food guide for multi-ethnic African communities to increase awareness of locally-grown foods relevant to the African communities and identify where Ontario-grown produce can be purchased. The project will also educate consumers on how to use African crops like okra and callaloo, grown in Ontario and the Greenbelt.

Muskoka Foundry Market - Assessment for the Development of a Local Food Hub ($30,000)
Muskoka Foundry will establish a new aggregated local food hub in Northern Ontario in Bracebridge's historic Foundry building. The space will include 10 permanent retail spots for agri-food processors, and provide mentorship opportunities for new processors and producers through an additional 10-15 temporary vendor stalls. The project is expected to increase local food sales by $1.5m per year.

National Farmers Union – Ontario Building a Network of Local Food Advocates ($32,675)
The National Farmers Union – Ontario will enhance local food literacy across the province by building a network of local food advocates across a number of sectors, including educators, healthcare providers, faith communities, artists, academics, outdoors professionals, and youth. The NFU will create tailored local food information material for the different advocates and create a directory of local food advocates.

Neyaashiing Smoked Fish - Increasing Access for Local Neyaashiing Smoked Fish Products ($13,250)
Neyaashiing Smoked Fish will invest in upgrades to its smoking facility to improve food preparation, food safety and production output. This will allow Neyaashiing Smoked Fish to increase access to new markets for smoked fish sourced and processed in First Nations communities, both through retail and wholesale market channels.

Poechman Family Farms - Microgreens for Pastured Eggs ($38,100)
Poechman Family Farms will invest in significant changes to its barn to improve quality of life for its hens as well as quality and flavour of its eggs, meeting consumer demand for humane eggs. The project will involve the introduction of a new perch for the hens, and specially grown greenhouse microgreens for the hens' diet. The pilot will allow Poechman Family Farms to share learnings with other egg farmers in the Organic Meadows Co-Operative and the Yorkshire Valley Farms distribution family.

Reiche Meat Products Ltd. - Growing Opportunities for Local Poultry ($14,550)
Reiche Meat Products will meet a significant gap in the agricultural system in Renfrew County by establishing poultry processing facilities, which are currently not available in the county. The availability of an abattoir in the county will allow existing small-scale poultry farms to scale up and meet growing demand for local poultry at farmers' markets and in stores. The project is expected to increase local food sales by $100,000 and bring 20 new farmers to market.

Select Food Products - Implementation of New Cooking Line to Increase Production Capabilities and Access the Ontario Market ($75,000)
Select Food Products has made a significant investment in a new cooking and production line in order to deliver a made-in-Ontario with Ontario ingredients French's Ketchup. The project will nearly triple production capacity for Select and help French's to execute on its commitment to make and source ketchup in Canada.

Victorian Order of Nurses – Windsor Essex Promoting Local Food Literacy & Increasing Local Food Consumption in Southwestern Ontario Schools ($18,988)
The Victorian Order of Nurses delivers school breakfast and snack programs that feed over 100,000 students every year. This project will develop local food literacy awareness materials for students and parents, to accompany increased local food served through these programs.

Wendy's Mobile Market - Season-Extension, Value-Adding Processing and Services ($71,538)
Wendy's Mobile Market will retrofit a cow barn into a local food processing and storage facility to offer season-extending and value-added processing to local farmers. The facility will create new processed products including jams, jellies, preserves, dried fruit, and frozen entrees.

West Niagara Agricultural Society - Niagara 4-H Local Food Booth ($14,463)
West Niagara Agricultural Society will partner with Niagara 4-H to purchase a road-worthy trailer for the volunteers of the 4-H club to bring to food and agricultural events throughout the region. The trailer will allow the 4-H to introduce their local food products to urban and near-urban students who might not otherwise be exposed to local food offerings.

Wickens Lake Sunshine Greenhouse Retrofit Extension – Northern Ontario ($9,942)
Wickens Lake Sunshine will invest in a retrofit and extension of its existing hydroponics greenhouse to extend the farms' growing season and increase capacity. Once the upgrades are complete, Wickens Lake Sunshine will partner with Open Roads Public School and the Cloverbelt Local Food Co-Op to supply produce for the school's salad bar program, bringing more local, nutritious food to students.

READ MORE
Published in Provinces
April 18, 2017, Lake Country, B.C. - An addition to a fruit plant that crosses municipal lines has caused division among Lake Country town staff. Planners want to relax regulations so the project can go ahead, but engineers hope council will abide by current building rules.

BC Tree Fruits wants to expand its facility on Bottom Wood Lake Road by 370 square metres. More than 97 per cent of the new area would be within the City of Kelowna, with just a sliver poking into Lake Country. Because so little of it extends into Lake Country, town planners will recommend that council allow the expansion without requiring BC Tree Fruits to pay for various upgrades to Bottom Wood Lake Road that would normally be required.

Those improvements concern such things as sidewalks, storm drains and streetlights, and would cost an estimated $223,000.

However, the town’s engineering staff take a different view. They want council to order BC Tree Fruits to proceed with the upgrades to Bottom Wood Lake Road as required by the regulations. The improvements, engineers say, would be a major benefit to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians using the road.

The City of Kelowna last year granted the approvals necessary for most of the one-storey addition to be built on city land, but the project has been delayed pending Lake Country’s decision.

Kelowna’s boundaries were extended northward by the provincial government in the early 1970s to take in many industrial lands that previously had been part of the Winfield area.

