N E W S L E T T E R
Growing Hope Farm
CFFO Agri-Day WHAT’S INSIDE
Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario
— page 07
Tips for Winter Manure Application — page 08
Farming Inside City Limits — page 12
Winter/Spring 2019 Production
President’s Comments “The winds of change have begun to blow” is a popular phrase that we often hear in folklore and fairy tales. This year, as I watched the autumn winds blowing the leaves about and the changing landscape as harvest gave way to winter, I couldn’t help but think it’s an apt saying— at least when it comes to the weather. When it comes to politics, I am not so certain. This past season, there has been a stir in provincial politics as the Liberal Party lost power, and the Progressive Conservative Party took their place. Premier Doug Ford has taken on his role with gusto, and we now wait to see what changes he will make in our government. So far, the Christian Farmers Federation is pleased to see that the Cap and Trade program has been cancelled, and we look forward to working with our government to put in place practical solutions to climate concerns. We are also pleased to see the initiative the government is taking to reduce the amount of red tape in agriculture, as well as some restructuring to Bill 148 (the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017). We pray these decisions will result in positive changes for the agrifood sector. As always, we seek to represent the needs of farmers across Ontario. It is important to us that our government makes laws that support the agricultural community as well as protect farmland and healthy farming practices. As a farming federation, we have been long-time supporters of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program, an industry-led program that helps farmers reduce nutrient losses into the environment through efficient nutrient application. In November, CFFO joined other provincial organizations to renew our commitment to advancing sustainable agriculture through this program. Learn more on page 8. Many of us have been concerned about the changes that have taken place through the trade talks between the US, Mexico, and Canada. Now that talks are done, it will take time for the dust to settle and see how the new agreement will affect Canada and, more specifically, the agriculture sector. Read new CFFO Director of Research and Policy Brenda Dyack’s take on the immediate aftermath of the USMCA deal on page 14. I would like to encourage all of you to remember that your opinion really does matter. By being vocal in a Godly and loving manner, we can have an influence on the laws and governance of our province and country. With this in mind, I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas season, giving thanks to God for the abundance and the freedoms He provides to us in this country. Clarence Nywening
The CFFO newsletter is published two times a year by the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario for its members and friends.
Editorial and Creative Team Marie Versteeg, editor, writer Frances Pitkin, production manager Brenda Dyack, writer Paul Boostma, writer Josh Kraemer, writer
Disclaimer Opinions expressed in the Newsletter may not necessarily reflect those of the CFFO.
Contact Submit a question, suggest a story or change your address: email@example.com
About the CFFO The CFFO develops and advocates for sound social, economic and environmental policy for farmers, based on Christian stewardship principles and works to open opportunities for members to be successful and responsible entrepreneurs.
Learn More Want to hear more about our work? You can receive our free weekly e-Commentaries and bi-monthly CFFO e-News. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in attending CFFO’s Provincial Council and/or special committees? Contact us at email@example.com to receive meeting notices.
CFFO Research Agenda: A BMP Decision Support Tool for Your Farm
Brenda Dyack CFFO Welcomes New Policy Advisor
arly in September, CFFO welcomed Dr. Brenda Dyack to the team as Director of Research and Policy. Dyack is serving as CFFO’s principal policy advisor during Dr. Suzanne Armstrong’s maternity leave.
Dyack comes to us with a background in agricultural economics, working at the interface between agriculture and environment. She will split her time between the CFFO and her role as Principal Research Associate for Agri-Food Economic Systems. She also continues to hold an adjunct research faculty position with the Institute for Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra in Australia. Dyack has returned to Ontario after a decade working in various roles in Australia, including as an economist with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). Back home in Ontario, Dyack is pleased to have the opportunity this year to hear directly from farmers on what matters to them, and to forward that message directly to policy makers in the province. Members will have the opportunity to meet and discuss their concerns with Dyack during the 2019 Policy Tour.
This winter, CFFO is meeting with our 21 districts to get farmer input on their use of OMAFRA’s Best Management Practices (BMP) Series, during our annual Policy Tour. We want to better understand the BMP recommendations and whether they are being used in the best possible combination on our members’ farms. This is the first step in what we hope will be a much larger project. CFFO is seeking funding partners to build an automated, user-friendly decision support tool for farmers that will help them determine the best combination of BMPs for their particular field conditions. The tool will enable farmers to assess alternative scenarios to help them balance stewardship goals with farm business sustainability. We believe that if farmers can make better BMP choices according to field conditions, crop choice, and stewardship goals, then achievements in soil health and water quality can be improved.
