Farm Business
Jan. 27, 2017 - Canada's 150th anniversary is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the historical role of farmers in growing our nation. The Canada's Farmers Grow Communities program, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, provides yet another opportunity for Canadian farmers to strengthen their communities by nominating their favourite local charities to win grants of $2,500.

Over the first five years of the program, more than 300 rural charities have received almost $1 million thanks to farmers. The fascinating stories of the farmers, the charities and their connections to the community paint a colourful portrait of rural Canada which will now be shared on the Canada's Farmers Grow Communities blog.

"Farmers are often unsung heroes in Canadian history," says Kelly Funke, public affairs manager for Monsanto Canada. "But farmers deserve credit for their contributions. That's why we created this program, and why we've now added a blog to our website to further highlight the stories behind the farmer heroes and their chosen charities."

The list of charities can include almost any non-profit organization based in rural Canada. Winners have included 4H clubs; rural daycares; libraries; volunteer fire departments; hospitals; schools; ag societies; senior centres; and other community facilities.

Farmers who are considering an application are encouraged to visit the Canada's Farmers blog at http://canadasfarmers.ca/blog/ for inspiration and to think about their own local charities or non-profit organizations. It takes just five minutes to apply and be entered into the random draw.

Once again in 2017, two $2,500 grants will be awarded in each of 33 different territories across the grain growing regions of northeastern B.C. (Peace River district), Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces. Applications are open now through September 30, 2017. And anyone can suggest a charity for a farmer to discover! Simply visit www.CanadasFarmers.ca where complete contest rules and an online application form are available. Winners will be selected by random draw on or about Nov. 1, 2017 and notified by Nov. 15, 2017.
Jan. 24, 2017 - The single biggest labour challenge for the dairy, poultry and egg commodities will be finding skilled and experienced farm managers, including owner-operators. For these commodities, management and ownership jobs account for almost two-thirds of the current workforce, and between now and 2025, they will account for the majority of the jobs going unfilled due to a lack of domestic workers.
 
The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has completed a three-year study and released the Dairy: Labour Market Forecast to 2025 and Poultry and Egg: Labour Market Forecast to 2025. These studies examine two of Canada’s most significant agricultural industries, which together account for 55,500 jobs, or 15 per cent of the total agricultural workforce.
 
Through consolidation, automation and other efficiencies, the dairy-cattle industry has shed more than a third of its workers since 2009, employing 39,900 as of 2014. However, despite this reduction in the size of the workforce, an additional 3,400 jobs went unfilled due to a lack of available domestic workers. This labour shortfall cost an estimated $71 million in lost sales.
 
While the labour demand is expected to continue to decline as a result of a stable market for the industry’s products, the labour supply is also predicted to shrink. As a result, the industry will continue to experience a labour shortage, with manager and owner-operator jobs at the greatest risk of going unfilled. Of the 1,100 jobs forecasted to go unfilled by 2025, 90 per cent will be jobs at the manager and owner-operator level, which will result in a skills shortage as well as a labour shortage.
 
For the poultry and egg industry, the research included farm operations engaged in breeding, hatching and raising poultry for meat or egg production, including chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, partridges and pigeons. Similar to the dairy industry, a leveling of demand for poultry and egg production and improved industry productivity will limit the demand for labour, while a shrinking supply of domestic labour will widen the industry labour gap. In 2014, 15,600 people were employed in the poultry and egg industry and an additional 250 jobs went unfilled due to a lack of domestic labour. These shortages cost the industry an estimated $6 million in lost sales. By 2025, 15,900 workers will be required, and 1,100 jobs are at risk of going unfilled. As with the dairy-cattle industry, manager and owner-operator jobs will be the most difficult to fill.
 
Both industries will be significantly impacted by retirement, with nearly one-third of the dairy workforce and nearly one-quarter of the poultry and egg workforce expected to retire by 2025. Finding Canadian workers with the right skills and experience is the greatest barrier to recruitment for both industries, despite the fact that they often offer attractive work conditions, including full-time, year-round employment located relatively close to urban centres. Both industries also have voluntary turnover rates that are below the sector average, which means that fewer employees choose to leave their jobs.
 
Unless these industries can find additional sources of labour with the right skills and experience, they will suffer from a critical gap at the managerial and leadership levels that could inhibit their ability to thrive.
 
To address the labour issues identified in the research, CAHRC has developed agriculture-specific human resource (HR) tools designed to support modern farm operations to manage their workforce. CAHRC offers Agri Skills, online and in-person training programs, and the Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business. For agricultural organizations there are customized labour issues briefings that apply the new research to specific commodities and provinces, to explore the labour implications within their specific area.
 
