N E W S L E T T E R
Dutch Mill Gardens
CFFO Hires Executive Director WHAT’S INSIDE
Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario
A New Animal Protection Act
Activism and Farmer Safety
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Summer/Fall 2019 Production
President’s Comments Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day! The familiar nursery rhyme has felt like the theme song for this year’s planting season. But despite some frustration, we still thank God for the blessings he has given to us. One area where we can give thanks is the continued work of government to reduce red tape. These efforts promise to help farmers in our attempts at more efficient farming practices. We’re also grateful that our provincial government continues to try to change the carbon tax. We hope that the federal government will recognize the many ecosystem services provided by farms that currently go without compensation. In January, we voiced concerns about Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. We saw good intentions but were troubled by its potential threat to farmland, due to the Open-for-Business Planning By-law (learn more on page 6). Along with many in agriculture, we were pleased to see that government removed the by-law. As the rest of Bill 66 is implemented in coming months, CFFO will support initiatives that do not pose long-term consequences for farming. In May, the OSPCA stepped away from enforcing the rules of care for farm animals. Currently, the OPP and local law enforcement are dealing with cases while government develops new animal protection legislation. CFFO has been working with our partners to recommend legislative principles for a revised animal care act to replace Ontario’s OSPCA Act. Find out the details on page 8. Many members have expressed concerns about animal activists trespassing on our farms. Fear and frustration rose in May, when break-and-enter and mischief charges against activist Jenny McQueen were dismissed before even seeing the courtroom. In response, CFFO and other farm organizations asked members to participate in an email campaign to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney. We hope this campaign will encourage government to address our concerns. If you would like to keep informed about member campaigns like this one, we encourage you to contact us at email@example.com. We wish you God’s blessing as we look forward to the growing season ahead. 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 Paul Bootsma, writer Brenda Dyack, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com. Interested in attending CFFO’s Provincial Council and/or special committees? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive meeting notices.
CFFO Appoints New Executive Director
he CFFO is pleased to announce that Dr. Brenda Dyack has been hired as the CFFO’s Executive Director.
Dyack’s career in policy and research has spanned over three decades and two continents. She has served as agricultural advisor to the Ministry of Finance here in Ontario and as an economist in Australia with the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). She continues to hold an adjunct research faculty position at the University of Canberra. Now back home in Ontario, she is a Principal Research Associate with Agri-Food Economic Systems. Dyack joined the CFFO in August 2018, covering for an extended leave as Director of Research & Policy. She will continue in her policy role in addition to her newly appointed duties until the return of incumbent policy lead, Dr. Suzanne Armstrong, in October.
“The past months spent working on policy development for CFFO has been eye-opening and rewarding. It’s been thrilling to meet CFFO members, to hear your on-the-ground concerns, and to see your commitment to stewardship firsthand. I look forward to advocating on your behalf as Executive Director.”
“We’re pleased to have Brenda in her new role,” says CFFO President Clarence Nywening. “Her agricultural economics experience working within a variety of organizations, both here and abroad, will bring an important and timely economic impact focus to the CFFO.”
Districts Get Involved Each Year CFFO Districts Get Involved in Their Community.
number of Districts have already begun preparations for summer picnics and socials. These events are an opportunity for farm families, community members and local politicians to enjoy some fellowship and conversation. Keep your eye out for an invitation to your District summer event!
uring the winter months, a number of members assisted at the various farm shows where the CFFO hosted a booth. These are opportunities to showcase the Federation to others in the industry, expand membership and network with partners and supporters of the CFFO.
Farm & Food Care Partnership
uring the Districts’ 2019 Annual Meetings, CFFO asked boards to consider contributing toward a partnership with Farm & Food Care Ontario, which works on farmers’ behalf to educate and build relationships with consumers. Thanks to the generosity of our Districts, the CFFO has been able to increase its support of Farm & Food Care and to contribute to its vital work for Ontario agriculture. For example, Farm & Food Care was instrumental in developing the ag sector’s joint recommendations to replace the OSPCA Act (learn more on page 8).
everal Districts offer scholarships to children and/or grandchildren of CFFO members who are enrolled in an agriculture-related course of study at college or university. Participating Districts mail out application forms to their members, so if you receive one, be sure to pass it on to an eligible student.
Meet Your 2019 - 2020 Executive Board Clarence Nywening President
“As God’s stewards we use our gifts to continually grow, rooted in faith and surrounded by family.”
