Programs, Grants & Awards
October 12, 2017, Calgary, Alta. – The Alberta government is bumping up funding for more spaces at the University of Calgary's veterinary medicine program.

Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt says the province will reallocate $4.7 million per year to the Calgary program beginning in 2020.

However, the move is accompanied by a decision to withdraw more than $8 million in annual funding to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

The dean of WCVM, Douglas Freeman, says he is ''deeply disappointed'' with the move, saying it severs a 54-year-old partnership that began in 1963 when the Saskatoon institution was jointly established by the four western provinces.

Freeman says losing that large chunk of funding beginning in 2020 will ''certainly have an impact'' on the WCVM's programs and services.

Alberta hopes to add 80 additional positions to the Calgary program by 2023, bringing its capacity to more than 200 veterinary students.

''The University of Calgary's veterinary program has grown into a world-renowned institution, and with this new funding we will now have the capacity to train all of our students right here in Alberta,'' Schmidt said in a news release.

''The partnership with the other provinces worked for many years, but by focusing our support on one Alberta-based program, we will achieve provincial cost savings and increase access. This will make life better for students, families, and communities.''

Dru Marshall, academic vice-president at the University of Calgary, said the government investment cements the province's support for the Alberta livestock industry.

Freeman, meanwhile, said the WCVM will soldier on without Alberta's participation.

''One province's decision doesn't erase all that we have built and accomplished together in the past five decades,'' he said. ''The WCVM will continue to be Western Canada's veterinary college, providing quality veterinary education, research and clinical expertise to the region. We will not let the loss of support from one partner jeopardize our college's value to all western Canadians.''
Published in Health
Dr. Gregoy Bédécarrats, professor at the University of Guelph, Canada is the 2017 Novus Outstanding Teaching Award recipient. A successful academic career, innovative research and his dedication to encouraging the next generation of poultry scientists make Novus proud to honor Bédécarrats.

Part of Novus’s goal to help cultivate sustainable animal agriculture is the encouragement of young people to succeed in the industry. Each year, Novus honors those who exhibit excellence in research, teaching and their contributions to poultry science at the Poultry Science Association annual meeting.

“Receiving the Novus Teaching award at this year’s PSA meeting is a true honor. From being a student myself to my academic appointment, I had the opportunity to meet exceptional people who helped carve my teaching style, serve as mentors and be inspirational,” said Bédécarrats.

He got his start in poultry science as a master’s student at the University of Rennes, France where he studied the effect of prolactin on incubation behavior in turkey hens. He continued his studies in poultry science pursuing his doctorate at McGill University. After three years of a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard Medical School, Bédécarrats joined the department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph. He points to a great support system and industry partnership when reflecting on his success.

“In particular, this achievement would not have been possible without the help of late Professor John Walton (University of Guelph) who made me understand the value of engagement in undergraduate teaching, and Dr. Donald McQueen Shaver who helped me connect the dots between research, education and the poultry industry. Constant engagement and exchange between these three pillars is key to success and, thanks to the support of Novus International, this is a reality for many students and industry partners,” said Bédécarrats.

In addition to his research pursuits, Bédécarrats is also actively involved in undergraduate teaching and curriculum development, review and improvement. Bédécarrats works with both graduate and undergraduate students and does his best to support their interests and future endeavors. Bédécarrats encourages students, at any level, to attend at least one international science meeting per year, present their work often and get published as much as possible. 

“Dr. B is the best professor ever. He explains content clearly and with a sense of humor that actually helps a lot of us understand the complicated concepts and makes sure you know what’s important for your future work,” one student posted online. 

Most of Bédécarrats’ students have moved on to higher education and many have advanced into significant positions in the livestock industry. Bédécarrats is also the co-creator of the University of Guelph Poultry Club, which is an organization developed to expose students to the poultry studies and promote interactions within the industry.

Bédécarrats is also passionate about improving reproductive efficiency in poultry and finding a better balance between production parameters, health, animal welfare and the environment. One of Dr. Bédécarrats’ biggest accomplishments has been the development of an innovative LED, known as AgriLux™, based on the discovery that different lighting sources had different effects on laying hens and that chickens find the red spectrum more favorable. This product intends to increase egg production in hens using the light without increasing their feed consumption, as a helpful tool for producers.

