Success in Agriculture
As producers across Canada continue to struggle with finding and keeping skilled labour, three innovative Canadians have partnered up to explore a highly sought-after solution – Robotics.
Published in Research
United Fresh Produce Association will present its lifetime achievement award to Ron Carkoski, chief executive officer, Four Seasons Family of companies, at Fresh Start 2019, the United Fresh Start Foundation’s annual conference, January 15, at the La Quinta Resort & Club, La Quinta, CA.
Published in News
Courchesne Larose, one of the country’s leading distributors of fresh fruits and vegetables, set an unconventional world record as more than 600 participants gathered to assemble the largest fruit salad ever seen on the planet.
Published in Companies
Cornell University’s berry breeding program is releasing two new varieties, which will be available for planting in spring 2019: a strawberry, Dickens, and a raspberry, Crimson Treasure.

Both varieties produce large fruits with vibrant colors that maintain peak flavor for longer than most heritage varieties.

The new berries are the handiwork of berry breeder Courtney Weber, associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences based at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York.

Dickens is a traditional, June-bearing strawberry with high yields and bright red fruit that continues bearing late into the season. The berries are firm, so they hold well on the plant and in the container, Weber said, but not so firm that they have no flavor.

The Dickens strawberry was first discovered in Weber’s breeding fields in 2002 and was originally noticed for the plant’s hardiness in surviving cold winters, making it especially suitable for New York and other cold-winter climates. Production trials throughout the region have shown Dickens to be an adaptable and consistent producer of high-quality fruit.

Weber has named his strawberry varieties after his favorite authors, including L’Amour, Clancy, Herriot, Walker and, most recently, Archer. Because this newest berry “yields like the dickens,” Weber decided to name it after prolific English author Charles Dickens.

The new raspberry, Crimson Treasure, is also very high-yielding, with larger fruit than traditional varieties grown in the region. The well-known Heritage raspberry produces fruit of approximately 2.5 grams, while Crimson Treasure produces berries twice as large – averaging between 4 to 6 grams. That’s typical of what you see with supermarket raspberries, Weber said.

Crimson Treasure is a fall-bearing raspberry with bright-red fruit that holds its color and texture well in storage.

The name continues another Weber tradition. This is the third raspberry in the “Crimson” series. Two previously released raspberries were named Crimson Giant and Crimson Night.

Cornell’s berry breeding program is the oldest in the country and is the only one in the Northeastern U.S. The university’s berries are grown all over the world: Crimson Treasure has been planted in trials in New York, California, Mexico and the European Union.

The berry program works with commercial partners across North America, in Morocco, Spain and Portugal. Heritage, the most commonly grown raspberry variety in Chile, was developed at Cornell, and two Cornell raspberry varieties, Crimson Night and Double Gold, are under license in Japan.
Published in Fruit
Courchesne Larose, one of the country’s leading distributors of fresh fruits and vegetables, is planning big things to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding. Over the next 100 days, a host of activities will be held to mark the occasion in a very special way.

Members of the public will be invited to play a part in the festivities, as the centennial celebrations culminate with a huge event for the whole family on Oct. 5, at Montréal’s Olympic Stadium, where Courchesne Larose and its partners will attempt to beat the Guinness World Record for the largest fruit salad ever assembled.

100 days of festivities
The Courchesne Larose centennial celebrations kicked off on Sept. 8 at a major event bringing together hundreds of the company’s employees—the team that is helping to build the success stories of the next 100 years—along with their families.

On Oct. 17, a tribute will be paid to the late Louis-Charles Routhier, former owner of Courchesne Larose, whose outstanding commitment to society will be recognized by the community organization Je Passe Partout, which is working to reduce the school dropout rate in the borough of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

The idea of giving back to the community, which is a core company value, will feature prominently in these 100 days of celebrations.

