Farm Business
August 18, 2017, Vancouver, British Columbia – The governments of Canada and British Columbia are working under the AgriRecovery disaster framework to determine the type of assistance that may be required by British Columbia’s agriculture sector to recover from the impact of wildfires.

The announcement was made following the first meeting between Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay and B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.

"The AgriRecovery response will help B.C. ranchers and farmers recover from their losses, and return to their land and their livelihoods. Our governments are working with producers, local officials and stakeholders, and the results and spirit of resilience is collective and clear, we will work together to respond to this emergency until the job is done," Lana Popham, B.C. Minister of Agriculture said. 

Government officials are working together to quickly assess the extraordinary costs farmers are incurring and what additional assistance may be required to recover and return to production following the wildfires.

The types of costs under consideration include:
  • Costs related to ensuring animal health and safety.
  • Feed, shelter and transportation costs.
  • Costs to re-establish perennial crop and pasture production damaged by fire.
"Our Government stands with producers in British Columbia who are facing challenges and hardships because of these wildfires. Together, with our provincial counterparts, we will work closely with affected producers to assess the full scope of their needs and help them get back in business as quickly as possible," Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food said.
Keith Robbins grew up on a farm just north of London, Ont. There were no feathers in the mix. Instead, his family raised cattle, pigs, some sheep and grew grains. But today he heads up one of the country’s most important poultry organizations.

Four years ago, Robbins became executive director of the Poultry Industry Council (PIC). He assumed the role after two decades in communications positions with Ontario Pork. “The only commonality was that they’re both monogastrics,” Robbins says in comparing the two industries.

The Centralia College grad, who holds an agricultural business management diploma, had to be a quick study, as he was tasked with leading PIC through a major transition.

As background, the organization was founded in 1997 when the Ontario Poultry Council and the Poultry Industry Centre merged. The move brought both groups’ responsibilities – education extension, event co-ordination, and research administration and co-ordination – together under the newly created PIC moniker.

Then in 2013 it took a different direction. Ontario wanted a one-stop centre to streamline the application process for livestock study. Thus, the Livestock Research Innovation Corporation (LRIC) was born and Tim Nelson, then PIC’s executive director, became the new entity’s CEO.

That’s when Robbins entered the fray. Supported by a small team of staffers working out of PIC’s head office near Guelph, Ont., and guided by a dozen directors, he was tasked with refocusing the council solely on education extension, events and project management. Its research responsibilities would be gradually transferred to the LRIC.

A few years in, Robbins is happy with how the transition progressed. “It became an opportunity for us to look at how we run events and manage profitability,” he says.

Indeed, as PIC celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, it has plenty to celebrate. Its events continue to draw, not just more producers, but more industry salespeople as well. These reps often become extension staff for the council by sharing the resources it develops. “They often ask, ‘Can I get a couple more copies of that handout?’ ” Robbins says. “That’s a great opportunity for us to put out other factsheets.”

The London Poultry Show, the council’s marquee trade event, drew record numbers two years in a row. Likewise, its annual golf tournament also saw its largest ever turnout last year. And PIC continues to add to its events portfolio, now averaging about two events per month. The council grew its presence in Eastern Ontario as part of that effort, including bringing its Producer Updates educational series to St. Isidore.

What’s more, membership has steadily increased, despite widespread industry consolidation that would typically mean fewer members. “The driver is the material they’re developing,” says Al Dam, poultry specialist with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

“We try to ensure everything we do is driven by our members,” Robbins explains. “They ask and we provide what they need.” Take culling, he cites as an example. One of PIC’s most highly regarded initiatives in recent years was its Euthanasia Resources and Training Project.

PIC’s shareholders identified a strong need for consistent training in the area. Many family farms had developed their own euthanasia practices over the years that they’d pass down. “There may be three generations of you that were doing this in a less efficient manner,” Dam points out.

Thus, the council worked with a diverse range of experts to develop a three-part educational package. “The intent was to have everyone trained to the same level so that the industry has a defendable standard,” Dam continues.

Part one was the “Timely Euthanasia of Compromised Chicks & Poults” poster – a practical guide that helps producers identify young birds that should be culled. The second instalment was the “Practice Guidelines for On-Farm Euthanasia of Poultry” manual.

