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PROTECTING THE HERBICIDE RESOURCE

GROWING TRACTOR PARTS IN THE FIELD

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The highs and lows of 2013 The weather was cruel then kind, a trade deal raised export hopes and supply management fears, and the livestock sector had a mix of good and bad news COMPILED BY AFE STAFF

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nce again, time did not stand still. History was rewritten as 2013 marked the first full year of an open market for wheat and barley. And history was also preserved as the Waldron Grazing Co-operative signed a deal to protect 31,000 acres of prime grazing land forever. But everyone wishes one new chapter had never entered Alberta’s history books — last June’s floods will go down as the second most costly natural disaster in Canadian history. While farms were largely spared, everyone was reminded of how merciless Mother Nature can be. She also showed her kind side, giving most producers if not ideal growing conditions, then pretty darn good ones. The result was a bumper harvest, then long lineups at elevators, and finally grain gridlock. These and other stories make the top news list assembled by reporters Alexis Kienlen and Jennifer Blair along with editor Will Verboven.

Nature’s fury

It started in early June with a weather system that produced heavy rains in northern Alberta

SEE 2013 STORIES  page 6

NATURE’S FURY: A woman is airlifted by helicopter, equipped with a cable and harness, from her flooded farm in Millarville in southern Alberta. She was stranded in the submerged tractor, as swollen waters from nearby Three Point Creek overtook the farm. PHOTO: WENDY DUDLEY

AERATE AT NIGHT FOR BETTER DRYING  PAGE 19

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news » inside this week

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inside » Protecting the herbicide resource In the U.S., they’re using hoes to control weeds

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

livestock

crops 

columNists

Management makes the difference

The cost of not aerating

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Paying kids to eat veg Paying children to eat healthy may be more economical staff

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Bigger farms need better management

Wet Prairies, world crops look good

Lowering days on feed key to boosting profits

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Proponents say investment is recouped quickly

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Top weather stories for 2013

Alberta bird rules the roost at Toronto poultry show What fate awaits Champ the rooster, who’s no spring chicken?

  photo: courtesy of Kathy Stevenson By Jennifer Blair af staff

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DANIEL BEZTE

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esearchers at Brigham Young and Cornell universities say the good news is that a new U.S. government rule has schools serving an extra $5.4 million worth of fruits and vegetables each day. The bad news is that a study shows the kids discard 70 per cent of it. “We saw a minor increase in kids eating the items, but there are other ways to achieve the same goal that are much, much cheaper,” BYU economics professor, Joe Price said in a release. The cheaper solution may be to pay them. Researchers conducted a second study to measure the effect of small rewards. The week-long experiments took on different twists in 15 different schools — some could earn a nickel, others a quarter, and others a raffle ticket for a larger prize. But the results were generally the same. The scholars reported in The Journal of Human Resources that offering small rewards increased the fruit and vegetable consumption by 80 per cent. The amount of wasted food declined by 33 per cent. The researchers say this raises the question of whether benevolent bribery is a better way. “We feel a sense of dirtiness about a bribe. But rewards can be really powerful if the activity creates a new skill or changes preferences.” The researchers say that with healthy eating, for example, some fear that prizes will prevent children from developing their own motivation to eat well. Another danger, known as a “boomerang effect,” is the possibility that some children would eat fewer fruits and vegetables when the rewards disappeared. When the week of prizes ended, students went back to the same level of fruit and vegetable consumption as before. There was no lasting improvement, but no boomerang effect either. The researchers are studying whether extending the experiments over three to five weeks might yield lasting change, and say so far things look promising. “I don’t think we should give incentives such a bad rap,” Price said. “They should be considered part of a set of tools we can use.”

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phil franz-warkentin

Aerate at night for better drying? Running fans continuously not a smart move

brenda schoepp

ravelling by wing just wouldn’t do for Champ the chicken on his recent flight to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. “He caused quite a sensation in the airport,” said Kathy Stevenson of Bashaw. “People would see the pet carriers and come around to get a good look and jump back startled when they saw this huge chicken in there.” The Buff Orpington rooster took home the top prize for poultry at the fair in November, but Champ hasn’t let his newfound fame go to his head.

“He really doesn’t require a whole lot of care,” said Stevenson. “He’s just happy to have a few hens to keep him company in his pen.” Like many farm families, Stevenson kept “regular chickens” until she began to learn more about traditional heritage breeds. “When I discovered so many wonderful things about purebred poultry, I decided I really liked that idea of selfsufficiency and being able to hatch your own chicks.” The gentle demeanour and brilliant gold colouring of Buff Orpington chickens drew Stevenson to the breed. “They’re just dazzling,” she said. “When they catch the sunlight, it’s really quite stunning.”