Bédécarrats has proven to be an innovator in research and teaching and will continue to push himself and his students to make advancements in the field.

“Above all, my utmost gratitude goes to my wife and children who have sacrificed countless hours of family time while I pursue my dream and goals,” said Bédécarrats.
Published in Researchers
August 3, 2017, Snowbird, Utah – Young agricultural communicators are the voices of the future, and helping these passionate leaders join the global conversation is key to educating the world’s consumers about where their food comes from.

Alltech is proud to support young agricultural journalists at the Ag Media Summit through the Livestock Publications Council Forrest Bassford Student Award and, new in 2017, the American Agricultural Editors’ Association Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Awards.

The 2017 Livestock Publications Council Forrest Bassford Student Award, sponsored by Alltech, was presented to Topanga McBride, a senior at Kansas State University who is majoring in agricultural communications and journalism as well as agricultural economics. McBride was presented with a $2,000 scholarship and a plaque during the Ag Media Summit.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, and raised in Fort Collins, Colorado, McBride grew up showing Milking Shorthorns for her 4-H dairy project. While she initially had no intention to stay in the agriculture industry, her peers’ lack of knowledge regarding their food sparked her passion for agricultural communications.

“When I realized that my teachers’ and friends’ sole connection to agriculture was me, I knew that I had to use my voice,” said McBride. “Agriculture is an industry that touches everyone’s lives, and we cannot afford to sit out on the conversation.”

McBride is currently a media relations intern for Monsanto Co. She will return to her role as a communications intern at the Kansas Department of Agriculture in the fall. Previously, she served as a public relations intern for Look East and the Center for Food Integrity.

In addition to her intern experiences, McBride is heavily involved in collegiate and national organizations. She serves on the Agriculture Future of America Student Advisory Team along with nine other collegiate agriculture leaders. She is an active member of Sigma Alpha, a professional sorority for women in agriculture, a Kansas State University ag ambassador and editorial director for Kansas State University’s chapter of Spoon University.

The Forrest Bassford Student Award honors excellence, professionalism and leadership among students. Each year, following a competitive application process, the LPC Student Award Program provides travel scholarships for four students to attend the Ag Media Summit. In addition to McBride, this year's travel award winners were:
  • Katie Friedrichs, Oklahoma State University
  • Taylor Belle Matheny, Kansas State University
  • Jill Seiler, Kansas State University
During the Ag Media Summit, the four finalists’ portfolios were reviewed, and each was interviewed by a panel of professionals.

2017 marks the 32nd year of the LPC Student Award Program. In 1992, Forrest Bassford's name was attached to the LPC Student Award in honor of his contribution to LPC and his particular interest in furthering the Student Award. Alltech has co-sponsored the award since 2012.

“Alltech is proud to support young agricultural communicators as they share the stories that need to be told within the agriculture industry as well as educate the urban population on where and who their food comes from,” said Jenn Norrie, on-farm communications manager for Alltech.

2017 also marked the first year of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Awards, providing the opportunity for active AAEA agricultural journalists 35 years old or younger with a travel stipend to attend the Ag Media Summit as well as an invitation to attend ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference (ONE18), May 20–23, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky.

The 2017 American Agricultural Editors’ Association Alltech Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Award recipients were:
  1. Ann Hess, AGDAILY/Carbon Media
  2. Anna McConnel, Successful Farming/Meredith Agrimedia
  3. Kasey Brown, Angus Media
  4. Shelby Mettlen, Angus Media
“The American Agricultural Editors’ Association believes it is vital to provide professional development and education opportunities for its younger members to attend the annual Ag Media Summit,” said Samantha Kilgore, executive director of AAEA. “The Cultivating Young Ag Journalists Awards, made possible by Alltech, will help reach that goal of continuing to provide development and education for the nation’s leading ag communicators.”

The 19th annual Ag Media Summit hosted more than 600 agricultural communicators, media professionals and students at the Snowbird resort outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, July 22–26, 2017. The Ag Media Summit is a joint meeting of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA), the Livestock Publications Council (LPC) and the Connectiv Agri-Media Committee, and it offers opportunities for professional development and industry networking.
Published in Company News
August 2, 2017, Alberta - As a child, poultry researcher Sasha van der Klein didn’t beg her parents for a puppy, but for pet chickens. By eventually fulfilling her request, her parents put her solidly on the path that has led to a Vanier Scholarship, Canada’s most prestigious award for PhD students.

