Sustainability
September 5, 2017 - The 20-somethings were from all over the world: the U.S., England, Ireland, Turkey, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Peru. And if they had one thing in common, it was their view of the supermarket.

“Do you think grocery stores are important?” they were asked by Alltech chief innovation officer, Aidan Connolly.

“Yes, they’re very important,” replied one young woman, “for old people.”

Leading Alltech’s Corporate Career Development Program, Connolly was hearing in this next generation of consumers a receptiveness for the sweeping, fundamental changes in the production, distribution, purchase and consumption of food heralded by the $13.4 billion Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods.

“When we buy our groceries, we mostly buy online,” one student told him.

The huge e-commerce company had already been dipping its toe in the food delivery market when it turned its eye toward Whole Foods. AmazonFresh, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, is a grocery delivery service currently available in some U.S. states, London, Tokyo and Berlin.

The announced intentions of this mega consumer product distributor to take a step further into the brick-and-mortar premium grocery business has made waves all along the food chain, from retail to agriculture.

“I think it's an extraordinary moment,” said Mary Shelman, former director of Harvard Business School's Agribusiness Program. “This could truly be a disruption rather than a change."

“Disruption means you do something in a completely different way rather than just making some incremental changes to it,” Shelman continued. “Amazon, which had historically envisioned a world without brick-and-mortar stores, is now, in one fell swoop, making a significant run into that brick-and-mortar world.”

The deal, providing Amazon access to Whole Foods’ 466 stores in the United States and the United Kingdom, hasn’t yet closed, and there is plenty of speculation that competitive bids could materialize. But Amazon has its reasons to pursue the acquisition with determination.

“Food is the least penetrated category from the online shopping standpoint,” explained Shelman. “Amazon clearly wants to bring that into the fold. I think the realization is that it takes some different skills and infrastructure in food than perhaps they are set up to deal with, so this gives them a tremendous opportunity to learn from that, and to run with that.”

Addressing widely held consumer perceptions may also play an important role in this odd-couple marriage.

As Shelman sees it, “For Amazon, the biggest challenge in delivering fresh products to your home is what everybody always says: ‘Oh, I don't trust them. I want to go pick out my fruits and veggies and my meats myself.’ Whole Foods brings in that brand name that has value, so it’s: ‘I trust Whole Foods, so now I trust Amazon bringing me Whole Foods quality. Do I trust Whole Foods to deliver for me? I don't think they're very efficient. But Amazon delivering Whole Foods is like, wow!’ So both sides win from the opposite brand name.”

What might this mean at some key points along the food supply chain?

Producers and growers in an Amazon/Whole Foods world

The biggest obstacle for producers trying to access markets through the food retail industry today is the enormous power held by the supermarket and big box chains as gatekeepers to the consumer.

Control of in-store product positioning provides an enormous source of revenue for traditional supermarkets. So-called “slotting fees” must be paid to win premium space in order for a product to appear on the shelves of Krogers, Safeways and other major chain stores.

“Only big companies can afford to do that,” said Shelman. “Even if you are a small company and can find the money to pay a slotting fee to get on the shelf, the ongoing costs of the promotion and support that it takes to actually get your sales up to a level that is acceptable to that retailer is a staggering number — something like $100 million, $10 million to introduce a new brand today.”

A major casualty of this, she notes, is creativity.

“We see that in the big packet food industries: They just bring out yet another flavor, another line, another variation in that brand, and they keep blocking up that shelf,” she explained. “You really don't get any true innovation there.”

Shelman believes the evolution of the “Amazon marketplace” is providing new opportunities for smaller producers to bypass those costs and directly reach the consumer.

But Connolly believes “Big Ag” and smaller farmers alike have some concern.

“It's part of seismic changes taking place in the food chain,” he said. “The top 10 food companies have seen a decline in their sales, profits and share prices as consumers reject traditional famous food brands built around processed foods.”

Every day these shifts are reflected in the news: Nestlé being a $3.5 billion target by an activist investor; Kraft’s attempted takeover of Unilever; Amazon gobbling up Whole Foods; and Wal-Mart’s purchase of Jet.com

So, if traditional “Big Food” players are in trouble, how should agribusiness respond?

