Success in Agriculture

Sept. 15, 2015, Woodstock, ON - The Farm, Food & Beyond: Our Commitment to Sustainability initiative, was launched by farm and food industry leaders in a special presentation on the opening day at Canada's Outdoor Farm Show in Woodstock.

This collaborative initiative of Ontario's farmers and food and beverage processors, will build upon the success of the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) program. By expanding the scope into a whole farm sustainability plan, this project addresses not only environmental practices but also economic and social issues important for sustainability. Together, the farm and food community is taking a supply chain approach to sustainable production and processing.

The initiative has been developed by the following supporters: The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), Christian Farmers' Federation of Ontario (CFFO), the Presidents' Council, Ontario Agri Food Technologies, the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), Farm & Food Care Ontario and in close collaboration with Provision Coalition

Since 1991, more than 38,000 Ontario farm families have completed an Environmental Farm plan (EFP), resulting in millions of dollars in environmental improvements on their farms. This new initiative will build on the success of the EFP program with four objectives:
· To guide farmers in the identification of needs/opportunities for improvement in sustainability
· To assure/inform the general public about these transformations
· To help address growing requirements by food manufacturers and retailers for assurance that farm products have been produced in a sustainable manner
· That the supply chain is working together towards sustainability improvements from farm to fork

In explaining the initiative, Dr. Gord Surgeoner, Chair of the Sustainable Farm Coalition steering committee, said that the project "demonstrates our commitment to people, our planet and profitability. Just as was the case with the EFP program which has served Ontario agriculture well for 25 years, we want to create a system that reduces redundancy, is farmer friendly and provides a platform that will serve for another quarter century."

In addressing the crowd, Don McCabe, President of the OFA, said that, "Farmers and agri-business increasingly have to respond to public perceptions, media scrutiny and consumer demands. We as farmers work hard on social responsibility and animal care. This initiative will help demonstrate that to our consumers."

Lorne Small, President of the CFFO, said, "Without profitability at the farm level, there is no sustainability in the complete supply chain. Operating our farms in a socially and environmentally responsible way is also key to agricultural sustainability."

In his remarks, Scott Graham, Chairman of the Presidents' Council, commented, "We recognize that agriculture is diverse and that some commodities are already working on international and customer standards. We want to acknowledge these and not create duplication. This is about reducing redundancy."

Speaking on behalf of Farm & Food Care Ontario, Chairman John Maaskant said, "We as farmers have worked hard to care for our farm animals and our land. Farming – and producing food sustainably – needs to be scientifically verified, economically viable and ethically grounded. Millions of dollars in research and pre-existing programs like the national Codes of Practice for animal welfare are examples of that."

Alan Kruszel, President of OSCIA said, "The Environmental Farm Plan has been a tremendous success and we have been proud to deliver this self-learning process to thousands of farmers. We are excited to work with our partners to build upon the success of the EFP, enhancing it to become Farm & Food Sustainability Plans."

In wrapping up the program, Robert Cash, Chairman of the Provision Coalition expressed his support for the collaboration, "Food and beverage manufacturers are used to staying ahead of the curve. With the farm community, we are developing a sustainability program that will facilitate responsible sourcing, supply chain cooperation and more transparent food systems. Consumers are asking and together we are responding."

A report entitled Our Commitment to Sustainability, which is a basis for the long term initiative, is available online at www.sustainablefarms.ca.

This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council and Ontario Agri Food Technologies assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario. It has also received support from the Grand River Agricultural Society.

 

 

Published in Consumer Issues

August 20, 2015 - As of July 1, 2015 there are new regulatory requirements for Ontario corn and soybean growers to buy and use neonicotinoid treated corn and/or soybean seed.

Attend a regional information session to learn about the new requirements.

Regional Information Sessions:

In Person (English sessions)
    •    Guelph: Monday, August 24, 2015 – 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
    •    St. Thomas: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
    •    Ridgetown: Thursday, August 27, 2015 – 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
    •    Cornwall: Monday, August 31, 2015 – 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
    •    Uxbridge: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 – 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

In Person (French session)
    •    Cornwall: Monday, August 31, 2015 – 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Teleconference/Webinar (English session)
    •    Monday, August 24, 2015 – 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Teleconference/Webinar (French session)
    •    Monday, August 31, 2015 – 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Register online or by contacting the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Published in Corporate News

Aug. 17, 2015 - Producers and ranchers wanting to improve their management skills for their operation should register for the Canadian Total Excellence in Agricultural Management (CTEAM) course offered by Agri-Food Management Excellence (AME). Registration is open until October 30, 2015.

CTEAM is Canada's only national farm management training program and the only course in which participants use their own farm data to create a strategy and develop a plan specifically for their operation. Coaching is provided as participants implement their plan.

"CTEAM has changed me and my farm operation forever. My classmates and the instructors gave me more motivation and drive than I ever thought possible," says CTEAM alumnus Colin Brown of Dykeview Farms in Nova Scotia. "This is a course that every farm operator, owner or manager should be enrolled in. Guaranteed success."

The course is taught by world renowned instructors in four modules held across Canada over two years. The new CTEAM 2015-2017 module dates and locations are:
Module 1 - November 30 – December 4, 2015, Abbotsford, BC
Module 2 – March 14-18, 2016, Calgary, AB
Module 3 – December 5-9, 2016, Niagara Falls, ON
Module 4 – March 6-10, 2017, Ottawa, ON

The content CTEAM covers is operation management, understanding finance on the participants' farm, planning for succession, human resource management and risk management. CTEAM graduates can earn credit towards an MBA at the University of Guelph and continue life-long learning as alumni.

"At AME, we're inspired by empowering people to realize their vision. The CTEAM program provides learning focused on the participants and their farms allowing them to become top managers," says Larry Martin, principal at Agri-Food Management Excellence.

Participants are encouraged to check with their provincial or territorial Ministry of Agriculture as CTEAM can quality for up to 75 per cent funding under Growing Forward 2.

Complete details about the program can be found at www.agrifoodtraining.com.

 

Published in Corporate News

August 5, 2015 - Attention Ontario farmers! We want to hear from you.

The challenge – should you choose to accept it – is to tell us how you look after the environment on your farm.

From recycling ag packaging, oils, lubes, tires, and batteries to returning obsolete pesticides and equine/livestock medication for safe disposal – we want to hear your story… and the more innovative, the better!

Do you know a great farmer? Tell us!
Are you one of the hundreds of ag-partners who help support Ontario farmers? This is your chance to share who and what you know while helping CleanFARMS profile the good work that Ontario farmers are doing to protect the environment.