Van der Klein’s award is one of 10 Vaniers earned by University of Alberta students for 2017, and the only one for the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, where she is studying under the supervision of Martin Zuidhof, an expert in poultry precision feeding.

Her thesis is investigating how day length during the rearing period of broiler breeders and controlling their body weight affects their reproductive success and nesting behaviour.

“When you give them too much light, it prevents the birds from becoming sexually mature and laying eggs in the year they are hatched,” said van der Klein.

Broiler breeders, the parents of the meat-type chicken, have to get short day lengths when they grow up, to mimic the winter season, just as most birds get in nature, she said.

“This helps the chances of survival of the offspring—it’s essential for the offspring to be hatched in favourable conditions. In nature, the parents sexually mature in spring, and that increases the chicks’ chance to survive. The cue is day length, as winter days are shorter than summer days.”

By answering such questions as how long the hens who had light controls during rearing look for a nest, how long they sit on the nest, and how many eggs they finally produce, she hopes to offer the poultry industry solutions for an array of concerns. These include the high percentage of unusable floor eggs broiler breeders are prone to lay, the poor overall productivity of broiler breeder hens, and also how producers can be most efficient with feed.

Vanier Scholarships are worth $50,000 per year for three years and are difficult to attain because selection criteria includes not just a student’s academic excellence and the research potential of their project, but also the leadership the students demonstrate in their community or academic life.

Although van der Klein is an international student who moved from the Netherlands to pursue her PhD at the University of Alberta, she quickly became immersed in assisting with complex student affairs on campus. For the past two years, she has been the vice-president of labour for the Graduate Students’ Association, assisting graduate students with compliance issues in their research or teaching assistant contracts. This year, she will be negotiating a new collective agreement for graduate students at the university.

The Vanier Scholarship definitely relieves some of the many challenges a PhD student must cope with, and that’s especially welcome when a thesis project involves responsibility for the welfare of more than 200 chickens, said van der Klein.

“I’m thankful to have a great team and many volunteers that helped me during my experiments, but even then the commitment to being a farmer at the same time as being a student is an intense responsibility,” she said.

Van der klein’s research will take advantage of a new feeding system developed at the University of Alberta that minimizes variation in broiler breeder body weights, said Zuidhof

“By controlling this variable, we have already had important new insights into sexual maturation that have not been possible previously,” he said. “Ultimately, commercial application of Sasha’s precision feeding research could decrease nitrogen, phosphorus and CO2 emissions by the broiler breeders by 25 per cent, which is transformational for the poultry industry.”
Published in Researchers
July 27, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - To support economic opportunities and to protect human health and the environment, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers of agriculture endorsed the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada at their annual meeting.

The strategy is a shared vision between partners across governments, industry, academia and others, and charts a path forward for collectively addressing evolving risks to plant and animal health.

Agriculture is an important driver in today's economy and has been identified as one of Canada's key growth sectors. Implementation of the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada is essential to economic growth, and for the health of all of our citizens and the environment.

Effective action depends on the combined and co-ordinated work of numerous partners. By taking a collaborative approach, the partners will be even more successful at protecting plant and animal resources from new and emerging risks.

The action-oriented strategy outlines how all parties will work together to protect these resources, unleashing the potential for growth in Canada's agriculture sector.

"Agriculture is a key growth sector for Canada's economy. By working in collaboration with partners we have been able to create a strategy that will improve how we work together to advance the protection of plant and animal health, reduce risk to Canadians and improve our economic opportunities," said the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Published in Business & Policy
July 24, 2017, Calgary, Alta. - The federal and provincial governments are partnering to provide nearly $5 million to help five local food processors expand capacity and improve efficiency so they can grow their businesses, including two poultry related agri-food processors.

H. Hein Foods will be receiving funding support  to implement new equipment to improve efficiency, expand capacity to meet increased demand and diversify production for poultry, beef and pork products, and Basha International Foods Inc. will receive two grants, to aid in increasing capacity to debone whole chicken leg meat.

