Summer 2018

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Federation Of Ontario




Newsletter June 2018, Volume 17, No.2

Photograph from our featured farm Bethanee Jensen Shepherd’s Fold

INSIDE THIS ISSUE President’s Comments

CFFO Policy Notes

Featured Farm

AGM & Leadership Summit

June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

PRESIDENT’S comments

Clarence Nywening

One of the most wonderful things about living in a democratic country is having the chance to elect our leaders. Every time an election is called, it is an opportunity for people to speak up and actively make a difference in our political system. It is a chance to bring about change. Over the past four years, agriculture in Ontario has taken some major hits, and with the recent elections, we at CFFO are looking for changes. One major area of concern is the new environmental laws that have been put into place under our past government. The Green Energy Act placed unrealistic restraints on farming activity, and the Cap and Trade system has required many farmers, particularly greenhouse growers, to dish out large quantities of money because of the amount of energy required to grow food. These new measures often neglect to realize the stewardship efforts of the agricultural sector. I am concerned that we may see a decline in agricultural activity in the province unless these complications are properly addressed by our newly formed government. Minimum wage increases have also dramatically affected the cost of production for many farmers. Though we recognize the need to pay employees a proper wage, dramatic and rapid increases like we have seen this past year will also require a dramatic increase in the cost of producing locally grown foods. This is a challenge for farm businesses because few consumers are willing to pay more for their food. The agriculture and agri-food sector is one of the largest economic contributers in Ontario, but with current trends in the provincial economy, many farmers have concerns. It’s time to take agriculture seriously. If our newly elected officials wish to maintain affordable food costs while preserving the bounty and quality of our locally grown foods, these issues must be addressed. At CFFO, we are looking forward to this opportunity for change. If government is willing to work with farmers to maintain a balanced approach to agriculture, agriculture will be a viable and sustainable sector in Ontario for years to come.

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June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

Provincial Elections Strategy This spring, the CFFO launched an advocacy campaign to reach rural candidates running for provincial office. Our message centered on three major concerns for farming communities: agri-food sector success, farmland preservation, and water stewardship. We offered several recommendations:

• focus on profitable farm businesses and vital rural communities—not just protecting farmland.

Water Stewardship

Agri-food Sector Success

The CFFO wants an agricultural system that allows for good stewardship of our water resources through:

The CFFO wants improved growth in the agri-food sector through:

• a balanced provincial budget and low interest rates; • labour policy that balances the needs of wage earners and businesses; • energy policy that offers farmers economic opportunities, without putting Ontario at a competitive disadvantage; • expanded rural internet; and • well-maintained transportation and sewer/ drainage infrastructure.

Farmland Preservation The CFFO wants productive Ontario farmland to be protected over the long term through:

• •

commitment to stronger protections for farmland facing growth pressure—within and beyond the Greater Golden Horseshoe region; extension of the agricultural land-base mapping process across the province to ensure municipalities include ag in their land-use planning; and

targeted legislation that prioritizes biological use of water for agriculture; • a regulatory environment oriented toward soil health, irrigation, drainage and retention for optimal farm water management; • government support for research, on-farm trials, and incentives to bring innovation that positions Ontario farmers for long-term self-resiliency; and • commitment to help build a knowledge base around water expertise within Ontario agriculture. Through the coordinated efforts of CFFO staff and district leaders, our message reached rural candidates from the PC, NDP, and Liberal parties. District leaders and concerned members wrote to candidates and local papers, organized or attended all candidates meetings, or met personally with those seeking office in their ridings. Thank you to all our members who helped to present a unified voice for agriculture during the 2018 election season. We look forward to continued work with elected MPPs in the coming years. ~Marie Versteeg, Manager of

Executive Board & Committees

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June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

POLICY Notes PMRA and Neonicotinoids A significant number of recent Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) re-evaluation decisions on crop protection products have fully cancelled or significantly restricted their use by Ontario farmers. Significant among these re-evaluations are three neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin. Processing vegetable growers are particularly impacted, but so are many other producers who grow fruit and vegetables. Considered cumulatively, the loss or restriction of so many products for protecting crops without suitable replacement products leaves producers vulnerable to pest, fungus, and disease issues with limited ability to respond. The CFFO has asked the PMRA to more carefully consider the value of these crop protection products for their use on fruit and vegetable production; to allow selective use of some products as tools for crop protection, at least until effective alternatives can be established; and to consider the impact on farmers’ competitiveness within the global and domestic markets.