Policy Notes Highlights of CFFO Policy Work From Recent Months. Complete policy submissions to government can be seen online at christianfarmers.org/issues. Neonics I: Risk of Imidacloprid to Pollinators
ealth Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has recently been conducting reviews on the three neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin. The most recent re-evaluation investigated the impact of imidacloprid on pollinators. PMRA is proposing to remove or significantly restrict uses for fruit and vegetable production. Use as a seed treatment, such as for corn and soybeans, however, is not proposed for further restrictions under this pollinator review. The CFFO has asked the PMRA to more carefully consider the value of imidacloprid for its uses in fruit and vegetable production, to allow selective use of some of these products until effective alternatives can be established, and to consider the impact on farmers’ competitiveness within global and domestic markets. We have also strongly stressed that consultation with commodity organizations and producers of those crops that would be directly impacted by the recommendations is crucial.
Mayfly on Water. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency re-evaluates outdoor use of neonicotinoid insecticides.
Neonics II: Risk of Clothianidin & Thiamethoxam to Aquatic Invertebrates
onsistent with our responses to PMRA regarding imidacloprid, the CFFO has encouraged evaluation of the net benefits of restricting the use of these neonicotinoids. Toxic effects of the chemicals we employ
CFFO 2019 Policy Tour
Myths & Methodologies
are omafra’s best management practice booklets useful?
Enviromental Farm Plan
What is BEST for YOUR farm?
can we crack the code on what’s best when it comes to bmps? Visit christianfarmers.org/policytour to find an event near you! 4
in agriculture are of serious concern to CFFO; however, it is also the case that there are costs associated with all human activity. What is important in decision making is the weight of evidence of harm, as well as the balance of costs and benefits. The CFFO would like to be made award of the evidence that considers the net costs to agriculture of the proposed restrictions as well as plans to introduce alternative treatments. These products have gained wide usage because they were approved and deemed safe. Removal, we feel, may impose significant costs. Whether or not these costs are justified needs a fuller assessment of the net effects of both use and restriction to substantiate the decision.
he CFFO is currently working on a review of cannabis legalization in Canada. The review will analyze various aspects of cannabis legalization as they relate to Ontario agriculture with the intention of highlighting the different policies that will influence farming in Ontario. A few of the topics that are being researched include odour regulation, zoning, case studies, and comparison to the policy development of tobacco and hemp regulations. Canada is the first G7 country to fully legalize the use of cannabis, which means regulations for its use may influence operations in agriculture in a way that has not been seen before. It will be important to fully understand the course
of policy development for the product. By studying the developments in cannabis legalization as well as analyzing similar products and jurisdictions, the CFFO hopes to better understand the implications that our newest crop will have on agriculture in Ontario.
The ALUS Bill
private member’s bill, entitled Alternate Land Use and Services (ALUS) Program for Agricultural Land Act, 2018, is currently wending its way through the legislative process. The proposed bill seeks to increase support for and expansion of the ALUS program, which rewards enrolled farmers and landowners for their efforts to manage and maintain ecologically beneficial projects on their land. The bill was proposed by Toby Barrett, MPP for HaldimandNorfolk and Parliamentary Assistant to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Both CFFO and Mr. Barrett have been long-time supporters of the ALUS program, and this September the CFFO was asked to write in support of the bill. In its letter, the CFFO stressed the importance of maintaining the voluntary, farmer-led nature of the program as the key to its widespread support. CFFO Vice-President Richard Blyleven was in the Ontario Legislature to show support for the bill during second reading on September 27. The proposed bill has received all-party support.
Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) Growth Planning Stakeholder Forum The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s (MMAH) Ontario Growth Secretariat brought together over 200 representatives of organizations with an interest in managing growth in the GGH this November. CFFO representative Brenda Dyack was seated with a diverse mix, from MMAH Deputy Minister Laurie LeBlanc to MTO staff to developers. The breadth of participants enriched debate at each of dozens of tables. MMAH was seeking concrete, workable solutions to expressed concerns about implementation of the GGH Growth Plan in the following areas: “employment area” conversions, Natural Heritage System and Agricultural System mapping, major transport station areas, density and intensity targets and settlement boundary expansions. All of these topics intersect with common CFFO member concerns: decisions about high speed rail corridor placement, the need for a business environment that supports the agriculture sector, increased pressures on farmland caused by leapfrogging of development outside growth planning boundaries, and the need for provincial systems mapping tools to extend beyond the GGH. The five government priorities expressed by MMAH to focus stakeholder discussion were increasing housing supply, creating jobs, reducing red tape, attracting economic investments and building strategic partnerships. Missing from the agenda was how all this planning can protect our stock of healthy soils and our endowment of fresh water. This absence was noted loud and clear by many who shared their recommendations at the end of the day. Other important advice from stakeholders was the need for strong provincial oversight of planning (particularly over municipal “secondary” plans, which should be required), more flexibility regarding local conditions and goals and planning that support “complete” communities. What remains to be seen is whether the day’s emerging recommendations will be accepted and implemented. CFFO Newsletter
CFFO Joins in at Farm Shows and Supports Member OYF Award Finalists.