Other agri-food processors in Calgary receiving federal-provincial support include:
  • CadCan Marketing & Sales Inc. - to purchase equipment to develop a gluten-free pellet formula for its air-puffed, low-fat and gluten-free snack products.
  • Just BioFiber Structural Solutions - to purchase and install a commercial-scale plant to turn hemp stalks into building material.
  • Village Brewing Co. Ltd. - to add a canning line and centrifuge to its craft brewery.
Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay, and Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Oniel Carlier, made the announcement at Village Brewing Co. who is receiving support to add a new canning line and centrifuge to its craft brewery.

"Agri-business is a key driver of growth in the Canadian economy and a source of well-paying jobs for the middle class. Our government is proud to support these innovative projects that will support Canadian farmers and the broader supply chain through their increased production of value-added agri-food," Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

These investments help achieve the federal government's plan to create good jobs in food processing and help food processors develop products that reflect changing market tastes and new opportunities.

In 2016, Alberta's value-added sector, including food and processing manufacturing sales, was worth $14.6 billion and was the largest manufacturing employer in the province, representing more than 22,400 jobs.

These grants are made through Growing Forward 2 (GF2). GF2 is a federal-provincial-territorial partnership with a mandate to drive an innovative, competitive and profitable Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector. In the past five years, Growing Forward 2 has invested more than $406 million in Alberta's agricultural sector.
Published in Company News
July 24, 2017, Lexington, KY - Connecting the farm to the lab through research is critical for agricultural innovation. Illustrating its commitment to encouraging student research, Alltech presented the 34th Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award to Matthew Aardsma of Purdue University during the 106th annual Poultry Science Association meeting, held in Orlando, Florida, July 17–20.

The Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award is given to a student who is the senior author of an outstanding research manuscript in Poultry Science or The Journal of Applied Poultry Research.

Aardsma’s winning paper titled, Relative metabolizable energy values for fats and oils in young broilers and adult roosters, focused on developing a bio-assay where feed-grade fats and oils were evaluated for their relative metabolizable energy content quickly and accurately. The paper showed results for several fats and oils that are commonly fed in the poultry industry, and that the results obtained for adult roosters are the same with young broiler chickens.

"Research is an integral part of Alltech and the poultry industry's success to date," said Dr. Ted Sefton, director of poultry for Alltech Canada. "Alltech is proud to sponsor the Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award to encourage students to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals and communicate new technologies and discoveries being made in the lab that can have a direct impact on the farm."

Aardsma grew up in Central Illinois, where his parents encouraged him to explore his interests in agriculture and animal production. He received his bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2013 and his master’s degree in animal sciences with an emphasis in poultry nutrition in 2015, working with Dr. Carl Parsons. After a summer internship at Southern Illinois University working in aquaculture nutrition, he began a Ph.D. program in animal nutrition at Purdue University.

Aardsma is currently studying with Jay Johnson and focusing on nutrition-based stress physiology in poultry and swine.

Alltech has sponsored the Alltech Student Research Manuscript Award since 2000, recognizing young leaders in scientific innovation for their commitment to publishing and sharing their work within the poultry sector.
Published in Researchers
July 19, 2017, Swaziland - The Project Canaan egg farm in Swaziland has been up and running for more than a year and a half, providing a high-quality protein to children and supplying eggs to the local community, but that does not mean its supporters’ work is done.

The initiative continues to grow and expand, supplying eggs and expertise to an ever-wider area, transferring skills to allow people in need to help themselves, and setting its sights on expanding horizons.

The farm itself was the first step of the project, said Julian Madeley, managing director of the International Egg Foundation (IEF), which is supporting lead partners Heart for Africa and Egg Farmers of Canada.

Capacity at the farm has doubled through construction of a second house, and this means that, in addition to supplying the orphanage, 4,000 children can now be supplied with an egg, which is done via 31 church feeding stations. READ MORE
Published in Companies
July 19, Listowel, Ont. – This year’s second Breakfast on the Farm event will be hosted by the Johnston Family of Listowel. The event will be the eighth Breakfast on the Farm organized by Farm & Food Care Ontario since 2013.

To date, approximately 15,000 people have been fed, entertained and engaged at the events. Organizers are expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 people to attend.

Breakfast on the Farm provides a unique opportunity for farmers and non‐farming Ontarians to have a conversation about food and farming. It gives visitors the chance to visit a real, working farm, provides a showcase for agriculture and gives non-farmers the opportunity to have their questions answered by real farmers.

The event will take place at Maplevue farm – a family business owned by brothers Doug and Dave Johnston. Along with their seven children, the brothers’ family has been farming on the same land for 125 years, and currently have 60 cows and 1,500 acres of crops.