Soil Health and Conservation Strategy Healthy soils improve food production quality and quantity; improve water quality and biodiversity, including soil biodiversity; and sequester greenhouse gases. This spring, the Ontario government released the final version of its Soil Health and Conservation Strategy. For the past several years, the CFFO was involved in the Soil Health Working Group, an important part of the consultation process for creating this document. The CFFO highlighted several priorities for early action, including updated provincial soil mapping. The CFFO also emphasized collecting and passing on knowledge and feedback from farmers to researchers on soil health innovation. It is vitally important that society, through and beyond government, support the stewardship work farmers do to care for soil health.

Organic Standards CFFO encouraged the Ontario government to pass legislation that will establish organic standards within the province. Any organic producer currently selling outside of Ontario already needs to meet the Canadian certification standard, but within Ontario, organic standards are not enforced by law. Establishing organic standards in Ontario makes for a fair playing field for all farmers, whether organic or conventional. It also increases consumer trust in Ontario-produced organic foods.

Voluntary Carbon Offset Program One of CFFO’s main criticisms of the Cap and Trade system is that significant financial and environmental benefits will end up in other jurisdictions, like California, at Ontarians’ expense. Now, in addition to the offsets that are part of the Cap and Trade system, government has proposed a Voluntary Carbon Offsets Program to ensure that, within this new system, greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and connected financial and environmental benefits remain within Ontario. It also recognizes environmental and social co-benefits, to Page 4

CFFO Newsletter

June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

things like biodiversity, soil health, and pollinators. The CFFO encouraged measuring these co-benefits to add to public recognition of their value along with the value of GHG reduction.

Pre-Budget Consultation The CFFO presented three key recommendations to the Minister of Finance in early February: to maintain a balanced budget and reduce provincial debt; to invest in rural infrastructure, especially expanded high-speed internet; and to promote and increase the competitiveness of Ontario’s food processing sector in both local and export markets.

Organic Waste As part of the larger move to a waste-free Ontario, government has released proposed actions to address organic wastes currently going to landfills. The CFFO encourages addressing the food waste problem but warned government to be cautious that they do not create a new economy from food waste, which could result from a system where surplus or spoiled food is considered desirable for use in generating energy or creating and marketing soil amendments. Government should encourage prevention of food waste in the first place. For the farm sector, priority actions should include research and technological innovation to help reduce food waste in primary production; safety standards and strategies for recovering surplus food for livestock feed; and enforcement and regular evaluation of standards on soil amendment products, including training for operators of composting and anaerobic digestors.

4R Nutrient Stewardship The agricultural industry has taken the initiative through the 4R Nutrient Stewardship certification program to increase the efficiency of nutrient use and to prevent nutrient loss into our waterways and lakes. Farmers participate through their 4R certified CCA or input supplier. CFFO was part of the 4R Steering Committee, which was responsible for developing the Ontario certification standards. The CFFO is strongly in favour of bringing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program to Ontario and supports the certification recommendations that have been proposed. Protection of our waterways and water quality will improve as a result of the good management practices that this program promotes.

Growing the Greenbelt Government is considering expansion of the GGH Greenbelt in order to protect important water features that are under significant urban development pressure. The CFFO sees value in adding lands to the Greenbelt so long as additions are carefully considered through predetermined criteria and suitable review. The CFFO encouraged the province to consider protecting prime farmland as one of the criteria for determining new boundaries.

Caribou along Lake Superior Shore The Ontario government is implementing a strategy to protect Woodland Caribou along the Lake Superior Shore region. While caribou prefer woodland habitat, the CFFO has raised concerns that an increased population may spread into farmland areas, as has been the case with deer and elk. The CFFO asked government that farmers who experience crop losses or property damage because of problem caribou be adequately compensated through incentives for crop protection methods, improved insurance coverage, or direct compensation. Managing predator and prey densities within caribou ranges is beneficial to protecting caribou. Therefore, the CFFO has also suggested that there would be benefits to caribou conservation efforts if farmers in the region are assisted with removing problem animals like deer, wolves, and bears, from their land. ~Suzanne Armstrong, Director of

Research & Policy

You can find full submissions on the CFFO website:

June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

CFFO IN ACTION 2018 ANNUAL MEETING & LEADERSHIP SUMMIT The CFFO Executive Board and staff welcomed district board members to the CFFO Annual Meeting & Leadership Summit in Waterloo on March 27. Five Executive Board positions were filled through acclamation. President Clarence Nywening, Vice-President Richard Blyleven, and Director Ed Scharringa returned to their previous roles. Simon de Boer and Frank Hoftyzer replaced retiring Directors Bethanee Jensen and Henry Stevens. The Future of Ag Organizations During the morning’s Annual Meeting, Dr. Rene Van Acker, Professor and Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC), University of Guelph, presented on the future of agricultural organizations like the CFFO. The shrinking number of farmers presents a challenge, but Van Acker pointed to three major opportunities to strengthen agriculture’s voice. First, we need to seek partnerships with non-ag organizations, such as urban groups concerned about over-development. Second, we must continue to position agriculture and agri-food as a sector for growth, innovation, and inclusion. The sector has been recognized as a potential key economic driver, and ag organizations can liaise with politicians who are unfamiliar with the sector. Finally, we can play a role in reaching a society that is interested in knowing about food and how to protect our nation’s food-growing resources. The Future of Water Governance The CFFO Leadership Summit provides training and development for district leaders. This year, Dr. Rob de Loë, Professor in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo, and Director of the Water Policy and Governance Group, spoke about the need to build agricultural community action on water stewardship issues.

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De Loë noted the growing interest of big business in local water governance (for example, banks and investors have begun to consider access to water when reviewing business proposals). It will be important for agriculture to participate in the collaborative process for water governance projects, like source water protection. His research has suggested that farmers who have participated in local water governance issues see many benefits, including contributing special expertise, learning from others, and avoiding top-down legislation through their efforts. A panel of CFFO members also spoke about their experiences in committees, such as source water protection groups, and ag advisories. Districts reviewed opportunities for lending CFFO perspectives to similar groups in their own regions.

Dr. Rene Van Acker

Dr. Rob de Loë

SUPPLY MANAGEMENT MEETING The CFFO hosted two meetings of its Supply Management Committee in the first quarter of 2018. Members met in Woodstock to discuss the future of supply management. Representatives from Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, and Egg Farmers of Ontario presented their efforts to attract new entrants. Members were encouraged to see both opportunities for new entrants, and commodity boards’ efforts to recalibrate their programs to encourage success. ~Marie Versteeg, Manager of

Executive Board & Committees

CFFO Newsletter

June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

Front row, from left: John Kikkert, Ed Scharringa, Clarence Nywening, Frank Hoftyzer Back row, from left: Simon de Boer, Richard Blyleven, John Bos, Peter Peeters

2018 executive board President Clarence Nywening is a broiler-breeder operator and cash cropper near Thamesville. He serves on Ontario’s Presidents’ Council, the Ontario Agricultural Commodity Council (OACC), and the 4R Steering Committee on nutrient management. Vice-President Richard Blyleven is a crop and organic egg producer from Haldimand County. He currently represents the CFFO for OMAFRA’s Timing Matters initiative on winter nutrient management, and he sits on the Environmental Council at Farm & Food Care Ontario. Vice-President John Kikkert is a chicken and turkey producer from Smithville. Currently, he is a district committee representative to the Chicken Farmers of Ontario and Past President of the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame Association. Director John Bos is part of a multi-generational family farm near Cambridge, with dairy and pork as their main commodities. John recently represented the CFFO in the development of New Horizons: Ontario’s Soil Health and Conservation Strategy. He sits on the Animal Care Council at Farm & Food Care Ontario. Director Simon de Boer remains active on his family dairy farm in Tara, now owned by his son and daughter-inlaw. He is also chair of the Arran-Tara Agricultural Society and ALUS Grey-Bruce. Director Frank Hoftyzer runs a cash crop and custom farming business near Hastings, alongside wife and business partner, Julia. Frank has also served on the boards of the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association and the East Central CFA. Director Peter Peeters is a beef producer from Omemee. He is a director and a former president of the Victoria County Beef Producers and also serves on his local Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Director Ed Scharringa is active in greenhouse and outdoor cut flower production near Lynden. He previously owned and operated a farm retail division. He currently sits on the boards of Farm & Food Care Ontario and the Agricultural Adaptation Council, representing general farm interests.

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CFFO Newsletter

districts in action District Annual Meetings This winter, most of our 21 CFFO districts held their annual meeting. During these meetings, district boards and members have the opportunity not only to review the past year’s activities and financial statements, but also to hear from speakers and meet special guests. This year, a good number of districts received visits from MPPs, possibly due to the provincial elections. Our meetings gave them opportunities to meet their constituents and hear the concerns of the agricultural community. At the meetings, members discuss local issues. This year, the topic of municipal drains came up at most meetings. Some municipalities were not as prompt in cleaning out the drains, but the general consensus was that things were in good shape. This year, a representative from Keil-Dadson Insurance attended most of the district meetings, promoting its recent partnership with the CFFO and the insurance package it has designed specifically for CFFO members ( Many thanks go to outgoing district board members. Your time and effort is and has been appreciated. At

the same time, we look forward to working with all the new and returning board members elected to their district boards. A special word of sympathy goes to the Schipper family with the sudden passing away of Harry Schipper of Straffordville, in March. Harry was a well-known district board member in the Elgin district and a long-time, active supporter of the CFFO.