The Dairy: Labour Market Forecast to 2025 and Poultry and Egg: Labour Market Forecast to 2025 reports can be downloaded at http://www.cahrc-ccrha.ca/agriLMI.ca. The study data was validated through industry consultations conducted Canada-wide including: 1034 surveys of employers, workers and industry stakeholders; 80 phone interviews; six focus groups for a total of more than 100 participants; and seven webinars focused on specific commodity groups with 100 participants in total.
 
The LMI research was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.
Jan. 20, 2017 - Ontario livestock and poultry farmers now have a more consistent and transparent process for compensation when their animals are injured or killed by predatory wildlife. The newly updated Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP) standardizes the requirements farmers need to meet to receive compensation. In addition, a new single-stage appeal process simplifies the process to address program application concerns and disputes.

The compensation rates, program guidelines and application forms are available at www.ontario.ca/predation.
Jan. 4, 2017 - Canadian agriculture benefited from a relatively low dollar throughout 2016 and this trend is expected to continue into 2017, according to J.P. Gervais, Farm Credit Canada’s chief agricultural economist.

Top Drivers“There are certainly other factors that could influence Canadian agriculture, such as the global economy, the investment landscape, commodity and energy prices,” says Gervais, speaking to his top five agriculture economic trends to watch in 2017. “The Canadian dollar, however, has been a major driver for profitability in the last couple of years and could have the biggest influence on the overall success of Canada’s agriculture industry in 2017.”Gervais is forecasting the dollar will hover around the 75-cent mark and will remain below its five-year average value relative to the U.S. dollar in 2017, potentially making the loonie the most significant economic driver to watch in Canadian agriculture this year.

The low dollar not only makes Canada more competitive in agricultural markets relative to some of the world’s largest exporters, but it also means higher farm cash receipts for producers whose commodities are priced in U.S. dollars.

Producers
A low Canadian dollar will keep the demand for Canadian agricultural commodities healthy, which is especially important considering the higher projected supply of livestock and crops. This means potential revenue growth, especially considering a likely rebound in livestock prices off the weakness observed in the second half of 2016.

“A lower Canadian dollar makes farm inputs more expensive, but the net impact in terms of our export competitiveness and cash receipts for producers is certainly positive,” Gervais says. “Given the choice, producers are better off with a low-dollar than one that’s relatively strong compared to the U.S. dollar.”

Food processors
Food processors are also better off with a low Canadian dollar, which is partly the reason behind the strong growth in the gross domestic product of the sector over the past few years. Canadian food products are less expensive for foreign buyers, while it is more difficult for foreign food processors to compete in the Canadian market, according to Gervais.

“The climate for investment in Canadian food processing is good, given the low dollar and growing demand in the U.S.,” Gervais says. He projects that exports of food manufactured products to the US could climb five per cent in 2017.

Agribusinesses
A lower-than-average U.S. per Canadian dollar exchange rate supports foreign sales of agribusinesses as more than 90 per cent of all exports are made to the U.S., and compensate for a weaker demand due to the recent downturn in the U.S. farm economy.

“The dollar’s impact on agribusinesses is complex and not as consistent as it is on producers and food processors,” said Gervais, noting that strong farm cash receipts due to a weak loonie are generally good news for agribusinesses, since they can expect sales to producers to increase with rising revenues.

But he also notes that “a weak loonie raises the price of inputs like fertilizers or equipment, making them more expensive for producers, which may impact their purchase decisions.”

For an in-depth analysis of the impact of the Canadian dollar and Gervais’s four other economic drivers to watch in 2017, visit the FCC Ag Economics blog post at www.fcc.ca/AgEconomics
A new study, Dollars and Sense, by Kynetec (formerly Ipsos Agriculture and Animal Health) has identified the top seven habits of Canada’s best farmers.  For the first time, researchers have established a direct link between farm business management planning and higher farm income and profitability.

According to the report, leading Canadian farm businesses in the top 25 per cent financially out-perform those in the bottom 25 per cent by a wide margin: a 525 per cent increase in return on assets (ROA), 155 per cent increase in gross margin ratio, and 100 per cent increases in return on equity (ROE) and asset turnover.

“This is the first time we clearly see how specific business management practices positively affect a farm’s financial outcomes,” says Agri-Food Management Institute (AMI) executive director, Ashley Honsberger. “Management matters and this study illustrates just how much of an impact the top habits
can have.”  

The study, commissioned by AMI and Farm Management Canada, included 604 farms of all types and sizes, and farmers of all ages, nationwide, in the grains and oilseeds, beef, hogs, poultry and eggs, dairy, and horticulture sectors.

