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Newsletter May 2016, Volume 14, No.2

INSIDE THIS ISSUE President’s Comments

Policy Notes

Featured Farm

Farmland for the future

CFFO Newsletter

May 2016, Volume 14, No. 2

PRESIDENT’S COMMENTS Over the past three months we at Christian Farmers have consulted with government officials on several fronts. Some topics of discussion include: •

A Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario; an ambitious project with the goal of eliminating all waste from Ontario landfills.

Clarence Nywening CFFO President

The Strategic Emergency Management Framework for Agriculture in Canada; an initiative to address emergency risks in agriculture including those coming in across the borders.

The Cap and Trade Regulatory Proposal; an initiative to reduce carbon emissions in the province in order to curb climate trends.

The Rural Economic Development Fund, which has been suspended through the 2016 Ontario Budget, and moved into the Jobs and Prosperity Fund.

The Ontario Pollinator Health Action Plan; an initiative to protect all pollinators through all sectors of society.

Though some of us may not agree with our government’s concern for a few of these topics, as a Christian organization doing our best to follow in Christ’s example, it is our responsibility to show respect to the government placed in authority over us. At times this can be discouraging as our efforts to advise and guide officials seem to produce little fruit, but in Romans 13 we are reminded that all those in authority are given their power from God. Over the next several months we will be continuing to work with our government on matters relating to the water quality in the Great Lakes region. Some topics of discussion include water run off, phosphorous leakage into Lake Erie, soil conservation, and water conservation. This is a very complex issue with many facets. There will not be a single blanket solution and many regions are going to have to address issues that will be unique to their location. As a result lots of dialogue will be required over the coming year. The staff and Executive Board of Christian Farmers are working hard on your behalf to influence government in a godly manner. We hope to respectfully continue addressing the concerns and issues of agriculture today as we become aware of them. We encourage all districts to get involved in this dialogue so that concerns are properly addressed in each region.

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CFFO Newsletter

May 2016, Volume 14, No. 2


CFFO has made numerous submissions to government on a number of topics this winter. Here I will highlight key points from some of the most discussed policy submissions.


Cap and Trade - The CFFO emphasizes that trade in this system should be restricted to within Ontario only. Priority should also be given to same-sector trading over cross-sector trades in order to increase the competitive advantage of low emitters within each sector and within each region. The CFFO proposes that agricultural offsets should focus on greenhouse gasreductions associated with reduced fertilizer use (nitrous oxide) and management of manure (methane capture), rather than emphasizing carbon sequestration in farmland soils. Good soil stewardship is still an important aspect of reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.The CFFO argues that incentives and better education to support farmers in effectively caring for soil should be put in place, but not as part of the Cap and Trade offset system. Ontario’s Pollinator Health Action Plan proposes measures to address factors affecting pollinator health including diseases and pests, reduced habitat, climate change, and pesticide exposure. The CFFO’s response focused primarily on current neonicotinoid regulations, proposing two modifications. First, CFFO recommends lower cost for untreated seed. Second, CFFO suggests that the goal of 80% reduction should be based on amount of pesticide applied rather than acres planted. In order to encourage lower application rates, CFFO recommends reducing documentation for the use of the lowest rate of pesticide application.

Economic Ontario Budget – In the pre-budget consultations, CFFO encouraged the government to balance the budget by 2017. This helps maintain low interest rates, which are good farm policy, good social policy and good government policy. CFFO also encourages government to invest in rural infrastructure, and to keep the Open for Business initiative focused on Ontario’s competitiveness. The CFFO also responded to the Waste Free Ontario Draft Strategy, the Strategic Emergency Management Framework for Agriculture, the City of Waukesha’s request to divert water from Lake Michigan, and Ontario’s Blueprint for Change addressing the Aggregates Resources Act, and the suspension of the Rural Economic Development Fund. You can find all the full submissions on the CFFO website:

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May 2016, Volume 14, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

Farmland for the future Suzanne Armstrong DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH MANAGER OF BOARD AND COMMITTEE Services


Our two speakers at the March

to change hands in the next decade,

Provincial Council focused on the issue of farmland policy, each from a different perspective. We had presentations from FarmStart, an organization helping new farmers, and Ontario Farmland Trust, an organization working to permanently protect farmland. Christie




shared stories of the diverse group of new Ontario farmers FarmStart has been able to help, including young people starting farming, and recent immigrants familiar with farming, but new to farming in Canada. FarmStart helps farmers through incubator training




ethic often motivates landowners

farmers’ access to land. With the

who work with OFT. Their personal

average age of farmers going up,

history with the land means they

and significant farming acreage set

want to see it farmed into the future.

helping new farmers get established is more important than ever. Young challenged the CFFO to consider that as farms get bigger, and as houses in the countryside are severed without acres attached or torn down, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for new farmers to find parcels of

Director and founder of FarmStart




through their FarmLink program.


farmland at a size and price they can

OFT is involved in land use policy discussions such as the Four Plan Review and the Greenbelt. OFT hosted its 2016 Farmland Forum policy




discussing risks to farmland and successful




protecting it.

afford. This has a negative impact on

The CFFO has long been concerned

the overall health of agriculture and

about the need to protect farmland

the future of farming.

for farming in Ontario, and is pleased

Matt Setzkorn is the Acting Executive Director at Ontario Farmland Trust (OFT). OFT is concerned about the risks of farmland losts to urban sprawl and aggregates. OFT has been able to secure 1100 acres on 12 farms through farmland protection easements. A strong stewardship

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As well as farmland easements,

to have the input from these two organizations




goals. The presentations challenged members to think broadly about farmland protection issues, now and into the future. Effective cooperation among farm organizations will be vital to continue to protect farmland in Ontario.