First time CFFO Picnic-ers Enjoy Free Food and Farm Tours.
his August, the Quinte Christian Farmers Association hosted a CFFO booth at the annual Hastings County Plowing Match and Farm Show. The event attracts close to 15,000 visitors to view local exhibits and plowing competitions. Several Quinte board members and CFFO Field Services Manager Paul Bootsma were on hand to greet visitors and answer their questions about the CFFO. Thanks to all the volunteers who come out to support the CFFO! In September, Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show celebrated its 25th year. The CFFO has been part of the fun every one of those years. CFFO staff and executive board members were on hand to host the CFFO booth and to attend special events. This year, Ontario’s Outstanding Young Farmers (COYF) Program presented its annual OYF Award during the farm show. CFFO president Clarence Nywening and staff were thrilled to attend the event in support of CFFO members and competition finalists Derek and Marie Brouwer. The Brouwers shared the story of building their organic dairy, grains and hay business.
very summer, several of our district Christian Farmers Association (CFA) boards host summer picnics, offering opportunities for members to get to know other farming families in their region. This summer, a number of districts joined the fun by hosting picnics for the first time. Among first-time hosts were the St. Lawrence-Ottawa Valley CFA. Their picnic saw a great turnout and included guests of all ages. The kids played yard games while the adults caught up on the latest. The event was hosted at the Dentz Orchard and Berry Farm, south of Ottawa. After a delicious meal, guests were invited for a tour of the CFFO members’ family-owned fruit and vegetable farm, which operates pick-your-own berry gardens and sells produce through their farmgate market as well as other distribution channels. In early September, CFFO members on Manitoulin Island, part of our Northeastern district, met for a BBQ and tour
CFFO staff and board members also spent time in the 4H tent supporting this long-standing organization. These networking opportunities are an important part of attending farm shows like Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.
Meeting MPPs District-level Advocacy Puts MPPs on the Dairy Parlour Floor.
his November, the Wentworth-Brant Christian Farmers Association invited local MPPs to participate in an afternoon of farm tours. MPPs Will Bouma (Brantford-Brant), Belinda Karahalios (Cambridge) and Donna Skelly (Flamborough-Glanbrook) toured four CFFO member operations, including two dairy facilities, a tree seedling greenhouse and a cut mums greenhouse. Throughout the tours, there was plenty of good conversation between MPPs and district board members about matters concerning agriculture in Ontario. Guest MPPs were eager to hear about on-the-ground issues from their hosts, from the carbon tax to labour. This event was an important step for the district to build relationships and advocate for faithful farming policies. 6
CFFO Agri-Day On October 16, the CFFO hosted members and partners on a tour of several sites at the University of Guelph Research Stations in Elora. As one of the largest agricultural research farms in Canada, the Elora Research Station has over 2,300 acres dedicated to supporting intensive research in agriculture.
The province is cutting red tape, and the CFFO is preparing recommendations for agriculture. If you face needless red tape in your business, share your story with us: firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-855-800-0306
of Burt Farm Country Meats. CFFO members and owners Max and Johanna Burt describe themselves as farmers first and small business owners second. They raise cattle, pork and, occasionally, turkey and chicken and operate their own abattoir on the farm. Guests were intrigued by a number of homemade inventions used to meet the requirements of an abattoir.
Provincial Council Council Discusses USMCA and Government Calls for Red-Tape Reduction.
FFO district leaders and interested members met this October for the fall Provincial Council. The council heard from Al Mussel of Agri-food Economic Systems, who is an expert in agricultural marketing and policy. The presentation explored the access granted to the Canadian dairy market to the US in the USMCA, the access to the US market granted to Canada, and provided an explanation of how it appears the changes to milk Class 7 could impact the milk supply management system in Canada.
The Council also opened a discussion on red tape in the province. This fall, in a letter to CFFO and other agricultural organizations, the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, called for suggestions to cut red tape in agriculture. The Council discussed numerous issues, from drainage to nutrient management to zoning. The CFFO believes this is an excellent opportunity to ease the regulatory burden felt by many of our members and are working to present suggestions. We’re asking members to share their experiences and bring concrete suggestions for change that we can present to government.
Dairy Research & Innovation Centre This 175,000 square foot facility was designed for “discovery, learning and outreach” to support Ontario’s dairy industry and provide consumer benefits in the future. CFFO guests were guided through the facility by students from the University of Guelph, all of whom are conducting research as part of the approximately eight research projects occurring at the facility at any given time. These studies focus on animal health and welfare, genetics and genomics, animal and human nutrition, management and technology, and product development.