The leading driver of farm financial success is continuous learning. Farms in the bottom 25 per cent are three times less likely to seek out new information, training or learning opportunities.

Number two is keeping finances current so that key farm decisions are made based on an accurate financial picture of the business. Farms in the bottom quartile are three times more likely to have financial records that are months behind and are also almost three times more likely not to monitor their cost of production.

The third driver of farm success is seeking the help of professional business advisors or consultants. Farms in the top quartile are 30 per cent more likely to work regularly with a farm business advisor or team of advisors.

Four other drivers also ranked highly: having a formal business plan, knowing and monitoring cost of production, assessing and managing risk, and using budgets and financial plans.

Of the 55 poultry and egg farmers surveyed nationwide, 69 per cent felt the financial health of their farm was a little or much better now compared to five years ago.

The top 25 per cent of poultry and egg farms shows a five per cent ROA compared to 0 per cent in the bottom 25 per cent; 37.7 per cent gross margin ratio compared to 0 percent; 15.6 per cent ROE compared to 15.4 per cent; and 13.6 per cent asset turnover compared to 10.1 per cent.

Poultry and egg farmers lead the pack. Thirty-six per cent have a formal business plan, well ahead of the 25 per cent average of all other farmers, 36 per cent have a financial plan with budget objectives, which again is higher than the average of all other farmers at 33 per cent, and 26 per cent have a formal human resources plan, considerably more than the 17 per cent average of all other farmers.

The study also showed that 69 per cent use supply chain relationships to add value, which is significantly higher than the 49 per cent of all other farmers.

Honsberger advises farmers considering making business management changes to divide a large task into smaller steps, such as using the off-season to attend education events or meet with a business advisor.

A resource for farmers, dubbed “Pledge to Plan” can also help with business management activities for each season, support tools, and stories of producers who’ve already gone through the process. It’s available at pledgetoplan.ca.

The study was funded through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

About the Agri-Food Management Institute 
AMI promotes new ways of thinking about agribusiness management and aims to increase awareness, understanding and adoption of beneficial business management practices by Ontario agri-food and agri-based producers and processors.
Dec. 13, 2016 - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has announced an investment of up to $780,040 to 4-H Canada to host the 2017 Global 4-H Network Summit.

The summit, which will take place in Ottawa in July 2017 (to coincide with the 150th anniversary of confederation), will host over 600, 4-H delegates from across Canada and around the world where they will share experiences, develop skills and learn about agriculture. The summit will include four days of workshops and plenary sessions including a two-day trade show focusing on education and career opportunities. This investment is made through the Growing Forward 2, AgriCompetitiveness program, a five-year, up to $114.5 million initiative.

Canada's minister of agriculture and agri-food, Lawrence MacAulay, also announced changes to Farm Credit Canada's (FCC) Young Farmer Loan. FCC will increase its support for young farmers by doubling the amount of credit available to $1 million from $500,000, and lowering the possible minimum down payment to 20 per cent of the value of the loan which supports the purchase or improvement of farmland and buildings.
Dec. 9, 2016 - The Back to Ag Program is a funding project focused on supporting the cost of adaptive technology for farmers that have experienced a traumatic injury. The Back to Ag Program is the result of a partnership between the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, Farm Credit Canada and the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Barry Cloutier, a farmer from near Ponteix, Sask., is one farmer that Back to Ag has helped.

In October of 2014, Cloutier was running a round baler when trouble struck. “The twine yanked out,” he explains. “To see where the problem was, I had to leave the baler running.” That’s when he saw the buildup of chaff and straw. “I’ve had two baler fires, so I’m pretty wary of extra chaff and straw. I reached out to remove the blockage - I wasn’t thinking at that point, and that’s when my fingers found the roller chain,” Cloutier says. “I knew better, but it was close to supper time, and I wanted to be done my work in 15 minutes.”

Cloutier had lost portions of his index and middle finger on his right hand. Cloutier immediately called 911. After some initial confusion on where he exactly was, the paramedics found him, and the ambulance rushed him to the hospital.

After a night in hospital and then day surgery, Cloutier was back on the farm. “I had to have my hand bandaged and cleaned daily at the local hospital. I also had to drive to hospital for a time for a hand therapy program,” he says. “The physical therapist told me that she could see I was stubborn and that I was going to work to get my hand and fingers to the point where I could make a fist. And I did.”

Even with his injury, Cloutier hasn’t slowed down on the farm. “I don’t want to do anything else,” he explains. “This is where my heart is. This is me; this is who I am, and this is what I do.”

