Business/Policy
February 24, 2017, Mississauga, Ont – Maple Leaf Foods Inc. recently reported net earnings of $181.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2016.

This is up from $41.6 million in net earnings reported at year-end 2015.

“We finished 2016 with a strong quarter sustained by solid commercial performance,” said Michael H. McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods. “With the combination of our increasingly competitive cost structure, and commercial strategies that intersect with important consumer needs and trends, we are well positioned for future profitable growth.”

The company’s Meat Products Group, which includes value-added fresh poultry products, reported a 1.2 per cent increase in sales, earning $3,316.5 million for 2016. Fourth quarter sales alone were $824.4 million, a decrease of 5.1 per cent from the previous year.
 
Margins in prepared meats improved due to lower operating costs across the network. Earnings in fresh poultry declined slightly as industry processor margins receded from record levels in the fourth quarter of 2015.  

Prepared meats sales declined slightly in response to a price increase in the first quarter but strengthened as the year progressed. Fresh poultry sales increased due to stronger volume and an improved sales mix.
Published in Companies
February 22, 2017, Victoria, BC – Due to an underwhelming response by users to register their wells, the province has extended its waiver of the application fee to December 31, 2017.
 
The new Water Sustainability Act took effect February 29, 2016 and includes licensing requirements for all non-domestic groundwater users. As a result, all wells used for irrigation and livestock watering must be registered. READ MORE
Published in Business & Policy
February 22, 2017 – The program for the 3rd Annual Western Poultry Conference is out.

The conference will take place in Red Deer on February 27, the day before the Alberta poultry industry’s annual meetings.

While intended for all poultry producers, broiler producers will find this year to be very well worth their time. There will be presentations on Salmonella management, coccidiosis, selecting a barn sanitation program, euthanasia, antibiotic-free production, ventilation strategies for extreme conditions, and more.

The presentations are designed to be practical and to give producers plenty to think about.
 
Participants must register for this event independent of registration for the annual general meetings. Please go to the meeting website to register (www.westernpoultryconference.ca). Tickets are reduced for groups of four or more.

Click here to view the full program.

 

Published in Business & Policy
February 17, 2017 – Biomin welcomed 145 delegates from 23 countries representing the feed and poultry sectors over several days in mid-February in order to address how to solve the antibiotic-free production puzzle.

With the subheading of “Guidelines for a responsible use of antibiotics in the modern broiler production,” the event afforded participants the opportunity to consider a host of different viewpoints.

Expert speakers explored the role of genetics, nutrition, biosecurity and farm management.

Highly interactive exchanges throughout the event converged on the idea that a holistic approach is the way forward in reducing antibiotics while maintaining high performing flocks.
Published in Health
Health leaders around the world are using words like “historical” and “possible turning point” to describe a declaration passed by the UN General Assembly aiming to slow down the spread of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. The declaration requires countries to come up with a two-year plan to protect the potency of antibiotics. Countries also need to create ways to monitor the use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, start curbing that use and begin developing new antibiotics that work.
Published in Health
Growing volumes of data are being collected throughout the food production chain. But although this data could present big opportunity for agriculture, it’s not being used to its full potential, according to the international sales director of a software company that specializes in the protein industry.     
Published in New Technology
In several parts of Ontario, poultry production is quite concentrated, which doesn’t bode well for preventing spread of disease in the event of an outbreak. Because of that, Tom Baker, project manager and incident commander at the Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC,) is co-ordinating a special project.
Published in Health
Unless you’ve had your head in the sand for the last 30 years, you know producers of food now have to pay a lot more attention to what the end consumer wants than perhaps they did in the past. The fact that it may cost more to produce a commodity if the animal is housed differently is of little concern to Joe Shopper. What he or she wants to do is make a “feel-good” purchase.
Published in Consumer Issues
February 2, 2017, Atlanta, GA – More than 31,000 poultry, meat and feed industry leaders attended the 2017 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) from all over the world.

In addition, the show featured more than 533,000 of net square feet of exhibit space and 1,275 exhibitors.

Sponsored by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, the American Feed Industry Association and the North American Meat Institute, IPPE is the world's largest annual feed, meat and poultry industry event of its kind.

