Human Resources
August 18, 2017 - The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) recently held an AgriWorkforce Roundtable to discuss challenges and possible solutions to address the critical agricultural labour shortage in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, Smith says producers should champion farmers that are doing a great job with their workers and get the word out that agriculture is a rewarding and fulfilling career with a strong future.
Published in Business & Policy
August 17, 2017, Vancouver, B.C. - The new British Columbia government confirmed it won't tinker with the previously-announced $.50 increases to BC's general minimum wage and liquor server wage. Effective Sept. 15, the general minimum wage will increase from $10.85 to $11.35 and the liquor server wage will increase from $9.60 to $10.10.

"Restaurants Canada supports reasonable minimum wage increases that ensure our employees keep up with the cost of living, are announced well in advance to give businesses time to adjust, and do not trigger large menu price increases or a reduction in entry-level employment," said von Schellwitz. "We're concerned when governments move too quickly and at the wrong time, as it hurts businesses, customers and employees."

The association doesn't want to see a repeat of the job losses in Alberta, where an arbitrary push for a $15 minimum wage cost more than 4,700 hospitality industry jobs in 2016 alone, and where the youth unemployment rate spiked to over 14 per cent.

Our members are equally concerned by the Ontario government's about-face on minimum wage policy, moving abruptly from linking minimum wage increases to the cost of living, to pushing for a $15 minimum wage in just 18 months.

This decision, combined with other labour reforms, is putting 187,000 jobs at risk, 17,300 in the restaurant and hotel industries alone.  It will also double inflation, increase household costs for consumer goods and services by $1,300 a year, and increase deficits for all levels of government.

"Restaurants Canada is pleased that the BC government is maintaining the previously-announced 2017 minimum wage increases that small businesses have been preparing for. We look forward to working with the new government and Fair Wages Commission on future minimum wage increases that raise wages without costing entry-level employment opportunities," concluded von Schellwitz.
Published in Provinces
August 14, 2017, Morgan Hill, Cali. – We are pleased to announce the promotion of John Nelson as Vice President of Sakata America Holding Company and its primary operating subsidiary of Sakata Seed America, effective September 1st. John is currently the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at Sakata Seed America, a position he’s held since 2004.

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

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

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

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

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

Sakata Seed America, which celebrates its 40th year of business in NAFTA and Central America this year, is focused on expansion of personnel and infrastructure to continue successful growth.
Published in Companies
August 11, 2017, Langley, BC – There are more than 24,000 people employed in British Columbia’s agriculture industry and sun and heat exposure are workplace hazards for many of them.

Agriculture workers have a 2.5 to 3.5 times greater risk of developing skin cancer than indoor workers, according to a Sun Safety At Work Canada 2016 report. Employers are responsible for addressing this risk.

AgSafe, BC’s agriculture health and safety association, suggests the best way to reduce the risk of sun and heat exposure in the workplace is to implement a sun and heat safety action plan for outside workers.

“There are resources available for those who employ outdoor workers to help them develop and implement a sun and heat safety plan,” says Wendy Bennett, executive director of AgSafe. “The key is controlling the worker’s exposure to sun and the possibility of heat stress.”

Checking Environment Canada’s UV index regularly to monitor worker risk and providing a shade structure, where practical or enabling shade breaks on the worksite will help reduce the effects of sun exposure.

Scheduling heavy work outside of the hottest times of the day – before 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m. – when UV levels are lower, along with regular “cool-down” rest periods, will help reduce the risk of heat stress.

Knowing the signs of heat stress – decrease in alertness, extreme fatigue, nausea, dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and fast shallow breathing, is very important and should be acted upon immediately if they present.

Bennett adds that the risk of heat stress is higher when employees are working outdoors with equipment that gives off heat.

Tips to avoid sun exposure and heat stress:
  • Wear loose-fitting tightly woven or UV-protective labelled clothing; wide brimmed hats that shade the face, ears and neck; apply sunscreen throughout the day
  • Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from UV rays
  • Hydrate regularly with water
  • Take breaks in the shade
Additional sun and heat safety information is available by visiting www.SunSafetyAtWork.ca or www.Weather.gc.ca.
Published in Vegetables
August 4, 2017, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) recently held an AgriWorkforce Roundtable to discuss challenges and possible solutions to address the critical agricultural labour shortage in Canada.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, Smith says producers should champion farmers that are doing a great job with their workers and get the word out that agriculture is a rewarding and fulfilling career with a strong future.
Published in Federal
July 26, 2017, Ontario - This letter was sent to Hon. Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Farm Products Marketing Commission on July 21, 2017.

The Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance and the growers it represents have serious concerns about the recruitment of a new general manager for the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG).

After the elected OPVG board was dismantled by the government and the Farm Products Marketing Commission, the Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance (PVGA) formed to represent the interests of growers of the 14 different processing vegetable growers in Ontario. Our goal is to restore a fully elected OPVG board that would, among other duties, lead the hiring process for a new general manager.

We have two distinct concerns with the process being undertaken to fill the general manager position for OPVG.

First, and most importantly, we believe senior level hiring decisions are best made by an elected board. Ontario’s processing vegetable growers deserve a say in the senior staff representing their industry.

OPVG and other commodity organizations generally hire their own staff. This practice builds trust between growers, their elected board and OPVG staff – a relationship that is particularly important for an organization that negotiates with processors on behalf of its grower members.

Secondly, we are concerned about the process being used to hire a new OPVG general manager. Currently, recruitment is being conducted by posting the position on two, relatively obscure, job sites. Given the importance of the general manager role – and the value of the processing vegetable sector to Ontario’s economy and the agri-food industry – we believe an independent professional recruitment firm is the most appropriate way to find the best candidate for this position.

We ask that you reconsider the hiring of an OPVG general manager and defer that important task to an elected OPVG board.

If this request is ignored, and the hiring proceeds, we strongly recommend the term be limited to a one-year contract to give the elected board the autonomy to determine the long-term suitability of a new general manager. Notwithstanding the foregoing, we reserve the right to challenge this decision and any other course of action taken following the improper removal of the OPVG board.

Francis Dobbelaar
Chair, Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance
Published in Associations
July 21, 2017, Guelph, Ont. – The new Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) elected inaugural board members from across Canada recently to build its mandate to help Canada’s food system earn trust. CCFI provides a support service to assist Canada’s agri-food sector earn public trust by coordinating consumer research, resources, dialogue, and training.

The new CCFI board has named its first six directors, from west to east: Dave Eto (Naturally Splendid, B.C.), Kim McConnell (AdFarm, Alta.), Adele Buettner (AgriBiz Communications Corp, S.K.), Gwen Paddock (Royal Bank, Ont.), Sylvie Cloutier (Conseil De La Transformation Alimentaire Du Quebec CTAQ, PQ), and Mary Robinson (potato farmer, PEI). Three former Farm & Food Care Canada directors (Bruce Christie, Carolynne Griffith and Ian McKillop) are also members of the inaugural board but will be transitioning as additional directors are added to the board over the next few months.

The board is a key step in the development of a solid business model for CCFI, with a smaller, skills-based and governance-focused group of directors. The CCFI leadership model will also include a larger Advisory Council with representation from many sectors, partners, NGOs, academia and government to provide insights and strategic thinking to the board and staff team. Development of the Advisory Council is now underway.

Crystal Mackay will assume the role as President of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity.

Kim McConnell was elected the Chair of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity. “There is both a need and a strong desire for a coalition approach and shared investment model for more effectively earning trust in Canadian food and farming for the future,” McConnell stated. “We are ready to get to work and deliver on CCFI’s important mandate to help support our many partners and the Canadian food system to earn trust.”

Find out more and help build the momentum for earning public trust in food and farming in Canada by attending the upcoming Canadian CFI Public Trust Summit ‘Tackling Transparency – The Truth about Trust’ in Calgary on September 18-20, 2017. Register today at www.foodintegrity.ca

The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity helps Canada’s food system earn trust by coordinating research, resources,dialogue and training. Our members and project partners, who represent the diversity of the food system, are committed to providing accurate information and working together to address important issues in food and agriculture. The CCFI does not lobby or advocate for individual companies or brands. For more information sign up for the CCFI e-news and visit www.foodintegrity.ca
Published in Associations
July 4, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - 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 on December 6, 2017 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 (4) directors to the Board, constituted as follows:
Two (2) directors who must be approved by the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC). Approval by CHC typically occurs after the CanAgPlus AGM once directors have been elected by members.

One (1) director who must be approved by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA). Approval by CPMA typically occurs after the CanAgPlus AGM once directors have been elected by members.

