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Federation Of Ontario

SUMMER

CHRISTIAN FARMERS

CHRISTIAN FARMERS FEDERATION OF ONTARIO

Newsletter June 2017, Volume 16, No.2

Photograph from our featured farm Ton Boekestyn Trend Aquafresh Organics

INSIDE THIS ISSUE President’s Comments

CFFO Policy Notes

Featured Farm

MPAC Property Assessments


June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

PRESIDENT’S Comments We are well into 2017, and so far the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario has been very busy. We started the year off with just three staff members, which was

Clarence Nywening CFFO President

a challenge. Since then we have been glad to welcome two new staff members: Marie Versteeg, who joined us in March, and Brooke Wareing, who joined us in May. Over the past months, we have been able to reply to the government through policy pieces on the Safe Harbour Policy under the Endangered Species Act as well as the Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario. We commented on the proposed amendments to the Greenbelt Plan, and we also asked for a re-evaluation on the government’s decision for Imidacloprid, a common insecticide used by farmers. The provincial budget came out in April. At first glance, there appear to be major cuts in the agriculture sector, but the numbers are skewed due to emergency funds that were distributed last year. As expected, we saw a continued commitment to discounting rural customers 25 per cent on hydro bills. CFFO will conduct further review to ensure clear communication about budget promises for this coming year. There has been a growing concern over this past winter and early spring for processing vegetable growers in regards to Regulation 440. We continue to give our support to growers, and we hope to help them retain their powers of negotiation well into the future. Cap and Trade has been a major discussion for residents across Ontario. At the Christian Farmers Federation, we continue to petition the government to consider how Cap and Trade will affect Ontario farmers competing in a global market. We are also seeking some form of reimbursement for farmers who sequester carbon through good farming practices. As of yet, no such reimbursements are in place. Tension continues to grow in the agricultural sector as farmers wait to see what changes President Donald Trump hopes to make to the current NAFTA agreement. At Christian Farmers we are keeping a close eye on what may come. We as the board and staff at CFFO are working hard for all farmers in Ontario and will continue to do our best for all our members. Wishing you all a good summer filled with family and friends.

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CFFO Newsletter

June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

Suzanne Armstrong Director of Research and Policy

POLICY NOTES

Ontario’s Energy Future

The CFFO is concerned about the impact of energy costs from electricity and fossil fuels on the competitiveness of Ontario agriculture. In response to Ontario’s discussion guide “Planning Ontario’s Energy Future,” the CFFO argued for greater fairness in electricity pricing, especially regarding delivery charges, and for greater cost transparency of Cap and Trade for consumers. We also encouraged expansion of natural gas infrastructure in rural areas, further incorporation of biofuels into our energy mix, research on greater local generation microgrids and storage of electricity, and an end to covering farmland with solar panels. The CFFO wants to see government establish two offset options for farmers. The

Offsets for cap and trade

first would fit within the parameters of the Western Climate Initiative regulations, and the second would be a voluntary offset system. If implemented, these will provide a better overall system to reward farmers for the environmental service of greenhouse gas reduction and carbon sequestration provided through good onfarm stewardship. The CFFO also wants to see Ontario offsets given priority within the Ontario auction system to ensure that Ontario Cap and Trade money stays within the province. The government has set out an ambitious strategy with the visionary goal of

waste-free ontario

working towards a waste-free province. The CFFO believes that this strategy must prioritize waste reduction, followed by emphasis on recovery of resources from waste. Currently, a significant amount of compost, manure, and municipal biosolids are being treated as waste, using up precious landfill space and creating methane. But when treated as resources, these materials have the potential to build soils, enriching the quality of our food system. The CFFO emphasized the need for environmental standards to be set, enforced, and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure these resources are safe for farm use. The CFFO also argued for better food literacy education to help households reduce food waste. The Excess Soil Management Policy Framework needs to consider timely storage and transportation to preserve the value of suitable soils for reuse in farming. Protecting productive farmland within the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH)

Proposed Greenbelt Boundary Changes

region will require ongoing efforts to direct and control development. The CFFO does not support changes to the Greenbelt boundaries that would remove land from Greenbelt protection. The Greenbelt Plan is intended to provide permanent protection to agricultural and natural heritage system lands. Allowing land to be removed will subject the boundaries to constant petitions for changes in the future.