Technology is Doug and Dave’s main focus, and they regularly learn about and incorporate new ideas into the farm.

“Modern agriculture has a lot to show people,” says Doug. “These kinds of events are important. We encourage everybody to come out and see family farming at its best.”

After being treated to an all-Ontario breakfast featuring eggs, pancakes, fruit, sausage and more, visitors will be able to tour the farm. Interactive stops around the farm will include many displays, activities and exhibits that showcase other types of farms in Ontario.

There will also be more than 100 Ontario farmers on hand to answer guests’ questions about food and farming.

This event will run from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm, with breakfast being served until 11:30 a.m. Farm tours wrap up by 1:00 p.m. The event is free, though preregistration is required. The first 2,000 visitors are guaranteed breakfast.

Farm & Food Care Ontario is again looking for those willing to share their time and passion for local food. Approximately 120 volunteers are needed on the day of the event.

The event is supported by many national, provincial and regional farm organizations and agri-businesses. Breakfast tickets can be obtained by visiting www.FarmFoodCareON.org.

Event Details: Date: September 16, 2017; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cost: FREE; Complimentary breakfast tickets must be reserved online at www.FarmFoodCareON.org.
Location: 7761 Road 147, Listowel, ON Parking: Available at the farm.
Other notes: The farm is wheelchair accessible.
Pets (excluding service dogs) are not allowed on the farm.
Published in Consumer Issues
July 17, 2017, Trenton, Ont. - When retired master corporal William Hawley met Prince Charles on Friday, it was a chance to say thank you — and to talk a little turkey.

Hawley is a graduate of the Prince's Operation Entrepreneur program, one of Charles's charities in Canada that helps veterans transition to civilian life. In Hawley's case, that transition has led him from the battlefield to the farmer's field — his own organic poultry and vegetable operation.

Hawley and his wife, Carolyn Guy, were among the beneficiaries of the program who met the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in Trenton, Ont., during the royal couple's three-day tour of Canada. READ MORE 
Published in Producers
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 
Published in Farm Business
July 5, 2017, Shedden, Ont. - Farm & Food Care Ontario's latest Breakfast on the Farm event, held at Donkers' Family Farm in Shedden on June 24, was another enormous success.

With 200 volunteers, 40 sponsors, 35 exhibitors and 2,500 farm visitors, it was by far the largest event to date.

Overall, 180 kilograms of buttermilk pancake mix, 5,800 slices of bacon, 1,512 cartons of milk, 200 litres of apple cider, 9,120 eggs and 24 litres of maple syrup were consumed. Leftover foodstuffs were donated to the St. Thomas-Elgin Food Bank.
Published in Consumer Issues
June 29, 2017 - When we think about school subjects, the usual suspects come to mind: math, English, science, and perhaps art, among the others. And while curriculums vary from province to province, there is one fundamentally important subject that is too often conspicuously absent: agriculture.

Our partner, Agriculture in the Classroom Canada, is looking to change that. This national organization is working hard to enhance young people’s understanding and appreciation of the sector. And thanks to a new partnership between Egg Farmers of Canada and Agriculture in the Classroom Canada, more Canadian children will learn about eggs and egg farming.

I had an opportunity to sit down and chat with the organization’s executive director, Johanne Ross, about why it’s an exciting time for young people to get involved in agriculture and egg farming. Now that the organization is reaching over one million students across the country, it might be time for even more students and teachers to sit up and take notice.

How did Agriculture in the Classroom get its start?

It’s evolved out of many years of provincial organizations working together.

Before Agriculture in the Classroom Canada was formalized, there were 8 functioning provincial Agriculture in the Classroom organizations. We would get together to share best practices, teaching tools, and programs, so we had a really great network going.

Within the last five years, we started to realize that a national voice was something that would be very useful for bringing our work to the forefront. There’s been a real shift with the general public—this includes schools—in that people really want to understand where their food comes from and how it gets to their plate.

There are a lot of groups that may not be as close to our sector that would love to tell the Canadian agriculture story for us, but it’s our story to tell, to ensure we are having a conversation that is genuine, true and accurate.