However, Cloutier’s injury has affected his ability to do his job on the farm. “It’s a good thing I’m stubborn,” he says. “Things are more difficult. I have to think and plan very carefully what I’m going to do. My hand is always very sensitive, always cold. If I’m climbing a ladder or working around machinery, I have to be very thoughtful about how to use my hand; the strength isn’t there anymore.” Cloutier has looked into other programs and personal insurance, but no program or insurance existed that would be able to help him deal with his injury on the farm.

That’s when he saw an article about Back to Ag.

“I was waiting for my wife and happened across a newspaper article about Back to Ag,” he explains. “I thought, wow, that’s interesting!” Cloutier explains that he started thinking about applying and what type of technical solution would best accommodate his injury. Cloutier faces many challenges in having only two fingers on his dominant hand and hauling five-gallon pails is one of them.

With over 200 head of livestock, Cloutier was dependent on a shovel and pail to feed his animals. “I put out pails six months of the year,” he explains. “I needed something that would help ease the pressure and pain on my hand.”

Through the Back to Ag Program, Cloutier was able to purchase a cattle-feed cart. This grain handling system means that Cloutier is able to feed his livestock more efficiently and safely, without the risk of injuring his hand further.

When talking about the grain handling system, he is enthusiastic. “I like the way it looks; it’s a great idea. I like the idea of not having to haul those doggone pails.” He does have one problem with the new grain handling system, “It might make me want to farm that much longer,” he laughs.

Cloutier encourages other traumatically-injured farmers to find out more about the Back to Ag Program. “Definitely apply,” he says. “Find out more and use it for something that’s going to help you and be useful on your farm.”

CASA is currently accepting applications for the Back to Ag program for the 2016–17 funding period. Applications are being received on a first come, first served basis. Applicants must be farmers who have experienced a life-altering incident resulting in a disability. They must demonstrate that the purchase of specialized equipment or adaptation of existing equipment will help them get back to work on the farm safely.

For more information about program criteria or to submit an application, please visit casa-acsa.ca/BacktoAg or call 877-452-2272.
As I write this, I have the luxury of not yet knowing the outcome of the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election. I say “luxury” with tongue firmly planted in cheek, because I went about deciding who I would have voted for with a “who do I dislike the least?” mindset.  The actual content of the candidates’ campaigns was an afterthought.

The campaigning became more amusing as time went on and the world watched with morbid curiosity – the kind of rubbernecking you see when a bad car accident has happened on the other side of the road.

U.S. citizens are now digesting the outcome of their vote and with the Electoral College (EC) vote pending – which doesn’t necessarily have to follow the popular vote, but typically does – all that’s left is for inauguration on Jan. 20 to make that choice a reality.

It’s a time of weighty reflection about whether the U.S. people collectively made the right decision – or the least wrong one.  Americans were ultimately presented with candidates that no one dared accuse of having fantastic potential as the leader of the third most populous nation in the world, and its largest economy.

The democratic process is not perfect. We’ve seen two shining examples of that in 2016 (don’t forget Brexit). It is, nevertheless, fair.

December is typically the time when marketing boards and other agricultural associations begin a democratic process of their own. With annual general meetings dotting the calendar over the next few months, industry associations will also be looking to fill open positions on their board of directors. It’s a time for a renewal and a chance for fresh blood to come in.  

The shame for our sector, though, is that for every one person who lets his or her name stand for a board position, there are probably many more equally worthy candidates who need the encouragement to take that important step in seeking nomination.  In agriculture, after all, humility does trump all. No pun intended.  

I’ve been involved with several industry recognition awards in the last decade and it has always been a struggle to entice applicants.  The problem is not a lack of aptitude.  The fact is that farmers just aren’t comfortable with recognition.

Regardless of that, poultry producers DO have passion for their industry and an inherent desire to do what’s right.  Across Canada, we are lucky to have astute people in the right positions to help move the industry forward.  But there needs to be keen talent waiting in the wings as partial turnover occurs each year – new faces to take on challenges and keep momentum.

In his inaugural speech, John F. Kennedy succinctly said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” That quote can easily be applied to our sector by interchanging the word industry for country.

We’ve just witnessed a presidential election where neither top candidate inspired confidence from the voting masses.  Take the time to reflect on how different the next four years could look for the U.S. if a selection of better-qualified candidates had entered the race and ultimately been on the final ballot.