One (1) director who must be elected by members of CanAgPlus at its AGM.
CanAgPlus will be responsible for submitting names to CHC and CPMA for approval, where necessary.

Nominations:

A recommended slate of nominees will be prepared in advance of the AGM for circulation to members, and presented for vote on December 6, 2017. 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, 2017. Self-nominations are acceptable.

General Operating By-law No. 1

The by-law is available for download at: http://www.canadagap.ca/about-us/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 206 to obtain a copy of the by-law.

For more information
Visit www.canadagap.ca for further information about CanadaGAP and its governance.

Questions?
Contact us at 613-829-4711 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Published in Business & Policy
June 30, 2017 - Engage Agro, a leading distributor of crop protection products, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mark Kennedy as National Sales Manager - Agriculture for Canada.

Reporting to General Manager, Cade Morse, Kennedy will oversee the sales force servicing the needs of cash crop and horticultural growers across Canada. Kennedy has a proven track record with Engage Agro where he successfully solidified the company’s position in the crop nutrition segment.

Prior to joining Engage Agro, Kennedy started his career working for WG Thompsons in Southwestern Ontario as a Territory and Regional Sales Representative working directly with growers. Mark served Thompsons as Regional Sales Manager, and as Crop Inputs, Seed and Grain Locations Manager.

Mark progressed to the Thompson’s Head Office in Blenheim where he focused on grain and crop input marketing in Ontario, Manitoba, Minnesota and the Dakotas as Farm Services Business Manager. Mr. Kennedy also served on the senior executive committee with the Thompson organization.
Published in Companies
June 29, 2017, P.E.I. - Mary Robinson of Prince Edward Island, has been acclaimed the new Chair of the Canadian Agriculture Human Resource Council (CAHRC), replacing Mark Wales of Ontario. Rounding off the Board's Executive are Cyr Couturier (NL) as Vice Chair, Harold Deenen (ON) as Treasurer; and Connie Keller (SK) and Paul Glenn (ON) - all for two year terms.

Robinson's family has been farming in Augustine Cove, PEI since 1810. Along with her two cousins, Lori and Andrew, she actively manages Eric C. Robinson Inc. and its subsidiaries.

The operation, a sixth generation farm and third generation family agri-business, was recognized in 2014 as one of PEI's Heritage Farms. Eric C. Robinson Inc. currently grows potatoes, grain, soybeans and hay. Other facets of the family business include grading and packing fresh potatoes, a produce dealership, custom application and crop input businesses. Mary is also a Certified Crop Advisor and actively manages Island Lime Inc.

In addition to Robinson's new position at CAHRC, she is the past president of the PEI Federation of Agriculture, has been newly named to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture's Board and sits on the CFA's Governance and Carbon Tax committees. She is a member of the National Program Advisory Council for Agriculture, is the lead for CFA's work on the Food Policy for Canada and has just accepted a position on the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity Board.

"The path is well laid out for CAHRC. We need to continue to bring valuable human resource assistance to the national table, pushing traditional thinkers to be creative and helping facilitate a better understanding of what career opportunities agriculture offers," says Robinson. "CAHRC will continue to have a multi-angled approach to this; capturing the attention of employers, educators, potential workers and the general public. As we hear people talk about "public trust", "food policy" and "sustainability", Ag HR has a strong role to play in these arenas. The messaging we send out will be taken in by the general public as part of the journey to building trust and understanding between agriculture and non-agriculture communities."

While Robinson is the fourth Chair in CAHRC's 10 year history, she is the first woman, which reflects a growing upward long-term trend of women in agriculture.

Statistics Canada indicated that in 2016, women accounted for 29 per cent of farm operators national wide. However, CAHRC research indicates that the proportion of women on boards is not representative of the proportion of women in the industry. Of 65 national and provincial agricultural associations reviewed by CAHRC research, only eight had women as the Board Chair or President, and another eight had women in the 'second in command' role of Vice-President or Vice-Chair. Representation of women on board executive committees was slightly better with 18 of the 65 organizations having at least one woman on their board.

One of the projects that CAHRC manages is Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture (SAWA), for which CAHRC has developed a tool for associations entitled, Is Your Board Representative: A Best Practices Guide to Ensuring Women are Included, to work through processes to improve diversity.

“Our aim is to help improve diversity within the industry and increase the number of women on agricultural association boards and in leadership positions. Diversity and inclusion are central to the future success of the industry,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director of CAHRC. “To accomplish this, we have developed a guide that provides a step-by-step process that industry associations can follow to assess their current situation and identify new ways to encourage the full participation of women in leadership roles. The industry will be at its best when all perspectives are included.”