How to enter - take 5!
It couldn’t be any easier. Whether you are nominating someone for this award, or nominating yourself, all you need is 5 to 10 minutes to complete our online entry form. The CleanFARMS team will take it from there.

Once all of the nominations are in, our judging panel will develop a shortlist and nominees will be interviewed before the winners are selected. Rules and regulations can be found here. Frequently asked questions are also available.

Nominate yourself or an Ontario farmer who cares for the environment today.

Prizes
In addition to helping us spread the word on how Ontario farmers are making a difference to the environment, three cash prizes are up for grabs for the winning farmers:

  • 1st - $5,000
  • 2nd - $3,000
  • 3rd - $1,000

Questions or comments?
Contact Kim Timmer at 416-622-4460 Ext. 2229 or visit http://www.cleanfarms.ca/Clean_Farms_Challenge for more information.

Published in Corporate News

July 29, 2015 - This year AgCatalyst, an annual conference for agribusiness and food production marketing communicators, is launching its inaugural AgCatalyst Awards to recognize individuals and organizations that are visionary in representing, advocating and advancing agriculture. From now until August 15, 2015, AgCatalyst Awards nominations for individuals, organizations and young "aggies" (ages 14-25) are being accepted at www.agcatalyst.com/awards.

"As agriculture is entering an unprecedented era, offering both challenges and opportunities, AgCatalyst recognizes the vital role of industry visionaries acting as catalysts for positive change," says Roger Reierson, president and CEO of AdFarm, a marketing communications agency that sponsors the annual event. "The AgCatalyst Awards is a way to showcase those individuals and companies inspiring the way we communicate, connect and produce food for the growing global population."

The AgCatalyst 2015 Awards will be presented at this year's AgCatalyst conference October 19-20, 2015. For award consideration, nominees must:
· Live and work in the United States or Canada
· Have demonstrated a commitment to both:
  o Promoting the positive aspects of agriculture, producers and the industry
  o To making a difference in the world through agricultural activity
· Not be presently employed by RR46

For more information about AgCatalyst or to submit an AgCatalyst Award nomination, please visit www.agcatalyst.com.

 

Published in Corporate News

July 28, 2015 - The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is pleased to announce the formation of the Advisory Group for the Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture project. This project will examine and address critical barriers to advancement facing women in the industry. Based on these results, there will be a strategic program developed and implemented to support improved access to leadership opportunities and strengthened business success for women working in agriculture.

As the project moves forward, the Advisory Group will provide feedback around key lines of enquiry to ensure meaningful outcomes for the agricultural community. This includes identifying subject matter experts to participate in the research, development and validation activities. Members will also assist in guiding the progress of the project for the next two years and as findings come in will provide feedback on proposed research instruments, tool drafts, report drafts, and other project elements.

The Advisory Group is comprised of professional and entrepreneurial women and men in the agriculture industry with an interest in advancing women in leadership roles. Members were drawn from senior management and executive positions in farm businesses, agricultural associations and agribusiness. They provide a balance of representation from across Canada as well as a cross-section of production areas, business focus and industry associations. The members include:

  • Heather Broughton, Agriculture and Food Council of Alberta, Agri-Food Management Excellence Inc.
  • Chantelle Donahue, Vice-President Corporate Affairs, Cargill Limited
  • Dr. Annemieke Farenhorst, NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Manitoba
  • Susan Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald & Co, Canadian AgriWomen Network
  • Rebecca Hannam, Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program, Rural Ontario Institute,
  • Dr. Laura Halfyard, Sunrise and Connaigre Mussel Farms, Canadian Aquaculture Industry Association
  • Brenda Lammens, Agri-Food Management Institute, Canadian AgriWomen Network
  • Geneviève Lemonde, AGRIcarrières
  • Iris Meck, Iris Meck Communications
  • Debra Pretty-Straathof, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, World Farmers Organization (WFO) Standing Committee on Women in Agriculture
  • Lis Robertson, Canadian Association of Farm Advisors
  • Kim Shukla, Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance

There will be ways for others to get involved in the project as well. In the near future CAHRC will be announcing sub-groups focused on specific areas. There will also be social media groups through Linked-In and Facebook formed to allow for greater connection and communication throughout the project.

For more information or to get involved with Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture, please contact Jennifer Wright, HR Consultant at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Debra Hauer, Project Manager at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit CAHRC at www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.  This project is funded by Status of Women Canada.

Published in Business Management

July 6, 2015 - It's a fact - government agricultural reports can affect the market. Those who follow the crop and livestock markets have experienced the often dramatic reaction that prices can have after the release of a government report.

"The information in these reports is an example of the fundamental, or supply and demand, factors affecting market prices," says Neil Blue, market specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Vermilion. "The reports are usually the result of a survey of inventory, or of estimated inventory and estimated use of crops or livestock, or may be an estimate of acreage or production. Most government reports are preceded by estimates from private firms. Reaction from the release of the government numbers often depends on how those numbers compare to the range and average of the private estimates."

Regardless of the eventual accuracy of these government reports, they are widely respected and therefore heavily weighted in the marketplace. Pre-report trading can push a market opposite the recent price trend and market reaction to the report can reset the trend for several days or even longer.

Because these reports can be market-moving events, says Blue, even if a producer currently has no saleable inventory, it is a good idea to keep track of when these reports are released.

"Depending on the market circumstances and a producer's situation (i.e., inventory to sell, projected need for cash flow, current market prices compared to target prices in their marketing plan), it may be prudent to make some marketing decisions prior to the release of a report rather than be fully exposed to a market move resulting from the report. That market move could be favorable or unfavorable for a producer, so part of the marketing decision is assessing whether, as a producer, you are financially able to take the risk of some action or not going into a report release."

For reference, here are report release dates for some upcoming Statistics Canada and USDA reports.

  • July 1 semi-annual Canadian livestock inventory (August 20)
  • Canadian principal field crop production estimates (August 21, October 2, December 4)
  • Stocks of Principal Field Crops (Sept. 3, Feb. 4 (2015))

"The Canada Grain Commission also provides weekly updates on crop deliveries and exports that may be useful in making some crop marketing decisions," says Blue.

