Future Planning
Choosing a successor is no easy task. While various family members may have ideas about who’s entitled to inherit the farm, the current owners may have very different ideas about who has the skills to keep the farm going in the long run. 

Throw blended families and in-laws into the mix and the question of succession may not have any clear-cut answers. And, in some instances, the best successor may come from outside the family. How does one decide? | READ MORE

Published in Corporate News
The federal government is encouraging Canadians to share their input to help shape A Food Policy for Canada – a move it calls an "important step in tackling the opportunities and challenges of Canada’s food system."
Published in Corporate News

Small planes have been flying over local farms and taking aerial photos for decades. Now, individual farmers are able to get an aerial view of a field using a small remote-controlled drone equipped with a camera.

But Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has been receiving information from a far more sophisticated data collection network for at least the past 30 years, according to Leander Campbell.

Campbell, a geographer who specializes in geomatics, works as a remote sensing specialist with the Earth Observation team at AAFC. He says most of his work is on the AAFC Annual Space-Based Crop Inventory. He gets his data in the form of imagery from satellites and uses it to produce an accurate national crop map.

“The crop map, the one I work on, is at a 30 metre resolution so each pixel is a 30 metre by 30 metre square. It covers all of Canada,” he explains. Campbell adds one of the crops mapped in year one of the crop inventory in 2009 was soybeans. Since then, the data has shown how the crop is spreading west and north on the Prairies.
WTCM30.1 MB soybean 2009 2012
Campbell extracted only the soybean fields (in yellow) from Manitoba crop maps for the years 2009 and 2012.
Photo courtesy of Leander Campbell, AAFC.

The network Campbell gets his data from consists of several international satellites. The American satellite Landsat-8 provides optical data to create crop maps anyone can download. In addition to these data, Campbell’s team also uses microwave data from the Canadian RADARSAT-2 satellite.

The combination of optical and microwave data has been shown to produce more accurate maps than maps created from either single source. These maps are created and validated using data collected by people in the field. For the Prairies, “we have agreements with the provincial crop insurance companies,” Campbell says. “It’s not a perfect system but we’re about 85 per cent and 90 per cent accurate and working to improve that.”

Satellites don’t stay in orbit forever and Campbell says a backup is always an asset. Canada has plans to launch a constellation of three microwave satellites in 2018, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), to gather data that’s even more detailed and precise than what’s available now.

“There are more uses than I ever thought of,” Campbell says. For instance, crop placements, crop monitoring, research, commodity marketing, land use management and even flood forecasting in Manitoba.

Microwave data collected by the European SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) satellite allows Campbell’s team to operationally measure soil moisture in the top five centimetres of soil. He says most people don’t realize the Earth naturally radiates very low-level microwave energy and a satellite in space can pick up the variations in waves. Water absorbs microwave energy. When the microwaves radiate out from the Earth and pass through the soil, some of them are captured by moisture in the soil. 

According to Campbell, in September 2015, Statistics Canada did not do a farmer survey, opting to use AAFC climate data to complete their crop yield forecast. Satellite data can describe how agriculture land is changing or evolving over the years, whether it’s farmland expanding by eliminating small woodlots or urban expansion covering agricultural land. These phenomena can be monitored year over year using the AAFC crop maps.

Campbell has compiled maps that helped document the areas where clubroot is developing in canola. Scott Keller, a farmer from Camrose County in Alberta, contacted AAFC, asking Campbell if he could map Camrose County to determine how often canola was grown in particular fields. Keller wanted to determine which fields grew canola most often, either in a tight rotation over multiple years or in succession, in order to determine if there was a correlation between the escalation of clubroot and the rotation schedule.
Canola crop
Map created by Campbell to monitor canola crop frequency in Camrose County, Alta. 
Photo courtesy of Leander Campbell, AAFC.