The Plant Agriculture Centre Dr. Bill Deen, researcher at the 400-acre research farm, shared his research into the agri-environmental implications of certain cover crops and crop rotations. Currently, research is being done to understand the long-term effects of popular crop rotations. For example, Deen’s own research on corn-soy rotations imply long-term net costs. As a solution, he discussed the importance of rotation diversity. Research has shown over the 38-year research program at the site that adding wheat, for example, can increase long-term soil health benefits and reduce variability in crop production rates.
The Soil Health Interpretive Centre (SHIC) Earth and atmospheric sciences expert Dr. Claudia Wagner-Riddle offered a brief presentation on the work of the centre, and OMAFRA and University of Guelph researchers gave guests a crash course in soil erosion through simulations of rainfall and flooding on no-till, tilled, forest covered, and compacted soils. Guests also toured the centre’s lysimeters, the first of their kind in North America. These devices allow researchers to precisely measure water gained by precipitation and water lost by evaporation and plant transpiration. The lysimeters also allow for data collection of soil water tension, CO2 concentration, temperature, and electroconductivity within the surrounding soil. By accounting for these variables, and others, scientists can accurately assess determinants of soil health. CFFO Newsletter
Late Season Wet Weather Creates Hurdles for Manure Application Partnering in Sustainability 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program gets Boost from CFFO and Partners.
n November 20, the CFFO joined partnering organizations in a commitment to advance sustainable agriculture in Canada. The CFFO, Fertilizer Canada, Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Agri-Business Association, OMAFRA, and the OFA are together investing $382,500 over three years to promote the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program. Partnership funds will go toward increased training and extension across the province. Through 4R Certification, agri-retailers are equipped to help their farming customers implement 4R Nutrient Stewardship on their farms. 4R Nutrient Stewardship is an industry-led best management practice (BMP) system that helps farmers reduce nutrient losses into the environment. It promotes the four pillars of fertilizer application: Right Source at the Right Rate, Right Time and Right Place. In his speech during the signing ceremony, CFFO President Clarence Nywening commented, “Agri-retailers are often our first and best source for advice on nutrient management on our farms. Thanks to 4R Certification, farmers can be confident that the advice they get will help them to both reduce nutrient loss and improve profitability, thanks to more efficient fertilizer application.” 8
Guest article by Christine Brown, Field Crop Sustainability Specialist, OMAFRA November 2018
rotecting watersources from manure would be a lot easier if the weather would cooperate. After a relatively good growing season, the conditions since September have been wetter than normal with only short windows between rain events to complete harvest and field work. A challenging corn harvest, combined with wet soils and early snow events has resulted in fieldwork that is behind schedule and manure storages that are full and need to be emptied before the calendar gets to “winter.” Water contamination from field drainage tiles, soil erosion and surface runoff must be considered when applying manure during a wet and/or wintry October, November or December. Field damage from soil compaction, especially on heavier soils is another consideration in balancing field operations and healthy soils. For some farms, manure application will need to occur in “winter” conditions. (“Winter”, for the purposes of this article, is defined as frozen or snow covered soils, not the calendar date). For others, manure application will be the contingency plan to avoid an overflowing storage. In some fields, frozen soils may be required before tankers or spreaders can manoeuvre them. For application that must occur in wet conditions, the ideal option is still to surface apply CFFO Newsletter
manure onto crop residue followed by incorporation of the manure as soon as possible after application. Where this is not possible, a common sense approach to minimize water or soil contamination is required. This includes identifying and managing high risk areas. Options for manure application during a wet harvest season or in “winter” conditions are as follows: 1. Custom Application Is this the year where custom application makes the most sense? It is important to consider place and method of application. Consider hiring a custom applicator if harvest and workload dictates that manure application cannot be done to meet environmental or farm needs. A custom applicator with site specific or GPS capabilities is able to map the location and rate of manure application so that commercial fertilizer supplementation becomes easier next spring. 2. Assessing Sites for Application Some fields on the farm have higher risk for nutrient contamination; more topography, surface runs, infiltration; poor soil structure that makes them a poor choice for lateseason manure application. Choose fields, or parts of fields furthest from water courses, fields that have less slope and fields with buffers (fence lines) as the first choice for application. Choose fields with relatively high amounts of crop residue when possible.