If you have ever considered running for a board position, I sincerely encourage you to pursue it. For support, talk to your peers and ask for input.  The decision to give so much of your time to the industry should not be taken lightly, but in a democratic society, it truly is a shame when leaders are acclaimed simply because they had no serious or competent challengers.
According to The World Bank the roughly 4.5 billion low-income people in developing countries spend more than $5 trillion a year collectively. Of that, they spend $2.3 trillion a year on food and beverages alone. It stands to reason then that businesses that target those consumers and establish local sources of supply will be able to take advantage of this incredible growth.

Furthermore, by connecting segments of those populations with viable markets, businesses have the ability to bring people out of poverty. This is what is referred to as an “inclusive business.” Markus Dietrich, co-founder and director of ASEI Inc., spoke on inclusive business models at this year’s International Egg Conference in Warsaw, Poland.

What is an inclusive business?
According to the G20 Inclusive Business Framework, inclusive business approaches go beyond corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, and impact investment by connecting poor people to markets. “[Inclusive business approaches] encompass business approaches that directly improve the lives of the poor by making them part of the value chain of companies’ core business as suppliers, distributors, retailers, or customers,” said a report from the G20 meeting in Istanbul in 2015.

According to Dietrich inclusive businesses have the opportunity to capture corporate growth and market opportunities while enhancing brand value with key stakeholders. In building an inclusive model, businesses also reap added rewards: gaining social license to operate, future proofing the supply chain and attracting and retaining talent.

Dietrich knows all about designing an inclusive business model. He is, after all, an inclusive business specialist with extensive experience in research, consulting and project development. He is regularly recruited by leading corporations to develop inclusive business models aimed at corporate growth and social impact. Dietrich is also co-founder and CEO of Hilltribe Organics, a social enterprise producing free-range and organic eggs with hill tribe communities in Northern Thailand. Hilltribe Organics is the first certified organic chicken farm in Thailand; its products are available in all major supermarkets.

Existing inclusive businesses
There are many corporations who have already put their sustainability plans into action. Unilever, for instance, launched its Sustainable Living Plan in 2010. The plan is a blueprint for the company’s sustainable growth. Similarly, Mars established the Cocoa Sustainability Initiative and committed to being sustainable in a generation. To support a long-term goal of Creating Shared Value, Nestlé made 38 commitments that it aims to be by 2020 or earlier. Here in North America, McDonald’s Corporation has decided to stop using eggs from chickens raised in cages over the next decade.

But it’s not just food service and processers that are creating inclusive business models. Businesses involved in primary production are challenging older models with the goal of lifting communities out of poverty. The 3 million farmers who work for Amul Dairy Cooperative in India, for instance, all benefit directly from the company’s success. The cooperative is so inclusive that even a farmer with a single cow can join. Locally, a group manages milk collection and pays farmers on the spot.

Inclusive businesses in the egg industry value chain

There are examples of inclusive businesses around the world, including in the breeding, machinery and primary production sectors, said Dietrich, who highlighted several examples where business opportunities created better lives for those involved. In Ethiopia, for example, diets are deficient in protein. Indigenous chicken breeds have a survival rate of 50 percent. Birds produce fewer eggs, mature later and are prone to disease.

Mekelle Farms saw an opportunity to increase egg production by 500 per cent, thereby increasing smallholder farmer incomes. Higher egg production will both increase the supply of protein to rural and urban households, said Dietrich, as well as lower the cost of protein, making it more accessible.

Similarly, in India, poultry farmers have millions of low-productivity birds in back yards. Their flocks aren’t generating enough income, nor are they providing enough food. There, Keggfarms helped make low-income families more food secure by addressing the egg and meat issue, as well as providing opportunities for farmers, explained Dietrich. Keggfarms also create a micro entrepreneur network selling day-old chicks that have a longer life expectancy.

Keggfarms has received high praise for its business model. It is even a case study on Social Enterprise at Harvard Business School, said Vipin Malhotra, CEO at Keggfarms.

Realizing that per-person poultry meat consumption will rise faster than it will for pork and beef, especially in Africa, machinery company Surehatch saw an opportunity to build connections in South Africa. Surehatch, said Dietrich, focuses on Kenya’s smallholder market, emphasizing the idea of chicken production as a business opportunity. The company trains farmers – more than half of them are women – and helps them to create profitable businesses that provide a steady annual income.

Dietrich’s own inclusive business, Hilltribe Organics in Thailand, triples farm incomes, helping to bring families out of poverty. Regular and predictable income, he said, helps improve their quality of life.

Developing your own inclusive business
Thinking about developing your own inclusive business model? In a recent report, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) noted that there are some 475 million small farmers globally, creating a huge potential supply chain for future inclusive business owners. A good start, said Dietrich, is making the move from corporate social responsibility to inclusive business models. This can be done by partnering with social enterprises and seeking support and financing from an inclusive business ecosystem.