On Nov. 5, Courchesne Larose will proudly act as official fruit and vegetable supplier and a major partner of La Grande Tablée, a benefit evening that will see a gourmet meal served to some 700 guests in both Montréal and Québec City, with profits supporting development of La Tablée des Chefs’ cooking education programs for young people.

Next, for the Grande Guignolée des médias on Dec. 6, the extended Courchesne Larose family will join the collective movement to gather food items to help thousands of needy families over the Holidays.

The 100 days of celebrations will wrap up on Dec. 16 with the company’s traditional Holiday party, at which a new employee-development initiative will be launched.

“A century of success doesn’t happen by itself, so it was important for us that these celebrations include all those whose unfailing support and co-operation have played a role in our accomplishments during that time: the members of our outstanding team, along with our loyal partners,” explains Alain Routhier, president, Courchesne Larose.

Besides the activities planned for employees and partners who help ensure the company’s success, the true high point of the celebrations promises to be reached at a special event on Oct. 5, at which the Courchesne Larose team, in collaboration with La Tablée des Chefs, First Fridays, Moisson Montréal, and Loop Juice will try to set an unusual Guinness World Record.

The “Grande Coupe:” 20,000 pounds of fruit for a good cause
Because it’s not every day that a company celebrates 100 years, Courchesne Larose plans to make history with a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest fruit salad ever assembled.

On Oct. 5, members of the public are invited to the Esplanade Sun Life Financial outside Olympic Stadium for the “Grande Coupe”, a one-of-a-kind festive family event, where an enormous fruit salad weighing more than 20,000 pounds will be concocted in an attempt to beat the previous record set in Vienna, Austria, in 2014. The event will be held as part of First Fridays, the largest gathering of food trucks in Canada.

The initiative is also for a good cause: the giant fruit salad will be divided up and distributed to community groups serving Montréal’s neediest citizens, via the Moisson Montréal network and the Tablée des Chefs food recovery program.

A family affair
The history of Courchesne Larose is inseparable from that of the Routhier family: going back to the company’s early years with Raoul Routhier at its helm, family members have contributed significantly to its growth.

Courchesne Larose’s impressive development continued under the leadership of Louis-Charles Routhier, and it now distributes fresh, quality fruits and vegetables to every corner of Québec, Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

“It’s truly impressive looking back at where this great story began, with a small business selling apples and hay in the east end of Montréal, and seeing how we’ve grown into one of the largest fruit and vegetable distributors in the country,” adds Routhier. “If they were still with us, our father and grandfather would have good reason to be proud!”

A century later, the Courchesne Larose Group employs more than 500 people. The company’s third generation of leaders is now well established, and it is grooming the next generation to take over one day in the future.

“Many wonderful projects await Courchesne Larose over the medium and longer term,” the Routhier brothers add, concluding: “And to guide our company in its second century, we’ll be looking to the fourth generation of the Routhier family, who will be called on to assume greater responsibilities in the years to come. We’re not ready to pass the torch just yet, but we’re already paving the way, to make sure Courchesne Larose continues to write success stories for at least 100 more years!”

About Courchesne Larose
A major player in the Canadian fruit and vegetable industry for more than 100 years, Courchesne Larose Ltd. is a family owned business and the flagship of Courchesne Larose Group.

Its primary mission is to give its providers the biggest showcase and the finest possible distribution network for their fruits and vegetables in Eastern Canada, and allow its customers to enjoy diversified, quality products year-round. Courchesne Larose’s suppliers are based all over the world, while its customers are located right across Canada as well as on the U.S. East Coast.
Published in Companies
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, along with Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, Stephen Fuhr, recently announced that the Government of Canada has secured market access for British Columbia fresh cherries to Japan. In 2017, Japan imported over $62.7 million (CAD) of fresh cherries from around the world.

Building on Canada's efforts to deepen its trade relationships and commitment to creating new export opportunities, this market access marks a key deliverable from the Minister's recent trade mission to Japan in March 2018. This is one of many opportunities that will help Canada to reach the target of $75 billion in annual agri-food exports by 2025.