3. Records Keep records of where manure has and hasn’t been spread for crop nutrient and liability purposes. 4. Avoid Injection into Wet Soils Injection of liquid manure isn’t a good option in wet soils. Wet soils smear more easily, especially when combined with additional and concentrated liquids at each injection point. Surface application onto crop residue (ideally corn) followed by tillage at the earliest opportunity will result in the least amount of compaction damage in wet soils. 5. Avoid Contaminating Surface Water Spread on fields or parts of fields with the least slope. Start with fields where there is no access to surface water. Water flow patterns are obvious in most fields during a storm. Take note of these areas and avoid manure application to them as well as other areas where there is evidence of ponded water or eroded rills through the field. 6. Separation Distances from Watercourses Maintain separation distances from watercourses. Under good spreading conditions, the recommended separation distance from any watercourse normally ranges between 40 and 100 feet, depending on runoff risk. In winter application, the separation distance should be at least 100 feet. (In the Nutrient Management regulations, the minimum setback increases to 330 feet with winter application where slope to the watercourse is greater than 3% for liquid manure, or 6% slope where solid manure is applied). 7. Separation Distances from Surface Inlets Surface inlets or hickenbottoms act as direct channels to surface water. In a wet year, the risk of water contaminated with manure moving through surface inlets increases. As a result, separation distances from hickenbottoms or inlets should be the same as for watercourses. 8. Keep Application Rates Low A rate of 5,600 Imperial gallons per acre (6,800 US gal/ ac) is the equivalent to ¼ inch (6 mm) evenly applied across spread width. Consider the soil conditions at the time of application. If a ¼ inch of rain fell in one minute, would it run off or move? 9. Monitor & Be Prepared to Implement the Contingency Plan For all manure application options, monitoring is essential to ensure that contamination of water sources does not occur. If a spill or discharge to a watercourse does occur, it is required by law for the producer or operator
of the application equipment to immediately contact the Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060, followed by implementation of the farm’s contingency plan. 10. Alternate Manure Storage Consider alternative storage if available. Some neighbours may have sold their livestock, but still have manure storage space that could be “rented.” 11. Temporary Solid Storages Where temporary field storages will be used for solid manure, make sure that the location is flat, and away from water sources and tiles locations. Location with respect to neighbours should also be considered due to potential odour complaints. 12. Application to Frozen or Snow-covered Soils Spreading manure on frozen or snow covered soils is not a recommended practice. But if, manure can be incorporated on the day of application or if storage capacity will not allow the producer to make it till spring, then manure applied early in the winter season generally has better infiltration capacity and is usually lower risk than manure applied in February when there is a deeper layer of frost and higher risk for runoff. (Farms implicated under the regulation must incorporate liquid manure within 6 hours after application to frozen or snow-covered soil). 13. Consider Snowmelt Runoff If manure is being applied to snow covered fields, consider the soil under the snow. Risk of contaminated runoff is highest where rainfall is combined with melting snow over frozen soils. Where will the runoff move? Snow covered fields with unfrozen soils, still have some capacity for infiltration. However, compaction could be an issue and there is still risk of contaminated runoff depending on conditions at snow melt. Target manure application considering snowmelt runoff patterns and avoid application in high risk areas. Sewage biosolids can not be applied during “winter.” Details regarding temporary storage, and winter application is covered in more detail in OMAFRA Factsheets: Temporary Field Storage of Solid Manure or Prescribed Materials (Factsheet #05-009) www.omafra.gov.on.ca/ english/engineer/facts/05-009.htm Applying Manure and Other Agricultural Source Materials in Winter (Factsheet #04-069). www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/ engineer/facts/04-069.htm
Water Quality Research in Chatham Kent
n June 28, 2018, staff from several member organizations of the Water Stewardship Team met with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA ) in Chatham-Kent to tour the area’s pump stations and discuss the LTVCA’s research on agricultural water runoff, nutrient loss, conservation cropping practices and soil heath.
Do BMPs Pay?
CFFO Water Stewardship Team The CFFO Water Stewardship Team was established in 2015 to build the reservoir of knowledge on agricultural water use in Ontario. The team is made up of staff from a number of agriculture and ag-related groups. Team members regularly tour sites of interest to learn more about water quality and water management projects across the province.
2018 Member Organizations:
The Water Stewardship Team began with a visit to the Dauphin pump station. LTVCA staff outlined the management strategy for measuring field runoff and phosphorous levels before water is released back into Jeannettes Creek, a tributary of the Thames River. The Dauphin station is capable of pumping up to 16,000 m3/hr of water into the Jeannettes Creek every hour. By using the measurements taken, researchers can calculate water phosphorous levels of the accumulated water runoff that is to be pumped into the creek.
Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) Credit Valley Conservation Authority Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) Farm & Food Care Ontario (FFCO) Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Ontario Nature Ontario Sheep Ontario Soil & Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA)
here are over 150 pump stations operating in Chatham-Kent. A significant portion of the tributaries in the lower reaches of the Thames River drain through pump scheme systems. The pump scheme drainage systems were constructed in low lying coastal areas that require dykes, dams, and pumps to ensure the cropland does not flood and remains fit for production. In 2016, the LTVCA began monitoring three pump and dike schemes through the “Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI) Jeannettes Creek Priority Subwatershed Project” in 2016. The program concluded in March of this year, but the LTVCA continues to monitor at those three pump stations— called Deary, Boudreau, and Dauphin—for now. The LTVCA is monitoring the pump stations to collect water flow and water quality data in order to calculate nutrient loads. Due to the large portion of land that is drained through this type of system in the Lower Thames area, there’s a need to determine how they are contributing to phosphorus loads within the Thames River watershed.