Farm Shows The Federation was present at a number of farm shows this past winter, including the London, Ottawa, and Earlton Farm Shows; the Canadian Dairy Xpo; and the National Poultry Show (formerly the London Poultry Show). CFFO members spent time in the booth meeting with guests at the show. This is a great way to promote the Federation on a farmer-to-farmer basis. This summer, the booth will be set up at the Pork Congress, the Hastings Plowing Match, and the Outdoor Farm Show. We love to meet our members and hear your concerns, so please visit us if you happen to be at any of these events. ~Paul Bootsma, Field Services Manager

Newsletter CFFOCFFO Newsletter

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June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

policy tour report This winter, CFFO staff discussed “The Future of Farming” with members across all our 21 provincial districts for the 2018 Policy Tour. Talk focused on innovations on farms that increase profits and also contribute to building public trust in agriculture. Building on one of CFFO’s three key focus areas, water stewardship, we asked our members about how they have handled the recent growing seasons that have oscillated between very dry and very wet. We also shared two videos from our 2017 Water Stewardship Workshop, which was part of the work of our Water Stewardship Team. One video demonstrated the benefits of sub-surface drip irrigation for corn, and the other offered solutions for remote location livestock watering. Soil health and conservation are also in the government’s policy spotlight as part of the recently released New Horizons: Ontario’s Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation Strategy. As is clear from our survey, farmers are also highly motivated to address soil health and conservation on their farms. At the Policy Tour, we discussed soil testing practices and new soil tests designed to measure soil life and structure, as well as balanced soil chemistry. Finally, we rounded out the conversations by inviting all in attendance to reflect on their feelings about the future of agriculture and whether or not they were optimistic or pessimistic. Most farmers hold strongly to optimism, planning for the future and finding innovative ways to overcome the challenges and obstacles that farmers face from weather, market changes, and government regulations.

2018 “Future of Farming” Survey Results During the Policy Tour, the CFFO conducted a survey on innovations and changes that farmers are making on their farms. It was handed out during the Policy Tour meetings and was also available online in April for anyone who missed it at the meetings. In total, we got 198 responses. The survey asked about changes farmers have made in the past five years, changes they are planning in the next five years, and the motivations behind the choices they’re making. The most popular changes that farmers have undertaken in the last five years include new tillage equipment, new or intensified tile drainage, and new cover crops. A significant number of respondents also indicated that they planned to add new tile drainage, new cover crops, and new tillage equipment in the next five years. Many farmers have also changed their lighting equipment, but that trend seems to have reached its peak, likely due to incentives available to make the change. Looking ahead, many are planning to build new barns. The most significant motivators for change over the past five years were to replace or update old equipment and methods or to address soil health and conservation. Both soil health and keeping up to date were indicated by almost 25% of those who cited specific motivations for their changes. Page 10

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Of those looking to improve soil health, cover crops were the most common new innovation. Those motivated to keep up to date equipment and methods were most likely to adopt new harvest equipment. Other key motivators for innovation and change included cost savings, business expansion and new market opportunities, and greater efficiency. The popularity of cover crops is striking, and it is clear that many are seeing the benefits of cover crops as part of their farming practices. There were two key motivators driving farmers to add new cover crops. While many were motivated to improve soil health, prevent erosion and get the most out of no-till, a significant number adding cover crops were motivated to keep up to date with modern farming practices. When asked what inhibits farmers from making changes or adopting new innovations on their farms, the most common reason given was financial costs, followed by lack of return on investment. Farmers were also unlikely to make changes that are highly demanding of time, planning, or management. Interestingly, farm succession was also an inhibitor for many, where one generation or the other is holding back innovation as succession hangs in the balance. ~Suzanne Armstrong, Director of

Research & Policy

June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

Top 5 innovations on farms in the last 5 years 1) 2) 2) 4) 5)

New tillage equipment New tile drainage (tied) New cover crop (tied) New lighting equipment New harvesting equipment

Top 5 innovations planned in the next 5 years 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

New barn New tile drainage New cover crop New labour saving equipment New tillage equipment

June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

featured farm

Bethanee Jensen: Shepherd’s Fold, belgrave “If you want to farm, just do it. Find a way.” That’s the advice of Bethanee Jensen, sheep farmer and past CFFO Executive Board Director.