“This year’s tremendous exhibit floor and attendee and exhibitor numbers are a compliment to IPPE’s unmatched education programs, ample networking opportunities and diverse exhibits,” the three organizations stated in a joint press release. “The excitement and energy displayed by this year’s attendees and exhibitors will continue to safeguard the success and growth of future IPPEs.”

The central attraction was the large exhibit floor. Exhibitors demonstrated the most current innovations in equipment, supplies and services used by industry firms in the production and processing of meat, poultry, eggs and feed products. Numerous companies highlighted their new products at the trade show, with all phases of the feed, meat and poultry industry represented, from live production and processing to further processing and packaging.

A wide variety of educational programs complemented the exhibits by keeping industry management informed on the latest issues and events. This year’s educational line-up featured 25 programs, ranging from a conference on Listeria Monocytogenes prevention and control, to a program on FSMA hazard analysis training, to a program on whole genome sequencing and food safety implications.

Other featured events included the International Poultry Scientific Forum, Beef 101 Workshop, Pet Food Conference, TECHTalks program, Event Zone activities and publisher-sponsored programs, all of which made the 2017 IPPE one of the foremost annual protein and feed event in the world.
Published in News
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.
Published in Farm Business
Jan. 26, 2017 - Poultry genetics company Aviagen has reported that its new hatchery in Watertown, N.Y. is now fully operational and began shipping chicks to customers in early November.

Located in upstate New York just south of the Ontario border, the Watertown hatchery is strategically situated to efficiently supply Canadian customers with broiler breeding stock.

“Aviagen continually makes investments that result in better service to customers,” says Kevin McDaniel, president, Aviagen North America. “The new hatchery enables us to keep up with the region’s expanding demand for our products, while at the same time promoting the success of our customers by offering them the highest quality of chicks possible.”

The Watertown facility has become Aviagen’s seventh commercial breeding stock hatchery in the U.S.

With a hatching capacity of up to 135,000 high-quality chicks per week (7 million per year), the new hatchery is able to effectively keep up a growing demand in the region. It is equipped with advanced technology equipment such as Jamesway Platinum incubators and hatchers, which are designed for heightened biosecurity and energy efficiency. Sophisticated environmental controls ensure consistently exceptional hatch results and provide the highest level of care available for our eggs and chicks.

The new hatchery boasts a favorable strategic location. Its nearness to Aviagen customer farms translates to minimal transport times, which safeguards the safety, health and welfare of day-old chicks. And, the close proximity to JFK airport in New York makes it a logical location to safely and securely export choice broiler breeding stock.

The new hatchery also contributes to the economy of the Watertown community, by employing 40 local people.
Published in Companies

Jan. 25, 2017 - 4-H Canada and Syngenta Canada are pleased to announce the national winners of the Proud to Bee a 4-H’er video contest. 4-H’ers from across Canada were asked to create a short video, either as a club or as individuals, demonstrating their pride in being a part of the 4-H program and reflecting the wide variety of Canadian 4-H clubs, projects, communities and age groups.

The videos submitted during the contest entry period in November—coinciding with National 4-H Month—highlighted the common values and central experience of 4-H in building responsible, caring and contributing young leaders, and the sense of pride and accomplishment they all feel as 4-H’ers.
 
“Congratulations to all of the winning 4-H clubs and 4-H members who did such a wonderful job of showing their enthusiasm and excitement for 4-H in their videos, making this contest a great success,” said Shannon Benner, CEO of 4-H Canada.  “Thanks to Syngenta and the Proud to Bee a 4-H’er initiative, 4-H youth across Canada have had incredible opportunities to grow their knowledge of the important work of pollinators and show leadership in their communities by supporting the creation of pollinator-friendly habitats.”   
 
Approximately 3,800 votes were cast during the online public voting period. The winning entry received a GoPro HERO5 camera. The first and second runner-up entries each received an Apple iPad mini 2 and the remaining top ten entries received a selfie stick. Each of the top ten entries also received 4-H Canada branded items to continue displaying their 4-H pride in their communities.
 