As Robinson heads into a new decade for CAHRC she summarizes, "In these next 10 years, CAHRC will fill an even more integral position in helping Canada do an effective job of assisting our agricultural employers satisfy its human resource needs; helping outfit those businesses with the skilled people needed to maximize agricultural sustainability and economic success. Canada is aiming to capitalize on the Barton Report, develop a Food Policy for Canada and step up to the responsibility of being one of only a handful nations able to export food, helping feed the world. Canadians have a moral obligation to get organized and be prepared to make the best use of our resources - land, soil, air, water and people. Canada needs CAHRC to continue to be the champion of Ag HR and best prepare our people for the job."
Published in Federal
June 28, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. — The Board of Directors of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) is pleased to announce the appointment of John F.T. Scott to the position of Chair.

Scott has been involved with CAPI since its inception and has served on the Board for the past three years. He is the former CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and the past chair of the acclaimed Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. He cites the work of CAPI as one of his great passions in life.

Scott succeeds Ted Bilyea, who announced his resignation earlier this year. "Over the six years I have been Chair, CAPI has accomplished a great deal to the benefit of the sector, culminating in Canadian agri-food being acknowledged as a growth sector," said Bilyea. "I have every expectation even more will be achieved under John's leadership."

Scott stated, "I am deeply honoured to receive the trust of the Board and I look forward to working with this strong group to build the CAPI of tomorrow. I join the Board in expressing our deep appreciation to Ted and with pleasure announce that he will remain with us as a Special Advisor."

At its Annual Meeting on June 20, 2017, CAPI elected two new members to its Board of Directors. Chantelle Donahue is the Vice President & Commercial Seed Manager for Global Edible Oil Solutions-Specialties (GEOS-S) at Cargill Limited.

Deborah Stark is the former Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. She retired from this position in 2016 following a rich career in the Ontario public service, during which she held several senior management positions.

"CAPI is extremely fortunate to have these two exceptional individuals join our Board," said Mr. Scott. "Their skill sets complement and enhance those held by our continuing Directors. We anticipate valuable participation from each of them."

The Board of Directors expresses its sincere appreciation to retiring Board member Wayne Stark, who served on the Board for the past eight years. Through that time Mr. Stark made several significant contributions to the agri-food sector, and CAPI looks forward to continuing to work with him.
Published in Companies
June 14, 2017, Toronto, Ont. - Vive Crop Protection is pleased to announce the recent appointment of Dr. Darren Anderson as President.

Darren was one of the original founders of Vive and has been a member of Vive’s Board of Directors since the company was formed in 2006. Since founding the company, Darren has served in various senior management roles, including leading Vive’s product development, regulatory, and communications activities.

Keith Thomas, who will remain as CEO of Vive, states that “Darren’s deep understanding of modern agriculture, keen strategic insight, and excellent business sense continue to be an asset to Vive. I am looking forward to working with Darren in his new role.”

“I am excited about Vive’s future”, added Darren. “With three new products launched in 2017, several recently announced partnerships, and an innovative product pipeline, we are poised for very rapid growth.”
Published in Companies
May 15, 2017, Summerland, B.C., Canada – Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF), the developer of nonbrowning Arctic apple varieties, today announced the hiring of Don Westcott, who joins the team as OSF’s Director of Operations.

Effective May 15, 2017, Westcott will assess, plan and facilitate the execution of the company’s orchard establishment and fruit production, in addition to supporting infrastructure and facility operations.

Westcott comes to OSF with over twenty years of tree fruit industry experience, most recently with BC Tree Fruits Cooperative as their Director of Logistics, Planning, and Industry Relations. Prior to his tenure with BC Tree Fruits, Westcott held multiple roles over eight years with Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative, preceded by a nine-year stint with Sun Fresh Cooperative Growers in a variety of positions.

“We are thrilled to add a professional of Don’s caliber to help lead our rapidly growing team,” stated OSF President Neal Carter. Carter pointed to Westcott’s past roles and local ties as key reasons for his fit with OSF, explaining, “Over the past two decades, Don has been a key leader in the tree fruit industry in the Okanagan Valley, and his experience and enthusiasm will help ensure the successful commercialization of our nonbrowning Arctic® apple varieties.”