  • US Hog and Pig inventory report (quarterly) (Sept. 25, Dec. 23)
  • US Cattle on Feed estimate (as of beginning of each month) (July 24, Aug. 21, Sept. 18, Oct. 23)
  • US Grain Stocks (quarterly) (September 30)
  • US/world crop supply and demand plus crop production (monthly) (July 10, Aug. 12, Sept. 11, Oct. 9)

 

Published in Corporate News

June 30, 2015, Port Elgin, ON - The Canadian Agri-Business Education Foundation (CABEF) is proud to announce the six winners of their annual scholarships. Each of these exceptional students will receive $2,500 for post-secondary agricultural education. The 2015 winners are:

  • Kayleen Holman, Middle Musquodoboit, NS
  • Ariane Bergeron, St-Samuel, QC
  • Julie French, Caledon, ON
  • Christopher Manchur, Gilbert Plains, MB
  • Morgan Heidecker, Middle Lake, SK
  • Kyle Wheeler, Strathmore, AB

Each year CABEF awards six scholarships of $2,500 to Canadian Grade 12 students who are entering into an accredited agriculture college or university. The charity foundation encourages students to pursue their passion for agriculture and to bring their new ideas and talent to the industry. Scholarship winners are evaluated on a combination of leadership attributes, academic standing and their response to the essay question, "Why am I pursuing a career in agriculture?"

For further information about CABEF's work, visit www.cabef.org.

 

Published in Corporate News

June 23, 2015 - Jeff and Ebony Prosko of J & E Prosko Farms in Rose Valley were chosen as the 2015 Outstanding Young Farmers (OYF) for Saskatchewan at a recent OYF event in Regina. Jeff and Ebony will represent Saskatchewan at the Outstanding Young Farmers national event later this year in Edmonton.

Jeff and Ebony share a strong passion for agriculture and family farming. Life revolves around the grain and oilseed farm in northeastern Saskatchewan they operate with their daughters Harper and Londyn. They focus on maximizing production efficiency in their crops to deliver the best yields and quality. Technology plays an important role in their operation, using variable rate fertilizer and seed application, and the latest seed genetics.

Farming with family provides additional opportunities for the Prosko's. Together with Jeff's family – parents Rick and Donna, brother Joel (Meghan), and sister Giselle (Reagen) – they operate ProSoils Inc., an independent ag retail business that serves their community of Rose Valley.

Off the farm, Jeff has a special interest in helping advance good policy for young farmers. He sits on several industry boards that play a role in developing policy at the provincial and federal levels, and also lends his time to groups focused on networking and education.

Canada's Outstanding Young Farmers for 2015 will be chosen at the national event in Edmonton, Alta. from November 17-22, 2015.

 

Published in Corporate News

June 12, 2015 - To the world, Canada is considered as a leading agricultural nation.  Not only because of our total agricultural production but also because of advances in agricultural science.  These advances have been helping Canadian farmers and many related sectors for decades. 

From overcoming the challenges that our climate presents to the development of new agricultural technologies, agricultural science has had a profound impact on Canada.

However there has never been a concerted effort to look at how agricultural research benefits our country, the role it plays in our present day agriculture and the path it should take in the future.

The Agricultural Institute of Canada (AIC) is preparing to do just that by fostering the development of a comprehensive national agricultural research policy.

Scientists, academics, representatives of commodity groups, businesses involved in agriculture, consultants, farmers and others will be travelling to Ottawa in mid-July to help shape what this policy should look like.

The work to be undertaken at the conference follows extensive consultations undertaken by the Agricultural Institute of Canada.  Participants will be able to look at a summary of the consultations and debate various issues with key panellists that will lead the discussions.

Some of the topics to be discussed include:

  • How to balance pure and applied research
  • Fostering interdisciplinary partnerships, collaboration and cooperation
  • Bringing innovation to the market place
  • Issues with public-private partnerships

The intention is to ensure that a realistic policy be developed in order to provide guidance for the foreseeable future.

This policy should be based on an understanding of the opportunities and limitations provided by the public and private sectors as well as the expanded scope of the agricultural sector that now includes natural resources, conservation, climatology, and much more.

It is crucial that this policy also consider how to create the best conditions to attract and retain the best agricultural research scientists.

This policy should have a deep impact on how Canada moves forward in the future.  The hope is not to add to the many reports that gather dusts on shelves in offices but rather to have a document that will provide a framework and guidance to decision makers and stakeholders.

This is why it is so important to have the participation of all groups that have a stake in agricultural research.

About a year ago, AIC put out a “tweet” related to a new scientific advance in agriculture.  A few minutes later it was “re-tweeted”.  Our “re-tweeter” was a woman, a farmer working her fields.  She just happened to see our news.  Agriculture has changed.  It continuously does.  Be part of the change. 

To register, visit the AIC conference web site.  Click here.

Published in Corporate News

Alberta producer groups are trying out several sustainability standards. Photo courtesy of Canola Council of Canada.

As the demand for sustainably produced foods increases, crop growers will be asked more often to participate in programs that measure the sustainability of their production systems. Canadian initiatives are underway to help ensure these programs work for the marketplace and for growers.

For growers, potential benefits from participating in sustainability measurement programs include maintaining market access, maintaining public trust in agriculture and further enhancing the sustainability of their operations. One concern is the need to do extra paperwork for no extra dollars, when participating in these programs becomes simply a matter of doing business. A related concern is, given the many different programs nationally and internationally, growers might have to meet different requirements for different crops and different markets. Another worry is some programs might have unrealistic requirements for production practices.

According to Karla Bergstrom, policy analyst with the Alberta Canola Producers Commission (ACPC), market access is a key issue. “Two-thirds of the world’s food production is being purchased by multinational companies such as Nestle, PepsiCo, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Unilever and others. They are all working on sustainability platforms and they are looking at having their entire supply chains having sustainability standards in place. Some are working towards verifying their sustainable sourcing by 2016 or 2020,” she says. “Agricultural producers are one of largest suppliers within their supply chains, so these companies need to have their producers on board if they are going with sustainable sourcing.”

Mark Brock, co-chair of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops and chairman of Grain Farmers of Ontario, adds: “Initially there might be potential for a low-level premium, but in the long term, participating in some form of sustainability program is going to be a matter of maintaining existing markets, especially with the European Union.”

Bergstrom points to the value of participating in such programs as a way for growers to improve transparency and maintain the public’s trust. “Farmers are very highly trusted individuals within our society, but some of their farming practices are becoming more scrutinized by consumers,” she says.

“We want our farmers to be able to continue operating with minimal restrictions and regulations. So the concept of sustainability needs to be a priority for farmers to make sure they are maintaining public trust. Because they are good stewards of the land, they are doing a number of things right, and because the farming population is so much smaller than the consumer population, we need to make sure that message is conveyed so farmers can continue to produce the high quality, safe food they have been producing for a long time.”