Proud to Bee a 4-H’er – Winning Video Entries

  • 1st place - The Pas Helping Hands  / 4-H Manitoba
  • 2nd place - Aidan Tully / 4-H Manitoba
  • 3rd place - Colton Skori / 4-H Alberta
  • 4th place - Comox Valley 4-H Calf Club / 4-H British Columbia
  • 5th place - Boots N Bridles 4-H Club / 4-H British Columbia
  • 6th place - Irishtown 4-H Club / 4-H New Brunswick
  • 7th place - Caroline Carpenter / 4-H New Brunswick
  • 8th place - 4-W 4-H Club / 4-H Alberta
  • 9th place - Hillmond 4-H Beef Club / 4-H Saskatchewan
  • 10th place - Jocelyn Kerr / 4-H British Columbia
This fun and engaging video contest wrapped up the third year of Proud to Bee a 4-H’er, a national initiative encouraging 4-H club members to learn about the amazing world of bees and other pollinators, which includes planting and tending pollinator-friendly gardens in their communities.
 
Since 2014, close to 100,000 seed packets have been distributed across Canada, through the generous support of Syngenta, giving 4-H’ers and others the opportunity to create pollinator-friendly habitats and to enjoy the outdoors.
“The addition of the Proud to Bee a 4-H’er video contest in 2016 was a fun and fitting way to cap off a successful year of activities that saw more than 120 4-H Canada clubs from coast-to-coast-to-coast support the important work of pollinators. The enthusiasm that 4-H’ers brought to their Proud to Bee a 4-H’er activities was on full display in their video submissions,” says Dr. Paul Hoekstra, Stewardship and Policy Manager with Syngenta Canada.
 
Syngenta support for Proud to Bee a 4-H’er is through its Operation Pollinator program, which is focused on research and other initiatives that contribute to enhanced biodiversity and habitat in support of healthy pollinator populations.
 
To watch the winning videos, please visit www.youtube.com/4HCanada.
Published in Emerging Trends
Jan. 25, 2017-  An Independent Agri-Food Policy Note released today by Agri-Food Economic Systems explores the expanding trade policy agenda now facing Canadian agri-food as the trade agenda of the Trump Administration and other factors become evident.

“Not that long ago we thought the major sources of uncertainty dogging Canadian agri-food trade had been resolved”, says Al Mussell, Agri-Food Economic Systems research lead and co-author of the policy note. “That is quickly being proved wrong.  We had not expected US trade policy to turn protectionist, and in the interim a number of other major trade issues have arisen”.

The policy note takes stock of the range of developments in US trade policy under the new Trump Administration, the implications and alternatives for Canadian agri-food, and the consequent demands on trade and domestic agricultural policy. It highlights both bilateral shifts and multilateral issues that will reshape domestic and trade policy and require Canadian attention.      

“We face a problem of breadth and depth”, says Douglas Hedley, Agri-Food Economic Systems associate and co-author of the policy note. “The sheer number of prospective trade complaints and defensive actions coming from the US could swamp our capacity to effectively analyze and mount a successful defense; this may be a strategy of the new US administration”.  

Mussell says, “a retrenchment of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, potential renegotiation of NAFTA, a prospective US border tax, and US trade complaints raised against Canada will drive Canada to consider alternative markets.  This puts more pressure on CETA and prospective new trade agreements with Japan, China, and perhaps others to provide markets for our agri-food products.  It will also require alignment between domestic agricultural policy and this new trade environment”.

“At the same time, a WTO Ministerial meeting is scheduled for later this year, in which domestic support for agriculture is likely to be a key element," Hedley adds.  Canada will be pressed to advance its agenda for reduced agricultural support globally and to deal with its own sensitivities.  This will further draw upon our trade policy capacity”.       

The Independent Agri-Food Policy Note can be accessed at www.agrifoodecon.ca.
Published in Trade
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.
Published in Farm Business
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.
Published in Farm Business
Jan. 19, 2017 - The Canadian veterinary profession has taken a significant step forward with the creation of a national framework (the Framework) to address its responsibilities under new Federal Government regulations for increased veterinary oversight of antimicrobials, which are expected to be implemented by the end of 2017.
 
The Framework, “Veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use – A Pan-Canadian framework for professional standards for veterinarians,” was developed by the veterinary pharmaceutical stewardship advisory group of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) in collaboration with the Canadian Council of Veterinary Registrars (CCVR).
 