We’re very proud of the national structure we’ve developed. Part of the magic of it is that the provincial organizations stayed intact and are able to keep their uniqueness, participate in national initiatives, and work together to create one voice when we are speaking about agriculture education in Canada. The national Board now consists of nine provincial Agriculture in the Classroom organizations.

What are the central goals of Agriculture in the Classroom?

Of course, we have our number on goal, which is to engage with schools—teachers and students. What we’re trying to do is to really open their eyes to what the agriculture industry is.

We want to engage them in inquiry-based learning, and for them to understand where their food comes from and how it gets to their plate; to have the knowledge and appreciation of that so they can make informed decisions.

But then we take that further because we have a role to play within the industry: to be the voice of agriculture. So we try to inspire our industry partners and stakeholders, and this includes private industry and beyond, everyone to participate! Academics, universities, government—everybody needs to find their voice and join the conversation about agriculture and food.

What are the benefits of Agriculture in the Classroom becoming involved with Egg Farmers of Canada?

Egg Farmers of Canada and their provincial and territorial partners across the country are already doing great work and developing great materials, and our role is to become a vehicle for those materials.

Agriculture in the Classroom can help Egg Farmers of Canada enhance their materials even more. We’re talking to teachers all the time about what they need, and what they want to bring to their classrooms—we can communicate that back to partners and help them to develop the right teaching tools that will be useable in a classroom.

We can also help give their farmers a voice. Obviously we’re not the experts in everything, so we love bringing the people we work with into the classroom to help them tell their personal story and share their passion for what they do.
How are students reacting to these resources?

There are a lot of a-ha moments!

We’re taking them beyond their supper plate or the grocery store, so they can understand what this sector is all about. For younger kids, it’s exciting for them just to understand what food comes from what crops and animals. As you get into the older age groups, you can take them through all the careers and discuss how dynamic the industry really is. There’s so much beyond the farm gate—not that the farm gate isn’t important; that’s where it all begins.

This knowledge really opens up student minds to what could be available for them—they can work outside, in downtown Toronto, or wherever. We have so much to offer, and this industry is going to continue to need bright young people to take an interest in the agriculture and food sector as a career choice because we will always have the need to feed more, and to produce food sustainably.

There are jobs coming up for young people that we don’t even know about yet—that’s how quickly it’s moving. Agriculture is just exploding with opportunities for young people.
What do your future plans for Agriculture in the Classroom look like?

We’ve just had some exciting news in that the federal government is going to be extending funding to AITC Canada over the next year, and so we’re ramping up our educational offerings.

Among other initiatives such as a national Agriculture Careers Program, the funding will be going towards the development of something that we’re calling the Canadian Educator Matrix, an online tool for teachers.

For example, let’s say I am a teacher in Toronto—I can go on the matrix and say that I’m a grade 10 teacher in Toronto, teaching science, and I want to know what’s available and related to my specific provincial curriculum. After customizing my search with filters and themes, all related agriculture resources will appear for me to investigate.

It will be a one-stop online shop for teachers to find out what agriculture and food resources and opportunities are available to them.
Published in Profiles
June 28, 2017, Vancouver, B.C. - With the goal of giving the poultry sector a higher profile among urbanites, the second annual B.C. Poultry Conference was moved to a venue closer to the heart of downtown Vancouver.

The new location allowed for more interaction with passersby during the public outreach portion of the event.

“More than 50 poultry farmers participated in the outreach,” B.C. Broiler Hatching Egg Commission executive director Stephanie Nelson said. The group handed out 500 Sunny Start breakfast sandwiches supplied by White Spot during the three-hour event held in early March.

“The response was pretty good,” conference chair Dale Krahn said. “We encountered a few vegans but most people were interested in what we were doing.”

While growers are not being attacked directly, Chicken Farms of Canada general manager Mike Dungate notes, “Our retail brands are being attacked.” Any reduction in retail consumption impacts production and is one reason the poultry sector is a driving force behind agriculture’s public trust steering committee.

Dungate says the industry has a lot of work to do. In a recent survey, 65 per cent of people called themselves chicken “fans,” but only 40 per cent of those have a positive opinion of chicken farmers. “That number concerns me,” Dungate said.

He noted building public trust “starts with everyone doing the right thing on their farm” and then communicating that to consumers. He lauded B.C.’s efforts in that regard.

Last year, B.C. chicken and hatching egg producers spent almost $120,000 on two Poultry in Motion educational mini-barns. The mobile barns were taken to schools and fairs throughout the province to show consumers how chickens are raised.