Brock notes the Canadian crop industry already has many of the pieces in place to meet the standards in various programs for social, environmental and economic sustainability. “For us, social sustainability isn’t too hard to accomplish because we have things like minimum wage standards, health and safety standards, and so on. With environmental sustainability, we’re pretty close to checking all the boxes too. We have to make sure [the program requirements] don’t put us economically at risk as producers, so that is something we keep in mind during discussions around these programs.”

Developing commonality
One concern for crop growers is who decides what these programs require, the validity of them and what is really involved from a producer’s standpoint. “That is why organizations like Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops are taking a proactive approach,” Brock says. “We want to be engaged with these companies and importers so we can have some influence on what they deem as a worthy sustainability program that they feel comfortable taking back to their consumers, so the program won’t be horribly onerous for our producers.”

Sustainability measurement is a key focus of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops (CRSC). Formed in 2014, this multi-stakeholder initiative includes commodity groups, agricultural input associations, and companies like Cargill and McDonald’s.

According to Brock, the CRSC has a two-pronged approach to sustainability metrics. “One approach is to do some research and fact finding to identify the gaps right now in some of these programs that we’ve been looking at from a Canadian standpoint, gathering ideas around regional differences, and seeing what more work needs to be done. The other approach is to communicate [about sustainable crop production] (a) to farmers, (b) to the value chain, and (c) to retailers, exporters and importers who are looking to source sustainably grown products.”

Part of the challenge for the CRSC, and for individual crop commodity groups, is evaluating the many different sustainability programs, which range from certification of individual growers to determining sustainability indicators on a regional basis.

“It seems lie every quarter there’s a new sustainability program popping up that someone is working on,” Brock says. “Long term, it would be nice if we can get to a Canadian branding of sustainability, and maybe a single program – for instance, if 85 per cent of the needs for a sustainability program could be met with a base program, and perhaps a few additional paperwork items for different crops to address some specific needs. I’m not sure if we can achieve that [given the many different crops and the regional differences across Canada], but it would be good to work towards something like that.”

The CRSC provides a forum for sharing results of activities across the country to assess, develop and implement sustainability platforms. Various efforts are underway already. For instance, a multiagency initiative is developing the Canadian Field Print Calculator; Alberta grower groups are assessing five platforms in the Alberta Crop Sustainability Pilot Project; the Canadian canola industry uses the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification system for canola going into the European biodiesel market; and Grain Farmers of Ontario is leading the Canadian version of the Round Table on Responsible Soy’s certification system because of a European market for sustainably grown soybeans. In addition, the CRSC, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and other stakeholders have a joint pilot project to develop an approach for identifying sustainably grown feed barley for use in sustainably grown beef production.

Comparing programs
“The purpose of the Alberta Crop Sustainability Pilot Project is to get a really good understanding of the readiness of our producers to incorporate some of these sustainability standards,” Bergstrom says. “Are we ready now? Are there areas that we need to improve on? And how do our farmers rank internationally?”

The Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley initiated the project, and they brought the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission and ACPC on board. The four commissions are working on the project with Control Union, an international certifying auditor.

They are comparing four international platforms as well as the Canadian Field Print Calculator. “Each platform has slightly different questions and asks for different things. That helps us get a good scope of all of the different types of questions producers could be asked to provide information for,” she notes. “The questions relate to environmental, social, food safety, farm safety and ethical choices on their farms.”

About 50 members from the four commissions, including many directors, are taking part. “For example, all 12 of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission’s directors are taking part,” Bergstrom says. “We wanted to have our directors involved so they can discuss how the whole process went and whether there is an ability to influence some of the policy around these sustainability measures.”

Currently, the participants are completing the necessary paperwork and Control Union’s auditors will be visiting their farms for the certification needed in the international programs. Then the commissions will discuss the results, report their findings to their members and the CRSC, and consider their next steps.

 

Improving on-farm efficiency

by Carolyn King

The initiative to develop the Canadian Field Print Calculator is another effort that shares its findings through the CRSC. The calculator is an Excel-based tool to measure the environmental footprint of crop operations. Rather than providing a certification system for individual growers, it calculates regional indicators.

Pulse Canada is managing the development of the calculator and other projects of the Canadian Field Print Initiative, which has a membership that includes producer groups, crop input associations, crop consultant agencies, retail associations, conservation agencies and companies like General Mills Inc. The members are working with Serecon, a consulting firm.

According to Denis Tremorin, director of sustainability at Pulse Canada, the calculator emulates work in the U.S. called Field to Market. “ Our contact with General Mills is the chair of that organization, which includes crop input providers, fertilizer associations, food companies, retailers, restaurant chains. They have a Fieldprint Calculator and they’ve created an indicators report, like we have. They started in 2009, and we started in 2011.”  Tremorin has made presentations to Field to Market about the Canadian initiative, and some of the other agencies involved in the U.S. group have expressed an interest in also being a part of the Canadian initiative.

The initial version of the Canadian Field Print Calculator, created in 2012, is for pea, oat, spring wheat and canola crops grown in Western Canada; pilot testing over the last two years has helped refine the tool and build data for regional comparisons.

“We are currently creating our 2.0 version of the calculator. We’re including lentils, durum wheat, winter wheat, flax and soybeans in the west, and we’re expanding into Ontario for corn, soy and wheat,”  Tremorin notes. Eventually the initiative aims to have a national calculator.

According to Tremorin, the calculator has two key purposes. One is to provide data on sustainability indicators requested by the marketplace including: greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, energy use, land use efficiency (related to crop yield) and soil organic carbon levels. The initiative is now developing a water quality metric for Ontario.

The other purpose is to provide data to help growers improve their on-farm efficiency. “As a group of people working on this calculator, we can’t ensure a premium [for growers who use the calculator]; that is up to the market to decide,” he says. “But we can develop a tool that shows value for the grower.” So the calculator compares the grower’s data with aggregated data from other farms (see diagram), and it expresses the grower’s own data in useful ways, like breaking down the energy use data by operation to show which operations use the most fuel.

The calculator asks growers to provide each field’s legal land location (which the calculator uses to determine soil and climate information), crop yield, fertilizer rates and fuel use in all equipment operations, such as seeding, tilling, spraying and harvesting.

“We’re trying to get the information in a way that is as easy as possible for the grower,” Tremorin says. “And we’re giving alternatives so if the grower doesn’t have the information there’s a good backup source of information. For instance, if you don’t know your fuel use, you can provide the horsepower of your unit and the amount of hours you spent in the field, and then the tool calculates the fuel use.”

As well, the initiative is working with companies like Farmers Edge and Agri-Trend to integrate the calculator into their software. Tremorin explains, “For example, over half of the data that our tool asks for is already being supplied within the system that Farmers Edge uses with farms. If we integrate the calculator into their system, a grower working with that company wouldn’t have to input the information twice.”

For growers with concerns that data from the calculator might be used to force them to follow particular farming practices, Tremorin explains the calculator preserves the privacy of participating growers through two approaches.

First of all, the calculator provides the marketplace with the aggregated data of many growers, not the data of individual growers. He explains that companies like General Mills want two types of data. “They want the averaged data – so, wheat from this region has an average of this number. And they want the distribution of the data – so how are the best performing producers different from the average or below-average producers, and why? That information allows the companies to make decisions on how they want to act within the supply chain.”

In addition, the calculator is outcome-focused, not practice-based. Tremorin says, “I think everybody in the supply chain can agree we want to continually move towards a system that is more efficient and more productive. That aligns with the goals of this calculator.”

Growers who want to use the calculator can access it at www.fieldprint.ca.

 

Published in Seeding/Planting

June 1, 2015 - Age 65 may not be as much of a career milestone for farmers, but many farm families have off-farm income. So this milestone can be significant due to the eligibility to receive some of your tax money back in the shape of Canada Pension Plan (CPP) as well as Old Age Security (OAS) benefits.

Depending on how much of a betting person you are and how long you think you are going to live, you have the option of taking your CPP as early as 60 or delaying it into the future at age 70. The earliest you can draw OAS is 65 but you can now delay taking it up until age 71.

The consequences of taking one option or the other are interesting. If you decide to pull the CPP trigger at 60, your CPP will be reduced by 36 per cent. Prior to the March 2012 budget, the reduction was only 30 per cent but in an effort to shore up CPP funding, the government decided this was too rich and upped the ante to the larger claw back. You could take your pension at 61, 62, or 63 and for each year you wait the 36 per cent discount is reduced 7.2 per cent.

Now if you are feeling lucky or have a sturdy belief in your longevity, you can delay taking your CPP and OAS all the way to age 70. For each year you wait, the government will add funds to your benefits to a maximum additional amount of 36 per cent at age 70.

Based on Statistics Canada and various insurance company actuarial calculations of predicted payouts to the Canadian population the decision to take the lower pay of CPP at 60 or OAS at 65 versus a higher amount at 70, over one’s life time you reach a breakeven point somewhere above age 75. That means you only start to feel the loss of total income after that age.

So if you believe you will not reach the ripe old age of 76 years, then financial planners will recommend you draw your CPP and OAS as early as possible. If, on the other hand, you believe you will live beyond 76 years of age, then drawing CPP and OAS can be delayed until after 70 to your benefit.

If you have just begun to receive your OAS you can opt to cancel your OAS within 6 months of receiving your first payment to take advantage of the deferral. The one condition, however, is you must repay all the OAS you received over the period (GIS is also included in the repayment if received).

Since we are talking about age, please remember that if you turn 71 this year, you must collapse your retirement income savings plans (RRSPs). If you don’t carefully plan for this event, the government will consider the entire amount as income for this year and tax it accordingly.

Deciding when to receive government retirement benefits can involve complicated calculations and no one decision is right for everyone. Be sure to talk to your financial advisor and or tax specialist to decide when the best time is for you to receive CPP and OAS. A financial advisor can also help you with deciding how best to receive retirement income from your RRSPs.

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.

For more information, visit www.fbc.ca

Published in Business Management

Canola is a booming crop in Canada. Canola oil is the second most widely used oil (behind soybean oil) in North America’s food industry, and for good reason: it offers healthy omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, a high smoke point and neutral flavour. And for the past two decades, highly stable high-oleic canola oil has offered additional benefits – an even higher smoke point, as well as better stability for longer-term use in deep fryers.

While acreage of canola is substantial in Canada’s Prairie provinces and fairly steady in Ontario, acreage of canola in the Maritimes has dropped in recent years. In 2013, there were 1,106 acres of canola grown in Prince Edward Island. This number has dropped to only 776 acres in 2014, with fewer than 700 acres estimated for 2015. However, Danny Doyle, a spokesperson for the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, says there is canola research planned. He notes farmers in that province would like to see non-GMO varieties with good clubroot resistance and yield potentials of one metric ton per acre.

New Brunswick’s canola acreage has also drastically dropped in recent years. In 2011, the province grew 10,000 acres of the crop; in 2012, that number dropped to 7,500, then to 6,000 in 2014, and in 2015, only 2,000 acres of canola were grown in New Brunswick. Peter Scott, a crop specialist in the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, says acreage has shrunk because the forward contract price of canola has dropped off, and a fair amount of clubroot infection in 2014 caused farmers to pause. “It’s always a concern how canola fits a potato rotation,” he adds. “Some growers were producing hybrid canola seed from 2000 to 2005, but some saw potatoes following canola with reduced yields. The thinking is that nitrogen is being tied up to break down the canola residue, and this starves potatoes at a critical time.”

As for Nova Scotia, commercial canola acreage is presently nothing, says Doug MacDonald, scientific officer for the Cereal and Oilseed Research Group in the faculty of agriculture at Dalhousie University in Halifax. “There is only a very small acreage grown by a handful of people,” he notes, “which is crushed in their own small presses for sale at farmers markets or for their own biodiesel.”

However, a great deal of canola research is underway in Nova Scotia. Scientists in the province have been conducting Ontario spring canola variety tests since 2005 (winter canola tests were also done over several years but were discontinued due to limited interest). “The spring canola yields in our small plot tests have averaged approximately 2.7 tons per hectare over the past four seasons,” notes MacDonald. “Winter canola yields have been similar and occasionally better when winter survival is good, which varies greatly from year to year. Complete winterkill is common with the current genotypes available. There is also the concern, with spring or winter canola, of disease buildup – particularly sclerotinia, which can infect some crops used in rotation with canola such as soybeans and potatoes.”  

There is also ongoing canola research headed by Prince Edward Island-based Eastern Canadian Oilseed Development Alliance (ECODA), a five-year, $6.7-million canola and soybean research project launched in 2013. It involves researchers in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes and is funded through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and industry partners. “One project involves winter canola variety evaluation, seeding dates and rates,” explains MacDonald. Jan Holmes, ECODA project manager, says early results showed the varieties of winter canola in the trial had a difficult time surviving, but there may be other varieties that can survive the eastern Canadian winters, and more evaluation is occurring.

A second ECODA project is looking at canola nutrient management; particularly the response of various hybrids to nitrogen, nitrogen/sulphur and boron. MacDonald says the results will help scientists identify nutrient deficiency levels and develop improved guidelines for site-specific management. Preliminary results show at as N rates were increased, early flowering, plant biomass, height and leaf area all increased as well. “For all site-years, branch and seed numbers also increased with increasing N, sometimes significantly,” says Holmes, “but sidedressed N did not affect yield. Soil sulphur availability and sulphur mineralization potential must be considered for site-specific sulphur recommendations.”

The development of effective integrated pest management (IPM) practices for swede midge is also in the works. So far, results show that early and middle pesticide applications are more effective than later ones, but the effect of applications was variable. IPM strategies for the control of other insect pests of canola (flea beetle, pollen beetle and cabbage seedpod weevil) are also being created.

Yet another canola study is focusing on how such factors as crop rotation, nutrient management, planting date and plant density affect the incidence and severity of diseases like stem rot and blackleg. A different project involves determining the effect of fungicides, biological agents, marine bioproducts and combination treatments for the control of these diseases. Further experiments will show the effects of plant population on stress tolerance and seed quality of spring canola, and how canola can best be integrated in a potato cropping system.

“We’re also conducting field trials with best formulations of signal compounds,” Holmes explains, “and have found so far that signal compounds LCO and thuricin at extremely low concentrations slightly increased yield in winter canola. Full study results have the potential to lead to the development of new products, which, in turn, will lead to increased yields.”

Even though it will take more time for the full results of these studies to become available, Holmes believes canola is already economically competitive with small-grain cereals. “It’s a high-value crop that can be useful in rotation with potatoes, corn and soybean,” she says. “Canola is a viable crop option for Eastern Canadian growers, even Maritimes growers who must transport the seed to Quebec for crushing.”

Published in Other Crops

May 1, 2015 - Ontario farmers are better able to grow their profits, expand their markets and manage risks with help from the governments of Canada and Ontario under the five-year Growing Forward 2 (GF2) program.

GF2 program updates as of April 1, 2015:

  • Under a single program, all GF2 funding opportunities are now merit-based
  • Cost-share caps per project have been introduced for each eligible project category
  • To be eligible, funding will only apply to invoices dated after a letter approving a funding allocation has been issued by OSCIA.

GF2 provides cost-shared funding for assessment/audit, planning, skills development and training and implementation project categories.

OSCIA is looking to fund projects in six areas of focus:

  • Environment and climate change adaptation
  • Animal and plant health
  • Market development
  • Labour productivity enhancement
  • Assurance systems: food safety, traceability, animal welfare
  • Business and leadership development.

Only the projects with the most impact will be awarded cost-shared funding. Applications can besubmitted during these dates in 2015:

  • May 1 to May 21, 2015
  • August 10 to August 27, 2015
  • November 16 to December 3, 2015 

OSCIA advises farmers to consult the new program guidelines for full details before beginning projects. They are available at www.ontariosoilcrop.org. New applications will also be available prior to the
opening of the next intake on May 1, 2015.

Producers in the process of making claims for year two projects should get them in by May 15, 2015. The
changes do not apply to previously approved projects.

GF2 is a cost-shared partnership between federal, provincial and territorial governments designed to support an innovative, competitive and profitable Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector.

Contact John Laidlaw at 519-826-4218 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Published in Corporate News

 Dean Glenney, recipient of the 2015 OSCIA Soil Champion Award, receives his trophy from 2014 President, Allan Mol (on right).  Photo by OSCIA.

February 10, 2015 - Every plant and organism has its likes and dislikes, and it’s unlocking those secrets that get you the results. That’s the belief of Haldimand County farmer Dean Glenney.

He cash crops 200 acres near Dunnville on the former dairy farm that’s been in his family for more than 100 years – and his unique approach to growing corn and soybeans using what he calls “fence row farming” has been turning heads in recent years.

It has also won him a slew of awards from Dupont-Pioneer corn yield champion to Halidmand County Farmer of the Year, and now he’s been named the 2015 Soil Champion by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA).

The Soil Champion Award is handed out annually by the OSCIA to recognize leaders in sustainable soil management, and was presented to Glenney at the organization’s annual meeting in London.

An engineer by training with a degree from the University of Guelph, Glenney and wife Vonita spent many years growing fruits and vegetables nearby before returning to the home farm and focusing on cash crops.

“If you sell fruits and vegetables, it has to be perfect or it is junk, so our efficiency and attention to detail comes from the berry farm,” he says.

Over the years, different observations helped form his theory on the benefits of fence row farming, which he started implementing on his farm 20 years ago.

When he was 14, his family moved from a two furrow to a three furrow plow and the extra width meant he was turning over virgin soil when he neared the fence row, soil that looked like it was full of little cubes.

When their plow size went up again to five furrows, they removed some fence rows on their farm to make bigger fields, and Glenney noticed that the corn was two feet higher where the fence row had been than in the rest of the field – but only in the first year.

“The key to recreating the fence row in my fields was planting forever in the same place and making the soil of a fence row every 30 inches across a field,” explains Glenney. “The crop is planted in twin rows into the root ball of the previous year’s crop, always in exactly the same location.”

The crop puts roots down about five feet right through the clay layer, following the old root paths from the year before, and although he admits his corn looks “a bit sick” when it first comes up, Glenney believes it’s that early struggle that actually helps it do better later on in the season.

It took six years to start seeing results, and it was about 14 years ago when he first reached corn yields of 236 bushels per acre. The yields kept creeping upwards, and in 2010, the Glenneys won Pioneer’s Ontario Corn Yield Challenge with an average yield of 271.8 bushels per acre.

This led to him meeting research scientist George Lazarovits, who felt it wasn’t just the healthy soil structure that was responsible for the high yields on the Glenney farm.

“George started doing research here on bacterial colonization and because we don’t disturb the soil, bacteria is being colonized specifically to provide the nutrients that corn needs,” Glenney explains, adding that cultivation makes bacterial colonization more random. “There is 20 years’ worth of crop residue in the ground now.”

“The availability of nutrients is the key,” he believes. “We found only 55 per cent uptake of available nutrients in 60 days on conventionally grown corn on a nearby farm, whereas we found up to 90 per cent uptake on my fence row corn from the soil that was touching the roots.”