It provides a template of professional standards, which may be used by provincial and territorial veterinary regulatory (licensing) bodies when developing their own regulations, guidelines, or bylaws relating to veterinarians’ professional responsibilities in providing oversight of veterinary antimicrobial use.
 
“Canadian veterinarians have a national and international responsibility to protect public health by contributing to the fight against antimicrobial resistance,” says Dr. Troy Bourque, CVMA president. “By working towards harmonizing veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in Canada, we are optimizing our stewardship practices in animal and public health, maintaining access to and effectiveness of antimicrobials for the treatment and prevention of disease in animals and upholding to the integrity of the veterinary profession.”
 
The Framework describes the professional obligations for veterinarians as ‘suggested standards,’ provides a definition of the Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR), and describes the professional obligations to be met by veterinarians when prescribing an antimicrobial drug.
 
In addition, the Framework makes several recommendations on outstanding issues, including surveillance of antimicrobial use and distribution, and continuing education opportunities for veterinary professionals on antimicrobial stewardship.
 
The veterinary profession in Canada will continue to be engaged in discussions on the oversight of the use of veterinary antimicrobials at provincial and national levels.
 
The Framework was developed after consultation with key stakeholders from the veterinary and human health communities, producer groups, and regulators from across Canada.
 
The framework document has been completed and distributed to all regulatory bodies and CVMA members. It is available for download from the CVMA website at www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/pan-canadian-framework .
Published in Business & Policy
Almost twenty years ago the Super Duty line of Ford trucks was born. Built to tackle the biggest jobs that pickups could handle, the Super Duty gained a following right away.  Today, the newest Super Duty introduction is just as important as that original one – because the number of jobs for these trucks just keeps on growing.

This F-series Super Duty line-up of trucks is all new for 2017, including the adoption of the same aluminum cab that the F-150 got two years ago.  That fact alone makes this next generation of Super Duty special.   With the engineers adding the all-aluminum body, this now means there is only one design for both classes of Ford trucks; and that in turn means that updates and improvements to any and all the cab systems will now be available to both half-ton and Heavy Duty trucks in the same year.  It also seems appropriate then that this alignment of truck bodies is coming on an all-new chassis as well.

Adding strength and reducing weight, this new Super Duty is 24 times stiffer than its predecessor. The fully boxed frame is taller and has up to 10 cross-members, which include the under-box supports for the factory-installed fifth wheel/gooseneck hitch receiver.

The new Super Duty is claiming several victories - its latest top numbers are 32,500 pounds towed, with an F-450 and a maximum payload of 7,630 pounds. Both these numbers are now being touted as best in class.  But as every truck guy knows, what you can haul is just as important as being able to brag about your engine.  So the second generation of the 6.7-litre Power Stroke turbo-diesel (the most common Super Duty powerplant) has also boosted its horsepower and torque to 440 and 925 pound-foot respectively.

Of course, one of Ford’s strengths is the offer of multiple features, including engines. The base engine is a 6.2-litre V8 that makes 385 horsepower and 430 pound-foot of torque.  For Super Duty chassis cab buyers there is also a gas V10 option.

 At the press drive in Denver, there were a variety of trucks available to drive but I was immediately drawn to the F-450 towing the gooseneck trailer with a nice 30,000-pound load of landscaping stone. I too wanted to experience those maximum tow limits, in part because I still find it amazing that pickups today are built to haul weights that were considered commercial loads back when I started driving tractor-trailers in the early 1980s.

The Power Stroke powered F-450 handled the weight and the chassis is noticeably stiffer – even in jackknife 180-degree U-turns the truck does not tilt or squat.  Under moderate braking it retains a level attitude without any hobbyhorseing and much of the driving was up and down the foothills at the start of the Rocky Mountain range.  So, while my initial focus was devoted to the weight claims that Ford was making, as the kilometers clicked by, another side of the towing experience caught my attention. This new line of Super Duty has more towing help/convenience features than any that have come before it.

It starts with seven cameras placed around the truck, including one in the rooftop brake light array. With this one you can easily see the trailer pin as the truck backs up to the hitch. It even has a “magnify” button that doubles the image size.  Hooking up (bumper or in-bed) is now an easy one-man job. Meanwhile the other cameras offer 180-degree views off the nose or a 360-degree birds-eye-view.  