The original GLASI project provided producers within the 18.6km2 study area with cost-shares to implement agricultural best management practices (BMPs), including cover crops, buffer strips, water management infrastructure, and conservation tillage equipment, etc. The data collected is being evaluated to determine what the cost would be to reduce agriculturally sourced phosphorous levels (in $/kg of reduction) using targeted BMP voluntary incentive programs.
Currently, the LTVCA is working with the University of Guelph Water Resources Engineering Team to develop a Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to evaluate the ability of the farmer-implemented BMPs at reducing agriculturally sourced phosphorous loads. Modeling reports for the subwatershed study should be released during the winter of 2019.
Do Cropping System Approaches Really Make Much Difference?
Greenhouse Water Use in Essex
n September 28, 2018, members from the Water Stewardship Team travelled to the Harrow Research and Development Centre in Essex County. The Harrow Research Centre is home to over 2,900 acres of research space. It also boasts one of the largest greenhouse research complex facilities in North America.
Team members were given a presentation on greenhouse water use, covering water recycling practices and various filtration systems, such as slow sand filtration, lava rock filtration, ozonation systems and heat treatment systems.
The Conservation Authority is monitoring two Brookston clay fields within the Jeannettes Creek subwatershed to verify how effective a no-till cover crop system is at reducing agriculturally sourced phosphorus loads. The team met with one of the field owners, who shared his experiences in experimenting with a no-till/covercrop approach and drill seeding soybeans and corn into cover crop residue. A neighbouring farmer offered his conventionally farmed field to act as a control for result comparison in the study.
Following the presentation, the team also visited two greenhouses in the surrounding Leamington area. A highlight of these tours was a demonstration of the water filtration systems at Agriville Farms. There, a heat treatment system is used to disinfect and store the water needed to irrigate the facility. The system uses three large water tanks to mix clean water with recycled water, which has been disinfected through heat. As a result, much of the water that has already been used to irrigate the produce in the greenhouse can be reused, promoting an efficient and sustainable irrigation system.
In 2016, the LTVCA installed ISCO auto-samplers and flow meters in each field’s subsurface tile drainage system so they could sample water for phosphorus concentrations and calculate the nutrient loads associated with the two cropping systems.
Greenhouses have grown almost eleven times larger since 1993 and, since about two thirds of Canadian greenhouses are in Ontario, it is ever more important for our province to promote and practice sustainable water management to preserve this precious resource.
fter visiting the Dauphin pump station, the LTVCA shared current research with the Water Stewardship Team at an on-site tour of neighbouring farms outside Chatham-Kent.
To date, the LTVCA has observed when sampling that the no-till cover crop field has a greater water infiltration capacity. Furthermore, surface water runoff and soil erosion has occurred more frequently at the field that is conventionally managed during winter and spring flow events. The observations are preliminary and all the results still need to be analyzed to calculate nutrient loads. Researchers from the University of Waterloo will be analyzing the collected data. A preliminary results report is expected to be released in January 2019. The results collected from the field will also be used to calibrate the SWAT model for the Jeannettes Creek Priority Subwatershed Project. During the tour, the no-till cover crop farmer shared noticeable production benefits he’s discovered through his cropping system approach. Many conventional farmers in the western clay plains of Chatham-Kent and Essex frequently have to reseed their crops in the spring due to heavy rainfall. The no-till farmer hasn’t had to reseed, except in extreme circumstances, thanks to his soil’s improved capacity to hold large volumes of water. During the tour of both fields, team members observed that the no-till cover crop field had suffered less oversaturation leading to water runoff and displayed healthy, rich soil. CFFO Newsletter
The Dauphin Pumping Station. This pumping station is capable of pumping up to 16,000m3/hr of water into the Jeanettes Creek every hour. Researchers are able to calculate water phosphorus levels of the accumulated water runoff that is pumped into the creek.