That document provided the basis for the third instalment – PIC’s Euthanasia Training Program, which is available to farmers in both classroom delivery and video format. Feather boards, organizations and producers across the country utilized all three resources.

PIC’s Poultry Health Day is another example of the council responding to industry trends. While events like Producer Updates and Poultry Research Day often included health-related topics, Robbins and co. saw value in dedicating an entire event to such issues.

Thus, it held its first Poultry Health Day August 2015 in Stratford, Ont. One of the main topics was avian influenza, naturally, as the London Poultry Show was cancelled just a few months before due to an outbreak. The inaugural event was a success, drawing 130 attendees. One of this year’s hot topics was infectious bronchitis, which has plagued Ontario poultry farms in a variety of sectors this year.

Dam expects poultry health to be an ongoing concern for producers and, thus, the council. On the layer side, for example, he sees old diseases the industry solved years ago resurfacing due to housing changes. “What’s old is new again,” he says.

On the broiler side, Dam sees brooding becoming a bigger issue in need of PIC’s attention. He points out that days-to-market continue to shorten each year. This means the brooding period becomes a larger percentage of a bird’s life in the barn. “You screw up that first few days it follows you all the way through,” Dam says.

Going forward, Robbins wants to see a more co-ordinated effort to address farmers’ concerns quicker. Currently, universities conduct the research, LRIC helps with administration and PIC plays that outward role. “That process has to be more interwoven,” Robbins says. “What can we do to solve that problem now?” He also hopes to start live streaming council events to expand its reach.

Looking back on his previous career, Robbins says one of the biggest differences between pork and poultry is marketing legislation. Supply management gives the industry the stability it needs to focus on finding innovative solutions to trends and challenges producers face. That’s where PIC fits in. “Our role is helping understand what those trends are and what they mean for farmers.”
July 25, 2017, Montreal, Que. - A group of temporary foreign workers and their supporters are protesting what they say is rampant abuse of the rights of agricultural workers.

About two dozens workers and activists gathered in front of Montreal's St-Joseph Oratory on Sunday afternoon to highlight their cause.

One worker from Guatemala says he ended up making less than minimum wage for a job catching chickens on a Quebec farm since he wasn't paid for travel.

Through an interpreter, Henry Aguirre added he couldn't understand his work permit because it was written all in French.

The activists say workers should be given permanent residency or open work permits so they aren't limited to one employer.

The Canadian government has said it is implementing new measures to improve working conditions for temporary workers, including increased inspections and more efforts to inform workers of their rights.
July 14, 2017, Huron County, Ont. – Lukas Schilder is a chicken farmer in Huron County with centuries of farming in his bloodline. Like others in the agriculture sector, he is keenly aware of the advantages that adopting new technology brings to his business. Looking to invest in a new chicken barn, Schilder and his family recognize an opportunity to connect their farm operations with the expectations of consumers and grow their brand.

Guided by a sector-wide commitment to animal welfare, Schilder is planning to equip a new free-range facility with cutting-edge technology designed to monitor and broadcast information about the state of his flock to stakeholders.

Some of the technology being considered involves a live 24/7 public video feed to demonstrate the care and treatment his chickens receive.

“We stay engaged with industry best-practices both in North America and Europe and operations all over the world are adopting new technology to meet marketplace demands, which include consumer information about the realities of growing food,” said Schilder. “Our farm needs access to high-speed internet to be competitive.”

In April, Huron County Council partnered with Comcentric – a co-operative of local internet service providers – to submit a funding proposal to the Government of Canada’s Connect to Innovate program. The project proposes to connect 98 per cent of Huron County’s population, including the Schilder farm, with high-speed fibre within three years.

Expected to cost $31.5 million, the project requires a partnership with the Government of Canada to proceed. To leverage an investment by the federal government, Huron County Council has committed $7 million over seven years. READ MORE 
June 16, 2017, Montreal, QC - Compensating farmers who paid for production quotas with the revenue from a temporary tax would allow the government to abolish supply management in the dairy, poultry, and egg sectors, shows a Viewpoint published by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI).