Glenney soil tests his fields and uses 215 pounds of nitrogen, 54 pounds of potassium and 70 pounds of phosphorous per acre and reaches yields that are now in the 300 bushel per acre range.

Yields plateaued in 2013 and were actually down in 2014 due to the late start to planting, so now he’s looking at what he might be able to do next.

That includes applying fungicides – Glenney has built a sprayer that will fit into the existing tracks on his fields – as well as using cover crops.

Lazarovits’ research on the Glenney farm is ongoing too, and he’s convinced Glenney to plow a small strip of his field to see how long it will take that soil to recover from being plowed.

An initial barrier to fence row farming was being able to precisely hit the same row over and over again, but the advent of GPS solved that challenge. Next on Glenney’s wish list is to have manufacturers standardized wheel width on farm equipment, but he’s not hopeful of fast change in that area.

“I have to apply lime in the winter because the spreader would run on top of my rows. We should have tramlines that we never get off of,” he says. “Soil structure really is the key, along with bacteria colonization in the soil.”

Glenney’s high yielding corn has led to many speaking engagements in recent years as well as being recipient of various awards, including Farmer of the Year in Haldimand, Haldimand Farm Enterprise of the Year, and National No-Till Association Soil Practitioner of the Year.

“It’s always neat to be recognized, and contests encourage people to do better. It was the yield challenge that started all of this,” he says of all the attention he’s received for his soil management practices.

“Dean Glenney epitomizes what the Soil Champion Award is all about. His efforts have contributed very significantly to understanding the importance of soil life and how it contributes to healthy, resilient, and extremely productive agricultural soils,” says Alan Kruszel, newly appointed President of OSCIA for 2015.

Do you know someone worthy of the title Soil Champion? The submission deadline for the 2016 Award is April 30, 2015.

For the application form and details, visit: www.ontariosoilcrop.org/en/resources/sca.htm

 

Published in Soil

Feb. 18, 2015 - An Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) specialist says now is the time to review operating plans, investment plans and cash requirements for the upcoming year in order to make strategic decisions and to prepare for discussions with business partners and operating creditors.

"The need to develop a strong business plan has been never greater," Rick Dehod, farm finance specialist with ARD in Edmonton, says. "With grain prices flattening, margins have been squeezed. Being proactive allows your business to strategically plan and manage for the risks and uncertainty that are inherent in the business of farming."

Dehod says producers should gather new information, and update information that the farm already has, and then write both down in an organized format. "This will aid you in preparing your 2015 business plan, a whole farm budget and projected income statement for 2015, and in comparing these to how your farm did in 2014."

To assist in this annual review and planning process producers will need:
- Their completed 2014 income and expense statement. "Preferably this statement is completed on an accrued basis," Dehod says. "You may want to compare this to previous years to see how the farm has progressed."
- An up-to-date net worth statement or balance sheet. "All assets should be at current market value and all liabilities as up-to-date as possible. The balance sheet is a comprehensive listing of all your inventories and account receivables plus a comprehensive listing of all accounts payables, including all trade credit and farm business credit card debt is required."
- A projected income and expense statement. "What is your projected net margin, and will it provide your business the funds to fulfill its current obligations and debt service? Stress-test your projection. What if yields were five per cent less that your farms averages or prices less than projected. What if interest rates went up one, two or five per cent? Could you still meet your obligations?"
- A list of possible capital expenditures planned for the year, how much down payment will be required, over what amortization, and how this will affect the farm's cash flow and repayment obligations.

"Once you have developed your 2015 business plan you need to review it with your business partner and with your ag lender," Dehod says. "Having these statements will allow you, the farm manager, to review your 2015 business plan, your farm's ability to pay its operating costs in an orderly manner, provide your farm family with its living costs and service the farm's debts. It will allow you, your business partners and your ag lender to have meaningful discussions on your plans for 2015, and make sure everyone understands how your farm business will proceed for 2015. It may also identify risks that you may have overlooked, so that your business partners and ag lender can assist you in improving the business plan to account for those risks."

For more information, visit the Farm Manager Homepage at www.agriculture.alberta.ca/farm-manager or call the Ag-Info Centre toll-free in Alberta at 310-FARM(3276).

 

 

Published in Business Management

In its 36th year, the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association will induct seven leaders into the Hall of Fame Gallery at Country Heritage Park in Milton on June 14, 2015.

The 2015 inductees are:

  • Dr. D. Murray Brown, Cambridge, Ont. (1928-2014).  Sponsored by Dr. Clayton Switzer
  • Russell Hume Dow, Bowmanville, Ont. (1932-2010). Sponsored by Dwayne Acres and the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency
  • The Honourable Fletcher S. Thomas, St. Thomas, Ont. (1897-1957). Sponsored by The Honourable Stephen Peters
  • Peter Hannam, Guelph, Ont. (1939- ). Sponsored by the Ontario Federatio of Agriculture
  • Peter Martin Lindley, Ancaster, Ont. (1934- ). Sponsored by OAC '57 and the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association
  • Donald Wilbert Lobb, Caledon, Ont. (1939- ).  Sponsored by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association
  • Earl Leonard Wagner, Exeter, Ont. (1945- ).  Sponsored by the Hensall District Co-operative and Sylvite

To qualify for this prestigious recognition, Inductees must have demonstrated visionary leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship in the advancement of agriculture in Ontario. They will have left a lasting legacy for the benefit of future generations.

Published in Corporate News

February 10, 2015 – Lower fuel costs as a result of falling oil prices are getting a lot of attention these days. But producers also need to keep an eye on the cost of other agriculture inputs, according to J.P. Gervais, chief agricultural economist for Farm Credit Canada (FCC).

“The squeaky wheel tends to get most of the attention, but falling oil prices are only one piece of the farm input puzzle,” Gervais said. “Producers need to pay attention to the full spectrum of input costs in order to make wise business decisions.”

There will certainly be some benefits to agriculture as a result of depressed oil price, according to Gervais, but he cautions there is a lag time between falling energy prices and a reduction in the price of farm inputs.“What I think matters are the secondary impacts,” he said. “Depressed oil prices put pressure on the Canadian dollar, which makes our exports more competitive. Canadian agriculture relies heavily on exports.”

So what’s the outlook for various farm inputs?