Can eggs make a difference? Dietrich thinks they can. At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit of September of 2015, world leaders agreed to adopt the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. The agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including eliminating poverty and hunger, and improving health, education and gender equality. Of the 17 goals, Dietrich said that egg production addresses at least eight: no poverty; no hunger; good health; gender equality; good jobs and economic growth; responsible consumption; life on land; and creating partnerships for the goals.

“We have proved the point that eggs have the potential to create substantial social impact,” concluded Dietrich. “Having a predictable and regular income has completely changed their lives.”
Nov. 8, 2016 - The Career Focus Green Jobs program is offering wage subsidies to help employers with an environmental focus hire new graduates. The program targets small and medium sized businesses to help reduce the cost barriers of hiring new graduates by subsidizing their salary by 50 per cent to a maximum of $13,500 per year. Its purpose is to help employers hire the talent they need and help recent graduates initiate a career.
 
“Agriculture is a natural fit for this green jobs initiative,” says Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC). “Canada’s primary producers are the frontline caregivers for much of our nation’s lands and waters and are therefore also the most invested in making sure heathy ecosystems are maintained.”
 
To qualify as a green job the job must have a green mandate or the employer needs to have an environmental focus. For example, the job must help reduce the consumption of energy and raw materials; limit greenhouse gas emissions; minimize waste and pollution; and protect and restore ecosystems.
 
Such opportunities may be found in non-profit environmental organizations; solar and wind technology companies; environmental science centres; watershed and water resource agencies, farms and farming co-ops; conservation organizations; museums and educational institutions; waste management companies; and information technology companies, among others.
 
For agriculture, as long as the company meets one of the following specifications they are considered eligible for the program: the farm/company has a sustainable mandate or focus which helps protect and restore ecosystems; it has developed and implemented systems to reduce waste within the industry; it produces organic products which reduce the use of chemicals; it conducts research on the environmental impact and resolutions within the industry; or it is an agricultural manufacturing company that develops equipment that reduces emissions and energy use.

The program is being administered by CAHRC partner BioTalent Canada and all applications must be submitted by Dec. 12, 2016 to offset employment costs until June 2017. For more information on the Career Focus Green Jobs program contact Jennifer Ash at 613-234-1402 Ext 221 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or  visit https://www.biotalent.ca/en/career-focus-green-jobs.
 
This initiative is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy.
Nov. 1, 2016 - The Canada and Manitoba governments are investing more than $432,000 over two years to help Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) establish a new program to provide practical, on-farm expertise, resources and training to enhance on-farm safety.  The announcement was made by federal agriculture minister, Lawrence MacAulay and Manitoba agriculture minister, Ralph Eichler.

The farm safety program will offer access to agriculture industry-specific information to ensure agriculture employers understand the regulations, rights and responsibilities around safe workplaces and to identify safety risks on their farms.

“Many people in agriculture work outdoors with heavy equipment or livestock in locations that can be a far distance from emergency services, which can increase the risk of injury,” says Eichler.  “This program will give producers the information they need to comply with safety and health regulations and ensure safe work environments for themselves and their employees.”

Services will include:
  • information and resources on health and safety regulations, risk-specific tip sheets and signage and basic safety orientation for farm workers, supervisors and owners;
  • on-site safety advisors who will work directly with farm businesses to identify and address farm risks;
  • commodity-specific farm safety workshops; and
  • safety awareness training for farm workers and supervisors, as well as hazard-specific training.
The program will be administered by KAP, with leadership and guidance provided by a Manitoba farm safety council.  It will include representatives from a number of agriculture stakeholders, as well as organizations focused on workplace safety and health.

“Our goal is to provide resources for farmers that are practical,” says Dan Mazier, KAP president.  “Rather than just telling them to read through safety regulations, we are making someone available to show them what they can do to reduce accidents on their farms and comply with provincial regulations.”

SAFE Work Manitoba is a project partner and will provide funding, expertise and other resources to support the initiative.

“SAFE Work Manitoba commends KAP for taking this important step in establishing a farm safety program,” adds Jamie Hall, chief operating officer, SAFE Work Manitoba.  “This program will help make Manitoba’s farms safer for farmers, their families and for workers. We look forward to a continued partnership by working with KAP to bring safety information and resources to Manitoba farms.”

Work to establish the program will begin immediately. Funding will be provided through the Growing Forward 2 – Growing Actions program, which supports industry-led initiatives to increase competitiveness and develop innovative solutions for agricultural organizations.  For more information about Growing Actions and other programs, visit www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/growing-forward-2.

