Future Planning
The Canadian Agri-Business Education Foundation (CABEF) is proud to announce the winners of their annual scholarships. Each of these exceptional students will receive $2,500 for post-secondary agricultural education.

The 2018 winners are:
  • Adriana Van Tryp, Burdett, Alta.
  • Laura Carruthers, Frenchman Butte, Sask.
  • Pete Giesbrecht, Winkler, Man.
  • Owen Ricker, Dunnville, Ont.
  • Jeremy Chevalley, Moose Creek Ont.
  • Émilie Carrier, Princeville, Que.
  • Justin Kampman, Abbotsford, B.C.
Each year, CABEF awards scholarships of $2,500 to Canadian students entering their first year at an accredited agriculture college or university. CABEF is a charity foundation that encourages students to pursue their passion for agriculture and to bring their new ideas and talent to the industry.

Scholarship winners are evaluated on a combination of leadership attributes, academic standing and their response to the essay question, "What do you consider to be the three main opportunities for the Canadian agriculture industry and which one inspires you the most?"

“We are proud to support the future of the Canadian agriculture industry by providing these scholarships,” said Jenn Norrie, chair of the board for CABEF. “With the high-quality applications received from students across the country, the future of Canadian agriculture is bright.”

For further information about CABEF’s work, visit cabef.org.
Published in Provinces
The North American Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association Inc. (NAFDMA) has announced the selection of Corey Connors as its new executive director.

This appointment comes after Charlie Touchette, who provided NAFDMA with association management services for nearly 20 years, formally concluded his tenure effective May 1, 2018. The selection of Connors was made after an extensive national search overseen by the NAFDMA Board of Directors. “We are thrilled to formally announce Corey’s appointment,” said Tom Tweite, President of NAFDMA.

Connors joins NAFDMA with over 17 years of leadership experience in the agriculture, retail and attractions industries. Most recently, he served as chief staff executive of the North Carolina Nursery & Landscape Association (NCNLA).

Prior to NCNLA, he served in advocacy roles for several prominent national and international trade groups including the Society of American Florists (SAF), the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA). Connors holds a Master of Arts in Political Management from the George Washington University and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Clarion University.

“It is a genuine privilege and honor to serve this dynamic, growing industry,” said Connors. “Agritourism and farm direct marketing provide an unparalleled opportunity for consumers to reconnect to the family farm, creating unique experiences and rare opportunities to make precious memories.” He continued, “Our charge is clear: NAFDMA must provide cutting-edge tools and resources that support our community of innovators who seek to grow farm profitability while providing immeasurable benefits to their hometown.”

Connors begins his tenure at NAFDMA under a new operating structure, with the organization previously hiring on two additional direct employees last fall. This positions the association to have a stronger pulse on industry trends and will provide the opportunity to launch new member-focused programs and services. The first employees hired by NAFDMA include Membership Development and Services Manager, Lisa Dean and Education and Operations Manager, Jeff Winston.

“Interacting with motivated farm operators and entrepreneurs is rewarding. It is truly my pleasure to service our members,” said Dean.

“Having worked for this industry over the past five years, I’m excited to elevate the educational offerings that NAFDMA provides to each of its members,” said Winston.
Published in Associations
Second Harvest is working with Value Chain Management International (VCMI) on a ground-breaking food loss and waste (FLW) project, funded by the generous support of The Walmart Foundation.

A world first, the project is researching FLW from a whole of Canadian chain perspective – from primary production to consumer.

The project encompasses Canada’s food and beverage industry (including fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, grains and oilseeds, sugars and syrups, beverages and seafood). The purpose of the study is to establish a framework and metrics that businesses operating in the farming, processing, retail and foodservice sectors can use to 1) understand where losses are likely to occur and 2) identify ways to improve their performance and profitability by reducing losses and waste.

The team will achieve this by collecting data that will allow an accurate estimate of FLW occurring at discrete points along the value chain and evaluating the comparative impact of root causes. The project will also estimate losses that occur during the redistribution of rescued and donated food, for example in foodbanks.