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June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

Suzanne Armstrong Director of Research and Policy

Proposed Greenbelt Boundary Changes continued

POLICY NOTES The CFFO sees great value in adding lands to the Greenbelt to extend land use protections and to direct and curb urban expansion pressures. Additions to the Greenbelt should be carefully considered through predetermined criteria and suitable review before expanded boundaries are determined. Criteria for farmland protection should include, at a minimum, specialty crop land and class 1-3 farmland or the best three classes of farmland in a given area. New Greenbelt-protected land should not be at risk of being removed. The CFFO is not in favour of increased pressure on the price of gasoline from

renewable fuel standard for gasoline

the proposed renewable fuel standard. We see an opportunity, however, for the province to support development of biofuel alternatives, including ethanol, renewable natural gas, and cellulosic ethanol. A shifted focus on biofuels should privilege the potential environmental and economic benefits for Ontario and should emphasize solutions that can be produced and processed within the province. Health Canada has recently conducted a review of imidacloprid, a neonicitinoid

Neonicitinoid Imidacloprid Re-evaluation

pesticide commonly used in agriculture in Canada. The CFFO requested that Health Canada further investigate appropriate use cases for agriculture that would ensure sufficient protection of the environment but not require a complete ban on the insecticide. A ban could result in uncontrolled pest problems, either from a lack of alternative effective controls or from pest resistance due to reliance on a single method of control. The CFFO thus also requested that the time period for testing and establishing proven alternatives to replace imidacloprid be extended beyond the proposed three to five years. The CFFO has long supported voluntary stewardship as the best approach to care

Safe Harbour Agreements

for the environment. Safe harbour agreements have proven effective at encouraging voluntary creation, enhancement, and upkeep of habitat for endangered species. Compensation, either through tax incentives or direct payments, should be commensurate with the public good farmers are providing and should take into account the relative impact on the landowner required to meet the conditions of the safe harbour agreement. The CFFO also responded to the White-tailed Deer Management Plan, and the Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan. You can find the full submissions on the CFFO website: www.christianfarmers.org.

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CFFO Newsletter

June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

What the Animal Activists Won’t Tell You Suzanne Armstrong Director of Research and Policy

In June 2015, an animal activist was engaged in a vigil to give water to pigs outside a Burlington processing plant. After a verbal altercation with a truck driver who got out of his vehicle to tell her to stop, she was later charged with mischief.

“For farmers, it is important to look beyond the protestors.”

in fact, their bigger victory was that

concerning the treatment of pigs and

this case raised a lot of conversation

other farm animals.

in the media about treatment of animals.

This was a charge of mischief. Because the protestor did not force

Justice D. Harris’s judgement

the truck to stop, did not prevent the

statement included many elements

truck from continuing, and did not

that farmers would find reassuring.

interfere with the acceptance of the

He pointed out that the industry is

load of pigs at the processing plant,

highly regulated and found that the

the judge did not find that she was

farmer and transporter were legally

guilty of mischief.

handling the pigs in transport. In response to any notion that the protestor was alleviating the pigs from thirst by giving them water, he said that “all of the pigs would have been given water a few minutes later

For farmers, it is important to look beyond the protestors with their signs and remember the average person still wants to enjoy meat and dairy products, but they want to know they come from animals

She appeared in court six times

in any event.”

between August 2016 and March

Farmers became concerned that

animal welfare standards. I am

the activists’ agenda to have pigs

confident that the good work farmers

treated as “persons” might come to

do in this regard is up to or exceeds

fruition. However, the judge clearly

the standards consumers expect.

ruled that pigs are property in

More and more farmers and farm

Canadian law. Despite the efforts of

organizations are working to tell the

the activists and their lawyers, the

important story of the good work

judgement reaffirmed that agriculture

farmers do every single day.

2017 until the final judgement was read on May 4. Representatives from CFFO, Farm and Food Care, Ontario Pork, and the OFA were in the courtroom for many of those appearances. Although the activists celebrated the result of dismissal of charges,

raised to meet high food safety and

in Canada meets high standards

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June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

January 2017, Volume 16, No. 1

CFFO Paul Bootsma

Field Services Manager

annual meeting and leadership summit

in action

On March 28, the CFFO Leadership Team, made up of the executive board and the district association boards, met for our Annual Meeting and Leadership Summit in Waterloo. The business portion of the meeting included approval of the budget and approval of a brief extension of the executive board members’ terms in order to accommodate recent changes in the CFFO’s by-laws. Following the business meeting, Rev. Kees Vandermay spoke to the Leadership Team about his work in rural communities and his reflections on the special vocation of farming. At the Leadership Summit, CFFO invited communications expert Joe Shuker from Strive! to speak about creating clarity. With Shuker, the Leadership Team tackled CFFO-specific strategies for building effective communication avenues.