The federal and provincial governments are investing $176 million in Manitoba under Growing Forward 2, a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial policy framework to advance the agriculture industry, helping producers and processors become more innovative and competitive in world markets.

For more information on Manitoba’s agricultural programs and services, follow the Twitter account @MBGovAg  

KAP is Manitoba’s general farm policy organization, representing farmers and commodity organizations from across the province.  For more information about KAP, visit www.kap.mb.ca .
October 19, 2016 - The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) refers to permitted business deductions in a number of sections of the Income Tax Act (ITA). However, these deductions can only be used if the taxpayer can show their business has a reasonable expectation of profit. The problem is that reasonable expectation of profit is not defined in the ITA so how is “reasonable expectation of profit” applied for tax purposes?  

Farm losses and restricted farm losses are a prime example of the interpretive confusion that might exist under Section 31 of the Tax Act. These rules limit the amount of losses from a farming operation that can be deducted from other income by taxpayers whose chief source of income is neither farming nor a combination of farming and some other source.

There is extensive case-law dealing with the issue of what a taxpayer's "chief source" of income is for this purpose. The last bench-mark case found in favour of a producer and ignored whether the source of income was a combination of farming or some other source. The court ruling did not factor the government’s contention that farm income had to be the main source of income.

The court decision didn’t last long because the federal budget of 2013 introduced a change to the Act that reinforced the government’s earlier interpretation of the legislation. The amendment states that if your chief source of income is not farming, then the restricted farm loss rules apply. Farm losses in this case may reduce income from other sources for the year only to the extent of the lesser of the farm loss for the year or $2,500 plus half of the farm loss exceeding $2,500 to a maximum of $15,000.

The deduction for the farm loss for a year is therefore limited to a maximum of $17,500 representing an actual loss of $32,500. Any farming loss which is not deductible currently by virtue of Section 31 becomes a "restricted farm loss".

There are subtle differences in the way CRA categorizes two sets of farmers.
  1. The taxpayer who does not look to farming or to farming and some subordinate source of income for his livelihood but carries on farming as a sideline business
  2. The taxpayer who does not look to farming or to farming and some subordinate source of income for his livelihood and who carries on farming activities with no reasonable expectation of profit.
Whether a taxpayer has a reasonable expectation of profit from his farming operations is a subjective or objective determination to be made from all of the facts.  Some of the criteria to be considered are:

  • Extent of activity in relation to businesses of comparable nature and size
  • Amount of gross revenue from farming in relation to the relevant expenses
  • Time spent in the operation as compared to other income earning activities
  • Profit and loss experience in the past years
  • Taxpayer's training
  • Taxpayer's intended course of action
  • Capability of the venture as capitalized to show a profit after charging capital cost allowance
As you might expect, the importance of documenting and supporting the above noted criteria will assist you in ensuring you can claim your farm losses.
Oct. 14, 2016 - The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has created a way to help agricultural associations save money, engage members and improve revenues through a powerful new phone app. After rigorous testing, the Ag Smart-Association App (ASApp) was launched recently via the Apple and Google App stores.
 
The innovation that ASApp brings to the industry is the ability for an organization to reach its members on the screen of their choice. Smartphones are the most-used mobile business device and ASApp leverages push-notifications to alert members to the latest stories and news in real-time.
 
“Smartphone Apps, like ASApp bring the best of your website to your members’ mobile phones,” explains Andrew Hurrell, business development and stakeholder engagement with CAHRC. “It helps ag associations to engage their members, save money and generate revenue by providing self-managed mobile application services.”
 
If controlling costs while delivering better services to your members is important to your ag organization, a smartphone application is a great solution to consider. ASApp brings newsletters, journals, conferences and event programs right to the phones of association members – with all information easily updated by staff via the web interface.
 
Increased revenue streams are possible through ASApp by using it for membership renewals, advertising directories, and sponsor’s offers and benefits. Beyond the traditional communications capabilities, the smartphone app can engage your membership to help with advocacy by asking members to perform activities through the app.  
 
Finally, usage analytics and easy to administer member surveys help to provide important insights to associations about their membership.
 
Each association’s version of the app is customized for branding and functionality, allowing ASApp to adjust menus, content and features as desired. When offered by national or provincial organizations, ASApp is free to users and is always ON with real-time notifications. This creates a wide range of applications for member engagement allowing members to: sign-up and renew memberships with payment processing; register for events; participate and vote during events; access multilingual content; be included in association contact directories; access secure log-in areas; and engage in social media feeds, among other functions – as well as full access to CAHRC provided employer tools including the Ag Employer Toolkit and CAHRC’s national job board, AgriJob Match.
 