Key outcomes of the project:
  • It will calculate the total amount of food available for human consumption in Canada.
  • Through conducting pioneering primary research, it will identify where, how and why waste occurs along the chain.
  • It will identify potential root-cause solutions to reduce the percentage of Canadian food sent to landfill – by proposing improved redistribution, reuse and recycling practices.
  • It will identify greater opportunities for food to be recovered and distributed to people who are food insecure.
  • It will culminate in the production and dissemination of a manual of scalable and sustainable solutions for addressing and preventing food waste.
800 to 1,000 survey respondents to be targeted across the entire value chain – Canada wide.

Second Harvest and VCMI are targeting 800 to 1,000 respondents from across the entire value chain to gain insights from farmers, food and beverage processors, retailers, foodservice operators, institutions and food redistributors across Canada (regardless of their size).

If you fall in this category of participants, and would like to take part in the short, completely confidential survey, please access the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2018FLWSurvey

The project will be completed by the end of 2018.

“We are thrilled to be working with Second Harvest on this revolutionary food loss and waste project,” said Martin Gooch, CEO of VCMI. “Prior studies relied on existing data, largely not gathered for calculating food loss and waste; we are collecting and analyzing data that will achieve this. The project outcomes will have important implications for businesses, industry, researchers and government.”
Published in Research
Some people regard frozen vegetables as a disappointing alternative when fresh veggies are not available. But that is likely to change with new methods of preparing food for cold storage.

Dr. Tony Savard and his team from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s St-Hyacinthe Research Development Centre re-examined the usual way of treating vegetables -blanching - which refers to briefly heat-treating the vegetables before freezing.

While this method is helpful for ensuring food safety and preventing freezer burn, it also affects the taste and texture which some people don’t like even when nutritional value is retained.

The team worked with Bonduelle Amérique as part of the Canadian Food Innovator research cluster, to come up with a fresh alternative for processing vegetables for freezing: partially drying them using low doses of microwaves combined with a vacuum process. Doing so avoided the breakdown of vegetable tissue that happens with freezing and thawing. This innovative method preserves the natural flavour and even improves it in certain cases, while still ensuring food safety. Furthermore, the texture of the vegetables is maintained.

"New markets are possible if we can improve the taste of frozen vegetables and maintain high standards of food safety," says Savard.

Whether or not a consumer picks a frozen option likely depends on their previous experience with frozen foods. And with healthy choices being so popular among Canadians, creating frozen foods that are both healthy and tasty is important. As such, Savard and his team will continue exploring new options for preserving the veggies that we love to eat.

Ultimately, if new methods of food preservation can be developed then new markets will also be opened. The domestic market for preserved fruits and vegetables is valued at $7.5 billion. The export market is also strong, worth over $3 billion in 2015, according to Statistics Canada. That same year saw almost $6.5 billion in total revenue. There are more than 17,000 Canadians employed in the sector, contributing in different ways to produce great food options. With so much economic activity generated it is important to identify what food areas can be improved upon.

The findings emerged from a "research cluster" organized between government and industry. Bringing together expertise from the public and private sectors has generated positive results like this new preservation method. Best of all, it’s helping Canadians find something both healthy and delicious to eat.

Key discoveries:
  • Soggy onions and peppers no more! New preservation method improves natural flavour and maintains texture during freezing and thawing.
  • Food processing industry will have new tools to preserve vegetables, which may open new markets.
Published in Vegetables
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) recently released a report that details the important contribution rural municipalities make and outlines the unique challenges they face.

The comprehensive report titled Rural Challenges, national opportunity – Shaping the future of rural Canada includes recommendations encouraging the federal government to tackle these challenges head-on and raise Canadians’ quality of life nationwide.

“When it comes to providing the infrastructure necessary to support a strong economy and high quality of life, rural governments are faced with two key problems—the challenge of serving dispersed communities and the limits of their fiscal and administrative capacity,” said FCM’s rural forum chair, Ray Orb.