Once the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) enters into force, Canadian agriculture and agri-food exports will benefit from preferential access to key Asian markets, including Japan.

Through the CPTPP, Japan's tariffs of 8.5 per cent on fresh cherries will be eliminated over five years from entry into force.

"The Government of Canada is pleased to announce the new market access for British Columbia fresh cherries to Japan. Our Government is committed to seeking market access opportunities across the globe to strengthen our bilateral trade relationships, put more money in the pockets of Canadian farmers, and grow the middle class in Canada,” MacAulay said.

Fresh cherry exports to Japan could be worth up to $8 million annually, according to industry experts. The increased access will advance the competitiveness of, and create new opportunities for, the fresh cherry sector.

"The BC Cherry Association is extremely pleased that efforts from government and industry have secured access to the Japanese market for Canadian cherries. Our growers and industry partners look forward to building long-lasting relationships with Japanese customers and cannot wait to see cherries branded with the maple leaf in stores across Japan," said Sukhpaul Bal, president, B.C. Cherry Association.
Published in Federal
A new Wallaceburg food manufacturing facility is being heralded as great news by the agricultural community.

Whyte’s Foods will spend $16.5 million redeveloping a Wallaceburg property. The company has purchased the former ECR International Ltd., Olsen Division factory on Baseline Road. They plan to make the existing structure into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, with operations beginning in the fall of 2019.

The Quebec-based company expects to create nearly 100 permanent year-round jobs in Wallacebureg. They are Canada’s largest producer of pickles, relish and maraschino cherries.

Many Chatham-Kent farmers already supply Whyte’s food manufacturing plant in Quebec with cucumbers and hot peppers. Whyte’s has a manufacturing plant in Quebec, but they must truck in a lot of cucumbers and peppers. A secondary plant in Wallaceburg will allow Whyte’s to produce so much more at harvest. | For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Published in Companies
BASF recently closed the acquisition of Bayer’s global vegetable seeds business, mainly operating under the brand Nunhems.

The transaction adds a well-recognized brand with a very successful business track record to BASF’s portfolio.

The acquired vegetable seeds business comprises 24 crops and about 2,600 varieties. It also includes well-established, strong research and development and breeding systems with over 100 unique breeding programs in more than 15 crops.

The addition of the vegetable seeds business enhances BASF’s global offer to farmers. It strengthens BASF’s seed platform and complements the recently expanded Agricultural Solutions portfolio, which includes seeds and traits, chemical and biological crop protection, soil management, plant health, pest control and digital farming.

This closing completes BASF’s acquisition of a significant range of businesses and assets with combined 2017 sales of €2.2 billion, which Bayer offered to divest in the context of its takeover of Monsanto. The all-cash purchase price amounts to a total of €7.6 billion, subject to certain adjustments at closing.
Published in Companies
There are now seven generations of farmers in Delta, B.C. behind (and in front of) Pacific Potato Corp., and while the potato was always a dietary staple, it wasn’t until recent generations that it became this family’s mainstay.
Published in Production
The family-owned, Road 13 Vineyards winery is elated with a platinum win amongst the 15 medals awarded and the titles of number one winery in both British Columbia and Canada.

Road 13 Vineyards is the only winery in Canada to win both platinum and a top-ten national spot for six consecutive years. Road 13 boasts nine platinum medal wins since their induction into the awards in 2013 - double that of any competing winery across the nation.

This year marked the largest showing with 1,850 entries from 257 different wineries from seven provinces. Road 13 Vineyards was awarded platinum for the 2016 Roussanne. Fourteen additional medals were awarded to wines within the Road 13 Vineyards portfolio of red, white, sparkling and rosé wines including eight gold, two silver and four bronze. No other winery has received as many gold medals within a single year since 2013.