The app design is compatible with both Android and Apple smartphones and follows best practices in mobile user interaction design and suability. As with other mobile applications it is intuitive requiring no end-user training. For more information on CAHRC’s ASApp visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.

Oct. 14, 2016 - Farming is a unique type of business that causes financial planning to take on dimensions not often seen in other industries. This is reflected in the Income Tax Act, which has numerous provisions for things like farm income, tax deductions, various subsidies, and more.

 It can feel at times overwhelming and hard to keep up-to-date. Fortunately, there are people with the knowledge and expertise who can help.

Engaging an accounting or tax planning firm can give your farm the ability to grasp the nuances of the tax laws and get the most tax deductions and minimal liabilities possible.

Navigate an ever-changing landscape
Small businesses and farms are subject to various types of subsidies and tax quirks that the provincial and federal governments use to help spur growth or respond to situations like droughts or cold snaps.

Tax legislation relevant to farming and small business are regularly tinkered with as government tries to respond to industry shifts, projections and predictions, or other concerns that may or may not be more hype than substance.

Knowledge is power when dealing with subsidies, and managed accounting can give you the power needed to keep track of the benefits you qualify for as well as how to take advantage of them.

Reconcile reality with government
Government works best when things can be precise and measured. As any farmer knows, nature doesn't always care for timetables. This can lead to situations where seemingly trivial differences in how an animal or piece of equipment is used can affect how it gets classified for tax purposes.

Tax planners can help you interact with this sort of bureaucratic matter and ensure you don't inadvertently run afoul of the Canada Revenue Agency or miss out on a tax deduction you should've been able to claim.

Accounting for it all
Among the various types of income that need to get reported are profits from property or livestock sale, breeding fees, renting fees, incidental income, all taxable subsidy and conservation payments, and gross income from other sources.

Expenses can include things like feed, pest management products, fertilizer, and more.

Even if you don't have an upcoming tax filing to make, this all results in a great deal of numbers to keep track of. Accounting services can help you stay on top of your income and expenses so you can have a full and accurate view of your financial situation.

FBC is Canada's Farm & Small Business Tax Specialist, providing tax accounting and bookkeeping services to over 20,000 farms and small businesses from Ontario to British Columbia. Our complete financial planning for farm and small business owners takes a long-term approach to address your specific needs at all stages of life and business, minimizing your taxes year after year. Year-round services include tax planning, tax optimization, business consulting and audit protection.

 
Sept. 29, 2016 - Farmers in Alberta are invited to turn in their obsolete or unwanted agricultural pesticides and livestock/equine medications on the dates and at the locations specified below for safe disposal.

Collection sites will be open on the days specified from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 3                        

Central Alberta Co-op in Innisfail, 403-505-1467
Edberg Crop Management in Edberg, 780-877-0003
Crop Production Services in Westlock, 780-349-4525
Crop Production Services in Smoky Lake, 780-656-4343

Tuesday, Oct. 4                        

Richardson Pioneer in Provost, 780-753-2511
Alliance Seed Cleaning Association in Alliance, 780-879-3927
Parkland Fertilizers in Lacombe, 780-782-2232
Neerlandia Co-op in Barrhead, 780-674-2820

Wednesday Oct. 5

Andrukow Group Solutions in Saint Paul, 780-645-5915
Richardson Pioneer in Lavoy, 780-658-2408
McEwen's Fuels & Fertilizers in Athabasca, 780-675-9500
Crop Production Services in Camrose, 780-672-3025

Thursday, Oct. 6                      

Crop Production Services in Vermilion, 780-853-4711
North Corridor Co-op in Thorhild, 780-398-3975
Leduc Co-op in Leduc, 780-986-3000
Andrukow Group Solutions in Wainwright, 780-842-3306

Friday, Oct. 7                            

Sturgeon Valley Fertilizers in Legal, 780-961-3088
Andrukow Group Solutions in Viking, 780-336-3180
UFA in Drayton Valley, 780-621-0313
Crop Production Services in Lloydminster, 780-871-4601
 

CleanFARMS, a national, industry-led agricultural waste stewardship organization, has partnered with CropLife Canada and the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) to deliver this program to Alberta farmers. The plant science and animal health industries are committed to safely and responsibly collecting and disposing of obsolete pesticides and livestock/equine medications at no cost to farmers.

For more information, visit www.cleanfarms.ca or call 1-877-622-4460.
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