Such a measure would be positive both for farmers and for Canadian consumers. "If the government decided to compensate farmers for the value of their quotas over a period of ten years, it would have to offer them annual payments of $1.6 billion. Yet the net benefit for consumers would be from $3.9 billion to $5.1 billion each year, and up to $6.7 billion once the reimbursement period is over," explains Alexandre Moreau, Public Policy Analyst at the MEI and co-author of the publication.

For example, Canadians could pay $2.31 for a two-litre carton of milk following liberalization, instead of the current price of $4.93, he adds.

The accounting value of the quotas, estimated at $13 billion by the MEI, is on average equal to 38% of their current market value, which comes to a little over $34 billion.

Compensation would vary from one farmer to another in order to avoid providing excessive compensation to farmers who bought their quotas at a fraction of the current price, or received them free of charge, while being fair to those who acquired quotas recently at a higher cost.

If Ottawa decided to liberalize supply-managed sectors, a temporary tax should serve to finance the compensation paid to farmers. This tax would disappear once the compensation was paid in full.

"Such a policy was used successfully in Australia when that country eliminated its own supply management system," explains Vincent Geloso, Associate Researcher at the MEI and co-author of the publication. "The compensation offered to producers was financed by a transitory tax equal to half of the expected consumer price decline. Consumers were therefore immediately able to enjoy price reductions while farmers received payments to compensate them for their losses of revenue. The same principle could be applied here," he adds.

Rules regarding the environment, health, and food quality would continue to apply to products imported from abroad once the market is liberalized.

"This exit plan would be positive and fair both for farmers and for consumers. Now, it's up to public decision-makers to take action and dismantle this regime that is unfair and costly for consumers, all while adequately compensating farmers," concludes Alexandre Moreau.

The Viewpoint entitled "Ending Supply Management with a Quota Buyback" was prepared by Alexandre Moreau, Public Policy Analyst at the MEI, and Vincent Geloso, Associate Researcher at the MEI. 
Last month Statistics Canada released the results of the 2016 Census of Agriculture. Like many of you, I was eager to read up on the results and discover how our industry has changed in the five years since the last survey was conducted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We hope Succession Planning Week offers valuable information to help you keep your operation growing, now and for generations to come.
June 9, 2017, Canada - For too long, supply management in our dairy, poultry and egg sectors has been seen as a “third rail” in Canadian politics, an untouchable sacred cow. No longer.

The evidence for reform is staggering. Research and analysis conducted by a variety of experts across Canada have overwhelmingly demonstrated the inequity and inefficiency of the current system.

Increasingly persuasive commentary is coming from all sides. And despite the propaganda made possible by the wealth and power of the dairy lobby, more and more politicians are seeing the public opinion tide turning.

It is, after all, a non-partisan issue. Progressives who espouse social justice simply cannot defend the unnecessary costs imposed on consumers – especially low-income families with children in need of affordable essential nutrition – in favour of what is now a small group of millionaire producers. But neither can conservatives defend a regulated cartel which flies in the face of a market-based economy.

And all politicians in Canada, of all stripes, know that Canada’s economy is dependent on trade. We can no longer afford to have supply management harm our leverage in our trade negotiations – particularly given what is now happening with our largest trading partner next door.

It is time for our politicians to do what is right. We are past knowing “why” – now is time for “how.”

How do we transition forward from supply management in a way that is fair to our dairy, poultry and egg producers, as well as to consumers and taxpayers? We know that we can. We have, after all, done this before, most notably with Canada’s wine industry – to great success. And we have other international examples from which to learn – both for what to do and what not to do.

This report proposes just such a plan.

More work is needed to iron out details which will require engagement by all involved. After close to 50 years, the system has become complex.

The same numbers won’t apply to long-time producers as to new entrants, or to producers in different parts of the country. Some producers are ready to retire, or their farms are too small to compete – they would benefit from an appropriate buyout.

For those who want to compete, grow and profit from the incredible international opportunities, additional transition assistance will be needed.

The plan must address both.

The only missing piece now is for our politicians to stand up, defy the power of a wealthy lobby and show the leadership Canadians expect.

A big opportunity has emerged to do something that not only helps in our looming trade negotiations, but that is actually right for Canada.

The future of the dairy industry is bright in Canada. Reforming supply management should not be seen as an obstacle, but rather as an opportunity to redress domestic inequities in a way that is fair to producers, grow our industry, open new markets and, most importantly – compete and win. Because we can.

