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AccuWeather reports that the cold and stormy weather pattern that has dominated western Canada this winter will continue into the spring, providing excellent conditions for ski resorts across the region. Meanwhile, wet and cloudy weather will take hold around the Great Lakes and in some of Canada's largest cities before being replaced by warmer, more springlike conditions. 

Storms to slam Western Canada with rain, snow
The active weather pattern that has persisted across western Canada throughout much of the winter will continue to deliver rain and snow to the region into the spring.

"The first half of the spring is expected to remain chilly and wet across British Columbia with additional opportunities for heavy snowfall in the mountains through April," AccuWeather Canadian weather expert Brett Anderson says. Some of the stronger storms that move into the region could bring heavy rain and strong wind gusts near the coast and meters of snow to the high elevations of the Canadian Rockies. While these storms may bring major disruptions to travel and daily routines, the snow that falls over the mountains will be beneficial for ski resorts across the region.

"Excellent spring skiing conditions are expected across [Western Canada] due to significant snowpack and sustained cold through early spring, " Anderson says.

Even though the frequency of storms is expected to decrease during the second half of spring, the snowpack built up in the mountains should result in a longer-than-normal ski season.

Rain, snowmelt to cause flood risk in the eastern Prairies
The changing of the seasons will bring the risk of flooding across part of the Canadian Prairies, especially as temperatures rise later in the season.

"A combination of above-normal winter snowfall, unusually high river levels and the potential for ice jams will lead to a major flood risk in low-lying areas near rivers and streams from southeastern Saskatchewan into portions of northwestern Ontario," Anderson says.

Winnipeg and Regina are among those that could be at risk for spring flooding. A wetter-than-normal spring can exacerbate flooding issues in this region.

Cloudy, damp spring on tap for Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Valley
Much of Ontario and Quebec will have to wait until the second half of the season for true spring warmth to take hold. Spring will get off to a rather cloudy, chilly and damp start across southern and central Ontario and southern Quebec, Anderson said. This includes Toronto, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. However, a shift in the weather pattern will eventually usher in warmer air, marking the end of dreary days experienced during first part of the season.

"There will be a significant turnaround to much warmer weather during April with the potential for some early summer-like warmth in May," Anderson says.

While the weather gradually turns warmer and drier around the Great Lakes and across the St. Lawrence River Valley, Atlantic Canada could endure stormy weather in April and May.

"A wetter pattern may set up over coastal Atlantic Canada later in the spring with below-normal temperatures."

According to the latest Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR) information, agriculture-related fatalities are declining.

From 1990 to 2001, an average of 116 people died due to an agriculture-related incident. From 2002 to 2012, the average number of agriculture-related fatalities declined to 85 per year. Also encouraging is the fatality rates of all age groups saw decreases in this period.

“The decrease in the fatality rates is encouraging,” says Marcel Hacault, the Executive Director of the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA). “It means that we are moving in the right direction.”

Between 2003 to 2012, farm machinery continued to be involved in most agriculture-related fatalities with runovers (18 per cent), rollovers (18 per cent) and being pinned or struck by a machine component (9 per cent) accounting for the top three ways people were fatality injured.

Fatality rates due to rollovers and from being pinned/struck by a machinery component also declined. Rollover fatality rates decreased an average of 3.6 per cent annually and fatality rates from being pinned/struck by a machinery component decreased an average of 7.8 per cent annually.

Eric Kaiser has spent a lifetime building his Quinte Region farm; transforming 14 former Loyalist mixed settlement properties on heavy clay soil into a large and productive egg, field crop and strawberry business.

And although he says it’s still a work in progress, he’s justifiably proud of the results.

His efforts have earned him the 2017 Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) Soil Champion Award, which is handed out annually by the OSCIA to recognize leaders in sustainable soil management.

“There is no one practice to farm conservation; everything has a part to play,” says Kaiser, who has a civil engineering degree from the Royal Military College and bought the first 300 acres of his farm in 1969.  “Sustainability has many components, but the preservation of top soil must be the final result.”

Today owned by Eric’s youngest son Max, Kaiser Lake Farms sits on the shores of both Bay of Quinte and Hay Bay - a recreational area for water skiing and wind surfing and also from where the Kaisers and their non-farming neighbors draw their water.