Suzanne Armstrong Director of Research and Policy

Keeping Rural Communities Vital

This winter, we brought our 2017 Policy Tour discussion on Vital Rural Communities to all 21 of our districts across the province. Often it was included as part of local district AGMs. The policy tour discussions reflected both the common issues faced in many rural areas but also some of the challenges specific to different regions. First we discussed the changing nature of rural communities and of family farms. In many cases farms are getting bigger in order to sustain the family (or families) who own and operate the business. Many areas within an hour’s drive of larger urban areas are finding that they have increasing non-farming residents. This is keeping the rural population up, but it can also cause conflicts, especially with livestock farming. We also discussed the changing nature of the rural workforce and the work available for young people. On the whole, although custom operations or advisory jobs such as CCAs are doing well, manual farm jobs tend to be devalued and do not appeal to Canadian youth or other workers, so many temporary foreign workers end up filling these still-necessary jobs. We also specifically discussed regulations on land use, including availability of farmland to rent or buy, severance regulations, and where residential or commercial/industrial expansion should be directed. We will be giving a more detailed update on the Policy Tour discussions at Convention this fall.

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CFFO Newsletter

June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

Paul Bootsma

Field Services Manager

DISTRICTS IN ACTION District Annual Meetings are vital to a robust federation. Aside from conducting

District Meetings

necessary district business, such as board elections, district meetings also give members the opportunity to discuss local issues and concerns. This year, several districts associations hosted MPs, MPPs and municipal leaders who gave greetings and updates on their work. Many districts also invited guest speakers, such as rural school advocates, OMAFRA specialists, and representatives from organizations that districts were interested in supporting, such as Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS). Some of the matters discussed during meetings can be tackled by district boards, while others are presented to CFFO staff who work on members’ behalf by appealing to local and provincial government for change. CFFO staff use feedback from these meetings to shape the policy advice we offer the Ministry. Because the CFFO is a grassroots organization, we rely on members to contribute to the work of the federation. The lively discussion at district meetings is one of the most fruitful expressions of our grassroots philosophy. Looking forward to more discussion in 2018!

CFFO staff, executive board members, and general members greeted visitors to

farm shows

the CFFO booth at farm shows across the province this winter. At farm shows, we showcase the work of the CFFO to those who may be unfamiliar with our organization. This year, CFFO put up its display at the London Farm Show, the Ottawa Valley Farm Show, the Canadian Dairy Expo, the Poultry Show, the Earlton Farm Show, and the Pork Congress. But you can still drop by to say hello at the Hastings Plowing Match and the Canadian Outdoor Farm Show. Come on in and stay a while; it’s a great way to meet people.

The CFFO is now accepting photos for our 2018 calendar! Send us your favourite

2018 calendar

farm pictures for a chance to win a $25 gift card and have your photo featured in our calendar. Submit photos to cffomail@christianfarmers.org. Please include your name, farm name, names of people that may be in the photo and why you love farming. Deadline to submit is August 31, 2017.

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CFFO Newsletter

June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

Paul Bootsma

Field Services Manager

DISTRICTS IN ACTION This July, young farmers and their families are invited to share fellowship and

young farmer events

discuss their careers at the CFFO’s Farming Under 40 BBQs. Each event includes free food, kids’ entertainment and door prizes. Invitations will be sent to rural addresses in each hosting district, welcoming both CFFO members and non-members. See the CFFO website for more information. 2017 Farming Under 40 BBQS: Thursday, July 6: Niagara District Thursday, July 13: Chatham Kent/Lambton Districts Tuesday, July 18: Wentworth Brant/Oxford Districts Friday, July 28: Quinte District The CFFO thanks our partners and sponsors for joining with us to provide an enjoyable evening for the next generation of farm leaders.

featured district chatham kent essex christian farmers association

The Chatham Kent Essex (CKE)

offering scholarships to postsecondary

CFA has been an active district both

students studying agriculture.

locally and for the Federation for many years. Regular attendance at

As a district, members have kept busy

Federation meetings and involvement in

by attending district annual meetings,

committees has provided positive input

enjoying summer picnics and hosting

to the work of the CFFO.

booths at the Chatham-Kent Ag Fair. This summer, the Federation will also

District board members are regularly

be hosting its second Farming Under 40

involved with local councils on

BBQ in the district.

agricultural issues and have worked with other local farm organizations to

At this year’s annual meeting, the CKE

influence policy for municipal councils.

