Farm Business
October 16, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. – The Trudeau government took the first of several steps Monday to stanch the bleeding from a self-inflicted political wound, resurrecting a campaign promise to cut taxes for small businesses outraged by its controversial tax-reform proposals.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to gradually trim the small-business tax rate to nine per cent by 2019, down from its current level of 10.5 per cent, and also to make further changes to the plan that triggered the angry backlash from entrepreneurs in the first place.

''This tax cut will support Canada's small businesses so that they can keep more of their hard-earned money, money that they can invest back into their businesses, their employees and their communities,'' Trudeau told a news conference in Stouffville, Ont.

The small business tax rate will fall to 10 per cent in January 2018 and again to nine per cent in 2019.

Doctors, lawyers, accountants, shop owners, farmers, premiers and even some Liberal backbenchers have denounced the tax proposals, contending they'd hurt the very middle class Trudeau claims to be trying to help.

Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau have said the reforms will be designed to ensure they target wealthy individuals who've used the incorporation of small businesses to gain what the government maintains is an unfair tax advantage.

In hope of calming critics, Trudeau also announced Monday he will abandon at least one of the tax-reform elements: changing the lifetime capital gains rule. The adjustment is intended to avoid negative impacts on the intergenerational transfer of family businesses, like farms.

On another controversial proposal, the government intends to move ahead. The change is aimed at limiting the ability of business owners to lower their personal income taxes by sprinkling their income to family members who do not contribute to their companies.

Trudeau said a simplified version of the original proposal announced in July would be introduced, effective Jan. 1, 2018, but added the adjustments would be made clear as the government moves forward.

He also said nothing Monday of any impending changes to what is perhaps the most-controversial aspect of his tax proposals and, potentially, the most lucrative for government coffers: limiting the use of private corporations to make passive investments unrelated to the company.

The government is expected to announce more changes related to its tax proposals later this week.

Morneau, who's been tasked with the difficult job of trying to sell the government's tax proposals to the public and even fellow Liberal MPs, joined Trudeau at Monday's announcement.

''I spent the last few weeks travelling the country, listening to people,'' he said. ''We know that our current system just isn't fair. It rewards people who are successful more than it rewards people who are working hard to be successful.

''We didn't design the system that we inherited, but we've made clear that we intend to fix it. We're going to leave a fairer system behind for the next generation.''

Trudeau campaigned in 2015 on a promise to reduce the small business tax rate to nine per cent from 11 per cent over three years.

But he announced in Budget 2016 he would freeze the rate at 10.5 per cent, cancelling in the process a legislated reduction to nine per cent instituted by the previous Conservative government.

Faced with vocal opposition to the tax proposals, the Liberal government is now reviving the nine per cent promise.

Trudeau insisted Monday the government stated it would only lower the small business tax cut after it had conducted a tax-system review, which it undertook last year.

But Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer accused Trudeau on Monday of only reinstating the small business tax cut as a way to manage the growing political crisis around the tax proposals.

''The very first thing the prime minister did, in his first budget, was to cancel that tax cut,'' Scheer said in Ottawa. ''Today, he would have you believe that this was the plan all along. I reject that.''

The small business tax rate applies to the first $500,000 of active corporate income.

On Monday, the Liberal government said lowering the rate will provide entrepreneurs with up to an additional $7,500 per year. Combined, Ottawa estimates the tax reductions will reduce Ottawa's revenues by about $2.9 billion over five years.

On the tax proposals, more changes are likely on the way.

As originally proposed, the plan would restrict income sprinkling, in which an incorporated business owner can transfer income to a child or spouse who is taxed at a lower rate, regardless of whether they actually do any work for the company.

It would also limit the use of private corporations to make passive investments that are unrelated to the company and curb the ability of business owners to convert regular income of a corporation into capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said overall the announcement was a good thing, though there are still some concerns.

''What this decision will do is pump hundreds of millions of dollars back into the small business community and that will help entrepreneurs create more jobs and grow the economy,'' said prairie CFIB spokeswoman Marilyn Braun-Pollon.

''We are worried that the income-sprinkling changes will keep the benefits of ... ownership out of the hands of many spouses, who as we know participate in more informal ways in the business.''

Braun-Pollon said they will also wait to hear more on passive income rules and the treatment of capital gains related to business succession, which is of particular interest to farmers.