The report provides recommendations to address the realities rural municipalities face. Key recommendations of this report include:
  • Applying a ‘rural lens’ to all federal policies and programs aimed at empowering smaller communities to better support local needs
  • Designing future rural infrastructure programs that provide long-term predictable funding with flexibility to account for rural realities
  • Committing long-term predictable resources to expanding broadband internet access in rural, northern and remote communities
“This report tells the story of the significant contribution rural municipalities make to the nation’s economy, but it also highlights the fiscal squeeze they face due to low population densities and the exodus of younger generations,” added Orb. “But as a key driver of economic growth, we know that investing in rural Canada means building a better country for everyone.”

FCM is leading the way in advocating for new tools that empower rural communities to build tomorrow’s Canada and has secured unprecedented federal investment in recent years. The full report is available here.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of municipal governments, with nearly 2,000 members representing more than 90 per cent of the Canadian population.
Published in Associations
The Canadian Horticultural Council presented before the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (AGFO) to discuss Part 5, as it relates to farming, of Bill C-74 (a bill intended to pass into law certain elements of Budget 2018).

Key points conveyed
CHC took advantage of its appearance before the senate committee to reiterate its key messages regarding carbon pricing, notably:
  • The government should recognize that greenhouse vegetable growers deliberately create, capture and assimilate CO2 for crop fertilization.
  • The government should issue a national exemption from its carbon pricing policy to cover all fuel used for agricultural activities, including greenhouses, thereby minimizing the impacts of interprovincial competitiveness.
  • The government should create a national relief mechanism, as the current carbon tax creates a competitive disadvantage between growers within a single province, across Canada, and on the international stage.
  • The government should use CHC’s revised definition of primary agriculture across all departments and in Bill C-74, as the current definition does not reflect the full range of farming activities and machinery used in Canadian primary agriculture (see suggested definition below).
  • Many greenhouse growers invest their own money into adapting and implementing new energy efficiencies, even before government funding becomes available. The Senators discussed with CHC the opportunity for these efforts to be recognised financially, retroactively.
  • Carbon pricing cannot simply be passed onto consumers due to the global nature of the produce market.
CHC will be following up directly with the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance regarding Bill C-74 to emphasize our main asks.
Published in Federal

Potato is the third most important crop in human nutrition, after wheat and rice. Knowing and improving its agronomic, nutritional and industrial aspects is essential and in this task a group of researchers specialized in biotechnology of the INTA Balcarce is focused.

Recently, with a trajectory more than 7 years in gene editing technologies, they were able to confirm that the DNA sequence had been modified, while they hope to corroborate the shutdown of the gene that causes enzymatic browning in potatoes ( Solanum tuberosum L. ).

When applying this technique, the team led by Feingold focused on a polyphenol oxidase gene, whose enzyme causes browning in tubers when they are cut and exposed to air. | For the full story, CLICK HERE.

Published in Research
CanadaGAP is now accepting nominations for candidates to serve on the Board of Directors for CanAgPlus, the corporation that owns and operates the CanadaGAP Program.

CanAgPlus relies on volunteer leaders to guide decision making and oversee management of CanadaGAP. Participation on the Board of Directors affords volunteer leaders the opportunity for personal growth and satisfaction in moving the program forward and improving food safety in the fresh produce industry.

CanAgPlus directors are elected by members (i.e., those who are enrolled in the CanadaGAP Program) at the Annual General Meeting, which will take place in December 2018 in Ottawa, Ontario.

See http://www.canadagap.ca/events/annual-general-meeting/ for further information.

Composition of the Board of Directors
CanAgPlus is currently seeking nominations for four directors to the Board. The Board is comprised of eight directors in total, serving two-year rotating terms to ensure some continuity in membership.

Nominations
A recommended slate of nominees will be prepared in advance of the AGM for circulation to members, and presented for vote at the AGM. In accordance with provisions in the corporate by-law, and subject to applicable rules of order during meetings of members, nominations may also be made by ordinary resolution at the AGM.