Clarence grew up in Strathroy, Ontario. He and his wife, Pat, got their start in farming in the early nineties. They purchased a broiler-breeder and cash crop operation near Thamesville, where they raised their five children. Today, they farm alongside their son and daughter and their spouses. Clarence has been involved in CFFO leadership at the Federation and District levels for over two decades, and he has been the Federation’s President since 2015. Clarence sits on several provincial committees, including the President’s Council and the Advisory Council to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Ed Scharringa Vice-President
“Look after the land, and the land will look after you.”
Having worked in vegetable and flower wholesale, farm market retail and the restaurant business, Ed brings both farming and marketing experience to the CFFO Board. Ed bought his first farm in Millgrove in 1985. Since then, he and his wife, Elaine, have enjoyed the challenges of innovating, expanding and exploring new business projects. They have six grown children, four of whom work in the agrifood industry. Ed joined the CFFO Executive Board eleven years ago, serving in various roles. He currently also serves on the Board of Directors for Farm & Food Care Ontario and the Agricultural Adaptation Council. 4
Richard Blyleven Vice-President & Secretary
“We are working to give this land to the next generation in better shape than we got it.”
Richard is a crop farmer from the Cayuga area, where he also produces organic eggs. He and his wife, Janet, have four grown children. His life’s passion has centered on faith, family and farming. Blyleven has been a permanent fixture in the Ontario agriculture scene, having served on numerous boards over the years, including the Ontario Wheat Producers Marketing Board, AgCare, and the Environmental Council of Farm & Food Care Ontario. In addition to his duties on the Executive Board, Richard also serves as President of the Haldimand-Norfolk District Board.
John Bos Director & Treasurer
“We’re an inter-generational farm family, using Biblical principles to steward what He has entrusted us with and providing opportunities for the next generation.”
John resides in the Cambridge area, where he and his wife, Joy, are part of a multi-generational family farm. John, along with his brothers and nephews, run a multifaceted operation, with dairy and pork as their main commodities. John is serving his second term on the CFFO Executive Board. He served on Ontario’s Soil Health Working Group, representing the CFFO in the development of OMAFRA’s New Horizons: Ontario’s Soil Health and Conservation Strategy (2018), and he currently sits on the Animal Care Council of Farm & Food Care Ontario.
Simon de Boer Director
“Farming, working with creation, has always been part of my life. I was born into a family where working hard was expected and faith was part of life. Ora et Labora: faith and work are interconnected.” Simon and his wife, Leinie, live near Tara, where he remains active in the daily life of his family dairy farm, now owned by his son and daughter-in-law. Simon devotes much of his time to community, both through his church and the local agricultural society. He is also deeply committed to stewardship, and he has been involved in the Grey-Bruce chapter of ALUS, which helps farmers develop conservation projects on marginal land. Over his years of involvement in the CFFO, Simon has served many terms on both the Executive Board and the Grey-Bruce District Board.
Frank Hoftyzer Director
“God wants us to treat people with respect and fairness in life and business to create a winwin outcome.”
Frank hails from Hastings and is currently the only director who has to brave Toronto traffic to get to board meetings. Frank and Julia, his wife and business partner, got their start in dairy farming. Today, they run a cash crop and custom farming business. Frank also serves on the East Central District Board, and this is his first term on the Executive Board. His perspective and knowledge are highly valued: he comes to the CFFO with much experience, including having served as president of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.
Bethanee Jensen Director
“You don’t have to own thousands of acres to make a living off a farm. You just have to be creative.”
Bethanee owns and operates Shepherd’s Fold, a Dorset sheep farm near Brussels. Early on, she funded her farming habit by working as an accountant before transitioning to full-time farming. Today, she and her husband, Pierre, are semi-retired. Bethanee has a passion for farmland preservation and has served on the board of the Ontario Farmland Trust. Bethanee served her first term on the CFFO Executive Board in 2011. She has been involved in CFFO leadership ever since, on both the Executive Board and the Huron District Board.
John Kikkert Director
“It’s truly a joy to be employed in agriculture work and service that is done with love for what you are doing, sharing with others and a willingness to care.”
John is a chicken and turkey producer from Smithville, where he and his wife, Sue, raised their three children. John has filled just about every post on the CFFO Executive Board at some point, including President (2003-09), and he’s currently President of the Niagara District Board. John has dedicated countless hours to serving on ag boards, including Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Turkey Farmers of Ontario, the Agricultural Adaptation Council, and the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame—to name a few. John is also committed to Christian education and has chaired the board of the Christian School Foundation since 2016. 5
Policy Notes Highlights of CFFO Policy Work from Recent Months. Complete policy submissions to government can be seen online at christianfarmers.org/issues.
The Open-for-Business Planning By-law
Four Proposed Amendments to Growth Plan for GGH
CFFO Applauds Government Response to Environmental Concerns.
CFFO Argues Against Proposed LowDensity Urban Sprawl.
chedule 10 of Bill 66: Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act (2018), otherwise known as the Open-for-Business Planning By-law, was widely criticized by environmental and agricultural groups, among others. Schedule 10 would have amended Ontario’s Planning Act to enable municipalities to speed up approvals for business developments by bypassing existing provincial legislation, such as the Greenbelt Act, the Clean Water Act and the Great Lakes Protection Act. The aim may have been to entice major employers to Ontario by reducing red tape, but CFFO reminded government that these policies were developed specifically to protect the environment, natural heritage sites, human health, and farmland. In cases where longterm societal and agricultural benefits are at play, there may be red tape that exists for good reason. CFFO was pleased with Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark’s January 23 announcement that government would not proceed with Schedule 10.
n February, CFFO responded to four government proposals amending parts of the Planning Act, the Places to Grow Act (2005) and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2017). These proposals echoed, in many ways, the original intent of Bill 66’s Schedule 10. Although CFFO commended government’s stated intention to maintain protections for the Greenbelt, agricultural lands, the agri-food sector, and natural heritage systems, we questioned how this could be accomplished, given that the proposals sought to reduce municipal density and intensification targets and expand proposed settlement area boundaries. CFFO argued that approval of these four amendments risked a return to the kind of low-density urban sprawl that reduces farmland, jeopardizing the health of the agrifood system and, ultimately, food security. Instead, CFFO recommended policies to promote brownfield development; encourage urban renewal; improve transport links to major job centres; and speed up development approvals within municipal boundaries, where environmental protections are not at stake.
Red Tape Reduction We cannot manage well what we do not measure.
CFFO Supports Changes to Nutrient Management Act.
FFO has been very supportive of red tape reduction efforts where farmland and environmental protections are not compromised. One such example has been the proposed amendments to the Nutrient Management Act. In February, CFFO commended OMAFRA’s proposal to eliminate mandatory renewal of nutrient management strategies (NMS) every five years. CFFO supported the sensible proposal that new strategies be required only in cases of pertinent operational changes, like the expansion of livestock housing.
Provincial Pre-Budget Consultation CFFO Proposes More Ag Research and Better Land-Use Planning Tools.
FFO’s pre-budget consultation recommendations, delivered to the Ministry of Finance early February, centred on long-term benefits to agriculture, in keeping with our top policy priorities. First, CFFO asked for tax reform to better distribute Ontario’s wealth. Secondly, CFFO asked for investment in modern planning tools to enable the province to assess alternative options and their potential for generating long-term sustainable growth and prosperity. Finally, CFFO asked for research on soil health and water stewardship and resource mapping updates. The bottom line was that we cannot manage well what we do not measure.
Proposed Changes to the Endangered Species Act CFFO Opposes “Pay-to-Pave” Amendments to Act.
n May, CFFO commented on government’s decision to proceed with their proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act (2007). The goal of the amendments was to “streamline approvals and provide clarity to support economic development.” CFFO cautioned against government plans to implement a fee for developers who wish to develop on sensitive habitat. We voiced concerns over placing immediate economic gain over long-term protections of endangered species, encouraging government to seek policy options that supported both environmental and economic well-being for the province.
Conservation Authority Act CFFO Voices Member Concerns about CA Overreach.
his spring, government posted proposed changes to the Conservation Authority (CA) Act in order to modernize CA operations and permitting. The CFFO applauded government’s efforts, noting that some members have been frustrated by inconsistent, and sometimes overreaching, policy across CA jurisdictions. The CFFO offered recommendations to improve CA service as it relates to farming, including placing agricultural representatives on CA boards, clearly defining CA core programs, and establishing stakeholder-approved service standards for permits and project approvals. CFFO also requested reassurance that the government’s proposal to restrict CAs’ mandatory responsibilities to water quantity concerns (such as flooding) will not leave a gap in provincial oversight of water quality.
Survey of CFFO Members In March, CFFO members received letter requests to participate in a University of Guelph survey on stewardship efforts in Ontario. Drs. Madhur Anand and Virginia Capmourteres, who are leading the research, sent CFFO this update in April: “So far, we’ve received 400 responses from CFFO members for our survey, titled “Examining the provision of ecosystem services in agroecosystems of Southern Ontario.” The response rate (10%) is already twice as large as the average response rate observed in paper survey studies! For this, we are very thankful! Most respondents have also shown incredible dedication to the survey by adding comments and notes that will allow for a more in-depth analysis of the data. We are now in the process of creating a database of responses and estimate we will have some preliminary results to share in Fall 2019. In the meantime, surveys are still being accepted, so please do not hesitate to complete and mail back your survey if you wish to participate. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and opinions with us!” Dr. Virginia Capmourteres & Dr. Madhur Anand
Ontarioâ€™s Future Animal Protection Act Agriculture Organizations Offer Joint Recommendations.
ntarioâ€™s livestock commodity groups, accredited farm organizations, and Farm & Food Care Ontario are working together to help develop the next generation of animal protection legislation to ensure a sustainable, credible and effective animal protection system going forward. Together, 15 farm organizations, including the CFFO, have committed to working with all members of the livestock industry, agencies and the Ontario government to ensure cooperation and transparency between all parties as a solution takes shape in Ontario. The livestock commodity groups and agriculture organizations presented our vision for a new Animal Protection Act at a consultation meeting with the Solicitor Generalâ€™s office on April 29. The following guiding principles and recommendations summarized our collective approach and submission to government on this important issue.
Guiding Principles 1. Farmers and farm organizations are committed to the humane treatment of all animals (livestock, poultry, equine, domestic pets and wildlife) and uphold high standards of care in alignment with accepted codes of practice and normal farming activities. 2. Animal protection enforcement should be the responsibility of the public sector. New animal protection legislation in Ontario must be effective and practical, and ensure the future enforcement Agent is transparent and accountable, with government oversight.
The future enforcement Agent must be informed about normal farming practices and general farming activities.
3. The Agent should be independent of any private agency or charity, accountable to the Legislature through mandatory annual reporting of animal protection activities and the training and qualifications of enforcement staff, and should be subject to the Ombudsman and to Freedom of Information requests and/or police oversight. 4. Rules for gathering evidence and case reporting must be clear in the new Animal Protection Act, and clear, concise orders must be left with animal owners in the instance of an investigation. 5. Officers working for the enforcement Agent must be informed about normal farming practices and general farming activities. Training must include animal care procedures, animal husbandry and humane euthanasia methods. 6. The current Animal Care Review Board should be expanded to include a pool of qualified individuals with expertise in all types of farm animals, including veterinarians, farmers and farm organization representatives. 7. The Agent must have access to the full range of community agencies, services and social resources to assist in animal protection investigations and enforcement.
Recommendations Based on a thorough review of Ontario’s OSPCA Act, Manitoba’s Animal Care Act and Alberta’s Animal Protection Act, we recommend that the future Animal Protection Act include eight sections: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Definitions Duty of Care Accepted Activities Definition of Distress and Conditions Under Which an Agent Can Enter Power of the Agent Orders Seizure/Housing/Abandonment/Disposal Offences
We further recommend including the following topics, not covered previously in Ontario’s OSPCA Act: Biosecurity Measures: The future provincial Animal Protection Act must include provisions requiring mandatory biosecurity training and adherence for Agents in order to minimize the introduction or spread of a bio-hazard or disease.
Memorandums of Understanding: Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) for cooperation between the Agent and commodity groups need to be established and formally recognized. Utilizing the specialized training of commodity group staff/inspectors contributes to better informed inspections and fosters relationships with farmers when inspections are required. Mandatory Reporting: In the new Animal Protection Act, it must be required that the Agent report on animal protection investigations annually. Basic information and statistics on cases filed, orders issued, outcomes, etc., should be made available to the public and the relevant commodity group(s). Definition of Farm Animals: It is important to differentiate between farm animals used in agriculture from other types of animals, such as domestic pets and wildlife, in the new provincial Animal Protection Act. Separating farm animals from other types of animals allows for standards of care for farm animals to be referred to in regulation. Ownership of Animals: Under the Criminal Code of Canada and the current OSPCA Act, animals are considered the property of their owners or caregivers, who have a legal obligation to provide duties of care. Considering animals as property allows for prosecution of the owner/caregiver when the duties of care are not provided. Review of the Act: To ensure the new provincial Animal Protection Act is effective, we recommend a comprehensive review of the Act within two (2) years of when the Act comes into force. Periodic reviews of the Act every five (5) years after the initial review should be conducted to ensure the Act remains up to date.