View PDF report: http://cwf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/CWF_SupplyManagement_Report_JUNE2017.pdf
May 29, 2017, ST-GEORGES, Que. – Quebecers and the ''extremely strong'' lobby of the province's professional farmers' union are to blame for Maxime Bernier's defeat in the Conservative leadership race, according to an ex-mayor in Bernier's hometown in Quebec's Beauce region.

Roger Carette, a Bernier supporter who served as mayor of St-Georges from 1994 to 2009, says he can't understand how Quebec let the candidate down.

''It's Quebec that took him out of there,'' he said, moments after learning Bernier had lost the race to Andrew Scheer. ''If you look at the difference of one per cent of votes, that's the difference in Quebec.''

According to Conservative party data, Bernier was beaten by Scheer in his home riding of Beauce, collecting 48.89 per cent of support compared to 51.11 per cent for the Saskatchewan native.

With the support of farmers, Scheer campaigned in Beauce against Bernier's plan to gradually abolish supply management, the quota and price control system that ensures a stable income to dairy and poultry farmers despite market fluctuations.

Bernier wanted to liberalize the system, arguing it keeps prices artificially high and limits competition. He suggested a transition period with compensation.

Carette blames the ''undue intervention of the farmers' movement'' for sabotaging the campaign of ''a guy from home.''

''I'm disappointed. I recognize that Quebec decided it wanted a guy from Saskatchewan to lead the party and, maybe one day, the country,'' he said.

''It's a bit distressing to see we've been a part of that,'' said Carette, who believes Bernier's proposal to abolish supply management would not have passed easily and would have been the subject of vigorous debate within the party.

At ''Chez Gerard'' restaurant in St-Georges, the 40 or so Bernier supporters who had gathered to watch the results were feeling the same letdown.

Swear words rang out as Scheer's victory was confirmed, with many of the partisans getting up to leave soon after.

A party atmosphere had reigned for much of the evening, as supporters paused between bites of sausage and breaded mozzarella sticks to express their confidence in Bernier, who they described as generous, sincere, and ''close to his people.''

By the tenth tour, that confidence began to evaporate.

''Maxime had a split vote in Beauce, but he had a lot of support in Alberta. It's incomprehensible,'' said Johanne Maheu, a Bernier volunteer.

The Beauce riding has one of the country's largest concentrations of farmers under supply management.

Several dairy farmers in the region, including Frederic Marcoux, had set out to block Bernier's campaign and damage his campaign co-president, Jacques Gourde.

A Facebook page whose title translates as ''friends of supply management and the regions'' got almost 10,000 members.

On Saturday, Marcoux said farmers didn't just beat Bernier – they've also made the entire political class take notice of them.

''Everyone saw us, everyone heard us...everyone saw the final result,'' he said in a phone interview. ''For me, we won't see anyone attacking supply management for a damned long time.''

Marcoux said it was ''easy'' to blame the professional farmers' union – the Union des Producteurs Agricoles – but believes the grumbling against Bernier was in fact more widespread.

''Maxime Bernier held himself back,'' he said. ''Supply management, just in his riding is a half-billion, what did he think would happen?''
May 19, 2017, Toronto, Ont. - At its 32nd annual meeting held in Toronto May 18, 2017, the Further Poultry Processors Association of Canada (FPPAC) elected the following Board of Directors and Officers:

Officers:
Chairman- Blair Shier, J.D. Sweid
Vice-Chair- Chris Hobbs, ADP Direct Poultry

Board of Directors:
Betty Dikeos, D & D Poultry
Jamie Falcao, Maple Leaf Foods
Keith Hehn, Golden Valley Farms
Ian Hesketh, Intercity Packers
Chris Hobbs, ADP Direct Poultry
Don Kilimnik, DC Foods
Ed Lamers, Tillsonburg Custom Foods
Blair Shier, J.D. Sweid
Kevin Thompson, Sargent Farms

Appointments:
CFC Rep- Ian Hesketh, Intercity Packers
CFC Alternate- Don Kilimnik, DC Foods
TFC Rep- Keith Hehn, Golden Valley Farms
TFC Alternate- Tony Tavares, Exceldor Foods