Stevenson, who began showing her heritage poultry nearly five years ago, said more and more people are becoming interested in the hobby. “The shows are getting bigger, with more people exhibit-

“The shows are getting bigger, with more people exhibiting and more people giving it a try.” Kathy Stevenson

ing and more people giving it a try.” At shows like the Royal, poultry are judged on breed standards for size, shape, colour, and feather texture, so Stevenson recommends anyone interested in showing poultry first speak with a private breeder. “You need to start with goodquality, healthy chickens, and generally, you need to do that through a private breeder rather than a hatchery,” she said. As for Champ, his show career is at an end. But he won’t be finding himself in a soup pot any time soon. “He will be enjoying a nice, quiet retirement here on the farm.” jennifer.blair@fbcpublishing.com

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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

Western Canada’s only gardening annual turns 75 The Prairie Garden remains the go-to resource for learning to be better gardeners in a short-season climate By Lorraine Stevenson staff

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t may be -25 C outside but gardens are already growing — at least in gardeners’ minds. Early January is time to plan, if not plant, and gardeners on the Prairies spend this time thumbing through The Prairie Garden, learning how to become a better gardener for the short growing season ahead. The 2014 release of the digest-sized, softcover book, billed as Western Canada’s only gardening annual, marks its 75th year in print. It’s a major milestone, given this is a non-profit publication, written by unpaid contributors and assembled by volunteers. Those volunteers make up a committee of about a dozen people with a wide range of horticultural expertise — and they’ve been at it literally decades too. What keeps it all going is that gardeners’ habit of sharing what they know. “Gardeners always seem to be willing to share information,” says Roger Brown, now retired from his job as superintendent of government grounds for the Province of Manitoba. “They’ll really go out of their way to share information. I really think that’s what’s kept it going.”

Name change

The Prairie Garden’s origin dates to 1937 when volunteers with what was then the Winnipeg Horticultural Society created The Winnipeg Flower Garden, which carried articles written by prominent horticulturalists and was included in the society’s annual report. It was so widely read, they dropped the “Winnipeg” part of the name in 1955, and gave it its present-day name two years later. Some things have changed in 75 years — others stay the same. Present-day editor Richard Denesiuk works with The Prairie Garden committee and its contributing writers. He designs the 180-page document on computer, but SEC-STETT14-T_AFE.qxd 12/18/13 4:04 he’s heard about the days when handwritten submissions were mailed, and the

book put together on living room floors using the old “cut and paste” method. “And they used something called a typewriter,” he joked during the launch in Winnipeg of the 2014 edition. Colour pictures began to appear in the 1960s. In the 1970s the committee began building content around an annual chosen theme. The practice of hiring a guest editor began in 1987. What’s unchanged is the passion for putting out a great book. It still takes many volunteer hours, invested by those devoted to the original purpose of The Prairie Garden — to advance horticulture in Western Canada. “The book,” as committee members often call it, caught on because there wasn’t anything like it. It’s remained popular because, despite the proliferation of glossy gardening magazines, few are focused singularly on the unique challenges of a western Canadian climate. Retired provincial Department of Agriculture home economist Fran Wershler served as editor for a dozen years beginning in 1989 and has put in a long stint on the committee as well. A few years ago they did ask if they should continue, she said. “It was at a point where we realized all these new gardening magazines were coming in, and lots of books being written too.” But they haven’t focused to the extent The Prairie Garden has on the unique conditions of Western Canada. “The reason it started was because it’s a specific kind of gardening here on the Prairies, and magazines coming out from other places don’t necessarily touch on it, or they aren’t geared to our gardeners here,” says Wershler. “The object of those early articles was to look at what we do best on the Prairies, and how to make things work here.”

Diverse readers and writers

That remains the purpose of the book. What’s found among its 180 pages is a wide range of topics, written by a diverse PM Page 1 group of writers and always with a Prairie perspective.