That’s just one way satellite data can support crop management. Campbell says he’s confident that as computer technology and Internet costs come down, AAFC will be able to create more products from data because they can monitor specific areas once or several times over a growing season, or over years.

Campbell and his six colleagues who create the crop maps, soil moisture reports and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) reports have an international presence as well. “I know some of our maps are incorporated into more global crop assessments for global market information, especially the NDVI maps,” Campbell says.

He explains that several nations around the world use satellite imagery to monitor their own crops. They meet on a monthly basis and compare data on major crops like corn, wheat, rice and soybeans through an organization called GEOGLAM. The group’s website states its vision is to “use coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations to inform decisions and actions in agriculture through a system of agricultural monitoring.” https://cropmonitor.org

Canadian farmers can access existing maps and data products online from the AAFC website. Because these maps are highly detailed, producers may experience difficulty downloading them on devices while in the field, but they can still view them online. According to Campbell, that’s the sort feedback he needs to hear from farmers.

“In our little world we have all these high-end computers and that works fine for us, but it may not be the most practical thing for others,” Campbell says. And, he’s looking forward to finding more ways to help farmers and make the website more user-friendly.

As satellite mapping matures, both farmers and scientists will view agriculture in new ways and Campbell is enthusiastic about the possibilities. “It’s a really exciting time to be in our field,” Campbell says.


This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Top Crop Manager West

Published in Emerging Trends
Farmers are notoriously keen meteorologists, but the weather information readily available to them isn’t always the most precise. That can be a bit nerve-wracking when your livelihood depends on conditions at the beanstalk level.  

In an effort to make weather information more practical for individual farmers, Agris Cooperative Ltd., together with Wanstead Farmer’s Cooperative and Haggerty Creek Ltd. launched the AGGrower Daily Dashboard.

This lets them offer an up-to-the-minute rainfall and temperature data service using 80 automated and 200 manual weather stations.

Wirelessly connected and distributed at 10 kilometre intervals between Essex, Sarnia, Mount Brydges, and the northern shore of Lake Erie, the stations measure rainfall and temperature in their immediate area.

Gathered data is then fed back to a central database, which farmers can access through their computer or mobile device. The difference, though, is that those measurements can be taken by the metrerather than the kilometre.

Dale Cowan, a senior agronomist and sales manager with Agris and Wanstead Farmers Cooperatives, described AgGrower Dashboard as a “precipitation weather data network” that makes very specific weather information “available to farmers in real-time.”

Such information, he said, helps farmers make immediate management decisions that reflect the needs of each individual field.

“No one wants to get information from a paper three weeks after they could have used it,” Cowan said. “The Dashboard lets you make growing decisions when it matters, with notifications coming right to your phone or tablet.”

The Dashboard is designed to help all aspects of crop production. Farmers can adjust planting schedules to take advantage of drier parts of their farm during damp conditions, adjust pesticide applications based on what stage of growth the plants are in, or time fertilizer application more precisely to ensure nutrients stay where they are needed – something particularly important for farms near Lake Erie and its issues with algae.

It’s another way, according to Cowan, that farmers can develop an effective, multi-faceted nutrient and pest management plan, and generally manage resources in a more economical and environmentally sustainable way.   

This is the first year AGGrower Dashboard is operational, with each of the 80 weather stations installed in the summer of 2016. Farmers looking to access the database have to register and log onto the AGGrower Dashboard website, and there is a $250 per year charge for access.

Cowan said once they are in, though, farmers simply plot their fields, or request the company to transfer their field boundaries from the database and they can start receiving personalized data and notifications to help them plan their individual growing schedules.

The AGGrower Dashboard project is supported by Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists with GF2 delivery in Ontario.
Published in Corporate News
Richardson Pioneer Limited has introduced CropMatrix, a brand new, state-of-the-art agronomy platform designed to enhance its service to farm customers across Western Canada.

The CropMatrix platform offers a full-systems approach to agronomic planning. By gathering, sharing and evaluating historical field data and product performance information, Richardson Pioneer representatives can work one-on-one with farmers to maximize farm profitability.

The new CropMatrix platform features agronomic tools that provide farmers with the opportunity to analyze and gain insights from production and yield data. It will allow Richardson Pioneer to streamline the management of its field trials across the Prairies to get information out to customers quickly and efficiently. CropMatrix will also allow for the interpretation of satellite imagery and the potential to work in the precision farming space in the future.
Published in Corporate News
"Food production must double by 2050 to feed the world's growing population." This has become widely accepted among academics, policymakers and farmers, but now researchers are challenging this assertion and suggesting a new vision for the future of agriculture.

Research published in Bioscience suggests that production likely will need to increase between 25 percent and 70 percent to meet 2050 food demand. The assertion that we need to double global crop and animal production by 2050 is not supported by the data, argues Mitch Hunter, doctoral student in agronomy, in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. He says the analysis shows that production needs to keep increasing, but not as fast as many have claimed. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
A new state-of-the-art grain terminal will be built on a 65-acre site on the North Shore, immediately west of the Second Narrows Bridge. It will speed the shipment of Western Canadian grain using a looped railway yard that will allow trains to move in and out of the terminal without having to uncouple cars. The terminal will also allow for larger bulk vessels, allowing more grain to move with fewer, but larger, ships. It's expected to be two to three times faster than other grain terminals. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
If you leave your pivot exposed all through the winter, you’re going to be working on it a lot longer in the spring,” says Jeff Ewen, an irrigation agrologist with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture in Outlook, Sask. To help producers prevent damage from winter’s storms and bone-chilling temperatures, Ewen offers a number of winterizing tips.
Published in Irrigation
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has released a new report, presenting a series of recommendations to address barriers to the competitiveness of the province’s agri-food sector.
Published in Business & Policy

Farm Management Canada (FMC) has launched an enhanced version of its former Step Up mentorship program to help bridge the gap between generations of farmers to provide Canada's future farmers with the best chance for success. 

Succession planning – also called transition planning, ensures farm business continuity: it is the only process that links one generation to future generations involved in the farm business, and addresses how the vision, goals and dreams of a farm will carry on. 

"According to the recent study, Making Dollars and Sense, less than one-third of Canada's farmers have a succession plan, while close to 40 per cent are in the succession stage of their farm business," says Heather Watson, executive director of Farm Management Canada. She goes on to note, "this signals not only a significant risk to the Canadian agricultural sector, but also an immense opportunity to promote and provide the information, tools and resources for farmers to improve their succession planning practices."

The Bridging the Gap: Step Up to Succession program is comprised of a series of succession and Transition planning workshops for farm families coupled with a successor development program, exclusively for young farmers.

FMC will be working with renowned farm family coach Elaine Froese and business management consultant Cedric MacLeod to help lead the program and coach participants throughout their journey.

Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers' Program, the Canadian Young Farmers' Forum and 4-H Canada are partnering with FMC for this program. 

For more information on the program, please visit Farm Management Canada's website.

Published in Business & Policy

Sept. 15, 2016 - Alberta Barley is seeking nominations for its farmer-led board of directors and delegate body. There are 20 positions available, including two directors (regions three and four) and one director-at-large (region one, two, three or six). Seventeen spots are available for delegates with at least one opening in five of the six Alberta Barley electoral regions.

“Volunteering your time as a delegate or director is a great opportunity to become involved in shaping Alberta farm policy,” says Mike Ammeter, outgoing chair. Ammeter, a Sylvan Lake-area farmer, proudly served as region three’s director-at-large from 2010-2016 and spent his final two years as the organization’s chair. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Alberta Barley and I’d say to any farmer in Alberta looking to make a difference in their industry, now is the time.”

Region four director Bernie Klammer will also retire alongside Ammeter from the Alberta Barley board of directors after two successive terms.

Any farmers seeking a director or director-at-large position must submit paperwork via fax to Alberta Barley at 403-291-0190 or by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it on or before Oct. 31, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. Votes for the director-at-large will be cast at all six regional meetings, tabulated and then announced at the Alberta Barley AGM, Dec. 8 in Banff, AB.

Delegates are nominated and elected from the floor at each regional meeting.

All farmers running for a delegate or a director position must have produced barley in the region they are running for election in and paid a service charge on barley either in the current or previous two crop years, according to Section 17 of the Alberta Barley Plan Regulation. A director-at-large position allows a farmer to be eligible by having grown barley in any area of Alberta.

The following delegates are up for re-election. Delegates serve two-year terms with Alberta Barley.

Region 1 – Glenn Logan, Brian Otto and Greg Stamp

Region 2 – Jamie Christie, David Eaton, Doug McBain, Doug Miller, Doug Robertson, Matt Sawyer and Kenton Ziegler

Region 4 – David Korpan, Charlie Leskiw, Brian McGonigal and John Wozniak

Region 5 – Darrel Hennig and Ken Wagner

Region 6 – Ron Heck

There is one director up for re-election with two additional vacancies. Directors and directors-at-large serve three-year terms with Alberta Barley.

Region 1, 2, 3 or 6 – Vacant (director-at-large)

Region 3 – Jason Lenz (director) 

Region 4 – Vacant (director)

Click here for the director nomination form.

Click here for the director-at-large nomination form.

Background

A nine-person board of directors governs Alberta Barley with six directors representing individual regions and three directors-at-large representing the province’s interests as a whole. Following the annual general meeting each year, the board of directors elects the executive team, which consists of the chair and vice-chair.

A farmer interested in running to be a director must have 10 signatures from fellow farmers in his or her specific region. For a director-at-large vacancy, a person is allowed to collect 10 signatures from farmers anywhere in Alberta. A director and director-at-large position are three-year terms. Documentation must be submitted in person or as a faxed copy to Alberta Barley at 403-291-0190.

If more than one person is nominated for a vacant position, an election will be held at regional meetings. Votes for regional directors will be tabulated and announced at the regional meetings while votes for the director-at-large will be tabulated and announced at the December 2016 annual general meeting. This year’s annual general meeting takes place at the Banff Springs Hotel, Dec. 8, 2016.

Published in Corporate News
Sept. 12, 2016 - Agriculture More Than Ever has launched a new campaign aimed at encouraging people in the agriculture industry to lend their voice to the food conversation in Canada.

“Be somebody-Be an agvocate” is a multi-faceted campaign that encourages everyone involved in the agriculture industry to be an agvocate by joining social media and having in-person conversations to shape people’s relationship with agriculture.

“Being an agvocate is about adding your voice to the food conversation in positive, engaging and relatable ways,” says Candace Hill, manager of Agriculture More Than Ever. “The campaign is about helping everyone involved in agriculture to connect with the public by sharing their story.”

Surveys continue to show that farmers are one of the most trusted voices when it comes to providing information about farming practices and food production, so it makes sense they be the face and voice for agriculture, according to Hill.

A recent survey by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity showed 93 per cent of consumers know little or nothing about Canadian farming practices, and a majority (60 per cent) of those respondents indicated they want to know more about farming practices.

“The campaign focuses on showing the real faces of people in agriculture with a strong call to action for everyone in the industry to get involved in the food conversation, no matter how big or small their contribution,” Hill says.

As part of the campaign, individuals who work in various sectors of agriculture submitted video clips of themselves reading a script encouraging others to get involved in telling the real story of Canadian agriculture. Those clips were compiled into a video.

“The video features people from across the country who have come together to add their voice to the food conversation,” Hill continues. “Everyone in agriculture is “somebody” and has a role to play. Watching and sharing the video is just one way individuals can get involved, but there are many ways for people to show their love, pride and passion for an industry.”

Agriculture More Than Ever has attracted over 470 partner organizations and 2,500 individuals committed to creating positive perceptions of agriculture. Launched more than four years ago, Agriculture More Than Ever’s goal is to encourage those involved in agriculture to speak up and speak positively about the industry.

To view the new Agriculture More Than Ever video and learn about other ways to participate, go to www.AgMoreThanEver.ca, or follow the conversation on Twitter @AgMoreThanEver
Published in Corporate News
Sept. 9, 2016 - Despite the dry year and stripe rust infestation, we saw some big winter wheat yields across the province this season. Many growers are giving credit to a strong stand establishment last fall thanks to the excellent planting conditions. So as producers get into the full swing of winter wheat planting, here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you get those high winter wheat yields and break another provincial record!

Know your optimum planting date and seeding rate

As we saw with the early planted crop last fall, wheat is very responsive to planting date. This was evident in 2006 when there were record yields due to early planting the previous fall. There was also a significant response to planting date in 1993, when a late planted winter wheat crop resulted in low yields. Given that planting date has a significant impact on yield, make sure you plan ahead and ensure you are targeting the optimum planting date for your area as outlined in chapter four of Publication 811: Agronomy Guide for Field Crops, Optimum Date to Seed Winter Wheat Across Ontario. See Figure 1 here.

Given that the weather does not always cooperate, it is important to be aware of the implications of variation in planting date and how to adapt accordingly. Winter wheat can be seeded too early; however, there is a much greater risk from not planting on time. At the optimum timing, winter wheat should be seeded at 1.5 million seeds/acre. This can very slightly depending on the variety so check the label for the particular variety you want to grow.

When seeding winter wheat too early there is an increased risk of lodging and snow mould. To reduce these risks decrease the seeding rate by 25 per cent if seeding more than 10 days before the optimum planting date for your area. When planting winter wheat later than the optimum timing there is reduced fall tillering. To compensate for this, increase the seeding rate by 200,000 seeds/week to a maximum of 2.2 million seeds/acre.

Plant at the right seeding depth

Similar to planting date, winter wheat is also very responsive to seeding depth so the more accurate the seeding depth the better chance for winter survival and higher yields. Having the proper seeding depth results in the development of a secondary root system well before winter begins and encourages quick emergence. If winter wheat is planted too deep emergence is delayed resulting in a yield reduction; however, there is often a greater yield reduction due to planting wheat too shallow.

Ensure you are planting at a depth of 2.5 cm (1 in.). Moisture availability is a very important factor so although 1 in. is an ideal depth, ensure you adjust your depth accordingly so that you are placing the seed into moisture. You can also reduce seeding depth variation by using seed firmers and reducing your planting speed.

Choose the right variety and use quality seed

Select a variety that is suited to your growing area. A number of factors should be considered when choosing a variety, these include: the farm location, winter survival, insect and disease resistance, lodging potential and yield. Utilize the Ontario cereals performance trial data on the www.GoCereals.ca website. When looking at the data, select varieties that perform well in your area across a number of sites and years. Use high quality seed with excellent germination as well as a seed treatment to help protect against seedling diseases.

Published in Cereals
Sept. 8, 2016 - Canadians rely on a strong agriculture industry and innovation helps ensure its success. To that end, the Government of Canada has invested $35.3 million for infrastructure improvements at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Swift Current Research and Development Centre.

The centre is being renovated and new laboratories are being built, which are used extensively to support AAFC's wheat breeding program and other research on forages and cereals. Science and innovation play an important role in making Canada one of the world's top producers and exporters of agricultural products.

"Improvements to these facilities will help deliver new technologies to producers, which creates jobs, grows the middle class and supports Canadian farmers," says agriculture minister, Lawrence MacAulay.

Researchers at the centre continue to play a key role in developing high-performance, high-quality wheat varieties. Today, those varieties are grown on about 50 per cent of the wheat acreage in Canada.

The new space will offer modern laboratories and more energy efficient infrastructure; the new and renovated portions of the building will be LEED Silver certified - a mark of energy efficiency.



Published in Business & Policy
Sept. 7, 2016 - Dominic Drapeau and Célia Neault of Drapeau & Bélanger Farm have been selected as Quebec’s Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) for 2016. The winners were announced at the CentreExpo Cogeco in Drummondville, QC, on September 2.
 
Dominic and Célia are third generation dairy and field crop farmers who are not afraid to make changes and embrace new technology. Their 625 cows are milked three times per day and the results speak for themselves; in ten years, the herd average has increased significantly from 8,295 litres per cow per year to 11,136 litres.
 
“The Quebec OYF region received three amazing nominations this year,” says Michel Robert, Regional Chair for Quebec OYF. “All of the finalists had exceptional accomplishments and performance and the judges were faced with a difficult decision, but ultimately Dominic and Célia stood out as this year’s Outstanding Young Farmers.”
 
Raised in a farming family, Dominic got involved in the family business at a young age. When he was 16, he was performing artificial insemination on cows and developed his management skills by taking over the herd and feeding responsibilities. He met Célia, an ambitious woman working in marketing at the time, and together they started their family now comprised of four children.
 
In the barn they use genomic testing on young animals, motion detectors for reproduction, a smart scale on the mixer-feeder and temperature probes close to calving. In the fields, the farm uses a satellite navigation system for leveling, draining, seeding, fertilizing and spraying. With these innovations over the last four years, they have enabled the farm to increase overall yields by five to 10 per cent each year.
 
Dominic and Célia’s passion for agriculture gives them energy and they plan on quadrupling the capacity of the current buildings over the next 20 years. This passion for agriculture is balanced with family time, which includes dancing, soccer, hockey and family gatherings. The fourth generation of Drapeau & Bélanger Farm will be welcome when the time comes.
 
Celebrating 36 years, Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program is an annual competition to recognize farmers that exemplify excellence in their profession and promote the tremendous contribution of agriculture. Open to participants 18 to 39 years of age, making the majority of income from on-farm sources, participants are selected from seven regions across Canada, with two national winners chosen each year. The program is sponsored nationally by CIBC, John Deere, Bayer, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative. The national media sponsor is Annex Business Media, and the program is supported nationally by AdFarm, BDO and Farm Management Canada.
 
Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016 will be chosen at the National Event in Niagara Falls, Ontario from Nov. 29 – Dec. 4, 2016.
Published in Corporate News
Sept. 7, 2916 - Canadian farmers are in a strong position to meet their financial obligations, despite plateauing farm incomes and slowing land appreciations, according to Farm Credit Canada's (FCC) 2016-2017 Outlook for Farm Assets and Debt Report.

“This financial strength allows the industry to invest even more in the innovation and productivity it will need to feed an ever-growing world population,” says J.P. Gervais, FCC’s chief agricultural economist.

In 2015, the debt-to-asset ratio on Canadian farms remained historically low at 15.5 per cent, compared to the previous five-year average of 15.9 per cent and the 15-year average of 16.7 per cent, according to the report.

A low debt-to-asset ratio is generally considered better for business, since it provides financial flexibility and lowers risk for producers.

FCC’s Outlook for Farm Assets and Debt Report provides an overview of the balance sheet of agriculture, focusing on the financial health of the sector. It also looks at the affordability of assets relative to farm income, with a special focus on farmland values.

“After a prolonged period of strong growth in farm asset and land values, our projections indicate a deceleration in both increasing land values and farm debt levels,” Gervais says.

The report analyzed three key indicators of the financial health of Canada’s agriculture sector: liquidity, solvency and profitability. It found that farm liquidity, which looks at the ability of producers to make short-term payments, and solvency – the proportion of total assets financed by debt – have remained consistently strong over the past five years.

In 2015, farm profitability, calculated by comparing net income to total assets, was slightly below the five-year average due to strong farm asset appreciation, especially in farmland values.

“Land is the most valuable asset a farmer owns and the most important input for agricultural production,” says Gervais, noting that land made up 67 per cent of the value of total farm assets in 2015, compared to 54 per cent in 1981.

“As farming becomes more profitable, farmland becomes more expensive,” he said. “However, when asset values are increasing more quickly than net farm income, overall profitability begins to soften. This reflects the cyclical nature of the business.”

From 2001 to 2011, the value of farmland and buildings appreciated on average 7.2 per cent per year, doubling over that timeframe. From 2012 to 2015, average annual appreciation was 11.7 per cent and total appreciation was 39.4 per cent.

Gervais says a combination of low interest rates and strong crop receipts was the primary cause of the rapid rate of asset appreciation in recent years. He projects appreciation will slow down with the expectation of lower crop prices over the next two to three years.
Published in Emerging Trends
Sept. 6, 2016 - You may be offsetting your farm income with a side business, whether it’s small engine repairs or just a road side stand. But are you properly accounting for the extra in flow of cash on your taxes and keeping records of the extra expenses?

Operating a cash business is a red flag for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Are you prepared to account for all deposits into your bank account and expense deductions on your taxes?

Now that tax season and filing deadlines are in the past, CRA is now verifying your 2015 filing and comparing it to those filed in earlier years. Variations from previous years signify to CRA that further scrutiny is required. When tax filings were largely done manually, variations in claims could be quite substantial without generating attention. But CRA’s sophisticated computer systems now permit them to monitor massive amounts of data and information and identify relatively small differences between current year and past filings.

If you do get a phone call from CRA or a verification letter in the mail that suggests your claim is being reviewed there are a number of things you should consider. Ultimately, the success or failure of whether you survive an audit is dependent on a few things:

  1. What you claimed on the return
  2. The explanation supporting the claim
  3. The documentation you have that supports the explanation
In recent years CRA has been less open to accepting expense claims without all 3 components noted above being present and aligned. Therefore, it is important to organize, in advance, the written documentation that supports your explanation.

Your tax advisor can help you determine which documentation you need to support your claim. For example, merely stating that you purchased fuel for a farm vehicle rather than a personal use vehicle is not sufficient. The expense needs more detail to support your claim. Jotting down the plate number for the vehicle on the back of the receipt is extremely useful in establishing whether the vehicle is a business or personal use one as is recording the details of that particular trip in your calendar. The audit could be taking place 2 to 3 years after the expense was incurred so your dated diary descriptions of your travel become particularly important.

CRA rarely randomly selects a file; there usually is an underlying reason. For example, if a dairy farm is reviewed, the auditor will determine if the farm has been correctly reporting their patronage payments.

It would stand to reason that if you know the audit triggers, then you could plan and document long before that visit by the CRA.  

Approximately, one in 280 taxpayers will be audited. We note that self-employed individuals who are in a position to understate income or overstate expenses run a much higher chance of being audited than a T4 earner.

Generally, the farm community gets a great deal of attention from CRA related to farm losses and expectation of profit. Some triggers to an income tax audit include:

  1. Large losses in comparison to prior year or consistently large losses
  2. Unusual high or increased expenses
  3. Large capital additions
  4. Large purchases
  5. High input tax credit claims
  6. Consistent non-compliance (not filing or consistent late filing)
  7. Amendments showing large changes
This list isn’t exhaustive and considering the potential for an audit you’re best to involve a tax professional who is knowledgeable in the numerous rules and interpretations of the Income Tax Act and who can deal with CRA on your behalf.

FBC is Canada's Farm & Small Business Tax Specialist, providing tax accounting and bookkeeping services to over 20,000 farms and small businesses from Ontario to British Columbia. Our complete financial planning for farm and small business owners takes a long-term approach to address your specific needs at all stages of life and business, minimizing your taxes year after year. Year-round services include tax planning, tax optimization, business consulting and audit protection.
Published in Corporate News
Sept. 1, 2016 - After one of the driest growing seasons on record, are you wondering what options there are to manage through anticipated future droughts? Water is the most limiting input into crop productivity and, as a result, impacts the use efficiency of all your other crop inputs.

Join other interested farmers and advisors on a tour of Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) installations for grain crop production. Tour three installations that show the potential of these systems to mitigate the impacts of dry weather on crop production.

What are the opportunities and obstacles that SDI systems might offer Ontario grain farmers, regardless of their soil types?

Come and explore with us and have an opportunity to see installations and speak with farmers and who have made this investment, and advisors who have answers to common questions:
  • Is it paying off?
  • How difficult is it to manage? How big is the installation job?
  • Where can I find resources and people who can advise me?
If you have any of these questions, join the tour on Sept. 7th in the Simcoe/Delhi area.

Arrive 1pm at Judge Farms (97 Windham Road 9, La Salette [42.892686, - 80.499290]), for the first part of the tour to view a row crop installation. At approximately 2:30pm, you will travel on your own to Vanden Bussche Irrigation in Delhi (about 20 minutes away), for more info and to view technical equipment. At about 4pm, we will board busses to travel to the final stop in the tour to view another farm installation and discuss farmer ingenuity approaches to SDI. The bus will return you to your vehicle at Vanden Bussche Irrigation by 4:45pm.

While there is no charge for this tour, due logistical constraints space is limited, so you must preregister to attend.

Registration and information can be found here or by calling 877-424-1300.
Published in Corporate News
August 25, 2016 - Time is running out to apply under Growing Forward 2 (GF2) for organizations and collaborations. The Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) is seeking short-term, GF2 projects that fit the program criteria, as outlined in the GF2 Program Guide.
 
There are four remaining intake deadlines and tentative board review dates for the GF2 program:

Intake Deadline*                Tentative Board Review*
October 13, 2016                   December 6, 2016
December 13, 2016                February 2017
February 16, 2017                  April 2017
April 20, 2017                        June 2017
 
*dates are subject to change/cancellation (visit the AAC website for up-to-date intake deadlines and board meeting dates)
 
Contact a program coordinator to discuss your project ideas today. The time frame for completing GF2 projects will continue to shorten as the final board review date approaches. Projects cannot start incurring expenses until after the board review date, and must be completed by October 31, 2017.
 
If you have a project idea, AAC encourages you to submit a pre-proposal prior to completing the full application. Pre-proposals must be received at least ten days before an intake deadline if you would like a response for that intake.

Growing Forward 2 is a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists with the delivery of GF2 programming in Ontario.
Published in Corporate News
August 23, 2016 - Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture Inc. (CYSA) has unveiled its new website, which allows participants to easily register online. The bilingual site also showcases an extensive photo gallery that media will find useful to showcase their respective provinces' participants and winners post-competition as well as the CYSA promotional video.

Participants wishing to compete in CYSA 2016 are reminded that the deadline to register is September 30, 2016 at midnight.

The topics for 2016 are:

  • What is the impact of public opinion on Canadian farmers?
  • How would you explain a GMO to a non-farmer?
  • What does the next generation of agriculture bring to the table?
  • How can we improve the media's perception of Canadian agriculture?
  • Old MacDonald had a farm...but what about Mrs. MacDonald?
Each year the renowned public speaking competition is held at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. The competition is open to youth ages 11 to 24 with a passion for agriculture whether raised on a farm, in the country or in the city.

CYSA is a national, bilingual competition that gives participants an opportunity to share their opinions, ideas and concerns about the Canadian agri-food industry in a five- to seven-minute prepared speech.  For more information about CYSA visit www.cysa-joca.ca
Published in Corporate News
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