Criteria for Directors
Candidates are expected to have a strong interest in the delivery, integrity and objectives of the CanadaGAP Program. Criteria for service on the Board of Directors include:
  • Exhibit ability to communicate interpersonally, provide facilitative leadership, and enforce group discipline on board processes.
  • Strong understanding and experience with the appropriate roles, group processes and corporate bylaws and policies that form systems of corporate governance.
  • Demonstrated judgment and integrity in an oversight role
Consideration will be given to volunteers with experience serving on a not-for-profit Board or governance committee or senior level experience working with other Boards. Experience and skills in the following areas will be considered assets:
  • Good working knowledge of CanadaGAP - its functioning, goals, evolution, etc.
  • Familiarity with administrative and management processes, rather than technical knowledge
  • Personnel management experience
  • Financial management experience
  • Knowledge of international food safety context
Directors need NOT be CanadaGAP program participants.

Term of Office
Directors will serve a two-year term. The Board meets twice a year in person, and holds conference calls as needed.

How to Apply
Those interested in serving on the Board of Directors must complete and submit the application form by August 31, 2018. Self-nominations are acceptable.

General Operating By-law No. 1
The by-law is available for download at: https://www.canadagap.ca/history/members-only/

If you are not a member of CanAgPlus, but interested in serving on the Board, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or call 613-829-4711 to obtain a copy of the by-law.

For more information
Visit www.canadagap.ca for further information about CanadaGAP and its governance.
Published in Food Safety
The Okanagan's Burrowing Owl Estate Winery is celebrating its commitment to renewable energy by declaring Tuesday, May 15, 2018 "Solar Day" at the winery.

The winery will be hosting local media and guests, with a glass of Burrowing Owl's first wine release of 2018, the 2017 Pinot Gris. Follow the story at #SolarDay.

Burrowing Owl has long been dedicated to sustainable winemaking, and it's leading the way once again with the installation of five large solar systems on its estate properties.

The winery's investments into alternative energy over the past dozen years include the following:
  • In 2006, the winery installed its first solar panels, producing the equivalent of 53,000 kWh annually in the form of hot water
  • In 2016, the winery's staff house in Osoyoos became a "NET ZERO" building with addition of 116 solar panels
  • A cellar expansion completed in 2017 with a roof blanketed by 70 solar panels. The electricity provided by the panels will offset approximately 12.9 tons of CO2 emissions per year
  • A 2017 visitor parking structure designed to provide shade and rain protection, topped by 106 solar panels that will offset 27 tons of CO2 every year.
  • 2017 - Our 45,000 sq. ft Oliver warehouse with a south-facing roof covered by 160 panels to capture solar energy, offsetting 30 tons of carbon annually and producing 60,000 kWh annually.
That's enough energy to provide heat and air conditioning for this large building, giving it a carbon footprint of "NET ZERO".

In addition, the winery has also installed eight new electric vehicle charging stations, which visitors and staff may use at no cost. For more information, visit: https://www.burrowingowlwine.ca/
Published in Profiles
There’s a dramatic shift in consumer preference to more locally sourced, sustainably grown foods, with sales expected to top $20.2 billion by 2019.

The local food market is fertile ground for FreshSpoke, a Canadian tech start-up that caught the attention of Food-X and earned them a place as one of only eight companies at their leading food-tech accelerator based in New York City.

Food-X is the largest global investor in early stage food companies and receives hundreds of applications each cohort.

“We work with a handful of companies that have big ideas and the potential to make a difference in the food industry”, comments Peter Bodenheimer, program director at FOOD-X. “We believe that FreshSpoke’s marketplace platform will revolutionize the way retailers and restaurants procure local food.”

FreshSpoke is tackling the marketing and distribution challenges that have kept most farmers and micro-producers out of the wholesale market.

“Consumers care about local and sustainably grown food and are willing to spend more to get it”, states Marcia Woods, CEO and passionate force behind FreshSpoke, “and the restaurants and retailers that are keeping pace with this trend want a reliable and cost effective procurement solution like FreshSpoke.”

FreshSpoke’s platform handles the order, payment and delivery for farmers, growers as well as food and beverage artisans, and gives wholesale buyers a direct pipeline to fresh, local food, delivered to their door using a shared delivery system.