"We are so delighted with this win," shares managing partner, Joseph Luckhurst. "Our team's tireless dedication to excellence has really paid off, as has following our passion for Rhone-style wines." Road 13 Vineyards has turned their focus to Rhone style varietals of late with real success. The Rhone varietals have consistently shown the highest quality of fruit in the vineyards and reflect characteristics of old world complexity and new world fruit intensity. "A platinum medal for the 2016 Roussanne is proof of our understanding of the best way to express our distinctive terroir in the glass."

Held annually in June, the National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC) are only open to wines grown and produced in Canada. The goal of 'The Nationals' is to expose Canadian wine drinkers to the best in Canadian wines. With no price restrictions each winery has the opportunity to compete with the best wines in the country. For more winery information, visit www.road13vineyards.com.
Published in Companies
The Rural Ontario Institute (ROI) is pleased to welcome Gabrielle Ferguson as the new leadership programs director.

In this new position, Ferguson will be directly responsible for managing ROI’s long-running Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program, and continuing to develop the organization’s other leadership program offerings. Ferguson will also be instrumental in maintaining and creating sponsor relationships for current and future programs.

Ferguson comes to ROI with over 25 years’ experience in both industry and government, having worked with organizations such as the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Cargill, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the University of Guelph.

She is also a graduate of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (Class 15). Ferguson lives on a cash-crop farm in Lambton County and is passionate about promoting a greater understanding between agriculture and the public.

Chief Executive Officer Norm Ragetlie is delighted that Ferguson has joined the team and says, “Gabe’s arrival will give us a chance to take a fresh look at our leadership programming offerings. Gabe brings a wealth of ag sector relationships to this job which we will build upon to ensure the needs of the sector are being met.”

Ferguson is expected to begin her position with the organization in September.

“I’m excited to support leadership development in the ag sector and rural communities,” Ferguson says. “I’m looking forward to this new role and engaging with industry stakeholders to explore existing and new opportunities for leadership programming.”

The Rural Ontario Institute is a non-profit organization committed to developing leaders and facilitating collaboration on issues and opportunities facing rural and northern Ontario. More information is available at www.ruralontarioinstitute.ca/.
Published in Companies
In addition to the bronze medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards, held in London, for the 2011 Brut Réserve won earlier this year, Blomidon Estate Winery has received two Bronze Medals at the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada for their 2014 Blanc de Noirs and 2010 Blanc de Blancs, and also a 2018 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Nova Scotia Wines for the 2010 Blanc de Blancs.

“Receiving these awards locally, from across the country, and also internationally is a great testament to our winery team and wine program,” says winemaker, Simon Rafuse. “It’s important for us as a benchmark, and it’s very gratifying to be rewarded for the hard work we try to do, placing Nova Scotia on the world wine map.”

The Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Nova Scotia Wines was established in 2014 to honour the outstanding achievements of Nova Scotia’s flourishing wine industry. That inaugural year Blomidon Estate Winery was bestowed the very same award for their sparkling 2010 Cuvée L’Acadie.

The National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC) is held annually as a showcase of the best wines from across the country. In 2018, over 1,850 wines from 257 wineries were entered into the NWAC, making this the largest and most comprehensive wine competition in Canadian history. In 2015 and 2016 Blomidon Estate Winery received Gold Medals for two of their sparkling wines, as well as two silvers and one bronze medal in 2017.

The Decanter World Wine Awards is the world’s largest and most influential wine competition annually held in London. This year 16,903 wines from around the world were tasted, judged by top wine experts from around the globe. In 2017 Blomidon Estate Winery received two silver medals along with a bronze for their wines.
Published in Companies
Chinese scientists have developed a nanomaterial to control potato sprouts and reduce the poisonous substance in potatoes, providing a new method for potato storage.

Stored potatoes usually sprout rapidly, at the same time producing a significant amount of solanine, a toxic substance which endangers human health. Potato sprouts can be controlled using various techniques such as temperature control, irradiation and use of chemical inhibitors.