Don Westcott expressed his eagerness to join Okanagan Specialty Fruits, saying, “I am proud to become part of this hard-working team that’s bringing innovation to the tree fruit industry, beginning with Arctic® apples. The same spirit that drives OSF motivates me and I couldn’t be more pleased to bring my organizational skills and experience to this central role with a pioneering organization like OSF.”

Westcott’s addition comes just weeks after OSF announced a number of other new hires, including Jeanette De-Coninck-Hertzler as Sales Manager and Denise Everett as Communications Specialist.
Published in Companies
April 27, 2017, Summerland, BC – In preparation for the fall 2017 commercial launch of nonbrowning Arctic apples, Okanagan Specialty Fruits (OSF) has added produce industry veteran Jeanette De-Coninck-Hertzler as sales manager and Denise Everett as communications specialist to their team.

De-Coninck-Hertzler brings to OSF more than 30 years of produce sales experience. After obtaining a BSc, with a major in agricultural business management, from California Polytechnic State University, De-Coninck-Hertzler began her career as a sales representative with Frieda’s Inc. in 1985, where she worked for nearly 20 years before joining MCL Distributing, since re-named to 4Earth Farms, as a senior account manager. De-Coninck-Hertzler has since worked in various roles with Shamrock Foods Company, Greengate Fresh LLLP, and Index Fresh, Inc. As sales manager, she will serve as OSF’s sales contact for Arctic apples.

“Jeanette has a proven track record of sales in the produce industry, strong agricultural roots and a passionate personality,” says Jennifer Armen, OSF’s director of business development and marketing. “We look forward to her added experience as we introduce Arctic apples to consumers.”

Denise Everett will join the company on May 8 as the team’s communications specialist. Denise will be leading the company’s media relations, serving as OSF’s primary contact for interviews and executing on the company’s social media strategy. Everett has more than 15 years experience as a communications professional, and began her career in the journalism sector in B.C.

Also in May, OSF will welcome three new members to its research and development team, who will be working to improve additional apple varieties, as well as other tree fruits. Additionally, Jenavive Holmes has joined OSF as an administrative specialist.

OSF is also implementing role changes of current team members to further boost the scope of the team’s activities. Joel Brooks has transitioned from brand manager to brand marketing manager and Jessica Brady has transitioned from marketing and communications specialist to stakeholder outreach and education. In their new positions, Brooks will take a lead role in OSF’s branding, marketing and communications activities, and Brady will focus on outreach and relationship development with key influencer groups and organizations.

“It’s an exciting time for us here at OSF,” says Carter. “With so many strong additions to our team to help bring Arctic apples to eager consumers, we look forward to continued team growth and the introduction of additional wholesome and delicious apple varieties.”
Published in Companies
April 27, 2017, Gloucester, Ont – The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has developed a training program to help Canadian producers strengthen their workforces through on-the-farm training. The program, called AgriSkills, can be customized and made available to various commodity and sector organizations to help their member producers train workers in an easy-to-use and effective manner that documents results.

Recently released CAHRC research indicates the gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. The industry is in need of effective mechanisms to address skills gaps, train farm employees and track training progress.

AgriSkills is a training program that meets this need. It is a program delivered through national and provincial commodity and farm organizations that want to offer their members meaningful workforce training support. It includes structured on-the-farm training courses and employee tracking tools to support effective performance for new and existing workers. Research is currently available to customize the AgriSkills program for: aquaculture; beef; swine; sheep and goats; broiler hens; grains and oilseeds; potatoes; apples; mushrooms; sod; and apiculture industries.

The AgriSkills program includes training resources for both workers and their managers. On-the-job, self-guided activities help workers learn how to do their job safely and efficiently, while e-learning and online videos offer more in-depth information on the theory behind the practice. For managers, AgriSkills provides on-the-job training guides, checklists, tracking tools and other resources to help them support and manage their worker training requirements.

“The purpose of the AgriSkills program is to help producers train their workers in a consistent, efficient and effective manner, that documents all results,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of CAHRC. “The system recognizes the importance of on-the-farm instruction, and gives employers an effective tool to ensure workers are taught how to perform their jobs successfully and safely.”

The core content of AgriSkills was developed with the help of experts, producers and small-business owners from a wide range of agriculture commodity groups. Their input enabled CAHRC to create a set of National Occupational Standards that reflects the work conducted on farms at various levels. By using training materials based on these standards, employers can ensure their workers have the skills they need to meet national standards of safety, competency and productivity – skills that reduce waste, minimize loss, and support business success.