The arbitrary annexation has long caused resentment among some Lake Country residents, who say the area was deprived of a significant tax base. READ MORE
Published in Companies
April 10, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Average farmland values in Canada continued to climb in 2016, but lost steam in most provinces, including Ontario, according to Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) latest Farmland Values Report.

Canada’s farmland values showed an average increase of 7.9 per cent in 2016, compared to a 10.1 per cent increase in 2015 and a 14.3 per cent increase in 2014. Canadian farmland values have increased at various rates for the past 25 years.

The average value of Ontario farmland increased 4.4 per cent in 2016, following gains of 6.6 per cent in 2015 and 12.4 per cent in 2014. Values in the province have continued to rise since 1988.

In six provinces, the average increase in farmland values slowed from the previous year. And despite the overall national increase, seven of the 51 regions assessed across Canada showed no increase in farmland values in 2016.

“The impact of some of the key farmland value drivers appear to be fairly consistent across Canada,” said J.P. Gervais, FCC chief agricultural economist. “Levelling out of commodity prices and some challenging weather conditions may have taken some of the steam out of farmland values and hopefully this moderating effect will turn into a trend.”

Prince Edward Island experienced the highest increase among the provinces and saw the only double-digit increase at 13.4 per cent. There were not enough publicly reported transactions in Newfoundland and Labrador to accurately assess farmland values.
 
“Demand for Canadian agricultural products remains strong at home and abroad,” Gervais said. “A healthy agriculture sector – supported by a low Canadian dollar and low interest rates – helped sustain increases in farmland values in 2016.”

“I would, however, caution producers not to become overly confident,” he said, noting crop receipts have increased at a slower rate than farmland values over the past few years. “Although we have just come off of several years of record farm receipts, agriculture is a cyclical business and producers should always plan for different market conditions.”

Gervais encourages producers to identify key risks and available solutions to manage these risks should changes suddenly occur in their businesses or the economic environments in which they operate.

To view the 2016 FCC Farmland Values Report, video and historical data, visit www.fcc.ca/FarmlandValues.

To learn more about the report, register for the free FCC webinar on April 18, which can be found in the Agriwebinars section at www.fcc.ca/events.
Published in Federal
March 9, 2017, Wenatchee, WA – The Trump administration’s immigration enforcement directives are adding to existing anxiety about U.S. farm labour availability and fueling interest among growers for robots to stand in for migrant workers.

Two technology companies showed off progress on robotic pickers at the International Fruit Tree Association conference in Wenatchee, Wash., in late February. READ MORE

 

Published in Equipment
The B.C. tree fruit replant program is having a positive affect on the province’s fruit growing industry and has been so popular, the province’s Ministry of Agriculture has provided additional funds.
Published in Provinces
February 20, 2017, Vancouver, BC – In recognition of the importance of the Japanese market, the British Columbia Blueberry Council will again be exhibiting at the country's premier food and beverage trade show, Foodex.

Held from March 7 to 10 in Tokyo, the event attracts influential buyers from across Japan and other Asian markets.

"Japan has long been a very important export market for BC blueberries," said Debbie Etsell, executive director of the BC Blueberry Council. "It's a very discerning market, and the high quality of our fruit is well respected in Japan, both fresh berries in the summer, and frozen and processed formats throughout the year."

In 2016, British Columbia's 800 blueberry growers produced 77 million kilograms of blueberries.

Approximately half of each season's yield is exported to markets outside of Canada, making blueberries the country's most exported fruit. To celebrate this fact, and share Canada's 150th anniversary celebrations at Foodex, representatives of the BCBC will be serving up samples of Blueberry Ginger Pancakes with Maple Syrup – a quintessentially Canadian treat.

As in past years, the council will be exhibiting at Foodex as part of the AgriFood Canada pavilion in the International Zone. The show attracts 77,000 buyers from food service, distribution, and trading companies, with around 3,320 companies exhibiting at the four-day event. Along with offering an excellent opportunity to connect with buyers from the Japan, the show also attracts trade buyers from other Asian markets.

"This is the seventh year that the BC Blueberry Council has attended Foodex, and it's a very important opportunity for us to reconnect with some of the contacts we have made over the years," says Etsell. "We're looking forward to seeing some of the familiar faces from past shows, as well as building some new relationships and connecting them with suppliers that can fulfill their requests, whether they're looking for blueberries in fresh, frozen, dried, powdered, juice or puréed formats."

The BC Blueberry Council works closely with government trade offices at both a provincial and federal level, making the most of opportunities to take part in trade missions, delegations and shows such as Foodex. Other international missions planned for 2017 include Gulfood in Dubai, and Seoul Food & Hotel in Korea.
Published in Marketing
February 20, 2017 – A leading Canadian agri-food expert says Canada has an opportunity to significantly boost its gross domestic product and be a key player in the coming agriculture-industrial revolution. But the sector needs investment from the federal government to take advantage of the opportunity.

"Agriculture really is at the cusp of a new industrial revolution...This is Canada's moment to take advantage of a huge opportunity," Evan Fraser, the head of the University of Guelph's Food Institute, told CBC's The House host Chris Hall. READ MORE

 

Published in Business & Policy
In late January, I walked into the first afternoon of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Industry Conference with a swagger in my step. I was going to learn something that many in my sphere of influence were still struggling with: What to expect from a Trump presidency.
Published in Federal
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