CFFO Newsletter

CFFO IN ACTION carbon in our soils. The focus on soils connects directly to many ongoing policy discussions, such as Cap and Trade, phosphorus loss into Lake Erie, the use of municipal biosolids on farmland, and diminishing crop

phosphorus or nitrogen) into local occurs across the province. Farmers recognize the benefits of erosion


but in some cases would like more




opportunity to be paid for good on-

21 of our districts over 22 meetings

farm practices, are seen as beneficial.

(two in NE district) focused on Soil

Some argue that the economic

Health. Input from the discussions

benefits of good management are


sufficient without the added incentive


was the hot topic, nutrient loss (of

Carbon Sequestration in Soils – *(GB, HN, WB, WE, OX, MI, DW, RL, NE)

The CFFO Policy Tour reached all


While phosphorus loss into Lake Erie

creeks, rivers and smaller lakes



Nutrient Loss in Waterways *(PE, HU, NI, EL, CKE)

rotations across the province.

Cap and Trade. Many express


May 2016, Volume 14, No. 2

concerns about the potential costs of administering and enforcing the system.




control and prevention methods, information on incentive programs and support to help them implement these on their farms.

Building Soil Organic Matter *(EC) Improving soil organic matter in soils is a long process. While it can be easy to undo years of good work, it

policy responses to issues like

of offset payments.

takes a long time to improve soil that

Cap and Trade. We opened every

Biodiversity *(TB, RR, LA, QU, SC, SO)

has been poorly managed. Debate about the benefits of various tillage

Economic factors affect on-farm

Many farmers see the value in using

discussion with a reflection on scripture




good farm stewardship. Members frequently mentioned the plight of Adam dealing with weeds (which is an ongoing problem), but also the importance of care for land and animals. There was an underlying recognition that the earth belongs to God, and that we are caretakers of it. Each soil-related topic tied back to









biodiversity across our districts. Lack of food processing infrastructure in some areas reduced the livestock options, while in other areas the price of corn and soy discouraged other

(or no tillage) methods was ongoing. municipal biosolids and composted food waste on farmland. There is also interest in the benefits of biodigesters.

crops like wheat in the rotation. On the other hand, many are increasing the diversity of plants and livestock on their farms, and many are also

* Indicates district locations where the topic was discussed.

focusing on improving the diversity of living things in their soil.

biodiversity and thus sequester more

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May 2016, Volume 14, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter



Most CFA districts held their annual general meeting over the first three months of this year. It is good that all districts meet annually since this is a requirement to maintain our status as an Accredited Farm Organization. Minutes of these meetings need to be taken and submitted to the office to meet accreditation requirements. Local CFAs give back to their local communities by supporting various organizations such as the Middlesex Victorian Order of Nurses (VON), and local 4-H groups and Food Grains growing projects. A number of districts offer scholarships to students attending agriculture related post secondary education as well. This year members discussed urban encroachment because of the good farmland that it takes out of food production. Farmers are also still concerned about the lack of local abattoirs, and rural road conditions. There is continued concern about land being taken up for solar farms without community input. The recent media attention about barn fires may mean that there will be more inspections done on farm buildings and the cost to upgrade electrically may be difficult for some to manage. Road safety with farm equipment continues to be an issue for both farmers and non-farmers travelling the roads. Problems with shipping of cattle and payments for wrong animals were brought up at a number of meetings. At several of the district meetings local politicians attended part or all of the meeting. MPPs Tobey Barrett, Jim McDonell, Monte McNaughton, Randy Pettipiece, Lisa Thompson, and MPs Marilyn Gladu, Ben Lobb, Jamie Schmale as well as Nichole da Silva, a staff member from Rick Nicholls’ office, attended their respective district meetings. Keep in touch with your local members of parliament. Two districts invited speakers to their meetings. At the CKE meeting Dr. O’Halloran from University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus presented research about phosphorus run off into waterways. The St. Lawrence-Ottawa Valley district invited Jim Hendry from the South Nation Conversation to talk about tree cover in that area. This year media personnel attended several meetings and some good articles were written. A lengthy article in the Ontario Farmer reported on the presentation made by Dr. O’Halloran at the CKE district meeting.