AgriSkills is one of several tools that CAHRC offers to help modern farm operations manage their workforce. CAHRC also offers the Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business; Agri Pathways – promoting careers in agriculture; and Agri Talent – a national database of learning opportunities in agriculture.

The AgriSkills program was funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program. For more information on these and other CAHRC offerings visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.
Published in Federal
April 17, 2017, Kelowna, B.C. - Members of the agricultural community in Kelowna, B.C., say City Council did not communicate with them enough when constructing a new temporary farm worker housing plan.

Kelowna city council forwarded the new temporary farm worker housing plan to public hearing at Monday afternoon’s, April 10, council meeting.

The plan focuses on making the process simpler for farmers who want to house fewer than 40 workers on their property. Those farmers would have one meeting before council and no public hearing. Farms with over 40 workers will have to go through council and a public hearing process.

The B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association would like to see a different way of determining when an application for temporary farm worker housing should go to public hearing. They have requested the city host further dialogue with industry partners before the plan moves forward.

According to the City's suburban and rural planning manager, over 90 per cent of Okanagan farms use less than 40 workers, and the City has spent ample time trying to consult with the agricultural community.

Revised policy changes were sent out again for comment on February 10, 2017. However, the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association was not included in this e-mail. It was not until March 15, that the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association was sent the final revised policy for comment before the April 10 council meeting.

A public hearing for the new temporary farm worker housing plan will be held on May 2, 2017.

If the new plan is not accepted at the public hearing the City will have to look at different options and will have to consult with all partners once more. READ MORE
Published in Business & Policy
January 24, 2017, Niagara Falls, Ont – Enjoy a lively day chock-full of ideas and insights on mentoring, merchandising and marketing from one of Canada’s leading retail & farm market experts.

The Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association (OFFMA) is hosting a workshop with farm marketer Pete Luckett Feb. 21 at the Marriott Gateway to the Falls, Niagara Falls, Ont. The “farminar” will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Participants will leave armed and dangerous with loads of insights to try out in their operation. Customers won’t know what hit them! (But they’ll be loving it!) The day will conclude with an interactive “up close and personal” chat with Pete, where particpamnts can ask questions or discuss those managing, merchandising or marketing perils that keep them up at night.

Topics to be covered in the workshop:
  • Building a Team: excellence is customer service can only begin with a satisfied and motivated team
  • Merchandising: 70 per cent of all purchases are made on impulse and powerful merchandising is the best method to capitalize on this opportunity.
  • Marketing: Whether your operation is roadside, retail, café or a combination of it all, you’ve got to create excitement and energy – every day.
OFFMA will also be holding its annual Ontario Farm Fresh Excellence Awards Banquet on Feb. 21 starting at 6 p.m. at the Marriott Gateway to the Falls. Enjoy a relaxing evening and meal with farm friends, take part in the silent auction, and celebrate the successes of the direct farm marketing industry.

For more information or to order tickets for the workshop and/or banquet, call 905-841-9278.
Published in Marketing
December 15, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is pleased with the federal government's announcement yesterday that the cumulative duration limit, or "four-in, four-out" rule, will no longer apply to temporary foreign workers.
 
In recent meetings with government officials, CFA has expressed concern that this rule has created unnecessary hardship for employers already struggling to fulfill their labour requirements. It has limited the pool of available, experienced workers and led to significant retraining costs while reducing productivity. Ultimately, it has limited opportunities for temporary foreign workers to attain permanent residency. CFA continues to see increased pathways to permanent residency as a vital component of any long-term strategy to reduce Canadian agriculture's labour shortages.

"The government's early action on this file is a critical step forward and CFA is eager to work with government and industry partners in the coming months on a more comprehensive suite of meaningful changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and broader labour market programming," said CFA President Ron Bonnett.

Removing the cumulative duration rule was one of several recommendations that CFA presented to the House of Commons human resources committee earlier this year.

With recent research from the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council highlighting nearly 60,000 vacancies in primary agriculture alone – a figure expected to increase to 114,000 by 2025 – these changes come as a welcome and important move towards meaningful change.

Labour constraints in agriculture continue to cost the industry approximately $1.5 billion in lost sales each year. Farm groups reiterate that this multi-faceted issue requires a long-term strategic approach that includes:

  • improved engagement with groups that are under-represented in the domestic agricultural labour force
  • amendments to Canada's immigration policy
  • ways to make Canada's skills training programs more supportive of farms and on-the-job training.

