Programs, Grants & Awards
August 4, 2016 - Van Raay Paskal Farms Ltd. (VRP Farms) is located near the rural Alberta town of Picture Butte – about 240 km south of Calgary with a population of 1,650.  VRP Farms owns and operates seven feedlots housing up to 130,000 head of cattle and crops more than 22,000 acres that produce barley, corn and wheat silage/roughage for the feedlot cattle. Essential to the farm’s success are its approximately 170 employees.

In order to attract and retain that size of a workforce, the farm first expends extensive efforts to hire Canadian workers, and then the remaining positions are filled by Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) primarily from Mexico, the British Isles and South Africa. To reduce its on-going labour shortage, VRP Farms has developed a process where it assists these TFWs through the steps needed to achieve permanent resident status and eventual Canadian citizenship by completing significant on-the-job training and developing the unique skills needed for working with cattle on a feedlot.

“It’s a win – win situation,” explains Jolayne Farn, human resource manager for VRP Farms. “VRP Farms has created a pathway to citizenship for foreign workers so they can stay, thus ensuring that VRP Farms has enough employees long-term and the workers can build their future in Canada. So far we have had a strong response and much success.”                                                                               

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) has studied the VRP Farms example of successful workforce retention so that others can emulate their best practices. CAHRC’s mandate is to help alleviate the chronic labour shortage facing Canadian agriculture through its Labour Market Information (LMI) research and developing appropriate labour support tools. CAHRC recently released research indicating that annual farm cash receipt losses to Canadian producers due to job vacancies are $1.5 B or three per cent of the industry’s total value in sales. The current gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce is 59,000 and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs.

“New Canadians have long been an under-represented group within the agricultural workforce,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of CAHRC. “Van Raay Paskal Farms has developed an effective labour solution with their training and retention process. CARHC is sharing this case study so that others may learn from it.”

VRP Farms’ approach to labour identifies several aspects that are key to their success:

Excellent orientation program for new arrivals: All new employees are picked up at the airport and lodged in a hotel until suitable housing is found. They are never alone at the start of their employment.

Opportunities for advancement: All employees are provided with opportunities to grow. Training and development is part of the standard employment package. Several of VRP Farms’ workers who arrived as temporary foreign workers have since become Canadian citizens, have been with the company for eight years and have advanced into management positions.

Personal loans: Employees are provided with a $5000 loan to assist in purchasing a vehicle, furniture, a horse for pen riders, etc. This loan is paid back through small pay deductions over a period of two years.

Knowledge sharing: Employees are provided with every opportunity to share their knowledge and experience. While they are learning from VRP Farms, VRP Farms is also learning from them.

Translators:  VRP Farms has Spanish translators to ensure Mexican employees fully understand any information being provided to them.

Employee referral program: The referral program is two tiered; the person that refers a potential hire receives $75 after the recruit’s first six weeks are completed, then another $75 at the end of the recruit’s probation period.

Van Raay Paskal Farms is just one of many case studies being done as part of CAHRC’s LMI research into reducing barriers to agricultural employment for new Canadians.

For more information on CAHRC’s LMI project visit The LMI research is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.
Published in Corporate News
August 2, 2016 - The Grassland Stewardship Program (GSP) provides cost-share funding for producers who wish to implement select best management practices to improve grassland habitat and benefit species at risk on their farms. Supported best management practices include:
  • Control of encroaching trees and shrubs through mowing
  • Pasture rejuvenation
  • Incorporating delayed grazing into rotational grazing systems
  • Native grassland restoration
  • Forage harvest management (delayed haying)
The Grassland Stewardship Program will be delivered using a merit-based, competitive bid format. The second intake of the Grassland Stewardship Program is now open and will close on August 15, 2016.

Applications for GSP are entirely digital and must be completed online. Full program details and applications can be found here.

Please note that for the current Intake, due to seasonal limitations, applications for BMP 5 - Forage Harvest Management (Delayed Haying) will not be accepted.

It is anticipated that BMP 5 will be available in the 2017 Grassland Stewardship Program, with the first intake opening in January 2017.

Funding for the Grassland Stewardship Program is provided through Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands (SARPAL), an Environment and Climate Change Canada initiative.
Published in Corporate News
August 2, 2016 - Photographers have two months to capture that ‘winning’ shot of on-farm wildlife habitat. The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) has launched a province wide photo contest, with $2,000 in prizes up for grabs.

Farms are patchwork landscapes that provide valuable plant, fish and wildlife habitat. The Habitat in Focus Farm Photography Contest aims to highlight and promote habitat for species at risk (SAR) created, protected or enhanced by farms across Ontario.

While SAR may be elusive to capture on camera, their habitat is not. Grasslands, pastures, retired fields, stream banks, wetlands, shorelines and woodlands are important environmentally sensitive areas that serve as habitat to SAR on farms.Photos must have been taken on a farm, be digital and be submitted electronically. There is a limit of three photos per category, and there are three categories: tree habitat, water habitat and grasslands habitat.

The first place winner will receive a Canon EOS 70D DSLR Camera and EF-S lens kit (valued at $1,700). Second prize is a GoPro Hero3 Waterproof HD Sports and Helmet Camera (valued at $300), and third prize is a $150 Henry's gift card.

Judging will consist of three rounds of evaluation based on creativity, photographic quality and overall subject matter relevance to the contest.

Looking for photo ideas and inspiration?
The contest is modeled after the Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program (SARFIP). The Best Management Practices (BMPs) supported through SARFIP, as outlined in the Program Guide are a good reference for subject matter ideas in this contest.

The contest will be open until September 30th, 2016. Contestants can visit for complete contest rules and regulations, and to submit their photographs.
Published in Corporate News
July 27, 2016 - The federal and provincial governments have announced an investment of up to $180 million in a broadband network for southwestern Ontario, a digital initiative involving the University of Guelph (UofG). The funding will support the Southwest Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) network, which aims to provide open-access, high-speed fibre optic network capacity to more than 3.5 million people in 300 rural communities, from the Town of Caledon to the Niagara Region to Grey County.

Through Prof. Helen Hambly and the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), UofG has provided community engagement, evaluation and research support for the project since 2011.

"It became apparent that the future of Ontario's rural and remote areas was going to be highly influenced by digital development opportunities or the lack thereof," says Hambly. "Our work at UofG in areas such as precision agriculture and knowledge mobilization for agri-food innovation are entirely linked to the underlying broadband infrastructure that makes the uptake of new digital technologies possible."

Hambly, a rural extension expert, heads the Regional and Rural Broadband (R2B2) research unit. As a member of the SWIFT advisory committee, she works with public-sector organizations, businesses, farmers and residents on providing ultra-high-speed broadband and network infrastructure. Through R2B2, she works with researchers and universities across Canada on baseline modelling, quantitative data collection and analysis, GIS mapping and outcome assessment.

"Communities across Canada are seeking ways to measure and monitor their progress in digital development," Hambly says.

Canada was once a leader in Internet capacity, but about one in five Canadians - most of them in rural areas - still lack basic Internet access, said Hambly. Improved rural infrastructure will yield new economic opportunities and efficiencies, and have educational and social benefits, she adds.

"The development of connectivity is tremendously important to enabling province-wide innovation that benefits both rural and urban areas."

The governments of Canada and Ontario will each contribute up to $90 million through the New Building Canada Fund's Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component-Small Communities Fund. In making the announcement, Bob Chiarelli, minister of infrastructure, said bringing critical broadband infrastructure to southwestern Ontario will strengthen the province's economy.

"High-speed internet will connect people and businesses to the resources they need to compete in the global marketplace and strengthen our economy," says Chiarelli. "Equipping people in the province with the tools they need to succeed is one of the ways we're helping to build Ontario up."

The total estimated project cost is $281 million; the remaining funds will come from municipal and private contributions via the Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus, which initially proposed the SWIFT initiative.
Published in Corporate News
July 21, 2016 - Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) has announced Nicole Mackellar as the recipient of the 2017 GFO-sponsored Nuffield scholarship. Mackellar plans to use the scholarship to study the possibilities for branding of commodities that are further processed into ingredients.

The scholarship is valued at $15,000 and goes to a selected grains and oilseed producer in Ontario to give them the opportunity to study internationally. To be considered for this scholarship, individuals must demonstrate that their study will benefit the Ontario Grains sector and community.

“I have seen the benefit that Nuffield Scholarships have made in the past through networking opportunities, new ideas and experiences, and we are pleased to again sponsor the Grain Farmers of Ontario Nuffield Scholarship,” said Barry Senft, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario. “I would like to offer my congratulations to Nicole and look forward to seeing her study progress to benefit the Ontario grains industry.”

With a push from consumers to buy local, Nicole plans to use the Nuffield Scholarship to study methods to brand end-use products, so they are recognized as containing Ontario grains.  She will look to other countries, like Australia, to develop the best model to increase both domestic and export sales.

“The Nuffield scholarship will allow me to connect with colleagues around the world and apply that to Ontario to help increase utilization and market share of Ontario grains,” said Nicole Mackellar, manager of market development, Grain Farmers of Ontario. “This opportunity would not be possible without Nuffield Canada and Grain Farmers of Ontario.”

Mackellar obtained her honours bachelor of arts from McMaster University specializing in economics and psychology. She has nearly a decade of experience in the marketing industry and now works as manager of market development for Grain Farmers of Ontario. Mackellar grew up on a beef and cash crop farm in Middlesex County, and continues to be active in its operations during the busy spring and fall seasons.

This is the second year Grain Farmers of Ontario has sponsored a Nuffield Scholarship. Tony Balkwill, last year’s recipient, is currently studying the challenges of accurately modernizing historical soil type maps into field specific management zones.
Published in Corporate News
July 21, 2016 - Three visionary agricultural leaders will join the prestigious Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2016. The late James Bartlett, Robert Switzer and John Willmott will be formally inducted into the national Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Sunday, November 6, 2016 at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Ont.

An agribusiness pioneer, the late James Bartlett made tremendous gains for the Canadian horticultural industry through his leadership and vision. Born into the family business, N.M. Bartlett Inc., James led the Ontario-based company to become the only national horticulture crop protection distributor. James advocated for policies affecting importation of U.S. crop protection products. He helped create, and later chair, the precursor organization to CropLife Canada. And he championed the minor use registration of pesticides for small, specialty markets to keep Canadian horticultural growers competitive. James Bartlett was from Beamsville, ON and was nominated by Dow AgroSciences Canada Inc.

Angus breed champion Robert (Bob) Switzer helped create several strong brands for the industry that is keeping Angus the number one breed in Canada. From his Sandy Bar Ranch in southern Saskatchewan, Bob was instrumental in introducing the Certified Angus Beef brand to the entire value chain, from the cattle industry, Canadian hotel and restaurant trade, and ultimately consumers. His vision for a sustainable cattle business led to the creation of Red Coat Cattle Feeders – a community-based feedlot project. Bob is a distinguished Angus breeder, promoter, mentor and judge, and continues to advocate for the cattle industry within Saskatchewan and across Canada. Bob Switzer lives in Aneroid, Sask. and was nominated by the Canadian Angus Association.

Industry leader John Willmott has served Canadian agriculture for decades to bring about changes and advances for countless organizations. His big dreams helped the Canadian Western Agribition grow into the best beef show on the continent. John was integral to establishing Canada’s Farm Progress Show as a premier event for crop and livestock innovations. He served as president of both shows, as well as the Canadian Angus Association. An international cattle judge and Angus breeder, John helped create the first regulations affecting artificial insemination and a standard Record of Performance (ROP) program for the Canadian beef industry. John Willmott lives in Pense, Sask., and was nominated by Canadian Western Agribition.

“Canadian agriculture depends on leaders and visionaries to keep pushing our sector forward,” says president Herb McLane, Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame Association. “This year’s three inductees all channeled their passion, whether for horticulture, beef cattle or industry organizations, into advances and opportunities to make agriculture matter even more. They dreamed big, advocated tirelessly and have left indelible marks on the Canadian agricultural landscape. We are proud to welcome them into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame.”

The 2016 induction ceremony will return to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair on Sunday, November 6 in Toronto, Ont.
Published in Corporate News
July 21, 2016 - 4-H Canada has announced the recipients of the 2016 CIBC 4-H Post-Secondary Scholarships, providing support to outstanding youth who will be entering into a post-secondary education in the field  of engineering, arts, science, business, agriculture  or health, beginning in fall 2016. With the support of CIBC, eight 4-H members will each receive a $1,000 scholarship towards their post-secondary education.

4-H Canada continues to provide young Canadians with tools and guidance to build leadership skills through relevant programs and opportunities, such as post-secondary scholarships, which recognize the importance of life-long learning. 2016 marks the second year in a row that 4-H Canada’s national scholarship applications have seen a more than 60 percent increase, as well as an increased amount of scholarship dollars delivered to 4-H members across Canada.

"All of our CIBC scholarship recipients demonstrate the very best traits of 4-H youth leadership," says Shannon Benner, CEO of 4-H Canada. “We are very fortunate to have a partner like CIBC that has been supporting the advancement of 4-H youth for more than 60 years. They recognize the importance of investing in programs that help empower youth and foster leadership.”

The delivery of these programs would not be possible without the ongoing and long-term partnerships with organizations like CIBC that share this vision and recognize the importance of advancing positive youth development in Canada.

“CIBC is dedicated to helping Canada’s youth achieve their academic goals on their way to reaching their career goals and becoming strong leaders of tomorrow,” says Dino Medves, senior vice president and head of CIBC commercial banking. “On behalf of CIBC, I would like to congratulate this year’s exceptional CIBC 4-H Post-Secondary Scholarship recipients.”

Congratulations and good luck to all the 2016 CIBC 4-H Post-Secondary Scholarship recipients!
  • Alana Ensign, British Columbia
  • Erinn Jones, Alberta
  • Ben Trenson, Alberta
  • Kayley Paskell, Saskatchewan
  • Jessica Johnston , Manitoba
  • Duncan Archer, Ontario
  • Karen Lemon, Ontario
  • Josie Versloot, New Brunswick
Please visit  for more information on 4-H Canada scholarship programs, and to watch for information and application details on future scholarship opportunities.
Published in Corporate News

Youth competitors from across Alberta spoke in the first annual Alberta Young Speakers for Agriculture competition last week at the Calgary Stampede. The competition hosted more than 20 Albertan youth ages 11 to 24 who presented a prepared speech on an agricultural topic. 

The senior winner, Emily Ritchie of Turner Valley, Alta., spoke on the topic of how to explain a GMO to a non-farmer. Junior winner Aleri Swalwell of Strathmore, Alta., spoke on how we can improve the media's perception of Canadian agriculture. Both winners will represent Alberta in Toronto at the Royal Winter Fair in the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture in November.

Competitors in Alberta Young Speakers for Agriculture spoke on the following topics:

- 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?

Published in Business & Policy
July 14, 2016 - The Canada and Manitoba governments will invest nearly $400,000 in 10 research projects expected to provide practical, on-farm benefits to producers.

The Prairie Agriculture Machinery Institute (PAMI) is one of the funded organizations and will receive $288,400 to conduct six research projects focused on:
  • hemp harvesting for use in fibre processing,
  • airflow in large grain-storage bins,
  • guidelines and tools for consolidating on-farm surface water,
  • flax fibre harvesting,
  • improving efficiency for soybean harvest, and
  • comparing canola harvest methods.
“As part of our plan to support science and innovation in the agriculture sector, our government is pleased to make these investments in new production methods and farm practices,” says federal agriculture minister, Lawrence MacAulay.  “With these strategic investments, we are lending a hand to hard-working farmers in Manitoba and across Canada so they can keep their businesses on the cutting edge and create quality jobs.”

Projects are funded under Growing Forward 2’s Growing Innovation – On Farm, which evaluates and demonstrates new agricultural practices or technologies at the farm level. 

“The economic benefits our agricultural research are very impressive because the findings can be implemented by many agricultural producers in Manitoba,” says PAMI CEO, Dave Gullacher.  “Recent studies show work such as this produces $15 to $20 in benefits for every dollar invested, which is essential for our industry.  We will be developing strong funding partnerships with industry and will work closely with a great number of agricultural producers to carry out this work.”

The research must benefit individual producers, communities or the agricultural industry by increasing productivity, introducing new crops or products, refining agricultural management practices or introducing improved production techniques.

Other funded projects include:
  • $50,000 to evaluate smart hive technology to improve hive health, disease surveillance and traceability (Durston Honey Farms Ltd.);
  • $15,745 to study how crop harrowing can improve weed control in organic hemp production and organic transition periods (Scott Beaton);
  • $20,970 to develop a test for staphylococcus aureus in raw milk (Horizon Labs Ltd.); and
  • $23,900 to study nitrogen management for high-yielding wheat varieties (Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association).
Published in Corporate News
July 14, 2016 - Parliamentary Secretary for Science, Terry Beech, recently announced the recipients of Round 5 funding under Genome Canada's Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).

Five projects are receiving a total of $5.3 million in federal funding through Genome Canada, with an additional $11.6 million invested through partners including provinces, private and public sector organizations.  

"Genomics is a powerful enabling technology that cuts-across many sectors that are of critical importance to Canada as these projects illustrate," says Marc LePage, president and CEO of Genome Canada. "Congratulations to the new teams, whose work has the potential to transform industries and create social and economic benefits for Canadians."

The five projects to receive funding are:

  • Dr. Casey Hubert, from the University of Calgary, is working with the Nova Scotia Department of Energy to de-risk offshore oil and gas exploration in the province using innovative genomic approaches.
  • Dr. Christoph Borchers from the University of Victoria and Dr. Gerald Batist from McGill University, are working with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to validate new technology that will help healthcare professionals match the right cancer treatment to the right patient.
  • Dr. Charles Goulet from Université Laval, is working with Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to use variation in aroma-related genes to develop more flavourful tomatoes.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Edwards from the University of Toronto, is working with SiREM to use specific microbes to accelerate the rate of biodegradation and enable less expensive cleanup of contaminated industrial sites.
  • Dr. Xiao-Yan Wen from St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, is working with Edge Therapeutics Inc. the develop the best drugs for preventing intracerebral hemorrhage – a form of brain hemorrhage responsible for 10 per cent of all strokes.  
GAPP partners academic researchers with users in the private and public sectors to promote genomics-derived solutions to address challenges or opportunities facing users. The projects are expected to have considerable economic and social impacts in the near term, spurring innovation, commercialization and growth in Canada.

Further, through a Genome Canada and Mitacs partnership, GAPP supports training the next generation of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Several of the projects announced today involve research internships, which will prepare Canada's next entrepreneurs through hands-on experience.

"Today's announcement reflects the shared commitment Mitacs and Genome Canada have in supporting Canada's next generation of innovators whose research in genomics will have significant, multi-sector, impacts on our country's well-being, " says Dr. Alejandro Adem, CEO and scientific director with Mitacs.
Published in Corporate News

Do you know anyone worthy of being nominated for the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) Leadership Award? 

The winner will participate at the CFGA Annual Meeting in Winnipeg from Nov. 14 to 17, 2016. The winner will also have the opportunity to present a keynote address or report the results of their special communications project at the 2017 CFGA Annual Meeting. 

Please see the nomination form (pdf). CFGA Leadership Award_Nomination Form_ 2016

Published in Business & Policy
July 5, 2016 - Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan (FFC SK) has announced a new award to shine a light on the people who work hard to promote Saskatchewan agriculture and help farmers build public trust in our food industry.

The Food & Farm Champion Award is bestowed upon individuals, organizations or businesses who have taken the initiative to speak up about agriculture in our province. Nominees have used their skills to help engage consumers or correct misinformation about production practices, and have done a measureable job of promoting the agriculture sector.

FFC SK is a non-profit organization that seeks to build confidence in Saskatchewan food production - to let consumers know that the food we produce is healthy, safe and responsibly grown; that farmers and ranchers are innovative, technologically advanced and care deeply about the animals and land they work with. With less than 2% of Canadians having a direct link to the farm, concerted consumer outreach is more important than ever.

"We need to share what we do, how we do it and why it matters to all of us in a language and in ways that consumers can understand and appreciate," says Adele Buettner, CEO of Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan.

This award was designed to recognize those in our community who have helped FFC SK with their mission of enhancing public trust and confidence in food and farming. As the use of social media grows, and misinformation spreads, farmers and ranchers need to join the conversation to ensure that public perception is not swayed by too many people who know very little about food production.

"It's about making the connections between our food and the farmers who produce it," Buettner affirmed. "It's time to encourage the experts to give voice to what they do best to safeguard their futures and build public confidence."

Nominations are to be submitted to the FFC SK office by September 30, 2016. The selection committee will choose a winner from the nominations and award winners will be honoured at the Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan Annual Conference on December 14 & 15 in Saskatoon. Those who are nominated but do not win in the current year will stay in the nomination pool for two more years with two more opportunities to receive recognition for their hard work.
Published in Business Management

Farm Management Canada (FMC) will host an Eastern Ontario Family Farm Safety Day in Douglas, Ont., on July 16. This event is supported by the FCC Ag Safety Fund administered by the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) with funding from Farm Credit Canada (FCC).

Published in Business Management
June 28, 2016 - Farmers are among the most vulnerable when it comes to mental health, according to a new study from the University of Guelph.

Stress, anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion and burnout are all higher among farmers than among other groups, early findings of the survey show.As well, Canadian farmers are more stressed than those living and working elsewhere.

Professor Andria Jones-Bitton, a professor in the Department of Population Medicine, analyzed more than 1,100 responses nationwide to an online stress and resilience survey, conducted on agricultural producers from September 2015 to this past January.

“Some of the producer comments leave little doubt about the impact their job and culture is having on them,” Jones-Bitton says. “One said, ‘We are not invincible, but we feel we must be’. Another said, ‘What makes me the most upset is that I have everything I dreamed of – love, family and a farm – and all I feel is overwhelmed, out of control and sad.’"

The survey found 45 per cent of survey respondents had high stress. Another 58 per cent were classified with varying levels of anxiety, and 35 per cent with depression.

Overall, that’s two to four times higher than farmers studied in the United Kingdom and Norway, Jones-Bitton said.

Other signs of mental health problems revealed by the survey are equally concerning, she added.For example, significant numbers of farmers had high levels of emotional exhaustion (38 per cent) and cynicism (43 per cent).And resilience, popularly believed to be a strength among producers, is lower among two-thirds of the respondents than it is among a comparative U.S. population.

Indeed, in agriculture, a stigma is associated with mental health treatment, Jones-Bitton says.

So it follows that the survey showed 40 per cent of respondents said they’d feel uneasy getting professional help “because of what people might think.”

Another 31 per cent said seeking professional help could stigmatize a person’s life. Fewer than half believe there is adequate mental health support from the industry.

At the same time, more than three-quarters of those surveyed said professional mental services can be helpful in times of struggle, and almost as many said they would seek out such help.

Jones-Bitton sees that as good news. She is building a team of producers, industry representatives, veterinarians and mental health professionals to create, deliver and evaluate a mental health literacy training program for farmers.

This program would train people to recognize and respond to mental distress, and reduce stigma around mental health issues in Ontario’s agricultural sector.“We need to do something,” she says. “Farmers want help, and we’re going to find ways for them to receive it.”

Jones-Bitton and the Ontario Veterinary College AWAR2E group – an acronym for Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Research and Education — started out studying mental health among veterinarians. The scope grew as it became clear producers also had issues.
Published in Corporate News
June 28, 2016 - As a chronic shortage of domestic workers on Canadian farms intensifies, demand is continuing to grow for a 50-year old labour program that helps Ontario farmers remain viable.

The internationally acclaimed Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) will supply Ontario fruit and vegetable growers experiencing domestic labour shortages with approximately 17,000 seasonal workers from Mexico and the Caribbean this growing season.

“For five decades this program has provided Ontario farmers a steady source of reliable labour as a supplement to local labour,” said Ken Forth, President of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (F.AR.M.S.), which administers the program. “Without it, many of these growers simply couldn’t stay in business and that would destroy an industry that’s crucial to our economy.”

A severe shortage of domestic workers is costing Canadian farms approximately $1.5 billion per year and hurting Canada’s overall economic competitiveness, according to recent labour market research by the Conference Board of Canada.

The labour shortage is projected to grow dramatically over the next decade — nearly doubling to 114,000 workers needed by 2025, compared to demand for 59,000 workers today, according to the Conference Board of Canada study.

But farmers aren’t the only ones affected by the shortage. In some cases, unfilled jobs at Canadian food processing plants mean food produced in Canada has to be processed in the U.S. or Mexico and then imported back into Canada, raising the cost for consumers. The labour shortage also threatens to affect food security and safety for Canadian consumers, as well as the export potential of Canada’s entire agri-food industry.

“If we don’t have enough workers to grow and harvest these crops, this industry just won’t be here,” said Forth. “We need programs like SAWP to keep our farms running and keep this industry successful.”

Because SAWP is a “Canadians first” program, supplementary seasonal farm labour is hired from partner countries only if agricultural operators cannot find domestic workers to fill vacancies.

The economic success of individual farmers benefits Ontario’s overall economy. It’s estimated that at least two jobs for Canadians are created in the agri-food industry for every seasonal worker employed through SAWP at Ontario farms.

Recent labour market research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council cited SAWP as a key reason Ontario’s horticulture industry is able to generate $5.4 billion in economic activity and approximately 34,280 jobs.

At the same time, the program provides approximately seasonal workers well-paying employment, benefits and educational opportunities not available at home.

“From another perspective, there are 17,000 SAWP workers in Ontario and 30,000 nation-wide who rely on this opportunity to enhance their lives by giving themselves a better lifestyle and educating their children at the university level,” Forth said. “Assuming each worker directly affects five in his or her family, that’s 150,000 people whose lives are enriched by SAWP.”

More information about Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) can be found at
Published in Corporate News

June 17, 2016 - World Ag Day was officially in the Canadian capital of Ottawa on June 11, 2016. The historic event is designed to celebrate humankind's most important activity: agriculture. The industry is crucial to each of the seven billion humans on the planet — it allows us to fill our plates every day.

Bringing people together
"Through the initiative of the AGyours Group, we are seeking to reconnect people with the earth and to give them a feeling of belonging to the most crucial of all human activities," says Leonard Pigeon, co-founder of World Agriculture Day. "Our slogan is Agriculture belongs to YOU [because] agriculture is everybody's business, not just agricultural farmers earning a living, but also for consumers."

People are concerned about where their food comes from. Meanwhile the plate of young people stops at grocery stores. We are drowning in a sea of misinformation. It is essential for people to have access to accurate information and for younger generations to receive the reassurance they need. We should place our trust in the farming experts who hold real knowledge of agriculture.

Virtual piece of farmland, backed by research
Food-based prevention! This concept lies at the very origin of food, namely agriculture. So let us support our agriculture. A purposeful activity based on science and expertise.

The emblematic video for World Agriculture Day is an eloquent demonstration of this concept. "To ensure the birth of healthy children, we turn to science and the expertise of the medical sector," says Nadine Fougeron, co-founder and official spokesperson. "And to ensure the healthy development of healthy children, they must have access to food produced a healthy agriculture."

Priority: A collective effort
By acquiring a virtual piece of farmland for their children, parents and parents-to-be will be supporting agricultural research. For a healthy diet and a clean environment!

The very first global program on potato research at McGill University in Canada will be supported by public contributions.

Visit our website: 
Visit our Facebook page


Published in Corporate News

June 17, 2016 - Farm Management Canada (FMC) and the Canadian Association of Diploma in Agriculture Programs (CADAP) have announced the selection of the winners of the 2015-2016 Excellence Award for Ag Students Competition. Congratulations to the three winners.

FMC and CADAP collected submissions from agricultural students across Canada and selected three winners who will receive scholarships towards furthering their education in agriculture. First place won $1,500!The award is designed to help students develop their communication skills by having the opportunity to voice their opinion on a on a subject related to farm management.  

Students were asked to submit a multimedia presentation, a video, a Twitter chat, a blog or a Wiki, responding to the following question: 

What top 3 priorities should Canada's agricultural industry focus on in order to be a leading agricultural body going forward? How will you, as a new graduate, positively contribute to these priorities? 

This year's winners are: 

  1. Tomina Jackson, University of Saskatchewan, SK: View the winning entry
  2. Jessica Thompson, Maryfield School, SK: View the winning entry
  3. Laurie Laliberté, Université Laval, QC: View the winning entry

Visit for more details on the winners and their competition entries.

Published in Corporate News

June 15, 2016 ­– Short documentaries featuring four youth from rural Ontario were unveiled at the Rural Ontario Institute’s (ROI) 6th Annual General Meeting this week. The videos profile Eric Duncan of Winchester, Emily Morrison of Beaverton, Megan Raftis of Harriston, and Branden Trochymchuck of Thunder Bay. These youth were chosen from almost 50 nominations for the first Youth Engagement Showcase (YES). Videos of their accomplishments were created to highlight rural youth making a difference in their communities.

“Being selected for a YES video profile has given me the assurance that what we are doing at Brock Youth Centre is good for our community, but YES has also shown me that this idea can be replicated in other communities across the province,” says Emily Morrison, who attended the AGM. “Organizations have reached out to us since the announcement wanting to learn more and to visit, in an effort to bring the entrepreneurship development ideas behind Cool Cow back to their communities to help their youth." 

The meeting’s guest speaker, Arthur Potts, MPP and Parliamentary Assistant for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, commended the YES initiative. Potts also spoke of the upcoming Rural Ontario Summit which shares a theme with YES – attracting and retaining youth in rural Ontario.

The Youth Engagement Showcase profiles compelling stories of young leaders tackling important local issues, highlights the impact youth can have in their communities and demonstrates how different types of rural communities can successfully involve youth in addressing local challenges. “We know that engaged youth are more likely to return to their communities after post-secondary education. Inspiring youth leadership and rural youth to step up and make a difference in their towns is something the Rural Ontario Institute is passionate about,” says Rob Black, Chief Executive Officer with ROI.

The videos can be viewed on the ROI YouTube channel at:

Published in Corporate News

June 9, 2016 - 4-H Canada and Bayer are supporting outstanding young minds who are making contributions in science and agri-food in Canada. With the support of Bayer, 4-H Canada launched its inaugural Science Fair this year, which represents a direct stream to the 55th Canada-Wide Science Festival (CWSF) which took place recently in Montreal, QC.

Four 4-H youth participated in the CWSF as the winners of the 4-H Canada Science Fair, which took place at Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in early-March 2016. In addition to giving out two 4-H Canada awards, 4-H Canada was proud to have two 4-H PEI members, Neleah Lavoie and Megan Downe, bring home a Bronze Medal in the junior category for their project, “Reward vs. Punishment – Which is the better motivator?”

The 4-H Canada Science Fair is part of 4-H Canada’s ongoing commitment to furthering science and technology skills and knowledge development for youth through 4-H programming. In addition to youth programming, 4-H Canada is also striving to increase the capacity for skills and knowledge transfer in science and technology, by training adult 4-H volunteers across Canada to become Science Champions in their communities. Together, 4-H Canada and Bayer are looking forward to building upon a successful first year of programs, increasing the number of Science Champions across Canada and launching the second year of the 4-H Canada Science Fair to more 4-H youth.

“The 4-H Science & Technology program is cultivating young leaders’ passion for science,” says Derrick Rozdeba, vice-president of communications at Bayer Canada. “We hope these youth will continue to pursue their discoveries in the world of science and technology with the goal of affecting positive change for a better life.”

“Congratulations to all of our 4-H participants at the Canada-Wide Science Festival,” says Shannon Benner, CEO of 4-H Canada. “Thanks to our generous partner Bayer, 4-H Canada is proud to provide programming for young people who are passionate about science and technology and recognize the incredible power of great young minds across Canada in making a difference in important fields such as agriculture and agri-food.” 

To learn more about the 4-H Canada Science Fair and other science programming, please visit

Published in Corporate News

The government of Canada has launched a website seeking farmer input on the Growing Forward 2 (GF2) program, the current federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) agricultural policy framework. GF2 is a $3 billion dollar investment - over five-years (2013-2018) - by FPT governments to support innovation, competitiveness and market development.

Published in Corporate News

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