Fuel
Gervais said fuel prices – especially for gasoline – have come down with the reduction in oil prices, but the price of diesel fuel tends to remain resilient during winter months when demand for different fuels eats into the supply available for the diesel market.“An overall increase in the demand for diesel has been supported by improvements in the U.S. economy and an increase in number of diesel vehicles on the road,” Gervais added.

Fertilizer
Farm fertilizer costs also don’t necessarily go down with the price of oil, since natural gas is the main input in fertilizer production. Lower oil prices, however, mean lower costs for extraction, distribution and transport of fertilizers.“The good news is natural gas prices have declined dramatically from peak levels and this, combined with lower corn prices and increasing world fertilizer production, should put downward pressure on fertilizer prices,” Gervais said.

Land
Lower commodity prices should begin to slow the rate of increase in farmland values throughout the country over the past decade, with few exceptions, according to Gervais. “Low interest rates and strong crop receipts have been the two driving factors behind the recent increases in the value of farmland,” Gervais said. “Grain and oilseed prices are no longer at record-high levels. But futures prices suggest decent profit margins. Lower interest rates will also help support farmland values.”

Equipment    
Strong equipment sales over the past few years have built up inventories across the country, which may translate into a buying opportunity for used equipment, according to Gervais.

“Overall, we shouldn’t see any significant increase in equipment prices, since lower crop prices have reduced the demand for large tractors and combines/harvesters,” he said. “With equipment dealers carrying a large volume of inventory, producers may see some good deals on new or used equipment.

”By sharing agriculture economic knowledge and forecasts, FCC provides solid insights and expertise to help those in the business of agriculture achieve their goals. For more information and analysis, read the latest FCC Ag Economist blog post at www.fcc.ca/AgEconomist.

FCC is Canada’s leading agriculture lender, with a healthy portfolio of $27.3 billion and 21 consecutive years of portfolio growth.

For more information, visit www.fcc.ca

Published in Corporate News

January 29, 2015 - The Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Task Force (LTF) has elected Mark Wales as its new Chairperson and is moving forward with the recommendations of its Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan to address agricultural industry worker shortages.

“It is my pleasure to chair the Labor Task Force. We have a broad-based, growing group representing all commodities and value chains and we are rolling up our sleeves, coming together to work on solutions for agriculture and agri-food labour shortages,” says Wales. “Through the Labour Action Plan we have a roadmap forward addressing our workforce shortages which have been identified as the number one risk affecting the agriculture and agri-food industry today.”

Wales, a horticulture farmer from Elgin County, Ont., is also the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) Chair, representing the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

The Labour Task Force was established by the Agriculture and Agri-Food (AAFC) Value Chain Roundtables in 2012 to examine issues of agriculture and agri-food labour management and shortages; recently the LTF transitioned to become a CAHRC Committee.  Participation in the AAFC Value Chain Roundtable process and composition of the LTF is made up of a diverse cross-section of agricultural representatives covering everything from primary production, lobster and meat processing to ornamental horticulture production. These agriculture and agri-food value chains are a powerful driver of the Canadian economy representing eight per cent of the GDP. 

The LTF released the Labour Action Plan with practical and achievable recommendations last spring and support for the Plan’s implementation has now grown to 45 industry partners. The group is working on an update to the Policy and Programs section of the Labour Action Plan, including a review of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program as it relates to agriculture and agri-food.

“We always recruit and hire Canadian domestic workers first,” says Mark Chambers, the LTF Policy and Programs Working Group Chair, who is Production Manager for Sunterra Farms, a family owned pork operation in Acme, Alberta. “However, finding workers to work and live in small rural communities is very challenging.  We need more workers to meet current production demands and to take advantage of export opportunities offered by new free trade deals.

“Labour shortages are pervasive, affecting current operational success,” says Wales. “Canadian producers’ incomes depend on agriculture’s value-added advantage and Canadian consumers depend on us for healthy, reasonably priced food.  To allow for continued prosperity and growth for our industry and the broader Canadian economy, it is urgent and essential that we continue to move forward with the Labour Action Plan to find short, medium and long term solutions.” 

As the overarching organization for farm labour in Canada, CAHRC is also conducting research on agricultural Labour Market Information (LMI) to identify labour and skill gaps as well as the National Agricultural Occupational Framework (NAOF), an in-depth study of the exact jobs and skills involved in today’s agricultural workforce. These projects will help to better inform and connect industry, governments and academic institutions with agriculture’s workforce requirements which are integral to the success of the Labour Action Plan’s future activities.

“The Canadian Agricultural HR Council is pleased to lead the implementation of the Labour Task Force’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director, CAHRC. “The Labour Task Force is a critically important mechanism that brings industry together to discuss labour related issues, recognize their inter-connectedness and collaborate to develop meaningful solutions.”

For more information on the Agriculture and Agri-Food Labour Action Plan or agricultural human resource management contact CAHRC at www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.

Published in Corporate News

January 9, 2015 - For the average Canadian, the year starts in January and ends in December. But for a typical farmer, the business year begins when seeds are first planted and ends when the fields are put to bed. It's over the course of these months that farmers' singular focus is on what they produce and sell to their customers.

But as with every business owner, farmers have to devote part of their attention to what they've earned in the past year so they can make the necessary information known and available to the government.
The following tips should help you prepare your farm income quickly so you can put your focus back on what's most important – managing and maintaining your farm operation.

1. Understand what farm income is
Of course, farming is an umbrella term that references more than grain and vegetable production. Farm income includes a variety of activities where the product will be made available for sale such as raising livestock, poultry or fish, operating a tree farm, nursery or greenhouse, as well as maple tree tapping for commercial use.
Additionally, other forms of farm income may include dairy, beekeeping, fur farming, racehorse maintenance, wind turbine income or feedlot operation. There are some exceptions, however, that may apply, so it's a good idea to talk to a tax professional when there are other factors that may be unique.

2. Know what farm income does not include
Just as key to knowing what farm income is taxable is what money is not considered earnings. If your income is from trappings, for instance, this isn't considered farming income. Also, if your earnings came from working as an employee in another farming business, this also isn't considered farming income, thus isn't subject to the same tax rules.

3. Use correct forms
Tax reform efforts by the government have tried to simplify the tax filing process. But it can still be confusing trying to figure out which form is needed. When preparing your farm income, you can use Form T2042 from CRA. This is also the form you'll use to make a formal statement of your farming activities.

Managing your farm business includes accurate reporting of income and maintaining appropriate records. Be sure to talk to a tax professional to ensure you're meeting all the reporting requirements.

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.

For more information, visit www.fbc.ca

Published in Business Management
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