“I slowly built up,” she explains. “The biggest thing is to create a good reputation. When you sell good quality products, then word of mouth builds your business.”

Jensen, who farms on 34 acres near Belgrave, grew up in a farming family and always knew she wanted to be a farmer, too. But as a single woman with no financial support from family, she faced an uphill battle.

While growing her main business, Jensen also found other ways to pay the bills. For a time, she kept 65 doe rabbits (which translated into anywhere from six to seven hundred rabbits at any one time). This extra source of income worked well because rabbits took up barn space but not fields, which she needed for her flock. She’s also kept chickens, selling both eggs and meat birds. “You’re never going to make a fortune with a few birds,” she admits, “but you make every dollar count.”

Her first step was to become an accountant, which enabled her to earn money toward buying a farm. In 1993, she made her first payment, armed with a full-time job and a flock of 19 purebred Dorset ewes. For nearly a decade, everything Jensen made went into the farm. She was able to make the leap into To my way of thinking, you don’t have to own full-time farming in 2000. thousands of acres to make a living off a farm. You

just have to be creative.

“To my way of thinking, you don’t have to own thousands of acres to make a living off a farm,” she says. “You just have to be creative.” Jensen’s career has been a master class in creativity and resourcefulness. As a purebred breeder, most of her stock is sold to fellow sheep producers. But she also has a farmgate trade, selling freezer lamb, sheep skins, and wool blankets. Page 12

Before buying the farm, Jensen took courses in sheep management and decided on the Dorset breed, which would allow her to do accelerated lambing. She purchased her first flock from the best breeder she could find in Ontario. “I figured if I bought the best, then there was room for error,” she laughs. Jensen never intended to become a purebred breeder herself, but she was so impressed with the flock she saw, that by the time she brought her first sheep home, she

CFFO Newsletter

knew she wanted to become a purebred breeder as well. At her peak, Jensen had a flock of 200 breeding ewes, and she has won several awards for both growth traits and maternal traits. Today, Jensen is semi-retired, with about 65 ewes. “I’ve never thought about packing it in. My husband [Pierre] would love me to,” she laughs. “We’ve settled on down-sizing instead of leaving the farm.” It’s easy to understand how hard it would be to retire from a career that was so hard-won. Because she was a single, young woman at the time she first went into farming, banks refused to give her a mortgage. Friends and family laughed at her plans, doubting she could do it alone. “I faced emotional and financial and even physical struggles along the way because I’m not a big person. I did it all on my own,” reflects Jensen. “I’m quite proud of it.” Jensen also points to neighbours and friends who helped her along the way. She, in turn, has helped others. Her long experience in sheep farming is valuable; the average person stays in the industry for about three years. “You have to have the patience to work calmly with sheep to be able to handle them,” she explains. “You also face complications with disease and with birthing.” The market will bear more sheep farming in Ontario, but Jensen warns anyone interested that you need to do your research first and make sure you aren’t buying someone else’s problem flock. It’s easy to get in, but problems can mount quickly. “If you have the temperament and healthy animals, you can stay in sheep farming for a long time, but if not, a year is more than enough!” Jensen joined the CFFO when stable funding came in in 1994. She chose it because of its Christian values. She was eventually asked to run

June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

for the Executive Board in 2011 and readily agreed. “I was told it was just one day a month,” she laughs. Jensen served on the Board as Director and Treasurer for six years, the maximum number of years Directors can serve continuously, according to CFFO bylaws. But she was quickly scooped up this spring by her CFA District Board in Huron. When asked about the reasons she’s chosen to serve on the CFFO Board for so long, she points to two things: “I think the ethics is something that I really appreciate—the fact that it’s faith-based. Also, the fact that stewardship of the land is high priority.” As a small-size farm holder, Jensen’s insight has been invaluable at the board table over the years, and CFFO thanks her for her service. ~Marie Versteeg, Manager of

Executive Board & Committees

June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

CFFO Newsletter

CFFO Newsletter

June 2018, Volume 17, No. 2

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2018 Calendar JUN


June Pork Congress (20-21)

Provincial Council (27)

July Farming Under 40 BBQs District Picnics

August Hastings Plowing Match (22-23)




September Stewardship & Policy Committee Series

Canada’s Outdoor Farmshow (11-13) Deadline to submit calendar photos (30)

October CFFO Agri-Day

Provincial Council (31)

Are you interested in receiving meeting notices for Provincial Council or Stewardship & Policy meetings? Contact for more information.

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2018 partners

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: Facebook: Twitter: @CFFOnt Web Site: 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