CFA presented a lifetime membership

Over the years, they have worked

award to Paul Tomen. Paul has been

well with both provincial and federal

farming all his life and is 90 years

politicians. The CKE CFA also works

young! Congratulations, Paul!

to support the future of agriculture by


June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2 CFFO Newsletter FEDERATION CHRISTIAN FARMERS OF ONTARIO

FARMING UNDER 40

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717 Diltz road Dunnville 23636 Huffs Side road Thamesville

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Join Us

FOR YOUNG FARMERS & YOUNG FARM FAMILIES

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June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

Ton Boekestyn, St. Davids, Ontario

trend aquafresh organics Owned and Operated by Ton Boekestyn Paul Bootsma

Field Services Manager Fish in greenhouses and plants on water. It’s an unexpected combination, but Ton Boekestyn wanted to try something different after years of working in the greenhouse business. Wanting to use what he had in a different way, he came across the idea of using fish and greenhouses to grow organic produce. The result was Trend AquaFresh Organics. The idea is that everything is connected into an ecosystem: the fish put nutrients into the water from which the plants grow. No additives. It sounds fairly simple, but after viewing the whole process, you can see that this venture is not for the faint of

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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. heart. The fish need specific feed, the

His journey has encouraged him to

water needs to be processed before

keep pursuing his idea, even though

it is ready for the plants, and then the

financially it has been difficult. The

water needs processing again for the

biggest challenge for Ton is marketing

fish.

his product into a niche market that

“The idea is that everything is connected into an ecosystem.”

already has so many choices and varieties. Fortunately, Ton can focus his marketing on the fact that the produce is grown without synthetic additives and that the fertilizer is allnatural (in other words, fish poop).

Once the whole system came together, Ton soon realized that it was all very

Currently, Ton is growing rainbow trout

intricately connected. One area affects

in tanks that are 20’ in diameter and 6’

another area, which then affects a third

deep. He keeps the fish to enrich the

area. The experience has given him

water and then sell to local restaurants.

the humbling reminder that nature was

Not knowing much about farming fish,

created by a supreme being and did

it was only after purchasing the trout

not come together by chance.

that he learned that this variety is the


CFFO Newsletter

June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

most difficult to farm. This resulted

operation. For example, he has added

fascinating the end result will be when

in a lot of lost fish. But with a year of

goldfish to the water tubs to help keep

it functions to its fullest potential. The

experience under his belt, Ton hopes

them clean. Ton also uses beneficial

equipment needed to process and

to soon begin raising Barramundi or

bugs to offset pests, in keeping with

transport water from the fish to the

Australian Sea Bass. These fish are

his aim of avoiding synthetic pest

plants and back again is intriguing.

easier to manage and prefer warmer

control. This requires diligent control of

The number and size of pumps that

water, which is easier to maintain than

what and who enters the facility.

are involved is extensive and requires

to keep water cool enough for the trout. There is also a good demand in local seafood restaurants for this type of fish, which will become one source of steady income for the business. Ton

“The flavour of the plants is what adds to the value of the produce.”

daily maintance and management so that it all flows continuously. As the plants grow and use up the nutrients in the water, nutrient rich water needs to be re-added to the tubs. Efficiency is still the name of the game, so the plants need to grow and mature as

also plans to set up a small market

Ton also tried adding snails into the

quickly as possible.

stand on the property to sell to local

tubs, hoping to sell them as escargot

customers. His hope, though, is that

to a local eatery. But experimentation

The unique flavour of the plants is

the majority of produce will be sold to

oftens carries an element of surprise:

what adds to the value of the produce.

restaurants or wholesale.

somehow small slugs got into the

That’s Ton’s goal: to offer produce

water and multiplied rapidly. Ton has

with a distinctive flavour that can be

The plants, which are grown on

not found any of the snails back. He

promoted by the restaurants who

water, are edible flowers and a

hasn’t found any damage or harm

purchase his food. But most important

variety of lettuces. These plants start

coming from the slugs, but now he is

to Ton is that he is working with God’s

as small plugs. As they grow, they

not certain that snails can survive in

creation, and he finds great joy in his

are transferred to more spacious

the tubs.

work for that reason.

for consumption. Harvesting occurs

Ton recognizes that there are still

Thanks, Ton, for allowing this

almost daily to maintain fresh produce.

some things to be worked out to

opportunity to visit another unique farm

improve and streamline the whole

in Ontario as part of the CFFO family.