“Instead of putting more trucks on the road, FreshSpoke leverages the excess capacity that exists in the delivery system”, explains Ms. Woods. “This drives down cost and gives commercial drivers, including producers, the ability to earn extra income delivering local food.”

FreshSpoke has struck a chord as some 300 Canadian wholesale businesses are now registered buyers with access to an online catalogue of over 1,500 products from some 175 local producers. This Spring, FreshSpoke will launch to wholesale buyers and producers in the U.S., beginning in Northwest Ohio and Southern Michigan.

The notion of a centralized marketplace for wholesale buyers to procure local food comes as good news for farm to table restaurateur, Scott Bowman of Fowl & Fodder in Toledo, Ohio. “I’m excited about FreshSpoke coming to our region because I need to fill gaps in my local produce sourcing during the off-season, and I’m excited to have a more diverse list of locally available product for my seasonal menu.”

For more information about FreshSpoke, visit their web site at www.freshspoke.com or call 844.483-7374.
Published in Companies

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in Kentville, N.S., is undertaking a renovation of a lab workspace of 400-square metres to accommodate new grape and wine research.

A Cambridge Nova Scotia construction company has been awarded a contract to renovate an existing pilot plant space in the research centre. The space will be retrofit and converted into a wine research lab.

The development is part of a multi-dimensional research approach at the Kentville centre in support of Nova Scotia grape growers and vintners.

A new scientist, food-wine chemist Shawna MacKinnon has been hired to run the lab.
There will be areas where grapes grown in the local vineyards will be brought in, evaluated and crushed for use in wine production, processing and bottling.

The new facility will include spaces for the fermentation of white and red wines at a wide range of temperatures and volumes, a wine cellar, and a room where wine, created at the centre, can be tasted, tested and sampled by a panel.

The goal is to improve agricultural productivity and support the Nova Scotia government’s goal of increasing vine acreage from 800 acres to 2,000 acres by 2020.

The renovation and installation work is expected to be completed later this year.

The renovation will build on a $400,000 research project in support of the local grape and wine sector currently underway at the Kentville centre on grape varieties, growing techniques and conditions.

To date 70 sites, about 1,000 acres of N.S. vineyards have been mapped for insect pests and grapevine viruses and bacteria. Soil, topography, and climate are also being assessed to see how these factors affect wine taste, flavour and wine quality. Samples were taken from vineyards throughout the province.

A monitoring system is in place to measure the effect of cold weather on grape vines and wine grape winter hardiness. A two-acre research vineyard has been established to study local and European grape varieties.

This vineyard will be used to further analyze factors that influence vine health, hardiness, and wine quality. Information on grape maturity prior to harvest is being collected. A light-emitting hand-held device is being evaluated for its ability to pinpoint grape ripeness to identify the best harvest time which is a key factor in the production of high quality wines.

Published in Research
The 96th Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Horticultural Council took place in Ottawa from March 13 to 15, 2018. By all accounts, the event was a success. More than 150 delegates from all over Canada participated in over 30 standing committee and working group meetings for an update on activities and to discuss issues pertaining to labour, crop protection, industry standards and food safety, business risk management, and trade. Commodity committees also met to discuss issues pertaining to apples, potatoes, berries, field vegetables, and greenhouse vegetables.

Members reviewed, discussed and adopted 21 resolutions that will guide the activities of CHC throughout 2018. The majority of the adopted resolutions pertain to crop protection issues, followed by trade, and then labour issues.

Government participation
The event attracted a significant amount of attention from government, with over 21 federal and provincial government departments and agencies attending. Participants included the following Canadian government departments: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Statistics Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Pest Management Centre, and more.

Awards
CHC recognized three special individuals with awards at its 96th Annual Banquet. Rebecca Lee, CHC Executive Director, handed out the Honourary Life Membership Award to Craig Hunter for his 40-plus years of service in the crop protection sector and his longstanding role as technical advisor to CHC’s Crop Protection Advisory Committee. She then presented the Outstanding Achievement Award to Charles Stevens for his dedication and service as a CHC member.