CFA looks forward to obtaining more details of the new requirements for employers to advertise job opportunities to under-represented groups. Connecting with these communities is a priority for the industry and CFA is working with other stakeholders to address current barriers that confront those interested in working in the sector.

Interested parties are encouraged to refer to the Agriculture and Agri-food Workforce Action Plan, developed by a Labour Task Force involving more than 75 organizations, as a roadmap to improving Canada's agricultural labour market.
Published in Federal

December 5, 2016, Ottawa, Ont – Canada’s agriculture sector faces a persistent lack of sufficient workers with the right skills and in the right places.

Labour shortages have doubled over the last decade and are projected to double again to 113,800 positions before 2025, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report. This report relies on research findings from a three-year agriculture labour market research project conducted by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) in collaboration with the Conference Board.

“The agriculture sector is having difficulty recruiting and retaining domestic workers. As labour shortages have expanded, the sector has increasingly turned to temporary foreign workers to fill the labour gap,” said Michael Burt, director of industrial economic trends with the Conference Board of Canada. “Finding solutions to the labour shortages in the years to come is critical for the future growth of the sector.”

The report – Sowing the Seeds of Growth: Temporary Foreign Workers in Agriculture – examines why temporary foreign workers (TFWs) play such an important role in the agriculture sector’s workforce. It finds that the industry faces unique recruitment and retention challenges that are contributing to its growing labour shortages. These challenges include an aging workforce, the rural location of many operations, and negative perceptions about working in the sector.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Labour shortages within Canada’s agriculture sector have doubled over the past decade and are expected to double again by 2025.
  • At its seasonal peak, the sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at seasonal lows.
  • Three-quarters of the sector’s labour gap has been filled by temporary foreign workers.

The most prominent challenge is the large seasonal fluctuations in employment. At its seasonal peak, the agriculture sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at its seasonal lows, which represents a 30 per cent fluctuation. The average difference between the seasonal peak and low in employment for all other sectors is just four per cent. These seasonal fluctuations are why more than three quarters of agricultural TFWs arrive as part of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.

TFWs have become a key part of the sector’s continued operations and will likely continue to play a growing role in the future. TFWs have been able to fill three-quarters of the industry’s labour shortage gap and now represent one-in-10 workers in the sector. In addition to easing much of the sector’s labour shortages, TFWs have contributed to the growth in agricultural production over the past decade and have supported the employment of Canadians in the sector. Many farm operators indicate that they would have closed, leading to Canadian job losses, had they not had access to TFWs.

Finding solutions to the sector’s growing labour gap in the years to come is important. However, just paying more or buying more machines are not the panacea they would seem. For example, wages in agriculture have risen relative to the average for all sectors over the past 15 years, but the number of Canadians willing to work in agriculture has shrunk. At the same time, a dramatic increase in the amount of machinery employed per worker has contributed to agriculture experiencing the strongest labour productivity gains of any major sector over the past 20 years. Yet, the sector’s labour gap has continued to expand.

One potential solution may be re-evaluating the effectiveness of Canada’s immigration programs so that they better meet the needs of the agriculture sector. With federal immigration policies geared toward attracting high-skilled workers, they offer few pathways for permanent residency for lower-skilled workers, even though agriculture has a critical need for them. A path toward permanent residency for migrant workers, who are filling a permanent market need, would assist farm operators in finding a permanent solution to their labour challenges.

This research was funded by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).

Published in Federal

July 20, 2016 - From its founding in 1961, Highline Mushrooms has flourished to become the largest mushroom grower in Canada with four Ontario growing facilities. Part of that success is attributed to approximately 70 per cent of its employees being new Canadians who stay an average of eight years, with some remaining with the company for 20 – 30 years.

This labour success is not an accident, nor left to chance; rather, it is carefully orchestrated.

“For many immigrants, Highline is their first or second job in Canada,” explains Susan McBride Friesen, director of human resources of Highline Mushrooms from their head office in Leamington, Ont. “Providing employment to new Canadians helps them to establish Canadian roots, learn new skills – including English as a second language – and become a part of the Highline family.  We find that new comers to Canada often have farming connections in their home land, with a closer relationship with the land.  Providing them an opportunity to grow and learn has produced generations of leaders within our organization.” 