Scientists from Hefei Institute of Physical Science under Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a new nanomaterial called hydrophobic nano silica that can be used to inhibit the growth of potato sprouts. When potatoes are immersed in the solution of the material, a hydrophobic coating is created on the surface of the potatoes, effectively inhibiting potato sprouts and decreasing solanine. | READ MORE
Published in Research
Lynden-area vegetable grower Ken Forth will receive an honorary degree from the University of Guelph’s College of Business and Economics. Forth is being recognized for the profound impact he has had on the Canadian fruit and vegetable industry and on the lives of thousands of families across Mexico and the Caribbean over the course of his farming career.

For 49 years, Forth has been directly involved with the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), and were it not for his work on labour issues on behalf of Canadian growers from coast to coast, Canadians would be hard-pressed to find fresh, locally grown produce on their store shelves.

The program has also directly improved the standard of living of thousands of seasonal workers, allowing them to educate their children, and buy and operate their own farms and businesses in their home countries.

“This is a tremendous and very unexpected honour,” says Forth. “This kind of work doesn’t happen alone – I’ve been fortunate to have the help and support of many great people over the years, from fellow growers to farm organization staff, and none of this would have been possible without them.”

It’s through his involvement with many provincial and national organizations and committees that Forth represents the industry’s interests on everything from NAFTA and SAWP to minimum wage, labour regulations and unionization of agricultural workers.

Forth has served on the board of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), the organization that administers SAWP, for more than 25 years, and assumed his current role as president more than a decade ago.

He’s a past president of the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) and the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA), and is the long-serving chair of the labour and trade committees at both organizations. Forth also volunteers his time with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council, and is the chair of the Labour Issues Coordinating Committee that represents the interests of Ontario farm employers.

“Our fruit and vegetable industry in Canada would not be what it is today without Ken’s tireless dedication to labour issues,” says OFVGA chair Jan VanderHout. “This work takes a lot of time on the road and away from farm and family and it’s almost always behind the scenes, but Ken has had an impact on every single grower in this country and we appreciate his service to our industry.”

Forth was nominated for the honorary degree by University of Guelph associate professor Dr. Sara Mann, whose current research includes examining employment issues in the agricultural and rural sectors. He will formally receive his degree at a ceremony at the University of Guelph next spring.
Published in Profiles
After a short 5 years in business, the Cloverbelt Food Co-op has changed the face of local food distribution in the Northern region of Ontario.

Much of the rural communities in the North are geographically vast, preventing its residents from having access to healthy, fresh and locally-produced products. Cloverbelt, a small co-operative located in Dryden Ont., whose mission is to strengthen food security and foster a thriving local food community, has solutions to combat this problem.

“The objective of the food co-op was to make local food more visible and accessible by offering products sourced entirely from this region,” notes Jennifer Springett, Cloverbelt’s president. But it’s much easier said than done. Adds Springett, “We’ve had to become innovative to find ways for food to reach many parts of the region.”

One such innovation is the development of their online farmer’s market and distribution service. The initiative was developed out of a need to provide access to more fresh foods produced by local farmers, and to find a more sustainable way to operate the local food box program in Dryden. By allowing consumers to select what local products they want to buy rather than getting a box of goods with items they may not use, it enables farmers to match their supply with demand.

The program was so well received in Dryden, that residents from other small communities – many of which don’t have access to a full grocery store – requested a similar program in their region. The online market recently expanded their transportation and distribution network to the Fort Francis, Atikokan and Red Lake areas, thanks to a partnership with Louden Brother Wholesale.

“Rather than reinventing the wheel and replicating what we’re already doing, we found ways to expand and distribute food between communities. This gives consumers access to a greater variety of foods, while serving more communities,” says Springett.

In order to continue innovating, Cloverbelt is developing a Food Charter for the Kenora and Rainy River Districts, with the objective of encouraging community policy and commitment to support local food.

“Such a policy is necessary to align municipal level commitment with provincial objectives for increased Ontario food sales. It is also critical to ensuing continued support for local food in the North, and to overcome key barriers to growth in the agricultural sector,” says Springett.