The Liberals' popularity has taken a hit in some opinion polls amid the backlash to the proposed reforms, first announced in mid-July.

The damage control effort began Monday with the briefing for Liberal MPs, some of whom have been among the most critical of the proposals. Backbenchers emerged from the meeting saying they feel satisfied that the government has listened to their concerns, although they were not given details of the changes that are to be unveiled in a series of announcements later in the week.

''I feel very, very positive. For the first time in a couple months, I've got a bit of a smile on my face,'' said New Brunswick MP Wayne Long, who was kicked off two Commons committees for voting against the government earlier this month on a Conservative motion calling for further consultations on the proposed reforms.

''There wasn't a lot of specifics today, but I'm very, very confident – by certainly the tone and messaging of the minister – that a lot of these concerns ... will be addressed.''

– With files from CJWW
October 17, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. – The federal government is moving to pare down its controversial tax proposal on passive income so that it will only affect three per cent of small businesses.

A senior government official tells The Canadian Press that Finance Minister Bill Morneau will be in New Brunswick on Wednesday to unveil changes to his passive investment proposal so that it only targets unfair tax advantages used by the wealthy.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement, says Morneau will also share updated estimates showing there's between $200 billion and $300 billion in assets sitting in the passive investment accounts of just two per cent of all private corporations.

The official says the finance minister will also point out that dollar figure is growing by $16 billion per year as wealthy incorporated individuals reap unlimited benefits from tax-advantaged savings accounts over and above RRSPs and TFSAs.

The government is tweaking its original proposal after hearing concerns that cracking down on passive investments could adversely affect middle-class entrepreneurs who use their companies to save for economic downturns, sick leaves and parental leaves.

The official refused to provide additional details ahead of Wednesday's announcement, part of a week-long Liberal effort to calm the anger surrounding the tax proposals, which have outraged entrepreneurs, doctors, tax professionals, farmers and Liberal backbench MPs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began the week by announcing tax cuts for small businesses and plans to abandon part of one of the proposals to avoid negative impacts on the intergenerational transfer of family businesses, like farms.

The official says the problem isn't with individuals, but the system, since it encourages wealthy Canadians to keep their personal money inside their corporations so they can receive tax advantages not available to everyone else.

The changes will not be retroactive, as outlined in the original proposal, and they will not affect existing savings, nor the income from those savings, the official said.

Morneau is expected to provide further details Wednesday on the changes to its passive-investment proposal, including a timeline and a plan for addressing the concerns of angel investors and venture capitalists.

In announcing the proposals last summer, Morneau recommended limits on the use of private corporations to make passive investments that are unrelated to the company.

However, tax experts have warned the original proposal would threaten entrepreneurship in Canada by preventing some business owners from saving for retirement, maternity leaves and economic slowdowns.
October 13, 2017, Guelph, Ont. – The federal government today announced a $1.31 million investment in poultry welfare and other livestock initiatives. 

Speaking from the Arkell Research Centre, Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield announced Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada was commiting the money to the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC).

Its stated goals are to help ensure the safe transportation of livestock, develop emergency management tools for the livestock industry and improve animal care assessments.

The investment will be divided between four projects, including:

  • Up to $223,929 to develop a new livestock transport on-line certification program that will simplify, standardize and provide an opportunity for truckers, shippers and receivers to more easily access the training necessary to improve handling practices.
  • Up to $160,713 to update the Transportation Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals during transport.
  • Up to $813,200 to develop an emergency management plan for the Canadian livestock industry to help mitigate, to respond to, and to recover from major hazard emergencies.
  • Up to $112,180 to revise the Chicken Farmers of Canada's (CFC) animal care assessment program to meet the new Code of Practice for hatching eggs, breeders, chickens and turkeys. The project will strengthen the poultry industry's capacity to respond to ever increasing demand by markets to demonstrate effective animal care standards.
October 4, 2017, Rockwood, Ont. – 4-H Ontario recently announced the inaugural Poultry Sen$e conference, taking place October 13-15, 2017 at YMCA Camp Cedar Glen in Schomberg, Ontario.

The event is intended to prepare youth ages 18-25 for a career in the poultry industry.

Through guest speakers, case studies, facility tours, and networking with industry leaders and peers, participants will gain practical skills that will assist in running a profitable poultry operation.

Participants will learn about succession planning, creating a business plan and farm business management practices, while improving their presentation, teamwork and strategic thinking abilities.