Two years ago, they launched a series of Chicken Squad videos to counter misconceptions about the industry. The videos have since garnered over a million views on YouTube and the board and association plan to debut a follow-up series of videos this spring.
Published in Business & Policy
June 26, 2017, Guelph, Ont – The diverse range of projects the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) funds was the focus of the organization’s summer reception and dinner held June 14 in Mississauga.

To date, Ontario organizations and collaborations have completed 195 projects through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), and funding for 385 projects totaling $33.3 million has been approved by the AAC board over the past four years.

The program was launched in 2013 and demand remained strong until the final application deadline this past April. GF2 officially ends March 31, 2018.

“The AAC is a strategic enabler. Projects funded have played a significant role in raising the standard and profile of Ontario's agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector,” said Kelly Duffy, AAC chair, in her remarks to the audience. “I know that if we continue to invest in the sector, we will produce long-lasting benefits that will impact future generations.”

Duffy also used the opportunity to highlight overall GF2 program successes. Funding through this federal-provincial-territorial initiative has resulted in innovative research results, increased knowledge and awareness, access to new markets, and supported the overall competitiveness of the sector.

Harry Pelissero of Egg Farmers of Ontario spoke briefly about one of EFO’s latest projects involving gender detection in unhatched eggs.

The non-invasive scanning technology developed at McGill University can identify the gender of day-old eggs before they are incubated. This means female eggs can be incubated for hatching and infertile or male eggs can enter the table or processing egg streams, eliminating the need to hatch male eggs.

“AAC gave us the support to take this from the lab to pre-prototype and then prototype stage,” explained Pelissero. “The investment that AAC has put into this provides an economical solution to a challenge in the industry; this is an outcome that will literally go around the world.”

Ontario Agri-Food Technologies is currently leading a project on open agri-food data collaboration, Ontario Precision Agri-Food (OPAF).

It’s assessing where Ontario and Canada are with precision agriculture and what needs to be done to manage and enable data for future global market access and sustainability. OPAF is collaborating with an initiative called FIWare Mundus that is creating a global Future Internet (FI) ecosystem to enable easy, fast data sharing.

“We’re on the cusp of an evolution; data is at its centre and it’s the new commodity in agriculture,” said OAFT president Tyler Whale. “OPAF is a facilitator that creates trusted relationships amongst value chain partners to integrate new and existing data resources.”

The Ontario Produce Marketing Association is tackling the issue of food waste through a GF2 funded project, and according to lead researcher Martin Gooch of Value Chain Management International, there is a compelling business case for addressing the problem.

“People outside of the industry are often staggered by the amount of waste in food. This is the first project of its kind in North America,” said Gooch.

The OPMA program includes a series of workshops and a handbook with 10 easy to follow steps for identifying where waste happens in farm, processing or retail processes. According to Gooch, a soon-to-be-released case study clearly shows the opportunity of addressing food waste: a 29 per cent increase in grade-out of potatoes resulted in a 74 per cent increase in producer margin.

“A big thank you to AAC for providing the funding; it’s great working with an organization that encompasses the entire chain,” Gooch added.
Published in Business & Policy
June 5, 2017, Onondaga, Ont. - When they Josh and Melissa Groves learned about a new artisanal chicken program, Josh and Melissa Groves of Vangro Farms Country Market immediately signed up.

It suited to a tee the main theme of their buy local, buy fresh meat production and retail operation.

"We applied as soon as it started last year and we have done well by it," Josh Groves said in an interview at Vangro farm on Highway 54.

He showed freestanding stalls of chicks that are the latest addition to VanGro's lines of fresh lamb cutlets and prepared beef and pork products.

"We're moving into the second year having learned how to make it work for us."

The artisanal chicken program launched by the Chicken Farmers of Ontario in 2016 provides opportunities for small independent farmers to meet local demands for high-quality chicken.

"The Chicken Farmers of Ontario is continually looking to meet the changing needs of Ontario chicken consumers and markets," the organization says on its website.

"The program will help farms fill local food and seasonal markets and will give Ontario consumers more choice and options in how and where they buy locally grown chicken."

The CFO mainly deals with larger operations which must produce to a set quota of tens of thousands of chickens. Its artisanal program is meant to address the more modest needs of local farmers.