Growing Hope Farm New Adventures in Agriculture: Farming as Social Enterprise
t was petrifying at the beginning. Goats are popping off on you, and you have no idea what’s happening,” Sarah Martin-Mills recalls about the first flock of kids she took on as a new farmer two years ago. “I didn’t know anything about goats. The vet was very patient with me,” she laughs. Martin-Mills is the proud owner of Growing Hope Farm, a 4.9-acre lot nestled up against the Speed River in Cambridge, Ontario. Look to your right as you meander down the farm lane, and you’ll spot chickens pecking the grass and goats romping against the tree-filled backdrop of the riverbank. Look to your left, just past the berry patch, and you’ll see a long row of suburban backyards. Martin-Mills comes from Scarborough, where she grew up working at horse farms in order to earn riding time. It was during her teen years, while working with horses, that she began 12
to dream of owning a farm that could both bless those in need and build community. That’s perhaps the most surprising thing about Growing Hope Farm: it’s actually a not-for-profit. Martin-Mills and her husband Philip, who works off-site, take no wage from the farm. Proceeds are either diverted back into farm maintenance or donated to the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a global relief and development NGO. The farm also employs at-risk youth and other marginalized people by offering job training through volunteer opportunities. To make this community-building part of her plan work, Martin-Mills needed the farm to be close to the city. “A lot of people need access to public transit,” she explains. “Here in Cambridge, we have a bus stop just down the street.” CFFO Newsletter
New urban farmer Sarah Martin-Mills hit the ground running but soon learned that adaptation is the name of the game in farming.
The farm is now partnered with several community outreach programs in order to offer volunteer opportunities to those facing barriers to employment. Forging relationships with these organizations has been a challenge, but finding work projects for the volunteers who come to the farm hasn’t. The property was abandoned for a few years before the couple bought it in 2016. Originally, Martin-Mills thought she wouldn’t be able to start farming until their young children were in school. But in fact, Growing Hope Farm was founded just a year after purchasing the property. They hit the ground running but soon learned that adaptation is the name of the game in farming. “I had big plans to do this massive vegetable garden, but I discovered early on that I don’t have time to do all that,” Martin-Mills laughs. “We’re just doing fruit now. We offer pick-your-own berries, which is a lot less demanding. We also have rhubarb, and we just planted some fruit trees, so come back in five years!” Martin-Mills has devised several onfarm revenue streams, if on a small scale. The property has three mature apple trees, so this year they sold apple cider. They keep bees and sell the honey. They sell jam made from their berries. They even grow a little garlic.
“We’ve pared down some and scaled up what I saw was working—whatever seemed to resonate with people,” Martin-Mills explains. “I had only about twenty chickens to start, but the eggs really took off, which I did not foresee.” She now keeps chicken for both eggs and meat. All these products can be purchased in season at their small farmgate stand, which operates on the honour system.
Urban farming has presented its share of complications, of course. They’ve had some vandalism from passersby on the public path between the farm and the river. People have even come on the property at night. But Sarah remains optimistic. “This year has been a lot calmer,” she says. “I think the novelty of having a goat farm in the city is wearing off…Also, we have a stronger fence now.”
Growing Hope Farm is possibly most famous for its goats—or, more specifically, its goat yoga. Raising the goats for sale at the stockyard brings in almost no profit, despite feed discounts and donated kid goats. Martin-Mills had to devise other revenue sources, like offering goat yoga classes. It’s exactly what it sounds like: people do yoga while the goats play nearby (or sometimes really close up). Sarah has received a lot of local media interest in the classes, and it’s been a popular offering on the farm.
Martin-Mills also recognizes that her goals of building community and raising donations can occasionally conflict. “If I’m focused on job training and other experiences for more marginalized people groups, then I’m not earning as much money for overseas missions. But if I’m focused on making money for MCC, then I’m not building community. So, I’m trying to balance that constant tension.”
They also offer bottle-feeding shifts, for a fee, to groups interested in feeding baby goats. “We get in a lot of families, a lot of friend groups,” explains Sarah. “Sometimes we get people on dates. One couple even got engaged here!”
Running an urban farm as a not-forprofit social enterprise is a fairly niche venture, so it’s no surprise that MartinMills is facing challenges. But she’s already demonstrated her ability to learn on the go. Her faith also plays a huge role in her work: “We’re trusting Him for the grants we need and for the money to come in and for word to spread,” she says. “These resources are not my resources. They’re God’s to use.”
Agriculture and the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement The Devil’s in the Detail. This CFFO Commentary was written by Brenda Dyack and released on October 5, 2018, shortly after the US, Mexico and Canada announced the completion of negotiations toward a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
egotiating international agreements of any sort creates winners and losers in a new world order. While the ultimate impact on losers under this Agreement will take some time to evaluate, supply managed agricultural industries in Canada are clearly losers and initial reactions indicate that they will be seriously hit by the changes. How can we come to terms with the inequity of the burden? Where do we go to from here? There are important steps we need to take and some essential components of an acceptable and workable solution. First of all, we need to assess the damage. We need to evaluate the nature and the extent of the changes. At this point what appears clear is
“We in Canada have a history of social policy that promotes the collective good.”