TQAC Chicken Rep- Ian Hesketh, Intercity Packers
TQAC Chicken Alternate- Ed Lamers, Tillsonburg Foods
TQAC Chicken Alternate- Robert de Valk, FPPAC

TQAC Turkey Rep- Keith Hehn, Golden Valley Farms
TQAC Turkey Alternate- Tony Tavares, Exceldor Foods
TQAC Turkey Alternate- Robert de Valk, FPPAC

General Manager- Robert de Valk, FPPAC
May 12, 2017, Burlington, Ont. - National allocations for A-145 (Aug 6 – Sept 30) and A-146 (Oct 1 – Nov 25) are both set at +5.0% relative to adjusted bases at the Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) meeting on May 3, 2017 in Ottawa.

Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) provided its recommendation for national allocation to CFC of +6% above adjusted base for A-145 and A-146. As in prior periods CFO’s recommendation had been framed on a public policy of “balanced best interest” and based on an analysis of the market and an assessment of the demand and supply opportunities as well as potential risks to the market. READ MORE
May 4, 2017, Guelph, Ont. - Whether you scroll through your feed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social network of your choosing you’ll likely see conversations happening about food and farming.

While agriculture, and the plant science industry in particular, have a great story to tell in terms of helping farmers grow a safe, affordable and abundant food supply for Canadians and the world, this isn’t always the message that makes it onto social media.

As someone involved in the industry you have the ability to help shape some of those online conversations. Your family members, friends and colleagues see you as a trusted source of information and that gives you a great place to start.

Whether you’re a casual social media user or an avid user, join this half-day session to learn about how you can strategically use social media to constructively share positive information about the plant science industry.

The training event will take place in Guelph, Ontario on May 23 from 1 PM to 4 PM. 
For more information, visit: http://www.croplifecanadaevents.ca/183-Social_media_training.php

April 24, 2017 - Farm Credit Canada reports, despite slower growth in farmland values, the outlook for agriculture on the prairies is positive.

Farm Credit Canada's latest Farmland Values Report shows, while farmland values increased in 2016, the rate of that increase slowed for the third consecutive year.

Canada’s farmland values showed an average increase of 7.9 per cent in 2016, compared to a 10.1 per cent increase in 2015 and a 14.3 per cent increase in 2014.

“The impact of some of the key farmland value drivers appear to be fairly consistent across Canada,” said J.P. Gervais, FCC Chief Agricultural Economist. “Levelling out of commodity prices and some challenging weather conditions may have taken some of the steam out of farmland values and hopefully this moderating effect will turn into a trend.” READ MORE
April 10, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Average farmland values in Canada continued to climb in 2016, but lost steam in most provinces, including Ontario, according to Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) latest Farmland Values Report.

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

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

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

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

Prince Edward Island experienced the highest increase among the provinces and saw the only double-digit increase at 13.4 per cent. There were not enough publicly reported transactions in Newfoundland and Labrador to accurately assess farmland values.

“Demand for Canadian agricultural products remains strong at home and abroad,” Gervais said. “A healthy agriculture sector – supported by a low Canadian dollar and low interest rates – helped sustain increases in farmland values in 2016.”

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

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

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

To learn more about the report, register for the free FCC webinar on April 18, which can be found in the Agriwebinars section at www.fcc.ca/events.
March 27, 2017, Churchbridge, Sask – Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ (OYF) program is once again offering two $1,000 scholarships to Canadian agriculture students. Applications for the 2017 awards will be accepted until June 30, 2017.

The OYF Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to one individual entering post-secondary education from high school, and one individual who has already completed at least one year of post-secondary study. Applicants must be pursuing a diploma or degree in agriculture.

The late Martin Streef, OYF alumnus, established this scholarship program to help future generations of Canadians pursue their passion for agriculture. Streef was the 1997 winner of both Ontario’s and Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers and president of Streef Produce Ltd, a family-run fresh fruit and vegetable business in Woodstock, Ontario.

Scholarship application forms are available here.

Celebrating 37 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial and territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
Canadian poultry processors need a consistent supply of dependable, high-quality chicken to supply to their distributors and retailers. In order to achieve this, many processors have contracts with multiple farmers. This begs the question: Can anything be done to ensure the quality  of their supplied product?
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