Under the program, non-quota holding farmers who wish to grow between 600 and 3,000 chickens each year can partner with independent producers to provide artisanal chicken for select markets. READ MORE
Published in Meat - Broilers
May 31, 2017, Guelph, Ont. - Access the new Food Safety and Traceability eLearning courses online on the Agriculture and Food Education in Ontario online learning system through the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus.

The new Traceability eLearning courses show how good practices can:
• Maximize productivity, improve business efficiency, reduce costs and improve business processes
• Be used to increase competitive advantage by accessing new markets
• Improve supply chain management

The new Food Safety eLearning courses will help you to:
• Identify food safety hazards that can occur in your operation
• Understand best practices and develop programs to control these hazards
• Decrease the likelihood of food safety hazards that can lead to a foodborne illness outbreak or product recall

Visit the University of Guelph website to register for a free account. Accessible versions of the courses are available. For more information, contact the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 519-674-1500 ext. 63295.

Online course development was funded through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that encourages innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sector.
Published in Production
May 26, 2017, Guelph, Ont. - Today, Parliamentary Secretary for Science, Kate Young, on behalf of the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, announced $6 million in federal funding for five applied genomics projects, including one geared towards the turkey industry.

The Parliamentary Secretary made the announcement at the University of Guelph, where several of the projects' academic partners are based.

With a total $17 million being invested, including $11 million in funds from the private sector and provincial governments, these projects will have a direct impact on Canada's agriculture, agri-food and health-care sectors.

Four of the projects receiving funding will result in significant competitive advantages to the Canadian dairy, canola, pork and turkey industries, while the fifth project will address the problem of adverse drug reactions in the health-care system.

One of the projects being funded at the University of Guelph is Dr. Peter Pauls' work with Benson Hill Biosystems. His research is exploring ways to significantly enhance crop productivity of canola, an important Canadian crop.

This is a perfect example of the power of genomics research, which is the field of science that studies the full set of genes in an organism and their functions. Dr. Pauls' work will have a direct benefit on the growers, processors and others along the value chain.

These projects are supported through Genome Canada's Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP). GAPP projects translate Canadian knowledge and expertise in genomics into valuable applications that support a strong economy and a growing middle class.
Published in Research
May 24, 2017, Toronto, Ont. - Flashfood, a mobile app allowing grocery locations to sell surplus food directly to consumers at a massive discount prior to discarding, has partnered with Longo's in downtown Toronto for a 3-month beta to reduce their food waste.

Flashfood users see deals on perfectly good surplus food on their phone, usually with 3 days to a month until the best before date, at massively reduced prices.

Users get notified on their phone when new deals are available, pay through their phone, and pick their purchase up at the Flashfood zone in store – same day. Flashfood users then check out just like they normally would while at the store.

Flashfood launched in January with Farm Boy at their Beaverbook location in London, which is still running. Farm Boy has plans to add more stores with Flashfood in the next few weeks in London Ontario.

To date, if you annualized Flashfood's top shoppers savings, they would have an additional $5k in the bank at year-end by using Flashfood.

A lot of people don't realize this, but when food gets thrown out, it ends up in a landfill, gets covered by other garbage and rots without oxygen. This produces methane gas, which is a leading cause of climate change.

If International food waste were a country, it would be the third leading cause of GHG emissions behind the US and China.

In their partnership with Flashfood, Farm Boy and Longo's have diverted over 1,500 meals from landfill - the equivalent GHG emissions to driving more than 1,800km.

'We want to fundamentally change the way grocery chains are viewing their surplus food. Right now, perfectly good food is being thrown out well before the best before date. We're providing our partners a profitable, seamless way to reduce the amount of food they discard while also making food more affordable for our users' founder & CEO Josh Domingues.
Published in News
May 19, 2017, Waterloo, Ont. - Farmers know the importance of keeping the land, water and air healthy to sustain their farms from one generation of farm family to the next. They also know that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand.

The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism, today announced a $1.9 million investment with the University of Waterloo to examine greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with agricultural activities and the potential benefits of alternative land use practices and beneficial management practices (BMPs).

This project with the University of Waterloo is one of 20 new research projects supported by the $27 million Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), a partnership with universities and conservation groups across Canada. The program supports research into greenhouse gas mitigation practices and technologies that can be adopted on the farm.
Published in Environment
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