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Researchers have made a significant breakthrough that could make barley more tolerant to waterlogging and wet conditions.

The Western Barley Genetics Alliance announced it had identified new molecular markers to target waterlogging-tolerant genes in barley, while field trials in Western Australia last year showed promising yield results.

The Alliance is a partnership between Western Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Murdoch University, University of Tasmania and the Zhejiang and Yangzhou universities in China.

Alliance director Chengdao Li said they worked with two universities in China, which were both located in regions prone to flooding and waterlogging. READ MORE
Published in Genetics/Traits
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. announced that the Canadian Competition Bureau ("CCB") has granted unconditional regulatory approval for the proposed merger of equals by issuing a no-action letter dated September 11, 2017.

The CCB concluded that the proposed transaction is not likely to lead to a substantial lessening or prevention of competition with respect to potash fertilizer, phosphate fertilizers and nitric acid.

The CCB found that global prices of potash are correlated with prices in Canada and that customers can source potash from multiple suppliers. The issuance of the no-action letter satisfies the Canadian regulatory condition of closing of the proposed merger of equals transaction.

The companies previously received unconditional clearance for the merger in both Brazil and Russia. The regulatory review and approval process continues in the U.S., China and India and the parties expect to close the transaction by the end of the fourth quarter of 2017.

Upon closing the merger transaction, the new company will be named Nutrien. As the largest global provider of crop inputs and services, Nutrien will play a critical role in "Feeding the Future" by helping growers to increase food production in a sustainable manner.

Additional information on the merger between Agrium and PotashCorp can be found at the following website http://www.worldclasscropinputsupplier.com/

Information about Agrium and PotashCorp can be found under their respective corporate profiles on SEDAR at www.sedar.comor on EDGAR at www.sec.gov, respective websites at www.agrium.com and www.potashcorp.com
Published in Corporate News
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Consejo Nacional Agropecuario (CNA) have sent a joint letter to Canadian, American and Mexican government officials, reiterating their calls that re-negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should aim to modernize the agreement, rather than dismantle it.
Published in Business & Policy
While making the rounds at industry events this winter, I noticed one topic was sure to draw a crowd every time. It seems producers, suppliers and other industry stakeholders are eager to soak up whatever information they can on international markets and trade – and with good reason.
Published in Imports/Exports
University of Copenhagen and Bayer CropScience have successfully developed a new oilseed crop that is much more resistant to heat, drought and diseases than oilseed rape. The breakthrough is so big that it will feature as cover story of the April issue of Nature Biotechnology. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto Co's Roundup herbicide, should not be classified as a substance causing cancer, the European Chemical Agency concluded on Wednesday, potentially paving the way for its license renewal in the EU. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) has released a report that outlines the potential for expanding trade in China: a market that accounted for $5.6 billion in Canadian agri-food and agri-food exports last year. China is Canada’s second-largest two-way trading partner (after the U.S.) and is projected to be the world’s largest agri-food importer by 2021.

The report, entitled “Chasing China - Expanding Canada’s Agri-Food Exports to China,” describes the growing opportunity in the country for Canada’s agri-food exports. Currently, agri-food exports to China are already significant – China demands one third of Canada’s canola exports and represents an important market for soybeans, pulses, wheat, barley, beef and pork.

Despite the large and growing demand for Canadian agri-food products in China, the report points out that Canadian exporters continue to face serious barriers that are hampering growth. For example, tariffs and non-tariff barriers reduce the range of products that can be exported and raise uncertainty for exporting businesses.

While overcoming the barriers will be tough for many agri-food commodities and value-added food products Chinese production can’t keep up with demand and there are opportunities to improve trade.

Tariff elimination and tariff quota expansion for wheat, barley, pulses, soybean, canola as well as sugar and sugar-containing products would provide opportunity for the Canadian industry. In some cases, Canada faces a significant trade imbalance with China, particularly in value-added prepared foods and is at a competitive disadvantage compared to other countries like Australia who have signed free trade agreements.

The full report can be found here.
Published in Imports/Exports
The European Union has voted to ratify the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) while asking the Canadian government to address important outstanding issues.

“Getting the CETA through the European Parliament is a tremendous step forward the farm and food sector that is growing through exports – it’s good news for trade and speaks to the Canadian government’s efforts so far,” said Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA). “But we need to make sure that the agreement delivers on its promises. Non-tariff barriers will prevent a large part of the agri-food sector from using the agreement if they are not resolved.”

The agreement holds huge potential for growth and has been supported by CAFTA since negotiations began eight years ago. It will eliminate EU tariffs on 94 per cent of Canada’s agri- food products, and could drive additional exports of up to $1.5 billion, including $600 million in beef, $400 million in pork, $100 million in grains and oilseeds, $100 million in sugar-containing products and a further $300 million in processed foods, fruits and vegetables.

Sticking points remain, related to EU treatment of crop input products, such as biotechnology, which need to be addressed before the agreement comes into force.

In addition, CAFTA wants the government to commit to a strong advocacy strategy and a comprehensive implementation plan for agriculture and agri-food exporters that will deliver real access for Canadian companies once the trade doors are opened.
Published in Imports/Exports
A popular fertilizer for farmers is urea, a nitrogen-rich organic compound found in human urine. Urea is water soluble and volatile, which means that irrigation or a heavy rains often sweeps it away in surface run-off or it escapes as a gas before it can be absorbed by plants.
Published in Fertilizer
Researchers at Oxford University and Rothamsted Research have developed a new plant application that harnesses the power of sucrose in wheat to produce more grains. A synthetic molecule solution is sprayed on plants, resulting in an increase in wheat grain size and yied of up to 20 per cent. There is also reason to believe the solution could help wheat plants recover from drought. |READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
President-elect Donald Trump discussed agriculture very little during his campaign, but the promises he made on free trade pose significant threats to Canada’s agriculture industry, writes Helen Metella for the University of Alberta. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
A global ban on genetically modified crops would raise food prices and add the equivalent of nearly a billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, a study by researchers from Purdue University shows.
Published in Consumer Issues
On Oct. 30, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the European Union (EU) and Canada.
Published in Imports/Exports
Last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced stable canola trade between Canada and China will continue through 2020. Under the agreement, canola trade can occur according to terms in place in August 2016, and measures to manage the risk of blackleg disease in canola will be based on science.
Published in Canola
An international research team has identified two genes which could help protect barley against powdery mildew attack.

Led by the University of Adelaide in Australia and the Leibniz-Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Germany, the research will give plant-breeders new targets for developing lines of barley with resistance to powdery mildew.

The two genes, HvGsl6 and HvCslD2, were shown to be associated with accumulation of callose and cellulose respectively. These two polysaccharides play an important role in blocking the penetration of the plant cell wall by the powdery mildew fungus.

Published in two separate papers in the journal New Phytologist, the researchers showed that by "silencing" these genes, there was lower accumulation of callose and cellulose in the plant cell walls, and higher susceptibility of barley plants to the fungus. Conversely, over-expressing HvCslD2 enhanced the resistance in barley.

"Powdery mildew is a significant disease of barley wherever it is grown around the world, and resistance to the fungicide most commonly used to control it has been recently observed," said Alan Little, a senior research scientist at the University of Adelaide, with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, in a press release.

"If we can develop barley with improved resistance to powdery mildew, it will help barley producers increase yields and maintain high quality."

In the plant and pathogen co-evolutionary battleground, host plants have evolved a wide range of defence strategies against attacking pathogens.

One of the earliest observed defence responses is the formation of cell-wall thickenings called papillae at the site of fungal infection. They physically block the fungus from penetrating the plant cells.

In barley, the papillae contain callose and cellulose as well as other polysaccharides, but the genes involved in accumulation of these carbohydrates in the cell wall have not been identified.

"Our results show that these novel genes are interesting targets for improving cell-wall penetration resistance in barley and maybe other cereals against fungal intruders," said Patrick Schweizer, head of the Pathogen-Stress Genomics Laboratory at IPK.

"Now we can use these genes to identify molecular markers for breeding enhanced resistance into modern barley."

The two papers can be read online here and here
Published in Genetics/Traits
Saskatchewan hemp growers and processors have been working to meet the exporting demand for the multi-use crop as the market expands in Europe and Asia. CBC News reports. | READ MORE
Published in Imports/Exports
German drug and farm chemical maker Bayer AG says it has agreed to acquire seed and weed-killer company Monsanto in an all-cash deal valued at $66 billion.

Bayer says it is paying Monsanto shareholders $128 per share, which represents a 44 per cent premium over Monsanto's closing price on May 9, the day before a proposed deal was announced.

The deal is subject to approval by Monsanto shareholders and anti-trust regulators. Bayer expects the deal to close by the end of 2017. | READ MORE
Published in Business & Policy

China is preparing to enact a rule as of Sept. 1 that would require the amount of extraneous plant material in canola-seed exports to make up less than one per cent of each shipment. The Chinese are a major customer for 43,000 farmers, mainly in Western Canada but also Ontario and Quebec, who export their product through grain handlers. Last year, China bought more than 40 per cent of all canola Canada sold abroad. | READ MORE

Published in Canola
June 24, 2016 - In the UK, the British people voted to exit the European Union in a historic vote which was announced in the early Friday hours. Following the vote, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he would resign, and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was “highly likely” that the SNP would seek a referendum on leaving the United Kingdom after Scotland voted strongly to “Remain”.

UK markets were roiling this morning, with the pound off more than 10% initially to its lowest point against the US dollar since 1985, while the FTSE 100 index took a huge hit in early trading before trimming losses to the 8 per cent mark. German Chancellor Angela Merkel termed the result a “terrible disappointment” and called for a meeting with the heads of the French and Italian governments on Monday to discuss next steps. | Read more.
Published in Corporate News

June 17, 2016 - It's hard to find a herbicide like glyphosate. It's cheap, highly effective, and is generally regarded as one of the safest and most environmentally benign herbicides ever discovered. But a report last year that glyphosate could cause cancer has thrown its future into jeopardy. Now the European Union faces a 30 June deadline to reapprove its use, or glyphosate will not be allowed for sale. Here's a quick explanation of the issues.

Erik Stokstad with Science magazine looks at the issue.

READ MORE.

 

Published in Herbicides
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