Supported by: Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, Farm & Food Care Ontario, Beef Farmers of Ontario, Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg & Chick Commission, Ontario Equestrian, Ontario Goat, Ontario Fur Breeders Association, Ontario Pork, Ontario Sheep Farmers, Turkey Farmers of Ontario, Veal Farmers of Ontario
Myths and Methodologies The 2019 Policy Tour: CFFO Farmers Share Their Best Practices.
istricts hosted the Policy Tour this year with lively discussion about the environmental Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) that CFFO farmers are finding to be best for their farms. At all 23 meetings, held from November to May, members agreed, disagreed and agreed to disagree about practices that were most suitable for farming in Ontario. The bottom line usually came down to the fact that the very “best” set of practices for producing food depends on all the characteristics of particular sites. As a result, there was no arguing about the wisdom farmers hold about their own farms. There’s certainly an art to farming that combines with the science of farming. We heard this in the way members described how “planning and doing” on the farm involved a mix of tried and true practices (the science), creative leaps to decisions (the art) and—for Christian farmers, of course—prayer and trust in what the good Lord will provide (the faith). To gain an understanding of how our farmers are resourcefully practicing this art and science, we went beyond our discussions and ran a survey of practices during the Policy Tour. Our research is based on data provided by nearly 200 farmers.
What You Told Us The survey revealed a healthy interest in seeking agricultural knowledge and in using analytical tools to assist in planning for the best possible outcomes. For example, more than 80% of respondents seek out production information to help plan their practices (see Table 1). Members reported consulting OMAFRA’s 39 BMP Booklets, available online, as a starting point but said they’re keen to find the very latest information from internet sources, certified crop advisors and courses. They said new farmers might find useful information in the booklets, but experienced farmers were no longer looking for the basics and advice that may have become dated. A common appeal we heard was for a return to the days when local OMAFRA agricultural advisors were available for direct consultation about locally relevant issues. Members felt that the BMP booklets could never replace such a valuable resource as the field officers. We found that members are definitely actively working to run successful farm businesses by learning as much as possible, as well as taking seriously their God-given duty to steward farmland and all resources responsibly. The summary statistics in Table 1 tell this story. Clearly, not everyone produces the same products or farms the same land. Even when they do, a variety of practices and combinations of practices is to be expected. Soil type, location, local weather patterns and past practices all play a role in what is done, how it is done and why. Everyone agreed that while they make the best possible choices now, this doesn’t mean that what’s “best” is a closed case!
BOSS for Farms Further analysis of the survey data is being conducted as part of the CFFO’s BOSS for FARMS project. BOSS stands for “Best Optimization Scenario Selection.” We’re working to build a tool that will allow farmers to more easily find the right combination of BMPs to suit their individual field conditions and the stewardship needs of their regions. This January, CFFO received $80,125 in funding through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) toward the firstyear costs of this proposed multi-year project. Agrifood Economic Systems, based in Guelph, is providing research and development support for the project. For this first phase (to be completed this fall), researchers are reviewing the research literature, talking to the local experts and developing a searchable database of up-to-date beneficial practices that have been tested in the field and that are tied to specific field characteristics. The ultimate goal of the BOSS for FARMS project is to use the BOSS database to underpin a user-friendly planning tool that will help farmers choose BMPs that suit their specific field conditions and local environmental priorities, while also maintaining optimal production yields.
This project was funded in part through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of the Partnership in Ontario.
Making Agriculture Education Matter AgScape Prepares Ontario Educators to Teach about Food and Farming. This guest article is provided by AgScape. CFFO is a proud supporter of AgScape and its mission to deliver agriculture education in Ontario.
s the members of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario know, this province has a diverse agricultural community, yet the majority of students in today’s classrooms are unaware of the various links to our farming roots. This gap in knowledge is being filled by myths that are creating consumer distrust for the agri-food industry and threatens to challenge the growth and progress of the sector. The lack of agri-food literacy has also led to a skill set shortage in the agriculture industry resulting in four jobs now awaiting every Ontario Agriculture College graduate, according to a recent University of Guelph report. Closing the knowledge gap and bringing awareness to the careers in agriculture is a challenge that AgScape (formerly known as Ontario Agri-Food Education) has been taking on for more than 25 years. AgScape is a charitable organization that provides factual, balanced, curriculum-linked food literacy programs and resources to Ontario educators and students. In 2018, AgScape reached more than 479,000 students, and it is working to increase the impact of its program yet again in 2019.