The challenges of the land, the unique location and Eric’s determination not to see erosion sweep his soil into the bay sparked his lifelong love affair with conservation. As a conventional farmer till the mid-1980s, he knew he wanted to evolve into no-till production, which meant systematically tile draining the land as quickly as he could afford to do so.

“The farm land isn’t good enough to support that kind of endeavor, but we have layers and pullets that gave us the financial wherewithal to do all of that over time,” he says. “We did infilling as late as 2013, so it continues to be a work in progress.”

“If I won the lottery, I would tile the land on two foot centres,” he adds. “Tiles are step one here, without tiles, nothing works.”

A long-time advocate of no-till planting, Kaiser says the key to doing it well is putting a new planter in the field every day. That means replacing missing or worn out parts daily and every winter, pulling the planter into the shop and disassembling every row unit for an overhaul.

“We farm like cash croppers, but we’re actually livestock producers so we have manure to spread,” he explains, which comes with big soil compaction concerns.

All equipment travels only on the farms own driveways and grass waterways, and there’s not a single piece of equipment on the farm that hasn’t been modified and improved somehow to be better suited to their land.

The Kaisers use an 8,000 gallon Nuhn quad-train manure spreader with radial tires at 14 PSI from front to back to spread their poultry manure after wheat harvest. As it’s applied, the manure is incorporated into the ground with a small, light disc that penetrates only about two inches into the soil. Then, cover crops are planted.

 “We’re doing the best we can for compaction, which is a big issue especially as machinery keeps getting bigger,” he says. “But the livestock are an important part of this operation, and one of our guiding principles is integration of animal and vegetable protein production.”

The Kaisers feed their corn and wheat crop to their 30,000 layers and the 130,000 pullets they grow annually, and sell their soybeans to buy back meal for their poultry feed.

Their crop rotation has included cover crops since the 1980s, but it really became much more diverse after Kaiser met renowned soil scientist Jill Clapperton in 2003 when he served as chair of the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario annual conference and she came to speak at the event.

Corn, soybeans and wheat on their own were not a rotation, she told him, so the experimentation began with crops like field peas, red clover, oats, barley, sudangrass, buckwheat, sun hemp, sunflowers, and tillage radish.

Peas and barley have worked well, and sunflowers have proven to both a successful cover crop and popular with the neighbors, who are welcome to come to the Kaiser fields and pick flowers for Thanksgiving and Halloween.

Other organizations like the Soil Conservation Council of Canada and the Quinte Soil and Crop Improvement Association have also recognized Kaiser’s work and he’s a frequent speaker and participant at conferences and workshops across North America.

Overall though, Kaiser says its dirt that has been his biggest challenge – the relatively impermeable soil that is 80 – 95 per cent silt and clay and has defined conservation efforts throughout his farming career.

 “We never do the same thing every year, but we do the things we think are important for this farm,” says Kaiser, who believes the combine to be an essential farm management tool. “When you’re combining, you see every acre of every crop. You can see the effect of what you did and it allows you to plan for the future.”

That’s the same reason he encourages other farmers interested in soil conservation to just take the plunge and do so – and to do it front and centre on the farm so it can be seen every day. Cover crops and no-till aren’t new technologies, he argues, and if they’re implemented where they can be watched daily, it will help farmers figure out how to make improvements.

“Don’t hide it away, that’s a lack of commitment to something new you’re trying,” he believes.

Do you know someone worthy of the title Soil Champion? The submission deadline for the 2018 Award is September 1, 2017. For the application form and details, visit
The Rural Ontario Institute (ROI) is launching the Ontario Soil Network, a unique soil-focused leadership course that is being piloted in southwestern Ontario in 2017. The course will kick off in March and is open to 25 farmers who are currently working to improve soils and would like to develop their leadership and communication skills. This program is being supported through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, along with a host of related farm organizations, including: the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association; Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario; Farm & Food Care Ontario; Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario; and the Soil Conservation Council of Canada.

A great line-up of speakers, including Odette Menard, Lee Briese and Ryan Stockwell, along with Bernard Tobin, Kelly Ann McKnight and Don Lobb, are sure to inspire and challenge Ontario farmers to lead the way in soil health.

More information and an application form are available online at Applications are due by February 28th.
FEB. 15, 2017 – The governments of Canada and Manitoba are investing more than $1.6 million in eight research projects dealing with a wide range of issues facing crop producers, Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler announced at the CropConnect conference in Winnipeg today.

Project funding is provided through the Grain Innovation Hub, which was announced by the Canada and Manitoba governments in May 2014. Its goal is to leverage $33 million in government and industry funding to solidify Manitoba’s place as a leader in grain research, production and processing. 

The funded organizations and projects include:

·      D.L. Seeds Inc., to purchase specialized equipment needed to improve genetic disease resistance in canola (nearly $135,000)

·      Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA), for four projects focused on reducing the contamination caused by Fusarium head blight (FHB) in wheat, developing a commercial malting barley variety with improved pre-harvest sprouting tolerance, developing better nitrogen fertilizer management strategies for high-yielding spring wheat, and identifying the most efficient and environmentally friendly strategies to reduce the damage caused by FHB in spring wheat (nearly $590,000)

·      151 Research Inc. and their partners – the University of Manitoba Electromagnetic Imaging Lab, the University of Manitoba’s Canadian Wheat Board Centre for Grain Storage Research and the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute – to test remotely-monitored 3D imaging and grain drying systems able to dry grain to the desired temperature and moisture content ($189,000)

·      Canadian Triticum Applied Genomics 2 Project, a partnership of industry, government and Canada’s genomics agencies, to conduct research at the federal agricultural research station in Morden to identify and clone wheat genes responsible for higher yields and resistance to a variety of environmental stressors ($390,000)

·      SeCan, to develop a semi-dwarf wheat variety for the eastern prairies with higher yields, improved disease resistance and strong straw ($300,000)

The ministers noted industry partners will contribute another $4 million toward these research projects, highlighting the important research partnership between governments and the agricultural sector.

The federal and provincial governments are investing $176 million in Manitoba under Growing Forward 2, a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial policy framework to advance the agriculture industry, helping producers and processors become more innovative and competitive in world markets. For more information, visit under Growing Forward 2.
In a joint statement issued mid-afternoon, the two leaders recognized "profound shared economic interests" and pledged to work tirelessly to boost growth and generate jobs in both countries.

"Millions of American and Canadian middle-class jobs, including in the manufacturing sector, depend on our partnership," the statement reads.

The communique says the two countries will work to expedite the Gordie How International Bridge between Windsor and Detroit, move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline and commit to establishing pre-clearance operations for cargo crossing the border.

There is no mention of the contentious NAFTA trade deal, the softwood lumber dispute or about fighting climate change. | READ MORE
The Canadian agriculture industry rallied in support of the Canadian Agri-Business Education Foundation (CABEF) raising $98,338 in 2016.

CABEF awards six $2,500 scholarships annually to students enrolling in an agricultural university or college in Canada. Fundraising efforts in conjunction with Best of CAMA (Canadian Agri-Marketing Association) raised $42,642 from live and silent auctions, and the Wall of Wine raffle for 24 bottles of wine. Other donations were made in cash, auction items and donated advertising space to promote the CABEF scholarship application deadline and the announcement of the scholarship recipients.

The 2017 scholarship application deadline is April 30, 2017.  Application information is located at
February 8th, 2017 has been coined Food Freedom Day by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA). This means that as of February 8th, Canadians will have earned enough income (on average) to pay their grocery bill for the entire year.

In 2016, Canadians are expected to have spent 10.7 per cent of their disposable income on food, compared to 11 per cent in 2015. To calculate the date, CFA compares food expenditures against average income and prorates this to represent calendar days. In 2017, it took an estimated 39 days of work to cover food costs, which lands on February 8th.

In marking Food Freedom Day 2017, CFA is kicking off a series of Canada 150 activities to highlight the many positive contributions that agriculture brings to Canada, including the point that Canadians enjoy some of the lowest food costs in the world. Canada consistently ranks in the world's top five countries for lowest food costs.

CFA has several activities planned for its “Canada 150: Our Farms. Our Food. Our Future” campaign, and over the next few months will shine a spotlight on the value of our farms and agriculture industry.

Later this month, CFA hosts its 2017 Annual Meeting (Feb. 22-23) in Ottawa, at which members and industry observers can expect dialogue on future agriculture policy priorities and the sector's growth potential.
Following a vote at its annual general meeting, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) announced that the province’s wheat farmers will pay nine cents per tonne less on a single wheat check-off of $1.09 beginning in August 2017. This is subject to provincial government approval processes intended to be in place by this time. The new, single wheat check-off will combine the current AWC levy with the Western Canadian Deduction (WCD).

The move to a single wheat check-off is part of AWC’s plan to assume the funding obligations of the WCD that will sunset on July 31, 2017. In this model, AWC will assume a greater role in funding new wheat varieties and will maintain current funding commitments for the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi), which contributes to market support, education and testing services to meet the needs of Canada’s key customers. AWC will also maintain its current portfolio of programming.

The WCD check-off is currently applied to all sales of wheat delivered to licensed grain buyers in Western Canada. AWC’s western Canadian counterparts, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association, will also transition to a single check-off. The three commissions recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to absorb the responsibilities and funding obligations of the WCD.

Prior to the vote on the new check-off at its annual general meemting, AWC administered a survey of Alberta’s wheat farmers to garner producer perceptions on the new check-off value. Survey results indicated 75 percent either strongly or somewhat support the proposed $1.09 check-off. Following approval from the provincial government, AWC will work with grain companies to implement the new service charge amount.  

Learn more at
When farmers spray their fields with pesticides or other treatments, only two per cent of the spray sticks to the plants. A significant portion of it typically bounces right off the plants, lands on the ground, and becomes part of the runoff that flows to streams and rivers, often causing serious pollution. But a team of MIT researchers aims to fix that.

By using a clever combination of two inexpensive additives to the spray, the researchers found they can drastically cut down on the amount of liquid that bounces off. The findings appear in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper by associate professor of mechanical engineering Kripa Varanasi, graduate student Maher Damak, research scientist Seyed Reza Mahmoudi, and former postdoc Md Nasim Hyder.

Previous attempts to reduce this droplet bounce rate have relied on additives such as surfactants, soaplike chemicals that reduce the surface tension of the droplets and cause them to spread more. But tests have shown that this provides only a small improvement; the speedy droplets bounce off while the surface tension is still changing, and the surfactants cause the spray to form smaller droplets that are more easily blown away. | READ MORE
Today, the Water Security Agency (WSA) released the 2017 preliminary outlook for spring runoff.

Most of Saskatchewan received below normal snowfall resulting in a below normal runoff potential across most of Saskatchewan.  Many areas saw the snowpack almost completely melt or lost to sublimation in January due to above normal temperatures.  This melting of snowpack would have saturated the soil surface, reducing the infiltration capacity available for the melt of any late season snow.

This is a preliminary outlook and the snowpack could continue to develop for another 6 to 10 weeks.  Also, it is important to note that a majority of the province was wetter than normal going into freeze-up in November of 2016.  Higher than normal precipitation going forward and/or a rapid spring melt could significantly increase the runoff potential.

Although the snowpack in most areas is below normal, even a below normal runoff could compound flooding issues in regions with closed basins as many of these areas are at well above normal or record levels following several high runoff years.
With this week’s release of the federal Advisory Council on Economic Growth's (ACEG) second wave of recommendations, it has identified the Canadian agriculture and food sector as a key economic priority.

In the report “The Pathway to Prosperity,” the Economic Council identified a number of different sectors that have the potential for significant growth and job creation in Canada, including agriculture, advanced manufacturing and life sciences. The report recommends that the government and private sector work together to conduct a detailed review of each sector, assessing its strengths, barriers to growth and policy initiatives to overcome the barriers.

The report said agri-food is one of Canada's largest economic sectors, providing 2.1 million jobs and contributing 6.7 per cent of GDP.

With an annual growth rate of 9.5 per cent during the last five years, agri-food companies have outpaced most other sectors of the economy.

To kick off the work, the Economic Council recommends the food and agriculture sector as the first to undergo the detailed sectoral analysis.

The report also recommended more growth-capital financing to small- and medium-sized companies looking for funds to expand. Historically, Canada has experienced a "market failure" for accessing risk capital for commercialization projects that drive innovation and growth.
Following an announcement made in October, New Holland Agriculture is set to expand its wide offering with new implement product lines, as CNH Industrial completed the acquisition of the agricultural grass and soil business of Kongskilde Industries, part of the Danish Group Dansk Landbrugs Grovvareselskab.

The business unit, which includes facilities in the EMEA, APAC and NAFTA regions, has been taken over by CNH Industrial. As a result, New Holland Agriculture will extend its offering to include Tillage and Hay & Forage solutions under various brands, including Kongskilde, Överum, Howard and JF. The Kongskilde brand and sales organizations, dealers and importers will continue to operate with no disruption, ensuring continuity in its customers’ support. New Holland will gradually integrate the new agricultural implements into its own product offering.
Four industry icons will be inducted into the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame this year. Robert (Bob) Lang, Arthur Loughton, John (Jack) Riddell and John (Jack) Charles Steckley have all been selected by the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association as worthy candidates based on their life-long commitments to Ontario’s agriculture. To qualify for this recognition, inductees must have demonstrated visionary leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the advancement of agriculture in Ontario.

Inductees for 2017 and their nominators include:

Robert (Bob) Lang, (1944 - ). Bob Lang is well recognized for the impact he has had in helping livestock farmers learn about programs and technologies that will improve their management skills, increase their efficiency and productivity. He has also travelled the globe speaking on genetic improvement and developing new markets for Canadian livestock. With a career spanning time at OMAFRA and Eastern Breeders Inc., Lang was also a key influencer in both the International Livestock Management School and Ontario Association of Animal Breeders.
Nominated by EastGen Incorporated.

Arthur Loughton, (1931-2013). It’s not everyone that has a variety of cabbage named after them as recognition of their great contributions to the horticultural sector but the Loughton cabbage continues to be sold commercially to this day. Arthur Loughton was dedicated to horticultural crop research and investigating new technology that would benefit vegetable crop production in Ontario. As the long serving director of the Horticultural Research Station in Simcoe, Ontario, his research focused on a wide range of vegetable crops including seedless English cucumbers, asparagus, cabbage and broccoli.
Nominated by Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Ontario Institute of Agrologists, Stokes Seeds Ltd., Dr. Neil Miles and Byron Beeler.

John (Jack) Riddell, (1931 - ) Known as a farmer, teacher, auctioneer, Member of Provincial Parliament and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jack Riddell focused his many decades of service to the betterment of Ontario agriculture. While Minister of Agriculture, his innovative and long-term vision for agriculture led to the introduction of more than 30 new agriculture programs for farmers and his hands-on approach to the job gave him a deep understanding and appreciation of the agricultural sector.
Nominated by the Land Improvement Contractors of Ontario

John (Jack) Charles Steckley, (1887-1965). Anyone who has been part of the Junior Farmer Association of Ontario or who has attended Ridgetown College (now the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph) owes much of their experience to the leadership of Jack Steckley. Working as a Department of Agriculture employee more than a century ago, Steckley taught winter short courses each year for young farmers. Graduates then formed a group to continue the lessons that they had learned – now recognized as the first Junior Farmers club. Later, he championed the need for a Western Ontario Agricultural School in Ridgetown. It was the fulfilment of his long-time dream when the first class graduated in 1953.
Nominated by Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario and the Westag Alumni Association.

The 2017 induction ceremony will take place on Sunday, June 11, 2017 at Country Heritage Park in Milton. Details on how to purchase tickets are available on the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame’s website at
Rural Ontario received a boost with the recent announcement of two programs. The renewed Rural Economic Development (RED) program and the new Natural Gas Grant Program were both announced by the Ontario government earlier this week at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference.

The RED program is being renewed and will provide $5 million in funding every year to support community economic development. The program supports local initiatives to enable rural municipalities and partners to diversify and grow their local economies. Applications for the RED program funds are already open for submission at

The government is also recognizing the importance of expanding natural gas to rural Ontario with the Natural Gas Grant Program. The program will provide $100 million in grants to support the building of natural gas infrastructure and enable more communities to access to a lower cost energy source. Applications for the Natural Gas Grant Program will be available in spring 2017.
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