“It must adapt to the new reality,” says Connolly, listing the top three strategies food businesses must take to thrive in the changing landscape:

Become lean: Big Food that is merging or being acquired will seek to drive costs out of the system.
Deliver prosumer values to address the prosumer and millennial agenda of traceability, transparency, sustainability, welfare and removing unwanted additives.
Go direct and to build your own brands again.

Connolly notes that “this is a new era with the food business re-fragmenting, and smaller brands will be faster to build and sell direct. Consumer sales over the internet offer an opportunity for ‘Big Ag’ that was not available 20 years ago.”

In this new coupling, who will take the lead? Shelman expects that Amazon will pull Whole Foods toward its brand promise and mass appeal: convenience and reasonably priced items across quality levels.

“I don't believe Amazon will broadly adopt the same positioning and values as Whole Foods across their broader food portfolio,” she said. “I can't imagine them not selling Cheerios or Kraft Mac & Cheese online. They may initially adopt a higher quality approach in fresh products — meats and produce, since those seem to require a stronger brand to sell.”

Consumers in an Amazon/Whole Foods world

Today’s consumer is swimming in a sea of options and information. The innovation of the “food kit” has given rise to the home-delivered packages offered by Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Plated, Purple Carrot and Home Chef. Nestlé has invested in the prepared meal delivery service Freshly, and Sun Basket has attracted Unilever capital.

It takes time to complete a merger with all the complexities brought to the table by Amazon and Whole Foods. So what's going to happen to the rest of the food industry while t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted? Views differ about the extent to which the merger will cause change.

Speaking to analysts and investors at a conference in Boston, Kroger CFO Mike Schlotman said he doesn’t envision a major shift to people ordering groceries online for delivery to their homes.

“Part of me refuses to believe that everybody is just going to sit at home and everything is going to be brought to their doorstep and nobody is ever going to leave home to do anything again,” said Schlotman.

But, according to Connolly, “the United States has been slower to the party than other parts of the world,” and there is plenty of evidence that significant change is already well underway.

“Maybe there are some of us that take joy in walking up and down the grocery aisle and doing that as our chore, but what consumers are saying is that they're voting with their feet,” Connolly said. “They're saying, ‘If you give me a better alternative, I won’t go to the store.’"

Connolly recalls the observations of a friend who is involved in the food industry in the U.K., working with Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, who forecasts that we're in the last five to eight years of the big box model of the supermarket.

“What we're going to see in the future, according to him, is much more of a Starbucks version of a grocery store,where you can buy the small produce, organic, the pieces that you want to have hands on, but for the most part, you're going to pick it on your cell phone, ordering it directly, and it will arrive today by delivery in a half-an-hour increment,” he explained. “So if you say 4:00 p.m., it'll be between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. In the future, that will be delivered by robots, which is already happening in England, and eventually it'll happen by drone.”

One of the world’s largest pork producers, Smithfield Shuanghui of China, has a strategic cooperation agreement to sell packaged Smithfield meats through JD.com, a Chinese version of Amazon.

“They’re creating a cold chain system from the warehouse to the customer, selling fresh chilled foods, including packaged meats,” says Michael Woolsey, senior strategic manager for Alltech China. “If a customer in the morning decides they want to have hotdogs from Smithfield for dinner that night, they take out their cell phone, dial up JD.com, order the hotdogs and the truck shows up later that afternoon. Chilled distribution the entire way to the consumer’s door. So, it’s a superior product. It’s what consumers want. It’s an exciting development.”

Shelman says today’s marketplace “is just fundamentally different” as consumers are being conditioned to a whole different set of solutions.

“I think for everybody now, the fun of thinking about these different scenarios and letting go of the old retail model is leading us all to be very challenged to think about what that future is going to be like,” she said. “How are we going to get our food 10 years from now?”

Connolly sees profound change arriving even sooner.

“If we think of machine vision, where you use a camera with artificial intelligence, you can teach your camera to recognize what you want in your meat, what you want in your produce,” he said. “It can learn to smell the produce. It can learn to recognize the color that you want. It can probably even, using these internet of things-type devices, give you all of the origins of and the pesticides used in the products, all of the things that might cause allergies.

“So, your drone, equipped with the right camera and the right artificial intelligence, can do these things,” continued Connolly. “And we are not talking about something that is going to happen in the next 30 years. This can happen within the next 12 months.”

And 20-somethings from Brazil to Kazakhstan can hardly wait.
Published in Consumer
August 29, 2017, U.S. - Chlorinated chicken– or chlorine-washed chicken – simply means that chicken was rinsed with chlorinated water; chlorine is not present in the meat. Just as chlorine helps make drinking water safe, it can help remove potentially harmful bacteria from raw chicken.

Numerous studies and research have confirmed that the use of chlorinated water to chill and clean chicken is safe and effective. Chlorine-washed chicken does not pose any human health concerns and it is not present in the final product.

Hypochlorus (i.e. chlorine) is a common disinfectant used in water treatment and food processing worldwide. Although it is proven safe, a lot of U.S. plants have moved away from chlorinated water in their chilling systems and rinses, opting for alternatives.

The National Chicken Council would estimate that chlorine is used in chilling systems and rinses in about 20-25 per cent of processing plants in the U.S., as a lot of U.S. plants have moved away from its use. Most of the chlorine that is used in the industry is used for cleaning and sanitizing processing equipment.

All chicken produced in the U.S. is closely monitored and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). READ MORE
Published in Processing
August 25, 2017 - Dairy may be getting all the attention in the upcoming NAFTA negotiations, but the chicken, egg and turkey boards aren’t letting their guard down as talks begin in mid-August.

“The government has been clear in its support for supply management and we are confident it will continue to support and protect supply management during the negotiations while finding a way to work with the United States,” said Yves Ruel, manager of trade and policy for Chicken Farmers of Canada. “It has been done before successfully and we believe it will be done again.”

The Canadian chicken sector believes the reason it’s not in the spotlight is that the existing NAFTA arrangement has provided stability and predictability to chicken producers on both sides of the border. READ MORE
Published in Trade
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.
Published in Farm Business
August 16, 2017, Alberta - Public trust is eroding in Canada, and farmers — along with others in the value chain — need to fight back, says the head of a new ag organization aimed at winning back confused consumers.

“The whole industry needs to know a whole bunch more about consumers,” said Kim McConnell, an Okotoks-based marketing expert and new chair of the The Centre for Food Integrity. “That’s what the primary focus of The Centre for Food Integrity is.”

The centre, based in Guelph, Ont., is holding its first “public trust summit” in Calgary from Sept. 18-20. The conference is designed to show members of the agricultural industry how to earn the trust of consumers. READ MORE
Published in Consumer Issues
August 14, 2017, Washington - Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland released Canada's list of key demands for a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as talks get set to begin in Washington.

Freeland's list, which is much shorter than the U.S. wish list of more than 100 items, includes:



  • Protect Canada's supply-management system for dairy and poultry. Canada does not have free trade in these areas, and regulates imports and prices.
  • A new chapter on labour standards. The original NAFTA included a labour section as an addendum, inserted into the agreement after Bill Clinton was elected and insisted on a few changes. Some officials in Canada and the U.S. have identified a goal of tougher labour rules: Increasing Mexican wages, to make auto plants in the other countries more affordable.
  • A new chapter on environmental standards. This was also added as an afterthought to the original NAFTA, placed there after Clinton's election. Freeland says she wants a chapter that ensures no country can weaken environmental protection to attract investment. She also says it should support efforts against climate change.
  • A new chapter on gender rights.
  • A new chapter on Indigenous rights.
  • Reforms to the investor-state dispute settlement process. Specifically, Freeland referred to Chapter 11, which involves companies suing governments. She said she wants reforms so that ''governments have an unassailable right to regulate in the public interest.'' This is not to be confused with Chapter 19, which regulates disputes between companies over dumping, in cases like softwood lumber, and which the U.S. administration might seek to eliminate.
  • Expand procurement. For years, Canada has wanted to kill Buy American rules for construction projects at the state and local level. It could be a tough sell. U.S. lawmakers are demanding even more Buy American rules, which is something President Donald Trump campaigned on. Freeland said: ''Local-content provisions for major government contracts are political junk food: superficially appetizing, but unhealthy in the long run.''
  • Freer movement of professionals. NAFTA includes a list of professions where people can easily get a visa to work across the border. It's an old list, it mentions land surveyors and range conservationists, but not computer programmers. International companies want this list expanded to make it easier for employees to move between offices.
  • Protect cultural exemptions. Canada insisted on protections in the old agreement for cultural industries, like publishing and broadcasting. The U.S.'s annual report on international trade barriers lists this as an irritant.
  • Maintaining a process to regulate anti-dumping and countervailing disputes, like the one over softwood lumber. Freeland noted that Canada briefly walked out of the original talks in 1987, as this was a deal-breaker. The U.S. says it now wants to get rid of the resulting Chapter 19. Some observers say it might simply be modified.
Published in Trade
July 28, 2017, Shakespeare, Ont. - Faromor Ltd and Faromor CNG Corporation have announced the recent commissioning of one of the first energy independent poultry facilities in Canada.

In affiliation with Toyota Bushoko and YANMAR Micro Combined Heat and Power Systems of Adairsville Georgia, Faromor Ltd and Faromor CNG Corporation have completed the new facility for Steeple High Farms of Tavistock, Ontario Canada.

“This is a timely and welcomed development, distributed generation micro CHP systems deliver high onsite efficiency. They are able to generate the correct amount of power at the right time, making them much more efficient than the electrical grid," said Nicholas Hendry, President of Faromor CNG Corporation.

YANMAR has been perfecting its products and business practices for over 100 years. With units in service in Europe for more than 15 years, YANMAR micro CHP systems have been recognized globally. By utilizing a highly efficient engine and capturing nearly all the remaining energy as heat, the YANMAR micro CHP system is up to 2.6 times as efficient as your current centralized power.

With ease of installation, high reliability and functionality, a reduction in C02 emissions and low operation noise, the YANMAR micro CHP system delivers an energy balance by constantly monitoring power demand and output.

As electrical prices continue to increase, you can gain significant utility bill cost savings by switching to propane or abundant natural gas micro CHP electrical generation for your farm.
Published in Company News
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 21, 2017, Guelph, Ont. – The new Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) elected inaugural board members from across Canada recently to build its mandate to help Canada’s food system earn trust. CCFI provides a support service to assist Canada’s agri-food sector earn public trust by coordinating consumer research, resources, dialogue, and training.

The new CCFI board has named its first six directors, from west to east: Dave Eto (Naturally Splendid, B.C.), Kim McConnell (AdFarm, Alta.), Adele Buettner (AgriBiz Communications Corp, S.K.), Gwen Paddock (Royal Bank, Ont.), Sylvie Cloutier (Conseil De La Transformation Alimentaire Du Quebec CTAQ, PQ), and Mary Robinson (potato farmer, PEI). Three former Farm & Food Care Canada directors (Bruce Christie, Carolynne Griffith and Ian McKillop) are also members of the inaugural board but will be transitioning as additional directors are added to the board over the next few months.

The board is a key step in the development of a solid business model for CCFI, with a smaller, skills-based and governance-focused group of directors. The CCFI leadership model will also include a larger Advisory Council with representation from many sectors, partners, NGOs, academia and government to provide insights and strategic thinking to the board and staff team. Development of the Advisory Council is now underway.

Crystal Mackay will assume the role as President of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity.

Kim McConnell was elected the Chair of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity. “There is both a need and a strong desire for a coalition approach and shared investment model for more effectively earning trust in Canadian food and farming for the future,” McConnell stated. “We are ready to get to work and deliver on CCFI’s important mandate to help support our many partners and the Canadian food system to earn trust.”

Find out more and help build the momentum for earning public trust in food and farming in Canada by attending the upcoming Canadian CFI Public Trust Summit ‘Tackling Transparency – The Truth about Trust’ in Calgary on September 18-20, 2017. Register today at www.foodintegrity.ca

The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity helps Canada’s food system earn trust by coordinating research, resources,dialogue and training. Our members and project partners, who represent the diversity of the food system, are committed to providing accurate information and working together to address important issues in food and agriculture. The CCFI does not lobby or advocate for individual companies or brands. For more information sign up for the CCFI e-news and visit www.foodintegrity.ca
Published in Company News
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 12, 2017 - Biosecurity needs to be approached as a comprehensive process, not as a series of segregated actions, according to Jean Sander, DVM, senior technical services veterinarian for Zoetis.

For example, people about to enter a poultry house will put on their boots, coveralls, hair nets, but then remember they need a piece of equipment that’s in another house. They quickly retrieve it and bring it into another building without cleaning it first.

That’s a breach of biosecurity, Sander told Poultry Health Today.

The intent is to try and do the right thing, but too often biosecurity isn’t viewed holistically, continued the veterinarian, who primarily works with layer producers. READ MORE 
Published in Biosecurity
July 11, 2017 - Significant economic losses are attributed to immunosuppression in the poultry industry worldwide.

Exposure to stressors in the poultry production environment, along with infectious diseases (viral or bacterial) that impair immunity, contribute to an overall reduction in flock health, causing a decrease in productivity.

Among the different viral diseases, infectious bursal disease (IBD), Marek’s and chicken infectious anemia (CIA), are the mainly recognized and implicated viruses, causing direct negative effects on the immune system, thereby increasing susceptibility to other diseases and interfering with vaccinal immunity.

In immunosuppressed birds, vaccine take can be decreased or post-vaccine reactions can be excessive, allowing secondary bacterial infections, like E. coli, to enter and manifest, thus requiring antibiotic treatment.

It is therefore imperative, to reduce immunosuppression to enhance the immune system, and to establish barriers to the most common routes of infection by avian pathogens. And this can only be done by building a good and solid immune foundation.

How to establish a good foundation? A solid immune foundation not only enhances the immune system, but also prevents entry of other pathogens by establishing barriers. This can be done by passively protecting the progeny through breeder vaccination programs and by protecting growing chickens against immunosuppressive diseases, and their economic consequences.

Many of the vaccinations performed in the field are being moved to the hatchery, which can be done either in ovo, as early as 18 days of embryonation, and at day-old of newly hatched birds. READ MORE
Published in Health
July 7, 2017, Langley, B.C. – Approximately 2,000 wildfires occur each year in British Columbia. The effect of wildfires on the province’s agriculture community can be devastating and costly.

More than half of the wildfires in 2016 were caused by humans.

With the wildfire season upon on us in B.C., there are measures that ranchers, farmers, growers, and others who make their living in agriculture can do to protect their workers and their property. Addressing potential fire hazards will significantly reduce the chances of a large-scale fire affecting your operation.

Controlling the environment is important. Clear vegetation and wood debris to at least 10 metres from fences and structures; collect and remove generated wastes whether it is solid, semi-solid, or liquid; and reduce the timber fuel load elsewhere on your property and Crown or lease land to help mitigate the risk.

In the case that you have to address fire on your property, have a well-rehearsed Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in place. The ERP should also include an Evacuation Plan for workers and livestock.

“Having a map of your property, including Crown and lease lands, and a list of all of your workers and their locations is extremely helpful for evacuation and useful for first responders,” says Wendy Bennett, Executive Director of AgSafe. A list of materials and a safety data sheet of all liquid and spray chemicals and their locations should also be made available to attending firefighters.

Bennett suggests checking the Government of BC Wildfire Status website regularly to report or monitor the status of fires in your area.

For over twenty years AgSafe has been the expert on safety in the workplace for British Columbia’s agriculture industry and is committed to reducing the number of agriculture-related workplace deaths and injuries by offering health and safety programs, training, evaluation and consultation services.

For more information about agriculture workplace safety or AgSafe services call 1-877-533-1789 or visit www.AgSafeBC.ca
Published in Farmer Health/Safety

July 7, 2017 - Given the high value of chicken breast meat in many markets, poultry processors need to ensure that any factors that may reduce product quality are thoroughly addressed.

Issues affecting breast meat quality can arise pre-slaughter and during processing, and there are several key areas that need to be properly functioning if losses are to be minimized.

Extreme temperatures during transport and while waiting at the plant pre-slaughter can result in dehydration and other metabolic conditions, affecting the health and survival rate of birds, and also meat quality. READ MORE 

Published in Processing
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 23, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - This week, Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) Chair Ed Benjamins and President and CEO Rob Dougans met with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism, the Hon. Bardish Chagger at her office in Ottawa. Minister Chagger reaffirmed her Government’s support for Canada’s agricultural supply management system.

CFO regularly visits the House of Commons and Queen’s Park to help educate parliamentarians and staff members on the Ontario chicken industry.

These briefings include discussions on the Board’s efforts to evolve the industry’s programs and policies to both manage ongoing industry growth and to meet new and emerging consumer markets.
Published in Business & Policy
June 23, 2017, Toronto, Ont. - According to a recent Ipsos poll on food insecurity, health, and poverty in Canada commissioned by Community Food Centres Canada, a national nonprofit that increases access to healthy food in low-income communities and promotes food skills and civic engagement.

According to the poll, 91 per cent of Canadians think food insecurity is a persistent problem in our country, a problem that 41 per cent believe has worsened in the last decade. And Canadians want to see solutions: 74 per cent believe that government has a responsibility to take action to ensure everyone has access to healthy, affordable food.

"Canadians are telling us loud and clear that we need to do better," said Nick Saul, President and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada. "We know that the best way to reduce food insecurity is to increase people's incomes. We currently have National Food Policy and National Poverty Reduction Strategy processes unfolding in parallel at the federal level, and we need to make sure that they both speak to this issue – and to each other."

According to the PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research project, four million Canadians are food insecure. Food insecurity negatively affects physical and mental health, and costs our health-care system significantly. Lack of household income is the most important predictor of food insecurity.

Increasing access to affordable food is one of the four focus areas of the National Food Policy. The others are improving health and food safety, growing more high-quality food, and conserving our soil, water, and air.

The public consultation phase of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy, which is being led by Employment and Social Development Canada, is wrapping up at the end of June. The timing for the development of a strategy and implementation plan has not yet been announced.

"We need to ensure that reducing food insecurity and improving the lives of vulnerable Canadians stays at the forefront of both of these important conversations," says Saul. "At the same time, with so many ministries involved in the National Food Policy, there is an important opportunity to surface new solutions that can break down silos and address the complex issues affecting different parts of our food system – solutions that could include community responses to food insecurity, a national school lunch program, and support for small farmers."

The Ipsos poll also asked Canadians about areas where this type of multi-sectoral approach could be useful -- for example, addressing Canadians' declining levels of food literacy and finding innovative approaches to promoting healthier diets and reducing chronic disease.

It showed that Canadians are interested in new approaches, including solutions that would put more affordable fruits and vegetables on the plates of low-income individuals. 91 per cent of Canadians said they would support a government subsidy program that would provide fruit and vegetable vouchers to people living on low incomes as a way to address diet-related illness.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between March 29 and April 3, 2017, on behalf of Community Food Centres Canada. For this survey, a sample of 1,002 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online via Ipsos' online panel.

The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. The poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would be had all Canadians been polled.
Published in Consumer
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. 
Published in Farm Business
June 15, 2017, Vancouver, B.C. - A chicken-catching company at the centre of an animal cruelty investigation in British Columbia says it will require staff to wear body cameras after an animal advocacy group released video of alleged abuse.

Dwayne Dueck, president of Elite Services in Chilliwack, says it will be mandatory for one supervisor and two staff members in each barn to wear cameras on their vests, and the video will be reviewed at the end of each day.

The announcement comes after the SPCA in British Columbia launched an investigation following the release of undercover video by Mercy for Animals that shows workers allegedly hitting, kicking and throwing chickens.

A statement from Elite Services says six staff members have now been fired, including two who were let go prior to the video being released, three who were fired immediately after, and one more who was terminated after the company did a ''detailed forensic review'' of the video.

Investigators with the SPCA are working on a report that will be forwarded to Crown counsel and SPCA spokeswoman Marcie Moriarty says the organization will recommend multiple charges of animal cruelty under both the Criminal Code and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The statement from Elite Services says the company hopes the ''senseless acts of violence'' in the footage will help implement new levels of animal care across the industry.

The company says it is updating its standards and procedures, undertook organization-wide retraining on Wednesday, and all employees will be asked to sign documents affirming they understand the company's care and concern procedures.

''It is our intent to share the experience of our new best practices with industry regulators, and adopt other best practices from cutting edge producers,'' the statement says.
Published in Company News
June 9, 2017, Canada - For too long, supply management in our dairy, poultry and egg sectors has been seen as a “third rail” in Canadian politics, an untouchable sacred cow. No longer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This report proposes just such a plan.

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

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

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

The plan must address both.

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

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

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

View PDF report: http://cwf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/CWF_SupplyManagement_Report_JUNE2017.pdf
Published in Farm Business
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