This year botanists, beekeepers, home gardeners, research scientists and others have once again contributed to a wide number of subjects, from gardening with children to dealing with downy mildew in impatiens. There are articles on rooftop gardens, bird farms, backyard bees, and growing micro-greens. There’s even one on gardening in winter — with houseplants. They work hard to make the content easy to read and accessible to a wide audience, says Brown, who says the quality of the information also contributes to the book’s longevity. “Over the years we’ve always tried to write the articles so that they’d be easy to understand by everybody and interesting to read,” he says. They try to balance that with providing technical information too. Plus, they try to keep new readers’ needs in mind. “We’ve come back to basics a few times,” he says. “It’s come at meetings where we’ve said, ‘Maybe we need the article here and there on basic gardening, because there’s new readers and younger people who are buying it.’” The book doesn’t rely on advertising, The Prairie Garden’s loyal subscribers pay the printing bill. Many have been with the publication for decades. Around 7,000 copies were printed at the height of its popularity. Today around 4,000 are printed each year, and usually a few back issues remain for sale. A collection is now a timeless resource with content generally as solid and informative today as it was decades ago. Trends look good for The Prairie Garden remaining a long keeper, with interest in gardening showing no signs of waning, and many young people just starting to get their fingernails dirty. Already planning the 2015 edition, The Prairie Garden’s volunteers remain committed as ever to producing a good book, and along those lines they think like farmers; the best one yet is next year’s. lorraine@fbcpublishing.com

For more information, to purchase a 2014 edition or order back copies of previous editions please contact: The Prairie Garden Box 517 Winnipeg, Man. R3C 2J3 Phone: (204) 489-3466 Fax: (204) 489-1644 email: sales@theprairiegarden.ca You can read more about The Prairie Garden on their website at: www.theprairiegarden.ca The Prairie Garden is also made available at special quantity prices to horticultural societies and garden clubs. Contact your local horticultural group for more details.

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JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

EDITOR Will Verboven Phone: 403-697-4703 Email: will.verboven@fbcpublishing.com

Reporters Alexis Kienlen, Edmonton (780) 668-3121 akienlen@fbcpublishing.com

It’s been a good year for almost everyone

Jennifer Blair, Red Deer (403) 396-2643 jennifer.blair@fbcpublishing.com

PRODUCTION director Shawna Gibson Email: shawna@fbcpublishing.com

Director of Sales & Circulation

No year is perfect, but bumper crops across the province and other positive developments made for a pretty good year

Lynda Tityk Email: lynda.tityk@fbcpublishing.com

CIRCULATION manager Heather Anderson Email: heather@fbcpublishing.com

By will verboven

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Alberta Farmer | Editor

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hen reflecting on the year just passed, you always hope it’s been good for all producers, and everyone else along the marketing chain. Alas, that’s rarely the case as our system continues to be based on the rewards and cruelties of supply and demand. Throw in the trials and tribulations of weather and we have business as usual in agriculture. However, for all its vicissitudes, the system works, and amazingly, continues to feed the world. In 2013, most Alberta crop producers had one of their best years ever. Considering the size of the province, and its different climactic and soil zones, usually some weather calamity hits some farmers somewhere. But this past year saw consistently good harvests across the province, even in the Peace River district — which from personal experience seems to endure a lot more bad years than good ones. The issue now seems to be moving the bumper crop of cereals and oilseeds to export facilities, which not surprisingly have become plugged. There doesn’t seem to be a solution, but looking at it from the outside one ponders what temporary measures could be used. Of course, the problem always is at what cost. For instance, potash exports seem to be slowing — could not any idled potash hopper rail cars be leased for a short-term basis? Vancouver has one of the largest coal-handling terminals in the world — could perhaps a small portion of it be used to load a few dozen grain ships directly from rail cars? In the past, there was much talk of using American West Coast ports to export Canadian grain. Whatever happened to that idea? I would think with the right financial incentive these ideas could suddenly become viable. But I suspect no one from grower to exporter wants to incur any extra costs — so it looks like a ‘grin and bear it’ situation for shipping grain in 2014. I expect as spring comes closer, there is going to be a lot of cheap barley for sale straight from any piles still left on the ground.

It was a different story for the livestock business in 2013. It was a good year for the cow-calf producer with good feed and forage crops, again, virtually everywhere. For the feedlot sector, it was a completely different story, unless you were a custom feeder, most operators lost money consistently almost every month of the year. It would seem timely hedging and patient bankers are all that kept many operators in business. True to form for the gamblers in that business, many figure that cheap corn and barley supplies will turn their operation around. You have to admire their bottomless optimism. For primary producers, a money-losing feedlot sector is always an ominous sign of bad prices to come. Yet in one of those curious market quirks, calf prices remain steady. However, with the spread in the basis, primary producers figure they are losing out on even better prices. Market crystal-ball gazers maintain that although lower feed prices are welcome, a steady decline in the North American cow herd will be affecting price psychology for years to come. Significant exports of feeder cattle to the U.S. are an indicator of what may well become a much bigger trend. COOL, of course, hangs over the industry’s head. The hog industry in 2013 has seen a few flurries of profitability, and at least seems to have stabilized. There appears to be 300 significant hog producers left standing in Alberta after 10 years of downsizing. Cheap feed may help those determined survivors, but there is cheap feed in every hog production area. Plans to resuscitate the industry have come and gone — its future remains tenuous. Lamb production, which was the darling of the livestock business for a few years because of high prices, came down to earth in 2013. The processor and consumer threshold of price pain had been crossed and that industry is also back to price reality. One hope is that there are now some successful large-scale producers in business in Western Canada. That hasn’t happened for over 80 years, and would be a good sign for the industry.