The Highline Mushrooms recruitment process caught the attention of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) as it strives to alleviate the chronic labour shortage facing Canadian agriculture through its Labour Market Information (LMI) research. CAHRC recently released research indicating that annual farm cash receipt losses to Canadian producers due to job vacancies are $1.5 billion or three per cent of the industry’s total value in sales and production. The current gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce is 59,000 and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs.

“There is no one answer to the agricultural labour shortage in Canada,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of CAHRC. “New Canadians have long been an under-represented group within the Canadian workforce. Highline Mushrooms is a great example of innovative labour solutions and their recruitment and training process is a model for success that CARHC is sharing so that others may benefit.”

Highline’s approach to labour identifies several key aspects including recruitment, overcoming transportation barriers, overcoming language barriers, new hire orientation, supervisory and leadership development, effective HR practices and key success factors.

Recruitment is achieved by approaching local immigrant settlement agencies and offering meaningful work at a fair wage. Associates within the immigrant settlement agencies are brought to the farm facilities and perform the work themselves to be better able to communicate and match immigrants’ skills with Highline job requirements. Highline also holds regular job fairs in partnership with the immigrant settlement agencies and all jobs are available - not just harvesting. This may include maintenance and labour, skilled trades, operating farm equipment, supervisory and accounting jobs, among others.

Overcoming transportation barriers is difficult as many employees must travel from urban centres - typically about a 40 minute commute - and there is no public transportation. In 2006, Highline introduced a ‘travel pay policy’ where employees are paid $6.35 per day for travel providing they arrive at work on time. This has worked well and encourages carpooling however is still difficult for new employees who don’t yet know anyone working at the farm.

Language and literacy barriers are overcome by Highline providing second language training on site, after work, two days per week. The company pays all costs associated with the language training and supports employees with time off work as needed to attend classes. Further, Highline translates important communications into the major languages used by the workers, such as health and safety material and the bi-weekly corporate newsletter. Also, photos without text are used when possible for training purposes.

New hire orientation consists of recruits getting two days of instruction held both in class and on the floor, to provide opportunities for questions and learning. This way, when the recruit returns for their first day of paid work they have met with the supervisor and are familiar with the scope of work. The harvesters have a formal 6-8 week training program; otherwise there is an informal buddy system where someone of similar community or background is paired with a new recruit to help him or her learn the finer points of their job.

Supervisory and leadership development within management is achieved through leadership training with an organizational psychologist to cover issues such as conflict resolution and change management along with support through regular meetings with the HR team.

Effective HR practices implemented at Highline have proven to have big returns. Their Values in Action Program encourages employees to uphold Highline Mushrooms’ values of: Excellence, Care, Respect, Effort, Integrity, Openness and Fairness. Employees who demonstrate these values at work and in the community are rewarded with having their names entered into a monthly draw for various prizes.

Key success factors for the employment of immigrants at Highline have been summarized as:

  • Make full use of the services offered by community job partners.
  • Maintain an open dialogue with job partners to identify areas that need improvement and be willing to work together to find solutions.
  • Make your business attractive to new Canadians by providing meaningful work at fair pay.
  • Make efforts to communicate with new Canadians so they feel comfortable in the workplace.
  • Make communications available in the languages of the immigrants.
  • Ensure that good recruitment processes are in place so the employment experience can succeed.
  • Front line supervisors must be patient, flexible and have the communications skills to be able to explain things in more than one way to ensure the new employee understands what to do.

Highline Mushrooms is just one of many case studies being done as part of CAHRC’s LMI research into reducing barriers to agricultural employment for new Canadians. For more information on CAHRC’s LMI project visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca. The LMI research was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council works with industry leaders, governments and educational stakeholders to research, develop and communicate solutions to the challenges in employment and skills development in primary agriculture. The Council now leads collaborative implementation efforts in support of the national Workforce Action Plan for the agriculture and agri-food sector. For more information visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca

Published in Federal
Page 1 of 2

Subscription Centre

 
New Subscription
 
Already a Subscriber
 
Customer Service
 
View Digital Magazine Renew

Most Popular

Latest Events

Potato Variety Demonstration
Thu Aug 24, 2017 @ 1:00PM - 03:00PM
International Strawberry Congress 2017
Wed Sep 06, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Agri-Tourism & Farm Direct Marketing Bus Tour
Mon Sep 11, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM