Success in Agriculture
Wood scientist Solace Sam-Brew envisions a future where Canadian homes are furnished with products from flax and hemp.

“Both flax and hemp are widely available in Canada, especially in the West,” said Sam-Brew, a recent PhD graduate from the University of British Columbia’s faculty of forestry. “It’s worth considering their viability as alternative raw materials to wood for particleboard production.”

Particleboards are used in products like countertops, shelves and flat-packed furniture. For her PhD, supervised by professor Gregory Smith, Sam-Brew evaluated the characteristics of flax and hemp residues. She determined their physical and mechanical board properties by soaking and breaking hundreds of particleboards to test their strength and durability.

While Sam-Brew found flax and hemp residues were technically better, she hit one snag. The current economics of manufacturing flax and hemp particleboards in Canada are too high for it to flourish as a competitive material.

“The resin, or glue, needed to produce flax and hemp particleboard is a financial barrier,” she said. Resin holds the particles in the board together and flax and hemp products use expensive resin, called pMDI, as the substitute for cheap urea-formaldehyde.

Sam-Brew was able to show in her PhD research that the amount of resin needed for flax and hemp particleboards could be reduced, which would help lower the cost. Substituting lignin, a plant binder, for a portion of the pMDI resin, could also reduce the cost.

According to Sam-Brew, a burgeoning niche market for flax and hemp particleboards exists in Europe. Decades of flax and hemp processing there and the number of companies in business have led to more competitive pricing.

Sam-Brew said the business case for a similar industry in Canada lies in a facility willing to take a chance on the sustainable alternative considering the growing competition for wood residue. Wood residue is wood waste from sawmills and joinery manufacturers, like wood chips, shavings, sawdust and trims, all highly sought after for use by multiple industries, including biofuel, pellet, pulp and paper.

“They’re all fighting over one resource, which can sometimes be in short supply,” said Sam-Brew. “If a company has to travel long distances to collect the wood waste they need to make their products, that costs them money. The particleboard industry could benefit from using non-wood resources if the price is right.”

For now, flax and hemp particleboard production is at a standstill in Canada. But Sam-Brew remains optimistic.

“Flax and hemp particleboards are lighter than wood,” she said. “The downstream impacts of making a lighter product could mean faster production rates and significant energy and transportation savings.”

“The economics don’t look good now, but they could later.”
Published in Corporate News
The government has announced a new trade agreement. The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) will take effect on July 1st, Canada's 150th anniversary, and will replace the existing Agreement on Internal Trade, which has been in place since 1995.

Currently, trade within Canada represents about one-fifth of Canada's GDP, or $385 billion annually. It also accounts for nearly 40 percent of all provincial and territorial exports.

Overall, the CFTA aims to improve the flow of goods, services and investments across all borders by reducing the jumble of rules and regulations, giving consumers lower prices and more choices of Canadian goods. For example, beer, wine and spirits will have a process in place to enhance trade among the provinces and territories.

The agreement also allows licensed professionals with Canadian credentials to work in different parts of the country. It also enables Canadian companies that operate in regulated professions like engineering and architecture, to compete for opportunities to governments across the country.

Rules in the Canadian Free Trade Agreement will automatically apply to all of the country's economic activity unless something is specifically excluded.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is specifically looking forward to getting more details about the newly announced Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table, a body that will be established to coordinate processes for resolving trade barriers when they are identified by provinces and territories, with input from stakeholders.

In its advocacy work over the last year, CFA noted several areas in which farmers face difficulties in interprovincial trade. Some examples include trucking transportation regulations and differing requirements between federally- and provincially-regulated meat processing plants.
Published in Corporate News
A new travelling exhibition designed by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum will be stopping across the county until 2020. The exhibit, titled “Space to Spoon” will use videos and interactive experiences so visitors see how farmers use satellites, like the data from RADARSAT-2, which offers precision ground monitoring. Farmers can use this satellite's data to improve risk management and crop quality. Visitors will also learn how this data supports the development of sustainable agriculture practices and what impact they have on the food we eat.

Next year, the CSA will launch the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, which will improve data quality and availability. This constellation of satellites will have a significant advantage over its predecessor, making it possible to monitor Canada's entire landmass on a daily basis.

The exhibition will first be available at Resurgo Place (Moncton, N.B.) until May 21, 2017.
Published in Corporate News
Corn producers shouldn’t worry about new disease threats before they strike, advises Albert Tenuta, field crop pathologist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
Published in Diseases
The Canadian agriculture industry rallied in support of the Canadian Agri-Business Education Foundation (CABEF) raising $98,338 in 2016.

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


The 2017 scholarship application deadline is April 30, 2017.  Application information is located at cabef.org.
Published in Corporate News
On-farm research networks provide an innovative opportunity for growers to conduct applied research to test products and practices on their farms. The Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers (MPSG) formed an on-farm research network in 2011 to address new challenges and help answer questions for growers. There were less than one million acres of soybeans at that time, but acreage keeps expanding with expectations of up to two million acres to be seeded in 2017.  
Published in Corporate News
We've just released another block of tickets to the SOLD OUT Field Crop Disease Summit, taking place Feb. 21 and 22 in Saskatoon. There are only 48 spaces available, so sign up now at topcropsummit.com. Once the tickets are gone, they're gone! 
Published in Corporate News
Canadians can visit any farm or processing plant of their choosing from the comfort of their own home with the newly-launched FarmFood360° (FarmFood360.ca). The website uses 360° cameras and virtual reality technology to bring viewers a unique chance to tour real, working farms and food processing plants. The website is the latest version of the Virtual Farm Tours initiative (first launched in 2007), and features all of the original 23 farms plus three new virtual reality tours, including a dairy farm with a Voluntary Milking System, as well as two individual milk and cheese processing facilities.
Published in Corporate News
Guelph, ON – The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) has launched a new partnership through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) AgriRisk Initiatives (ARI) program. The project, entitled “Controlled Tile Drainage – Calculate Your Benefits,” will partner OSCIA with scientists at the University of Ottawa to research the crop yield benefits of controlled tile drainage.

“The research indicates that there may be economic benefits to farmers under specific field conditions”, says Gord Green, President of OSCIA. “Under drought conditions, research has confirmed as high as a 25 per cent increase in corn yield where controlled drainage was used to retain water to better supply the growing crop.”

Research shows the benefits from controlled tile drainage vary depending on the crop, amount of rainfall, and timing of rainfall in relation to the stage of crop growth. Under the new partnership, a new tool will be developed to allow extension staff and farmers to better calculate the crop yield benefits of controlled tile drainage under varying conditions.

“With extremes in weather increasing due to climate change, every competitive edge counts”, says Dr. Michael Sawada, scientist at the University of Ottawa. “Additionally, controlled drainage can reduce the flow of phosphorus and other nutrients to help protect our water resources.”

The collaborative project runs until the winter of 2018.

Funding for the “Controlled Tile Drainage – Calculate Your Benefits” project is provided through Growing Forward 2, AgriRisk Initiatives, which supports the research and development, as well as the implementation and administration of new risk management tools for use in the agriculture sector.
Published in Corporate News
While North American farmers are in the process of wrapping up a fourth-straight bumper harvest, according to the BMO 2016 North American Agriculture Report, foreign exchange developments have yielded very different experiences for producers in Canada and the United States.

"In the United States, the lofty greenback, which has gained 20 per cent on a trade-weighted basis since the start of 2014, has been yet another bearish factor for crop prices and revenue," said Aaron Goertzen, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "Canadian producers, in contrast, have benefitted from a drop in the loonie, which is down 17 per cent against the U.S. dollar since the start of 2014 and has provided a like-sized lift to crop prices north of the border."

Mr. Goertzen added that as a result of the weaker loonie, domestic crop prices in Canada are 18 per cent below all-time highs – compared to nearly 30 per cent in the United States – and have risen five per cent from their recent low in mid-2014. The lower loonie has been a particularly fortunate development given the country's mediocre crop yields over the past few years.

Canadian Outlook
In Canada, composite crop yields, which consist of corn, soybeans, wheat and canola, picked up modestly on last year's subpar result. However, they remained on-trend overall as a near-record crop of canola on the prairies was offset by a decrease in corn and soybean yields in Ontario.

"Canadian producers have undoubtedly been supported by the weaker loonie," said Adam Vervoort, Head of Agriculture Banking, BMO Financial Group. "This means now, with extra capital available, is an ideal time to invest in technology, which is driving the current string of bumper crops we've seen on a North American scale."

He added, "Those producers who have adopted modern agricultural practices, particularly in the corn space, have grown trend crop yields substantially. There's still room for autonomous, satellite-informed equipment to be refined and used, as the innovation trend shows no sign of slowing down."

Producers in Canada's Western regions, namely Alberta and Saskatchewan, have experienced a more difficult season impacted by weather challenges since October that have delayed their harvest timeline. However, the prairies remain on track for a near-record crop of canola.

Mr. Vervoort affirmed that producers in the West could have potentially seen stronger results weather permitting, but have managed to still sustain a decent crop turnaround. "The harvest conditions have not been ideal, but we continue to work with farmers negatively impacted by adverse weather."

While Canadian producers benefitted from a timely fall in the loonie that lifted crop prices north of the border, it also raised the cost of internationally-priced inputs like energy and fertilizer. Most producers face a wide variety of Canadian dollar-dominated expenses though, so margins have ultimately benefitted on balance.

From mid-2014 to early this year, the weaker Canadian dollar also caused food prices to inflate four per cent yearly. Consumers have been somewhat relieved as a result of the partial bounce-back of the dollar in the latter half of the year and a decrease in livestock prices.
Published in Markets
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has announced an investment of up to $780,040 to 4-H Canada to host the 2017 Global 4-H Network Summit.
Published in Corporate News
Soil microbes provide billions and billions of teeny helping hands to your crops. Those helping hands are key to sustainable, profitable crop production. Crop growers can choose practices that promote healthy soil microbial communities, and researchers like Bobbi Helgason are developing ways to further enhance agriculture’s ability to tap into the remarkable capacity contained in soil microbial life.
Published in Soil
Conducting regular soil tests is one of the simplest, fastest and least expensive ways to optimize one’s fertilizer program and maximize crop yield. Yet many producers still underuse this vital tool.
Published in Soil
Andrew and Jennifer Lovell of Keswick Ridge, N.B. and Dominic Drapeau and Célia Neault of Ste-Françoise-de-Lotbinière, Que. have been named Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers for 2016. The two farm families were chosen from seven regional farm couples across Canada between the ages of 18 and 39 at Outstanding Young Farmer’s (OYF) national event last week in Niagara Falls, Ont.

“It was extremely difficult for the judges to make their decision, but ultimately our winners stood out for their state-of-the art thinking and commitment to the future of Canadian agriculture,” says OYF President Luanne Lynn.

Although the Lovell’s didn’t grow up on a farm, four years ago they purchased River View Orchards (with roots tracing back to 1784), and created a diversified u-pick farm market operation. Although they suffered $100,000 in damage in 2014, they adapted their plans until they were able to begin full production again. Fence and trellis construction services and building attractions brought over 1,400 visitors to their farm.

Drapeau and Neault are third-generation dairy and field crop farmers. When Drapeau was 16, he was performing artificial insemination on cows and developed his management skills by taking over the herd and feeding responsibilities. In the barn, Drapeau and Neault 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 levelling, draining, seeding, fertilizing and spraying. With these technological innovations over the last four years, they have enabled the farm to increase overall yields by five to 10 per cent each year.

For more information on Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmer’s program, visit www.oyfcanada.com


Published in Corporate News
A new factsheet from the Weed Science Society of America is now available for free download, exploring research of weed seed longevity. It highlights the unique ways weed seeds can travel (earthworms can collect and move them into their burrows), their viability (moth mullein seeds buried in 1879 were able to germinate more than 130 years later), ways they can be eliminated (carabid beetles can consume large quantities of weed seeds that drop to the soil) and more. Download the factsheet here and visit www.wssa.net for more information.
Published in Weeds
CN and 4-H Canada have announced the 2016 4-H Canada Leadership Excellence Awards of Distinction (L.E.A.D.) recipients, four exceptional senior youth members from across Canada who exemplify leadership excellence and academic achievement. 

This scholarship recognizes four community leaders each year, outstanding 4-H’ers who epitomize 4-H youth empowerment, and who demonstrate personal and community impact, and leadership excellence in each of 4-H Canada’s four Leadership Development Pillars. The 2016 4-H Canada L.E.A.D. recipients are: 

Community engagement and communications L.E.A.D. recipient: Joshua Power (NL) 

Science and technology L.E.A.D. recipient: Erinn Jones (AB) 

Environment and healthy living L.E.A.D. recipient: Eveline Juce (MB) 

Sustainable agriculture and food security L.E.A.D. recipient: Jessica Mayes (MB) 

L.E.A.D. recipients each benefit from a $20,000 scholarship towards their four-year post-secondary studies. They are also matched with a high-impact mentor who plays a leadership role in their industry and community. This mentorship relationship is an important component of the award program and helps L.E.A.D. recipients as they forge their careers. 
Published in Corporate News

Nominations are now open for the title of Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmer. The Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) Program is a unique program designed to recognize farmers and farm couples who exemplify excellence in their profession. Any organization or any person can nominate a young farmer or couple for the regional recognition award as long as the nominee meets the following program eligibility requirements:

•    must be between the ages of 18 and 39,
•    must be farm operators, and
•    must derive a minimum of two-thirds of their income from farming.

Each region across the country holds an event where five or six nominees are judged on the following criteria: 

•    progress in agriculture career
•    extent of soil, water and energy conservation practices
•    crop and/or livestock production history
•    management practices, and
•    contribution to the well-being of the community, province and nation.

The Ontario Region OYF will be holding their next annual event in September 2017 in London, in conjunction with Canada's Outdoor Farm Show. The regional winners will represent Ontario at the annual national event where they compete to be named Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers. 

Nominations for the 2017 award are now being accepted by Dianna Forth, regional co-ordinator via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it More information and nomination forms can be found on the website. Nominations close on January 15, 2017. 

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
Do you know someone who has made an extraordinary contribution to developing and promoting new and positive change in agricultural business management practices and expertise in Canada?

Farm Management Canada is seeking to honour individuals or groups with the 2016 Wilson Loree Award. This award was established over fourteen years ago, to honour those that have made an extraordinary contribution to developing and promoting new and positive change in agricultural business management practices and expertise in Canada.

FMC encourages the nomination of individuals or groups that
  • have made significant contributions in the area of business management regionally or nationally;
  • have demonstrated innovation in areas such as turning research into practical management tools, adapting best practices from other sectors to agriculture, and finding new ways to deliver training, information and resources to farm managers;
  • have served as a role model and a mentor to colleagues, partners and clients, inspiring them to achieve their full potential;
  • have demonstrated the ability to network and develop partnerships to include others in furthering the shared goals and vision of the agriculture industry.
Nominations are required by Oct. 14. FMC staff and board members are not eligible for the award. The winner will be revealed during the Agricultural Excellence Conference on Nov. 23. All are welcome to attend.

Visit www.fmc-gac.com for more information on the award and the conference.
Published in Corporate News

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
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