that there will be concessions of market access to be implemented over six years. This is a defined and finite change having an impact on dairy, poultry, and eggs that can be estimated. A different impact will come from changes in process that impact adjustment and extend forward into the future. This is the case regarding the elimination of Class 7 milk, with this impact being more difficult to understand. The implications of the Agreement are complex and will defy the ability of many to assess them well. Those most affected by any change, particularly a harmful one, can tell the rest of us the details of how the change is hitting home and therefore, we need to involve those who are directly affected. Individual producers and producer groups affected by this change must be consulted as part of the process of assessing the collective impact on all affected producers. We in Canada have a history of social policy that promotes the collective good. This is why our health policy evolved in the 1950s to one that would not leave some out in the cold, unable to pay for the care that others could afford. Although right next door to the massive influence of a culture largely based on individual responsibility for wellbeing, we in
Canada embraced policy that took care of our people—all of them. Similarly, supply management is rooted in early decisions to protect farm families from price volatility, as well as to support farm incomes for certain commodities. Quota systems here are now mature and a basis of the income and wealth of those who own quota. This reality is recognized by Minister Freeland, Canada’s lead negotiator, who has made it clear that there will be full compensation. Quantification of “full compensation” needs to involve those affected. As we progress through understanding the costs of this Agreement by assessing who is affected and to what degree, we have the opportunity to take advantage of this policy window to design changes that not only address the inequitable impact of the Agreement, but also address concerns that have been percolating, such as how supply managed industries can be made more accessible to new entrants. There are other emerging considerations that will come to the forefront as we quickly gain an understanding of the specific details, assess impacts and move towards solutions. After all, when the going gets tough, the tough get creative. We will adapt and we will be resilient once we know the details.
The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXFM Chatham, and CKNX Wingham. It is also archived on the CFFO website, at christianfarmers.org./commentary. 14 14
Long-Term Thinking for Today’s Issues The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario is working hard to share our top policy concerns with government. This fall, we sent letters to key new ministers to address our chief concerns for Ontario’s farming future: Agrifood Sector Success
The agriculture and agri-food sector is a cornerstone of the Ontario economy, but political will is necessary to help it thrive. We identified some key actions government can take to ensure economic growth for the industry: • Exercise fiscal responsibility. • Enact labour policy that balances the needs of employers and employees. • Design energy policy that accounts for the unique conditions of farming. • Invest in rural infrastructure, including broadband internet, drainage and reliable hydro.
Good planning and density targets in urban areas can prevent sprawl onto our valuable food-growing and naturally sensitive lands. Government has begun some excellent work in land-use planning for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) area, taking both agricultural and natural heritage systems into account. CFFO has asked that this work be expanded beyond the borders of the GGH to other areas in the province experiencing growth pressure.
The CFFO took part in developing Ontario’s 2018 Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy. But now that it’s written, we can’t just leave it on the shelf. We reaffirmed our strong support of this strategy and made some recommendations to keep soil health a priority: • Support research on, and adoption of, soil health BMPs. • Update provincial soil mapping. • Support farmers in their efforts to improve soil health and reduce nutrient losses.
We are blessed with abundant water resources in Ontario, but we still need an agricultural system that encourages good stewardship. As Ontario’s climate becomes increasingly erratic, farmers will likely face extremes of flood and drought. We’ll need good soil health, irrigation, drainage, and retention systems, to produce quality food, so we’ve asked the Ontario government to take the following actions: • Guarantee funding for water quality research and monitoring projects. • Offer incentives to address water quality and soil health. • Ensure that Ontario’s agricultural water regulatory environment allows farmers to manage water on their farms through drainage, irrigation and retention systems. CFFO Newsletter
Attend our meetings near you, or drop by the CFFO booth at these farm shows. More info at chrisitanfarmers.org/events. January Farm Business Registration CFFO Policy Tour CFFO District Annual Meetings Grey-Bruce Farmers Week (January 3-9) Chatham-Kent Farm Show (January 23-24)
February Farm Business Registration CFFO Policy Tour CFFO District Annual Meetings CFFO Provincial Council (February 13)
March Farm Business Registration Deadline (March 1) CFFO Policy Tour CFFO District Annual Meetings CFFO AGM & Leadership Summit (March 26) East Central Farm Show (March 6-7) London Farm Show (March 6-8) Ottawa Valley Farm Show (March 12-14)
April Canadian Dairy XPO (April 3-4) London Poultry Show (April 4-5) Earlton Farm Show (April 12-13)
May The CFFO wishes you a very safe planting season.
June Ontario Pork Congress (June 19-20) CFFO Provincial Council (June 26) If you would like to receive meeting notices for CFFO events, please email email@example.com. 15
RETURN UNDELIVERABLE ITEMS TO Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario 642 Woolwich St. Guelph, ON N1H 3Y2
www.christianfarmers.org 1-855-800-0306 facebook/cffont @cffont