In this Super Duty, Ford has installed an inter-related series of new stopping features meant to keep you cool and your shorts clean.

It starts with the Towhaul feature that uses the transmission to slow the load, as does the engine exhaust brake found on the diesel. The gearshift lever also has a manual gear selector; and if the transmission is kicked down using the brake, it will hold its gear.  But the most significant improvement comes with an addition to the adaptive cruise control.  It will use the truck’s brakes, engine brake and the trailer’s brakes – through the trailer brake controller to hold the pre-set speed of the rig; while going downhill, all automatically.   Similar to the system that General Motors uses, this improvement will relieve the white knuckles often caused by being pushed by your load.

 The other feature that made itself noticeable was adaptive steering.  As the name implies the steering ratio “adapts”. At slower speeds when the driver is turning pin to pin the travel shortens up (by as much as one complete revolution of the wheel) while at highway speeds it gets longer offering a more sensitive on-centre feel.  Again, for backing up while towing, this is a great innovation.

How about tire pressure monitoring?  Old hat you say. Yes - but this is tire pressure monitoring of your trailer.  Ford offers wireless sensors that can be fixed to the trailer tires to display pressures right in the centre dash display.

If you’re sensing a theme, it’s because clearly there is one. First you have to build a truck that can handle the weight it’s claiming – Ford has done that. Then – you need to give the driver the tools to haul all that weight safely and create systems that reduce the stress that comes with trailering.  Sure you may have the skills that towing demands, but the systems in this truck can only make you better at it. The 2017 Super Duty Ford has accomplished both goals.  

The pricing for the 2017s starts at $39, 849 for the base F250, regular cab, gas model and walks up through the varied cab models and trims to $46,749 for the F-350 crew cab – again the two-wheel-drive, gas model.   Add four-wheel-drive and dual wheels (F-350s) and you’ll plunk down another
$6,000 on average on each model.  For pricing with the Power Stroke diesel, just add another $9,950 to any model
you choose.   

Trucks will be at dealers this fall.
Published in News
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
Published in Farm Business
At a conference last month, I ran into a peer who I would dub an “agvocist” – someone very passionate about promoting agriculture to the point that it pours over into her personal Facebook posts.  This woman is, for lack of a more appropriate word, effervescent.

But, when I asked her what she thought of two on-farm animal welfare breaches that made the mainstream news last fall, her shoulders sagged slightly and a small sigh escaped from her lips.  I was taken aback.

“Sorry,” she said as she collected herself.  “It’s just that there’s so much good being done out there that doesn’t make the news but agriculture is a slave to its exceptions.”  We carried on chatting for a little while and by the end of the conversation, she was back to her usual bubbly self, but that one brief moment of resignation startled me – perhaps because it was so out-of-character.  

I think any farmer who strives to do what’s right grimaces when an undercover video surfaces. We cannot deny that Code of Practice violations will occur from time to time on Canadian farms – and yes, poultry operations too.   What we can do, is acknowledge and correct those breaches.  We can train personnel, instil respect for the animals in our care, reprimand and penalize as necessary and learn lessons from what happened.

But let us not forget that there’s another side to the coin.  As well as recognizing when things have gone wrong, it’s equally important to acknowledge things done right, and applaud the many shining examples we own in this industry of sustainable farming.  We congratulate not because they are exceptions, but because they are – happily – instances of the trending norm.  As an industry, it’s essential to remind ourselves of that.

So, on that note, in this issue we are delighted to tip our cap to Farmcrest Foods Ltd. (Farmcrest) of Salmon Arm, B.C., recipients of the 2016 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award.  As you read on, you’ll discover how Farmcrest is dedicated to continual learning and improvement, takes responsibility as stewards of a sensitive land area and works to ensure that employees are treated like family.  The operation is a true model of sustainability in all of its forms.

Owners Richard Bell and Alan Bird will receive $2,000, and a farm gate sign as well as the award itself.  We congratulate them on their achievement.

In closing, I would also like to take the time to first acknowledge all of the applicants for the award.  Your dedication and commitment to your own longevity and that of the industry is commendable.