Farm Shows The CFFO hosted a booth at the London, Ottawa, East Central and Earlton Farm Shows as well at the Dairy Xpo and Poultry Show. Thanks to all the district board members and members who spent time at the booth representing the federation. I am always surprised by how many people stop by and mention that they have not heard of the CFFO. This reinforces the opportunity that each member has to speak with neighbours about the Federation and mention that the CFFO is an Accredited Farm Organization, part of the Farm Business Registration (FBR) program. Personal contact is the best way of presenting the Federation to others and encouraging them to choose the CFFO as their farm organization.

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CFFO Newsletter

May 2016, Volume 14, No. 2

From left to right: Steve Oosterhof, Henry Oosterhof and Alex Oosterhof

Featured Farm - Oosterhof Family Farm, North Augusta, ON Suzanne Armstrong DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH MANAGER OF BOARD AND COMMITTEE Services


The CFFO would like to show our appreciation to our members and build community by including the story of a featured farm in every issue.

he Oosterhof family farm,

Henry does the books, and helps with

were able to access Growing Forward

named Jobo Farms, in Eastern

both the livestock and the fieldwork.

funding to help them with the legal

Ontario, is a good example of

As we walked through the barn, it was

fees and advising as they created their

a family operation that is successfully

clear that Steve’s three year old son

plan. All of them said it helped to have

transitioning to the third generation

Isaac was already taking an interest in

their vision for the farm written down,

of farming. Currently brothers Henry

helping look after the cows.

so they could discuss their ideas, and

and Alex Oosterhof farm together

be sure that at the end of the day they

with Henry’s son Steve on the dairy

Henry and Alex’s parents, Bert and

and cropping operation. The farm is

Jo, immigrated to Canada in 1953,

growing at a steady pace as they are

and later purchased the farm in 1961,

Change is always part of farming. The

able to expand their herd from within,

from their sponsor. Henry and Evelina

generations change on the farm, but

and purchase more quota and land as

joined the farm in the early 80s while

so does the technology. When Henry

opportunity allows. This manages to

Alex and Julie became partners in

returned from his studies at Kemptville

sustain the three families making their

the early 90s. The first generation has

College, one of the first changes he

living from the farm.

retired, and Steve and Lindsay have

made was to install tile drainage in

now come onto the family team.

the crop fields. Although Bert was at

Steve primarily looks after the dairy

are all on the same page.

first uncertain of the benefits, he never

herd, while Alex primarily manages

In order to make the succession

questioned the decision once he saw

the cropping aspect of the operation.

planning successful, the Oosterhof’s

the results.

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CFFO Newsletter

Featured Farmer Continued..

May 2016, Volume 14, No. 2

cow gives lots of milk.”

As Christians the Oosterhofs are

The robots have benefitted the family

involved in their community and

as well. Even though the Oosterhofs

farming organizations, including three

spend about as much time in the

generations as members of CFFO.

barn as they used to, they have

“Christian values show up in how we

more flexibility to efficiently balance

treat the cows, and how we treat the

the work in the barn and fields with

environment,” said Alex. Steve joked

increased quality family time.

that “You can’t farm without being a Christian, because you are always

Three year old Isaac feeding the cows

More recently, after Steve’s graduation from University of Guelph’s Kemptville Campus, the family decided to update

Looking at the cropping aspect of

praying for the weather.” On a more

the farm, the Oosterhof’s have 500

serious note, Steve reflected, “When

acres of crops and pasture land. They

you come to the barn in the morning,

are able to grow most of their own

the stars are out, and you watch the

feed and grow soybeans and corn

sun rise. I love coming to the barn

as a cash crop to cover the costs

in the morning. When spring time

of feed inputs they are not able to

comes you are out in the fields and

grow themselves. Some acres are in

everything is brown. Then you watch it

permanent pasture for the heifers and

turn green and then turn brown again. I love just being able to see nature

their dairy barn. Their calves and

hands on.” Alex added, “We know

heifers are still in the old tie-stall barn,

it’s God’s creation, and we’re in it and

but the milking cows are in a new

we’re enjoying it.”

free-flow design barn complete with two milking robots, waterbeds, natural

The Oosterhofs are enjoying farming,

ventilation and cattle brushes.

working with creation, and working together as a family across the

They have 100 milking cows at the

generations. They have been able

moment, and have the barn capacity

to navigate changing generations,

to go up to 120. The change to the

changing technology, and still have a

new barn has noticeably improved

vibrant farm operation.

the production of the cows. Steve speculates that the increase to an annual average of 36L/day/cow is probably due to three key factors. First he credits the increased number of milkings with the voluntary robotic milking system. Second, is the fresh air coming in from the curtained sidewalls and vented through chimneys. Third, having comfortable freeroaming cows with all-day access to food and water also increases production. As Alex says, “a happy

dry cows, while the good cropping fields are tiled and in a crop rotation. After 4-5 years as alfalfa fields (hay), they rotate to no-till corn followed by barley. Some fields are on a corn and soybean rotation. They find that no-till works well to improve their soil structure, and have been pleased with the results.

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CFFO Newsletter

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The CFFO Newsletter is published three times per year by the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario for its members and friends. Editor: Suzanne Armstrong; Production Manager: Franchesca Weeks