Connecting with Students Through AgScape`s Teacher Ambassador Program, Ontario Certified Teachers visit classrooms to provide lessons about agriculture and food. Lessons are available on a wide range of topics—food security, local food, environmental initiatives, and animal health and welfare, to name a few. Teacher Ambassadors work with educators to adapt lessons to individual classroom needs. AgScape’s Teacher Ambassador lessons align with the Ontario curriculum for Grades 7 to 12 and are offered free of charge. In the education sector, there has been a move towards experiential learning over the last few years. This opportunity, combined with the need to fill jobs in the agriculture sector, has led AgScape to develop initiatives such as student career competitions. Competitions are hosted at local high schools, and students complete a variety of career-related skills at activity stations, which are operated by both AgScape Teacher Ambassadors and representatives from local agriculture businesses. 12
AgScape first piloted this experiential learning initiative at Canada`s Outdoor Farm Show three years ago, and the program is now being requested several times a year at schools across southern Ontario. The growing demand for the Teacher Ambassador Program and student career competitions is exceeding Agscape`s capacity, and the organization is working on expanding the ability to provide its offerings through the help of grants, memberships and donations.
Connecting with Educators The Business of Food (BOF) is AgScape`s most recent program offering. Originally developed to train new, under-employed and retired Ontario Certified Teachers to become Teacher Ambassadors, this e-learning course provides participants with an opportunity to enhance their agri-food knowledge. BOF offers learning modules on 25 agri-food topics. An “essentials” and “comprehensive” level is provided for each topic, along with one module on careers in the agri-food sector. BOF provides learners with 24/7 access from any location, allowing them to live-track
their progress and immediately measure learning impact through pre-and post-surveys and quizzes. This past January BOF was part of a pilot at Brescia University College, London, in their new Agriculture and Food Systems: Critical Conversations course. Dr. June Matthews, an Associate Professor in the School of Food & Nutritional Sciences at the college, was looking for course content and learned about BOF while attending a conference at the University of Guelph. Thirty-three students were part of the pilot, and due to the success, Dr. Matthews is looking to have the course moved from an elective to a mandatory part of the Food & Nutritional Science program.
Thanks to funding from Bayer Canada, AgScape will offer up to 50 FREE scholarships for 6-week courses. The first course will be offered from July to August with a second one planned for the fall term. AgScape has had great success in training its Teacher Ambassadors to become more competent and confident about providing students with science-based information on the agri-food sector, and they are thrilled to have the opportunity to extend this learning experience to current and future educators. If you or someone that you know is a teacher and would be interested in taking the BOF course, please e-mail email@example.com.
Business of Food E-Learning Scholarships
Get Involved to Support Agri-Food Education
This summer, AgScape plans to expand the BOF even further by offering courses to Ontario classroom teachers and teacher candidates to help build awareness and understanding of the importance of the agriculture and food system.
AgScapeâ€™s agri-food programs and resources, including an online library of more than 100 digital resources, are made possible through the contributions of its members and the support of community and business partners. If you would like to learn more, please visit www.agscape.ca or call 905-878-1510.
Canada’s New Food Guide It May Have More to Do with Policy Than Plates. This CFFO article first appeared in the April 8, 2019, edition of Christian Courier.
he release of Canada’s new Food Guide in January was, predictably, followed by hot debate. The Food Guide has a long history of being contentious. The 2007 version was heavily criticized as being influenced by lobbyists from the agriculture industry. As a result of this perception, Health Canada broadcast its refusal to invite industry to the table during development of the new guide, assuring critics that it would be science-based. The newest guide eschews former nutritional pillars, like food groups and serving sizes, in favour of advice that’s already familiar to anyone who reads health blogs or parenting magazines: fill half your plate with vegetables, make water your drink of choice, cook at home, spend mealtimes together. But one piece of government-issued advice has alarmed many farmers and others working in Canada’s agriculture sector. The Food Guide instructs Canadians to “choose protein foods that come from plants more often.” Several commodity groups across Canada have expressed concerns that consumers might be led to believe that they should replace too much of the animal products in their menu with plant-based alternatives. Some doctors and health experts have echoed these concerns.
Commodity groups across Canada have expressed concerns that consumers might be led to believe that they should replace too much of the animal products in their menu with plant based alternatives.
Some worry that the government’s recommendations could bring serious disruptions to the Canadian agri-food system. But it’s difficult to tell for certain how much influence the Food Guide will have on that end.
Less Meat? We’ve known for some time that Canadians are embracing alternative proteins. According to a 2018 food trends report from the University of Guelph, over 40 per cent of Canadians said they planned to include more plantbased proteins in their diets, which is higher than the global average. It’s possible that, rather than influencing future consumption habits, the Food Guide is simply reflecting actual trends. Fortunately for farmers, modern agricultural production has demonstrated that it adapts well to changing markets. Unfortunately for many of our fellow Canadians, our new national menu is really quite expensive. As health reporter André Picard says, “The symbolic fruity/ nutty/grainy plate is actually out of reach for many who struggle with poverty, food insecurity and health illiteracy.” The new Food Guide highlights the fact that, for many, healthy eating is a luxury. This raises an important question: Is the role of the Food Guide to recommend what is best for health, or what is best for health depending on what’s in your wallet? If the answer is the former, then the government-issued Food Guide deserves a corresponding suite of policies
that will make it possible for Canadians to eat healthfully. We can pray that the Food Guide will inspire policy makers to provide the necessary structures—social welfare, tax and income policies; food security strategies; environmental protections; and, potentially, agri-food industry supports—that will both make nutritious food accessible for all Canadians and smooth the ripple effects for agriculture.
Food Policy Future Currently, the federal government is developing the nation’s first national food policy. The ambitious “Food Policy for Canada” will set Canada’s longterm vision on issues like health, food security, food safety, the environment, economic development, farming, food processing, food distribution and consumption—the whole shebang. The public consultation process for this policy concluded in 2018. There’s no word on when the policy will be released, but perhaps the Food Guide hints at where federal policy makers are headed. People have questioned how influential food guides are for almost as long as they’ve been around. On one hand, our newest guide may not change the average Canadian’s intended food choices all that much. On the other hand, it could be the harbinger of significant social, economic, and environmental changes to come. Christian Courier is an independent Christian newspaper that serves as a vital forum for Christians of all ages who want to engage in culture. CFFO is a regular contributor to this news outlet. For more information, visit www.christiancourier.ca. 15
Dutch Mill Gardens Modern Flower Operation Focused on Business Growth and Land Stewardship.
ike and Angela Scharringa own Dutch Mill Gardens, an outdoor cut flower farm near Lynden. Their “Taste of Country” bouquets are sold to wholesale distributors and grocery stores across Canada during the summer and fall months. Mike’s parents, Ed and Elaine Scharringa, started the family-run business in nearby Millgrove in 1985. They grew vegetables, bedding plants, and cut flowers on 60 acres, specializing in sunflowers. The couple sold bouquets at the Ontario Food Terminal and eventually expanded their market across Ontario and into the US. Today, Mike continues to serve many of his parents’ original customers. Mike joined the business in 2002. Six years later, they moved operations to a 100-acre farm in Lynden, where Mike and Angela now live with their four children, Faith, Joel, Leah, and Louis, aged 7. (Yes, quadruplets.) Today, Mike works with his cousin Nick. They employ a staff of up to thirty seasonal workers and farm 450 acres of cut flowers, bedding plants, and cash crops. Most of the land they work is kept in a sunflower-soybean rotation; fifty acres are used to grow other assorted flowers, including dahlias, celosias and ornamental cabbage. With an eye on current trends, Mike and Nick recently planted 15 acres of peony bushes, which will be ready for production in a couple years.
“I wanted to optimize what we’re doing with our land. We learned a lot of things that we’re still working to adjust.”
On average, they’ve seen about 20% growth annually. Growing the business is top of mind for Mike, especially given recent challenges in Ontario’s business climate, like the minimum wage increase, the carbon tax, and rising hydro costs. “We have to do more now to make the same money,” Mike comments. “There are two ways to make the same amount: you either cut costs or you get bigger.” He has found that for some businesses, like Dutch Mill Gardens, it can actually be easier to grow the business than to find cost savings. Mike is currently expanding their on-farm warehouse to make room for more processing equipment and coolers to accommodate future growth. Mike’s business sense is closely linked to his values. He believes that farmers are called to care for the earth, and good practices now will ensure that his land can be farmed well into the future. A few years ago, Mike invested in extensive soil mapping to improve his field management. “I wanted to optimize what we’re doing with our land, to optimize our crop,” Mike says. “We learned a lot of things that we’re still working to adjust. Some things are hard to change, like habits we have that have created compaction, for example.” Thanks to soil mapping, Mike has been able to adjust on-farm practices to limit compaction, such as designating “drive rows” for field equipment. Looking out across his backyard in May, scanning the field that will soon be awash in the yellows and greens of thousands of sunflowers, Mike reflects on future plans outside the 2019 growing season. The Scharringas are hoping to start fostering infants, something Angela has wanted to do for some time.
Mike jokes that it’s taken him a while to get on board with the idea returning to the diaper stage—and considering they had four in diapers at once, it’s no wonder! “But there’s a need out there,” Mike says. “We’re blessed. We have this house, we have the room, we have the financial ability to do it, so why not?” Then Mike—forever the farmer—chuckles, “But I hope we can wait until after the season.”
Animal Activism and Farmer Safety Decision to Drop Charges against Animal Activist Concerns Farming Community. This CFFO Commentary was written by Marie Versteeg and released on May 17, 2019.
he Crown’s recent decision to drop charges against an animal activist has fuelled frustration, fear, and action, in Ontario’s farming community. The activist, who video-recorded herself breaking into a barn near Lucan and stealing two pigs, belongs to a group that opposes animal agriculture. On May 1st, the crown attorney’s office in London dropped break-and-enter and mischief charges, stating that there wasn’t enough evidence to go to trial. Farmers worry that the failure to charge in an apparently open-and-shut case like this will embolden activists. They fear that future attacks could endanger their farm businesses, their families and their animals. Given the high stakes, the absolutely vital thing for farmers to do, for the time being, is to remain calm. Being prepared for protesters will go a long way toward helping farmers keep control of the situation, says Sgt. Laura Lee Brown, West Region Community Services Coordinator with the OPP. At a meeting of farm writers in May, she offered the following advice:
Include surveillance on new builds. Prepare a safety plan (not a confrontation plan) for the farm. Establish a central meeting location for all farm staff members. If you fear your safety is in jeopardy, call 911. If intruders don’t leave the property after you have told them to, call 911. Failure to leave after being asked is a chargeable offense. Brown reminded listeners that these protesters are rarely seeking physical confrontation. Having a plan and a cool head will help to keep everyone safe.
Given the high stakes, the absolutely vital thing for farmers to do, for the time being, is to remain calm.
In a previous interview with Ontario Farmer, Brown reported that farmers can decide whether or not to press charges against trespassers. Many feel that pressing charges only gives activists a media platform. Debates on how best to respond to attacks is ongoing. But in light of the recent court decision, our immediate concern is whether farmers can trust that the law will protect them. In response, the CFFO joined other farm organizations in launching a letter campaign to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and other government officials to request that the rule of law be upheld. CFFO members who would like to join the letter campaign can contact us for more information. 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.
Events Calendar Attend our meetings near you, or drop by the CFFO booth at these farm shows. More info at christianfarmers.org/events. July CFFO District Summer Picnics
August Hastings County Farm Show (August 20-21) CFFO District Summer Picnics CFFO Agri-Day (watch your mailbox!) Deadline to submit calendar photos (August 30)
CFFO Federation Scholarship
he CFFO believes that solid academic training is a major factor in the emergence of effective members of any profession. The CFFO also believes that it has a duty to support the development of future leaders in Ontario agriculture. In light of these beliefs, the CFFO will honour one student per CFFO district to the value of $500 toward post-secondary agricultural training. The scholarship is open to qualifying applicants who: 1.
are secondary school graduates,
have parents or grandparents who are CFFO members, and
are registered for full-time studies in an agriculturerelated program in the 2019/2020 academic year.
DEADLINE TO APPLY: JULY 30, 2019 Visit christianfarmers.org/scholarships for application information.
September Canada Outdoor Farm Show (September 10-12) Stewardship & Policy Committee East, Peterborough (September 11) Stewardship & Policy Committee West, Woodstock (September 25)
October Thanksgiving (October 14) CFFO Provincial Council (October 30)
November The CFFO wishes you a very safe harvesting season.
December Have a very Blessed Christmas!
If you would like to receive meeting notices for CFFO events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. 19
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