“The Poultry Industry Council believes in youth leadership development and when you offer the opportunity to positively impact the poultry sector through the Poultry Sen$e conference our sector potential becomes limitless,” Keith Robbins, executive director of the Poultry Industry Council, said in a press release.

“We are excited to be able to provide this new opportunity to young adults interested in a career in the poultry industry,” added Andy McTaggart, interim manager, programming with 4-H Ontario.

Visit$e for more information.
October 2, 2017, Regina, Sask. – A group representing Saskatchewan farmers has told the federal government that it's against proposed corporate tax changes, saying there are grave concerns.

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan says the proposed federal tax changes could hurt the ability to keep Saskatchewan farms in the family.

The association wants agriculture to be exempt from the proposed tax changes.

APAS president Todd Lewis says 27 per cent of Saskatchewan family farms have incorporated, mainly as a vehicle for the transfer of their operating assets between generations.

Lewis says succession plans are designed to ensure that younger generations can take over the operation without having to totally recapitalize the farm, and to provide a secure retirement income for older generations.

He says the future of the industry depends on it.

``We have seldom seen such concern from all members of the farm and ranch community about a government initiative,'' Lewis said in a news release Monday.

``Saskatchewan producers were completely taken by surprise by the proposals contained in the Tax Planning Using Private Corporations consultation document. Both by the recommendations, and by an extremely compressed consultation period conducted during our busy harvest season.''
September 28, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. – Finance Minister Bill Morneau tried to reassure farmers Thursday that Ottawa's controversial tax proposals, if introduced, wouldn't impair their ability to bequeath the family farm to the next generation.

Morneau said Thursday that ''technical fixes'' for the federal proposals may be on the way amid concerns the reforms could add significant costs for those who seek to keep their farms in the family.

The minister was among more than a dozen witnesses testifying before a parliamentary committee that's examining proposed tax changes for private corporations – measures that have subjected the Trudeau government to an onslaught of public and political outrage.

Opponents of the reforms insist the changes would hurt Canadians at different income levels and from many different sectors, including doctors, farmers and small business owners.

Farmers have raised particular concerns about elements of the proposed changes that some estimates say could see families taxed twice for inter-generational transfers of their operations.

''Our goal is not, and will not be, to change the ability to move a family business, a family farm, a fishing business from one generation to the next,'' Morneau said after his appearance.

''There may be technical fixes to make sure that we get that right.''

Morneau also warned that critics are spreading misinformation about the proposed tax changes, particularly when it comes to how they might affect farmers.

The Liberal government has been engaged in a communications war over its plan, which it insists would end tax advantages unfairly exploited by some wealthy business owners.

Morneau argues the proposals are designed to create a fairer tax system, especially for those in the so-called middle class, but he says he's open to adjusting it after a public consultation period ends next week.

The proposal package includes restrictions on the ability of business owners to reduce their tax rate by sprinkling their income to family members in lower tax brackets, even if those family members do not contribute to the company.

Morneau has also proposed limits on the use of private corporations to make passive investments that are unrelated to the company. Another change would limit the ability of business owners to convert regular income of a corporation into capital gains, which are typically taxed at a lower rate.

Critics of the plan say it would hurt entrepreneurs who take personal financial risks when they decide to open a business, hire staff, save for retirement, save for maternity leave and sock away funds for economic downturns.

They contend that the proposals, if legislated, will also deliver a blow to the bottom lines of not just the wealthy, but of middle-income earners as well.

The committee heard from an apple farmer who urged the government to shield farms from the tax changes so they don't end up as ''collateral damage.''

''I need to plan succession – I need to do this in advance to ensure my farm stays within my family,'' said Andrew Lovell, who added that he also relies on his sometimes-volatile farming business as a savings vehicle for his retirement.

''This year we had a drought in New Brunswick – I'm facing huge crop losses. How do I plan for Mother Nature?''

Morneau faced sharp criticism from political opponents Thursday over his tax proposals both inside and outside the committee room.

One rival noted after the hearing that Morneau appears to bending to pressure amid a backlash from angry business owners, several provincial leaders and even public concerns voiced by backbench Liberal MPs.

''The result is, I think that he's looking for an off-ramp for some of these proposals,'' Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre said after the meeting.

''The reason that people are so fearful is because these tax changes not only reach into their pockets, they mess up people's lives.''