Using a collaborative approach, consultations were held with the different municipalities in small, rural communities. The draft Charter, completed in March 2018, sets out a vision for local food supply in Northern Ontario, and is currently being circulated for final input.

“Cloverbelt is a prime example of how co-operative businesses address both social and economic challenges within the province, by finding innovative ways to collaboratively solve a need within a community or region,” says Erin Morgan, executive director of the Ontario Co-operative Association.

Learn more about the Cloverbelt Food Co-op online at https://www.cloverbeltlocalfoodcoop.com
Published in Marketing
Hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables grow in Ontario each year, but many Ontario residents still face barriers to accessing those foods. Now, an innovative food accessibility program in Guelph is making it easier for its community members to buy fresh produce.

The SEED – a community food project that delivers community programs to address food insecurity – offers weekly, affordable fresh food markets with items priced on a sliding price scale. The markets, running a few hours each week now in two neighbourhoods in Guelph, offer a large selection of fresh fruits and vegetables to residents who may face income, transportation or other barriers to eating well.

“When people come to the market, they choose what they want to pay,” says Becca Clayton, community food markets co-ordinator at The SEED. “On the reduced end of the scale, we price items as low as we can offer while still covering our costs. The upper value of the scale is retail value. Customers can pay the retail end or the reduced rate, or anything in between — no questions asked.”

While the community market has been operating in a downtown location at the Guelph Community Health Centre for less than a year, the program is already expanding. A second site, in a so-called “food desert” (located a significant distance from grocery stores) in Guelph’s east end opened in April 2018.

Clayton says while a number of communities offer affordable fresh food markets, she believes the sliding scale model is less common.

“We came to the sliding scale model in a collaborative meeting, after a large amount of research,” says Clayton. “Research suggests in sliding scale models for other services, people choose their price point based on their income very accurately. People are generally honest about choosing where their income sits on a sliding scale, and we thought it would make sense for fresh food too.”

Clayton says in the market’s downtown Guelph location, approximately half of its sales are at the low-end of the sale. The other 50 per cent is sold at mid-to-retail price points.

“That’s exactly the balance we’re looking for, because it allows everyone to shop in stigma-free space together,” says Clayton. “We need people of all incomes at the market for the model to work.”

The food sold at the markets come from a variety of sources, including the Toronto Food Terminal and the Guelph Youth Farm, another project run by The SEED, which provides youth with urban agriculture and employment experience. Wherever possible, Clayton says market organizers seek direct relationships with local farmers.

“It’s important to us that we offer good prices for our low-income customers as well as pay farmers fair wages for what they’re growing,” Clayton says. “We have relationships with apple farmers and garlic farmers, and we’re always looking for new connections.”

The markets run on a social enterprise model, which allows for a small amount of profit. After staffing, cold storage and transportation costs are paid, the market aims to turn a small profit that will allow the project to operate sustainably, without reliance on grant funding.

The Seed’s community markets have been awarded a Transformative Change Award from the Ontario Association of Health Centres.
Published in Marketing
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
Less than five per cent of family businesses make it to the fourth generation but the Davison family did just that.

Davison Orchards has been growing apples since 1933. This year they celebrate 85 years and four generations of family farming in Vernon, B.C.

Bob Davison is the eldest of the three generations currently working on the farm. His uncle Tom began the business after emigrating from England after the First World War in the hopes of a more prosperous future. The family realized their dream of owning their own orchard in the Okanagan in 1933. Bob began working in the orchard with his uncle in 1948. He was 17 at the time and still works at the family orchard today. | READ MORE
Published in Profiles
AgSafe, formerly known as Farm and Ranch Safety and Health Association (FARSHA), is celebrating their 25th anniversary as British Columbia’s agriculture health and safety association.

Established in May of 1993, AgSafe has been the expert on safety in the workplace for B.C.’s agriculture industry and offers site-specific health and safety programs, training, evaluation and consultation services. AgSafe is also a COR program certifying partner and offers a Certificate of Recognition (COR) program for large and small employers.