Alvin Keenan, CHC President, then took the stage to present the Doug Connery award to a fellow PEI farmer John MacDonald who has spent more than 40 years in CHC activities, including as president in 1983.

Advocacy Day
For the first year ever, CHC took advantage of its members already being in Ottawa to organize a series of advocacy meetings with government. In just one morning, CHC led 15 meetings with senior department officials and ministerial staff from Agriculture and Agri-Food, Global Affairs, Employment and Social Development, Health, Immigration and Refugee, Environment and Climate Change, and the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as issue-related staff in the offices of parliamentarians. The meetings helped to further our relationships and to reinforce our key positions with senior government officials.
Published in Associations
Canada’s agriculture and food system is a leading producer of high-quality, safe products and a key driver of the country’s economic growth. The Government of Canada understands the importance of this sector in creating good, middle-class jobs, while growing the economy, and is committed to working with farmers, ranchers and processors to ensure its continued innovation, growth and prosperity.

April 1st marked the official launch of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a progressive $3-billion commitment that will help chart the course for government investments in the sector over the next five years. The Partnership aims to continue to help the sector grow trade, advance innovation while maintaining and strengthening public confidence in the food system, and increase its diversity.

Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments have been working collaboratively since 2016 to develop the next agricultural policy framework, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. FPT governments consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, including producers, processors, indigenous communities, women, youth, and small and emerging sectors to ensure the Partnership was focused on the issues that matter most to them.

In addition, under the Partnership, business risk management (BRM) programs will continue to help producers manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage.

Ministers of Agriculture will convene in Vancouver this July for the Annual Meeting of Federal,
Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Agriculture.

“I am incredibly proud to announce that the Canadian Agricultural Partnership has officially launched and all that it promises for our great sector. Our goal is to help Canadian farmers, ranchers and processors compete successfully in markets at home and around the globe, through this strong collaboration between provincial, territorial and federal governments," said Minister MacAulay.
Published in Federal
Guelph, Ont. – The Agri-Food Management Institute (AMI) recently launched 'The Food Entrepreneur’s Journey’, to help budding food manufacturers with practical step-by-step advice on how to build a thriving business from idea to commercialization.

“There are many opportunities in Ontario’s food industry, but it’s tough to break into and tougher to succeed,” said AMI executive director Ashley Honsberger. “To ease the process, we’re offering this free guide that’s full of tips on business planning, avoiding pitfalls and finding the resources that are available to assist entrepreneurs along the way.”

The guide takes the reader through all the activities that need to be performed in five basic stages: idea, proof of concept, product and business development, pre-commercial trials and sales, and finally commercial sales.

Included are knowledge and experiences words of wisdom from product developers, chefs and other industry experts as well as owners who have already gone through the experience of starting up. Fran Kruz, chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of Not Yer Granny’s Granola, in Barrie, described her process. “This is not a linear model – at least not in my experience. The process continues to be very organic, multi-directional, and in some cases, it’s one step forward and two steps to one side, three to the other side, one back and a leap forward... I guess you could call it a dance!”

A Food Entrepreneur’s Journey was also developed as a source of food industry information for advisory staff in federal, provincial, municipal and other organizations that help business start-ups across the province.

The guide is now available online at the AMI’s website: https://takeanewapproach.ca/news and will be available at trade shows throughout the year.

The Agri-Food Management Institute promotes new ways of thinking about agribusiness management and aims to increase awareness, understanding and adoption of beneficial business management practices by Ontario agri-food and agri-based producers and processors. AMI is funded by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
Published in Provinces
Apple, cherry and other tree fruit growers throughout British Columbia 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.
Published in Provinces
Three Alberta companies and one association participated in the Seed Potato Trade Mission to Thailand from November 19 to 27, 2017. The Companies included Haarsma Farms, Parkland Seed Potatoes, Sunnycrest Seed Potatoes, and the Potato Growers of Alberta.

Participants met with importers, distributors, and potential customers in Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, Thailand. They also toured local potato farm operations.

“This was the first market development mission focused on seed potato suppliers to Thailand since Alberta was granted market access last year,” says Rachel Luo, senior trade and relations officer with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Alberta seed potato companies pushed to make this mission a reality, and all the companies expect to generate new sales.”

“We expect to be exporting Alberta seed potatoes by 2019 starting with a trial order,” says Kirby Sawatzky with Parkland Seed Potatoes. “We made excellent connections with two major seed potato importers.”

The Alberta delegation met with PepsiCo and toured its potato chip factory and contracted farm. The group also met with BJC Foods and toured its storage facilities and contracted potato farm. The Thai importers made it clear that the opportunities for Alberta seed potatoes were positive due to the hearty nature of Alberta’s seed potato varieties.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry collaborated with the Canadian Embassy in Thailand to organize this mission to Thailand.

For more information on the South East Asia market, contact Rachel Luo, senior trade and relations officer with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry at 780-422-7102.
Published in Provinces
Ottawa, Ont. – The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has commenced a new project to enhance and update CAHRC’s agricultural supply/demand forecasting system.

The new information will provide updated national, provincial and commodity-specific labour market information that will clarify the state of the Canadian agricultural labour market and ways to minimize labour shortages in the future.

The two-year project will augment CAHRC’s previously released Labour Market Information (LMI) research that determined annual farm cash receipt losses to Canadian producers due to job vacancies at $1.5 B or three per cent of the industry’s total value in sales.

Based on 2014 figures, the LMI research estimated the current gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce as 59,000 jobs. That means primary agriculture had the highest industry job vacancy rate of all sectors at seven per cent.

Projections indicated that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. The new research will update the forecast through to 2029.

“Understanding the evolving needs of agricultural labour challenges across the country and across commodities will facilitate the development of informed and relevant initiatives by industry stakeholders to ensure the future viability and growth of Canadian farms,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of CAHRC.

CAHRC’s research will examine the specific labour needs of all aspects of on-farm production including: apiculture; aquaculture; beef; dairy; field fruit and vegetables; greenhouse, nursery and floriculture; grains and oilseeds; poultry and eggs; sheep and goats; swine; and the tree fruit and vine industries.

The new research will update the demand and supply model of the agricultural workforce with information about projected employment growth, seasonality of labour demand, and labour supply inflows and outflows including immigration, inter-sector mobility, and retirements, as well as temporary foreign workers. It will also conduct secondary investigations and analyses focused on the participation of women and indigenous people in the agricultural workforce.

“The labour gap needs to be filled,” says Debra Hauer, manager of CAHRC’s AgriLMI Program. “To achieve this, we will examine groups that are currently under-represented in the agricultural workforce, particularly women and indigenous people, as well as continue to encourage new Canadians to make a career in agriculture. Removing barriers will improve access to job opportunities and help address labour shortages by increasing the agricultural labour pool.”

The new research findings will be unveiled at a national AgriWorkforce Summit for employers, employment serving agencies, government, education, and industry associations. Additionally, a series of presentations will be delivered to industry associations detailing national, provincial or commodity-specific labour market information.

Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program, the Council is collaborating with federal and provincial government departments, leading agriculture organizations and agricultural colleges and training providers to ensure that the needs of this industry research are fully understood and addressed.
Published in Research
Perennial fruit orchards are long-lived, long-term investments which require regular maintenance and upkeep to ensure that they retain their youthful health, vigour and productivity for an extended period.

“Ensuring that crops survive the harsh prairie climate can be challenging, as the weather is hard on orchards,” says Robert Spencer, commercial horticulture specialist at the Alberta Ag-Info Centre. “If they are handled correctly, our orchard crops should handle most of what Mother Nature throws at them and the investment will be protected from loss.”

A big part of managing an orchard in the off-season starts with lots of in-season and pre-off-season management, involving keeping plants healthy, active at the right time of year, and productive. Generally, over-wintering of all plants revolves around the same basic guidelines.

Provided you have started with hardy plant material that is suited to your area and those plants enter winter healthy, they should be able to handle most of what is thrown at them. “However, the work doesn’t stop there,” explains Spencer. “The dormant season is a time to monitor and assess orchard health at a higher, general level, as opposed to specific, in-season production monitoring and management. It is a time to make adjustments based on the previous growing season and make any corrections.”