On the farmer-succession issue, New Democrat MP Alexandre Boulerice said: ''I hope he will do the right thing because there's a lot of fear right now.''

Later, during question period, Tory MPs attacked Morneau for not abstaining from the discussions around the tax changes, which they allege could end up benefiting his family's company, Morneau Shepell.

Before entering politics, Morneau was executive chairman of the company, which is the country's largest human resources consulting firm. Morneau Shepell also offers individual pension plans.

Some Tories referred to committee testimony earlier in the day by James Merrigan, a corporate lawyer from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Merrigan told the committee that individual pension plans, such as those offered by Morneau Shepell, would become more appealing options for some of his clients if the tax proposals are implemented as is.

There would be ''a lot of money poured into that area,'' he added.

For the most part, Morneau didn't directly respond to questions in the House about a potential conflict of interest related to his family's company.

He did reply to one by saying: ''Not only did I not abstain, but I actively engaged in working to make sure the tax system is fair.''
September 7, 2017, Winnipeg, Man. – Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer pledged Thursday that when Parliament resumes later this month he'll hammer the Liberals on three of the hot button issues of the summer: taxes, asylum seekers at the border and a payout to Omar Khadr.

``Our job from now until the 2019 election and beyond is to convince Canadians there is a better way,'' he said during the party's two-day strategy meeting.

What a Conservative better way might look like is also beginning to take shape.

The summer coughed up a trifecta of events the Conservatives easily seized upon – a Liberal review of the tax code, a crush of asylum seekers crossing the border and a $10.5 million settlement with former Guantanamo inmate Khadr.

To oppose each was a simple riff on Conservative values of seeking to keep taxes low, the border and immigration system secure and having little sympathy for Khadr, who was captured in a fight against U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Scheer pledged Thursday the Tories will hold the government to account on all three when Parliament resumes.

But there are other issues where the Tories are only just starting to map out their positions.

Foreign affairs critic Erin O'Toole raised some eyebrows recently when he said the Conservatives have no time for the Liberals trying to push the environment, gender and Indigenous issues into the NAFTA renegotiation.

Indigenous affairs critic Cathy McLeod said that doesn't mean the party has no time for First Nations issues writ large.

She and other MPs spent time Thursday afternoon at the National Truth and Reconciliation Centre in Winnipeg, which is archiving and preserving stories told about the country's residential school system.

A Conservative policy on Indigenous issues would likely focus on encouraging economic development, but that will be discussed at the party's 2018 convention, she said.

``Right now, what we need to do is look at what the Liberals are doing and hold them to account for the work they're doing,'' she said.

O'Toole said the Conservatives' position on missile defence for Canada is also up for discussion.

Canada needs to find a way to work with the U.S. now that North Korea is testing missiles capable of hitting this continent, O'Toole said. Canada is not currently part of the U.S. continental missile defence system.

``At an absolute minimum, we should always be willing to be at the table with our closest ally on this and we're going to be talking about how we might propose this to the government,'' he said.

O'Toole is among the defeated leadership candidates to win a spot in Scheer's shadow cabinet; his proposal to turn illegal border crossings currently being used by asylum seekers into a formal points of entry has already been adopted by Scheer as one new policy idea.

Maxime Bernier, another former candidate, said he intends to drop his signature leadership campaign promise – the end of supply management – from his efforts to shape Conservative policy on the innovation file, where he's now the critic.

While it remains his personal belief, party members didn't vote for it and whether it goes forward as policy also rests with next year's convention, he said.

For now, he'll push for inclusion of another key idea from his platform: the end to any federal support for corporations.

``We'll have these discussions at the shadow cabinet and after that we'll take a position in the House and that will be the position of the party,'' Bernier said.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, a former Progressive Conservative MP, told the group he'd like to see the federal Conservatives rethink their position on health-care funding.

In 2011, the Conservative government at the time announced it would reduce the rate of growth of health-care transfers to the provinces to three per cent a year, from the earlier rate of six per cent.

The change was to take effect this year and the Liberals, though they've signed deals with the provinces for additional funds for other elements of health care, have left the so-called escalator rate at three per cent.

Pallister said he encouraged the Tories to come up with a better plan.

``I'd like the federal party to do its own research, I've shared with them that there are numerous research articles, work that's been done, that clearly demonstrate that there is not a sustainable model in place right now,'' he said.

Sources who were in the room said Pallister's pitch was met with silence.
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 ( 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:
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?''
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