The organization was established as a joint initiative of WorkSafeBC (Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia), the BC Agriculture Council and the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union as B.C.’s experts on workplace safety for the agriculture industry.

Wendy Bennett has been the AgSafe executive director since 2015. “I am really happy to be in this position and celebrating this milestone,” Bennett commented. “I’m proud of AgSafe and the work our team does. Our consultants and advisors work hard to deliver safety information and guidance to hundreds of employers and workers around the province every year, and we’ve seen a significant change over the past twenty-five years with better safety practices for those who work in agriculture.”

Don Dahr, former WorkSafeBC Director of Industry and Labour Services, is the newly elected chair of the AgSafe Board of Directors replacing long-time retiring chair, Ralph McGinn.

“I’ve been involved with, and supported this organization for many years,” says Dahr. “As a non-voting member on the AgSafe Board of Directors for five years my role was to provide guidance on issues affecting agriculture and safety initiatives. Over the years I’ve watched the organization make great strides in developing and offering safety resources and consultation to B.C.’s farmers and ranchers.”

Just over half of B.C.’s agriculture industry employers regularly use services, resources, or information from AgSafe and almost two thirds of agriculture employers have accessed AgSafe resources periodically.

AgSafe’s services are also available to B.C. based landscape trades and professionals, garden centres, wholesale and retail nurseries, suppliers, and tree services.

For more information about AgSafe services or agriculture workplace safety call 1-877-533-1789 or visit www.AgSafeBC.ca.
Published in Associations
Farmers across Ontario are welcoming the return of thousands of seasonal labourers who help the province’s fruit and vegetable industry thrive.

Approximately 18,000 workers from Mexico and the Caribbean are expected to be placed at Ontario farms this growing season as a supplement to local labour under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). Approximately 1,450 farms will benefit from the program this year.

The program was established in 1966 to respond to a severe shortage of domestic agricultural workers. It continues to serve the same role 52 years later, enabling Ontario farmers to stay in business.

“Men and women from overseas have been helping Ontario farmers solve a critical shortage of agricultural workers for more than half a century,” says Ken Forth, president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.), which administers the program. “At the same time, they’ve helped lift themselves and their families out of a punishing cycle of poverty in their home countries.”

SAWP is a “Canadians first” program, which means supplementary seasonal farm labour is hired from partner countries only if farmers cannot find domestic workers willing to take the same jobs.

Farmers who rely on the program to meet their labour needs do hire Canadians. The challenge is that not enough domestic workers — Canadians who may live in the rural areas where these farms are located — are interested in taking these positions, often because they are seasonal in nature.

Recent labour market research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council cited SAWP as a key reason our horticultural industry is thriving.

In Ontario, the program plays a crucial role in helping the industry generate $5.4 billion in economic activity and approximately 34,280 jobs.

“If we want to continue having access to high-quality, fresh, local produce in Ontario, we need the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program to continue connecting farmers with the workers they need,” Forth says.

The vast majority of men and women who come to Ontario through SAWP believe the benefits of the program far outweigh any challenges or drawbacks, such as being away from their families for part of the year on a temporary basis.

Proof of this can be seen in the large number of workers who speak positively about the program and voluntarily return year after year — some of them to the same employers for decades. Approximately 85 per cent of the workers opt to return on repeat contracts in an average year.

Seasonal workers can earn as much as 10 times or more working here than they could in their own countries, if they fortunate enough to find employment. This income allows the workers to improve the standard of living of their families, educate their children and buy and operate businesses and farms at home.

Of the many different temporary worker programs in Canada, SAWP is the only one that offers 24-hour a day assistance to workers directly with people from their home countries. Each country participating in the program maintains a liaison service or consular office in Ontario to help look after the general welfare of agricultural workers and help them navigate any issues or complications they may face while working here.

For more information about Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, visit: www.farmsontario.ca.
Published in Profiles
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