I would be remiss as well, if I didn’t acknowledge our Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award judges this year – former Canadian Poultry editor, Kristy Nudds; Valerie Carney, poultry research scientist and technology transfer coordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry; and Al Dam, provincial poultry specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.  The quality of the applicants was exceptional and selecting our winner was no enviable task.  Your thorough review process and willingness to give time to the selection of our winner is appreciated.

Recognition, also, to would-be sponsors of the cancelled Canadian Poultry Sustainability Symposium: Big Dutchman, Clark Ag Systems Ltd., Chicken Farmers of Canada, Cobb-Vantress, Egg Farmers of Canada, Farm Credit Canada and Walbern Agri Ltd. Thank you for your support.
Published in Companies
Research strategy review
The Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC) facilitated development of the National Research Strategy for Canada’s Poultry Sector (the Strategy) which was released in 2012 (view it at cp-rc.ca/research/). The Strategy identified nine priority research categories including (not in order of importance):
  1. Economic viability
  2. Genetics
  3. Food safety
  4. Animal health products
  5. Poultry health
  6. Poultry welfare
  7. Environment
  8. Functional and innovative products
  9. Poultry feedstuffs
Industry’s goal was identified for each category and, rather than identifying specific projects, research target outcomes were listed.  For example, industry’s goal for the animal health category is to “continue to  promote the prudent use of antimicrobials and reduce their use where possible and increase the use of alternatives to antibiotics.” One of the research target outcomes is “alternatives to currently-used antimicrobials.” This approach to identifying and stating research priorities leaves it to researchers to propose projects that will address the results industry would like to achieve from its investment in research activities.

CPRC uses the Strategy as a guide in its annual calls for Letters of Intent and as a basis for development of the poultry science cluster, a five-year research program co-funded by industry and government. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) contributed $4 million to the $5.6-million poultry cluster under the AgriInnovation Program, part of Growing Forward 2, with the balance of funds from industry and provincial government funding.  That program runs from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2018.

CPRC’s board of directors has decided to review the Strategy to identify changes in existing priorities and new issues that have arisen in the past four years that should be included in an updated Strategy.  The review will include a broad consultation with poultry research stakeholders including producer groups, researchers, government, input suppliers and processors.  Many of these stakeholders are represented by CPRC’s member organizations.

The review is not designed to generate a research strategy from scratch but to build on the two-year process that led to the 2012 document.  The priorities identified in that process remain valid but issues may have evolved over the past four years and new research opportunities (such as precision agriculture or climate change impacts) may have appeared.  The Strategy review is targeted for completion so that the CPRC board can act upon a final draft at its March 2017 meeting.

Potential new research cluster
The science cluster program is part of the five-year federal-provincial agreements that include risk management, market development and research funding programs.  The science clusters were introduced in Growing Forward and continued in Growing Forward 2. Inclusion of a third science cluster program in the next federal-provincial agreement is not certain; however, AAFC has received good reviews from industry and government.

CPRC is hopeful that the science cluster program is included in the next agreement. The cluster program fits well with CPRC’s system.  It is a five-year funding commitment and allows CPRC to cooperate with other organizations to combine funding and design a more extensive research program than is the case with CPRC’s annual funding, which is usually for two or three years.  This approach allows CPRC to target longer-term objectives, such as vaccine development, in the cluster but still respond to more immediate issues, or those closer to the end user, with the annual funding calls.

Updates to the research strategy will provide information that will help CPRC and its industry partners develop a strong cluster proposal that will include research based on industry-identified priorities.

CPRC, its board of directors and member organizations are committed to supporting and enhancing Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities.  For more details on these or any other CPRC activities, please contact the Canadian Poultry Research Council, 350 Sparks Street, Suite 1007, Ottawa, ON K1R 7S8. Phone: 613-566-5916, fax: 613-241-5999, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit us at www.cp-rc.ca.

The membership of the CPRC consists of Chicken Farmers of Canada, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, Turkey Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors’ Council. CPRC’s mission is to address its members’ needs through dynamic leadership in the creation and implementation of programs for poultry research in Canada, which may also include societal concerns.
Published in Research
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