holders and eventually harvested

An innovator at heart, Ton has tested

system. But when you tour the

out other ideas to grow and refine his

operation, you can visualize how

fish tank with controlled feeding

root systems

lettuce growing in the greenhouse

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June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

MPAC Property Assessments Suzanne Armstrong Director of Research and Policy On February 22, Jennifer Ward, Manager of Valuation and Customer Relations at the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), spoke at our Provincial Council meeting in Marden. The audience was very impressed with her presentation, and many left with a new appreciation for the overall farm valuation process. Ward began by reminding the audience that MPAC does not set any policy regulations, but is responsible for valuing and classifying all properties—residential, multiresidential, farm, commercial, industrial and special properties— across the provinice.

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MPAC values properties on a four-year cycle. The previous valuations were done in 2012, and those values were used until 2016. This 2016 valuation will be used for the next four years until 2020. Any increases in value are spread over the course of those four years, while any decrease in value is implemented immediately. In 2016, MPAC approached the property assessment update with a few new tactics. First, they began their “ramp up” work on the assessments much earlier than in the past. They also staggered mailing assessment notices so that calls could be handled more promptly. They also updated the agricultural cost guide they had been working with to value farm outbuildings, which had not been

updated since the 1980s.

“Values are determined only from sales of farmland to another farmer.” Specifically for farm property evaluations, MPAC hired a research firm to host focus group conversations about the assessment notice and how information is presented. One thing MPAC learned was that farmers usually identify their different properties by the acreage of each one. As a result, they have made it much easier to see the acreage of each property on the front page of the assessment notice. Through consultations with


CFFO Newsletter

June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

OMAFRA, they also made some other

in order to determine how much of

(www.aboutmypropterty.ca), which

improvements and additions to the

a property is workable acreage vs.

shows the details of the property

notice.

wetlands or other natural areas. Farm

assessments, along with up to 24

outbuildings are classified based on

comparable properties for reference.

Ward also specifically unpacked

their actual use, which will affect their

Farmers can see which criteria were

how farm assessments are done on

classification.

used to establish the property value,

farmland and farm outbuildings. With

as well as market trends, methodology

respect to farmland, she emphasized

Ward noted that even with these

guides, and more. Ward reminded

that values are determined only from

factors taken into consideration,

farmers that they have 120 days from

sales of farmland to another farmer,

the market for farmland is strong,

the date of their assessment notice

not sales to developers or other

and values reflect that accordingly.

to file a Request for Reconsideration

investors. Farms are divided within

Farmland values have increased

with MPAC. She encouraged those in

168 defined geographic areas so

significantly in many areas, but now

attendance to explore the information

that farms are compared with sales

the market is starting to stabilize,

about their properties using the About

of other farm properties in the same

and the rate of increase is slowing,

My Property online resource, and if

area. MPAC classifies farmland into

according to Farm Credit Canada.

they still have any questions about

six classes using seven qualities

Some of the highest valued land in the

their assessment, to contact MPAC for

of the land, including soil type,

province is upwards of $30,000/acre.

clarification.

drainage, flooding, stoniness, erosion, depth to bedrock, and topography.

Ward pointed farmers to an online

They also use aerial photography

resource called “About My Property,�

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June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

thank you to our


CFFO Newsletter

our 2017 partners

June 2017, Volume 16, No. 2


CFFO Newsletter

CFFO Partners and Farming under 40 event sponsors

Ampersand Country Guide Dairy Farmers of Ontario DBK Accounting Professional Corp. Ducks Unlimited Canada Egg Farmers of Ontario

Farm Credit Canada Floradale Feed Mill Limited Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd. Grain Farmers of Ontario Grand Valley Fortifiers Limited Heartland Farm Mutual

Jay-Lor Fabricating, Inc. Meester Insurance Centre Meller Poultry Equipment Inc. Nachurs Alpine Solutions Norwell Dairy Systems Limited Salford Group Inc.

Thank You

RETURN UNDELIVERABLE ITEMS TO CHRISTIAN FARMERS FEDERATION OF ONTARIO 642 WOOLWICH ST. GUELPH ON N1H 3Y2 T: 519-837-1620 Toll Free: (1) 855-800-0306 Email: cffomail@christianfarmers.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/cffont Twitter: @CFFOnt Web Site: www.christianfarmers.org

The CFFO Newsletter is published two times per year by the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario for its members and friends. Editor: Marie Versteeg; Production Manager: Frances Pitkin

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