Winter is also a time for pruning, with dead, diseased or damaged branches removed, as well as larger sized branches. “Thin and shape the canopy as required, ensuring that the plants have younger wood and aren’t too tall,” says Spencer. “Intensive rejuvenation pruning activities may also be undertaken in older orchards in the dormant season and can be done up until mid-March, as long as the plants are still dormant.”

“Another aspect of off-season management is done largely in your mind and on paper,” adds Spencer. “Assess what worked and what isn’t working in your orchard. Evaluate the productivity and profitability of the orchard and make adjustments as required. Make plans for various situations, and assemble the necessary tools in advance, to make you more nimble in-season.”

For more information about off-season orchard management, contact the Alberta Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276).
Published in Fruit
Almost everyone agrees: The Red Delicious is a crime against the apple. The fruit makes for a joyless snack, despite the false promise of its name, with a bitter skin that gives way to crumbling, mealy flesh. Maybe that’s why the New York Apple Association suggests people use their Red Delicious in holiday wreaths and centerpieces.

Though it’s no longer the most popular apple in America—since its heyday in the 1980s, it’s been overtaken by newer, tastier varieties—the Delicious remains the most heavily produced apple in the United States. Which means that, even though we’ve long since caught on, you can still find the red scourge everywhere.

This raises some important questions. Why do we keep growing 2.7 billion pounds of Red Delicious apples every year? And are growers still excited by the Delicious or are they stuck between a declining market and an orchard they can’t afford to tear up? For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Published in Fruit
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientist Dr. Qiang Liu is developing a new plant protein-based bioplastic that will keep meat, dairy, and other food products fresher longer.

The bioplastic is made from the by-products created by industrial processing of certain plants. Not only will this bioplastic protect perishable food better than regular plastic packaging, it is also more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.

Dr. Liu has been working to advance the science around bioplastics for over 15 years. He is a "green" chemist - someone who specializing in making plastics and other goods from agricultural plants.

"I, along with industry, saw great opportunity to create something useful out of the leftover by-product from industrial canola oil processing, which is why this project was funded under the Growing Forward 2 Canola Cluster. We can extract all sorts of things like starches, proteins, and oils from plant materials to make plastics, but I am particularly interested in proteins from canola meal in this research project," says Dr. Liu.

Plant protein-based bioplastic has been shown to have similar attributes to other plant-based bio-products; it can stretch, it doesn’t deform in certain temperatures, and in some cases, it biodegrades. That being said, building the polymers (long chains of repeating molecules) that are the basis of biofilms and plastics can be tricky and finding just the right technique and formula is challenging.

One challenge with some protein polymers is that they are can be sensitive to a lot of moisture - not a good trait if you want to use them to protect food with a natural moisture content. Dr. Liu and his team recently discovered a formula and technique to make soy and canola protein polymers water-resistant by "wrapping" them in another polymer.

The team was also able to add an anti-microbial compound to the mix, which not only made the resulting bioplastic able to prevent nasty bacteria like E. coli from growing - but, depending on how much was added, also could change the porosity of the film.

The porosity of bioplastic (essentially how many holes are in it) is very important in food packaging since different foods need different amounts of moisture to stay fresh. Having a way to adjust porosity (either having more or less small holes in it) is a great feature in a potential plastic because it can either let more or less water go into or out of the area where the food is.

Even though it is in the early stages of development, Dr. Liu believes there is great future for bringing this technology into the marketplace.

"The use of plant-based plastics as a renewable resource for packaging and consumer goods is becoming increasingly attractive due to environmental concerns and the availability of raw materials. My hope is that someday this research will lead to all plastics being made from renewable sources. It would be a win for the agriculture sector to have another source of income from waste and a win for our environment," explains Dr. Liu.

Should this potential biofilm prove viable, it would be a win for the agriculture sector and the environment, as it would provide added revenue by creating a renewable plastic alternative.
Published in Federal
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