Much has been heard this year about the tentative Canada-Europe free trade agreement. I’ve acknowledged the potential of the agreement in past columns, but cautioned that it’s far from a done deal. I’d once again note that Europe is already well supplied with everything it needs and wants by longtime suppliers, both domestic and foreign. If a fair agreement is ever signed, Canadian exports will increase, but it will be a hard fight to dislodge traditional suppliers. The draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan was released in 2013, and as expected, proved to be somewhat vague and also disappointingly naive in some perspectives of agriculture. The absence of any vision or genuine recognition of irrigation agriculture in the plan is a real message for that sector and agricultural development in general. One fears these regional plans are going to be dominated by urban-based environmental and recreational interests. One idea may be to get the ag industry unified on the issue in a similar fashion as the straw men did with their beef industry initiative. We need such leaders and promoters for a full court PR press to protect ag interests within the context of these regional plans. Green and wildlife groups have the money and expertise to overwhelm the direction of the draft plans and regional meetings. More plans are expected to be released in 2014, of particular interest to the ag sector will be the Red Deer River watershed plan. Floods were another major story in 2013, although the impact on ag production was limited. But it showed a real need for better flood control measures, which could include more dams and reservoirs that could have an impact on the ag industry. The problem, as always, with floods is that last year’s event will be forgotten until the next catastrophe. It seems to be human nature. Commonsense ideas, such as diversionary pipelines and floodways, are already being dismissed as too costly and impractical. It was a good and interesting year and one wonders how 2014 could top 2013. One way or another something will. It’s just the nature of this wonderful business. Happy New Year.

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The time for EGS is long overdue Paying landowners for the environmental work they perform would blaze a new trail for a better environment

By Will Verboven af editor

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nce in a while at livestock producer meetings, Ecological Goods and Services (EGS) is on the agenda. The idea was first broached around 20 years ago, but under different names. The venerable Western Stock Growers’ Association, who has championed the cause for many years, has called it Environmental Goods and Services. A past Alberta Environment report called it Ecosystem Goods and Services. Interestingly, an Internet search finds different descriptions and assumptions as to what EGS means — it seems to depend on the organization and its intentions. The Miistakis Institute of the University of Calgary defines EGS “as the economic and social benefits humans derive, directly and indirectly, from the natural environment or Natural Capital, such as clean air, healthy soil, biodiversity, and water quality and quantity.”

The institute has conducted research in the nature and value of EGS. Landowners, farmers and ranchers like such research because if a per-hectare value can be placed on EGS, then there is the potential of obtaining an additional revenue flow from one’s property. Visions of being paid to watch grass grow come to mind. However, any such research has not been an easy exercise because of the environmental variables from one location to another. To my knowledge, no research report has stuck its neck out and stated EGS is worth, for instance, $50 per hectare. Clearly, it would set a precedent. From a landowner perspective, it would be a perfect flag to wave in front of activist green groups, governments, wildlife organizations, fish and game associations, and the urban public. The message might run along the lines of, ‘Pay for the EGS we’re now providing for free or shut up.’ One can appreciate that none of the aforementioned groups really want to go down that trail. If you admit farmers and ranchers

are providing ecological services for free, it’s not as easy to criticize the environmental impact of modern agriculture. But the current approach is not fair or progressive, particularly if one wants to enhance environmental flora and fauna. A sliding scale of EGS values and payments would go a long way to seeing a remarkable change in the quality of ecosystems in many areas. For instance, if a base price was $10 per hectare and was increased gradually to much higher levels if certain standards and improvements were met, you’d see conservation measures quickly adopted. I expect even endangered species would be coming back from the dead if the right incentives were applied. How could anyone be opposed to such a positive goal? Perhaps there needs to be a summit held of all the stakeholders in EGS to begin taking the concept to the next level. Sure it’s blazing a new trail, but it could be a win-win situation for all and in particular, the long-suffering environment.


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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

Poor U.S. wheat markets may be in for more weakness Exporters in the European Union, Black Sea region, Australia and Canada are all expected to move to protect or gain market share BY GAVIN MAGUIRE REUTERS

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arch 2014 Chicago wheat futures started out the 2013 calendar year above $8 a bushel but appear set to end the year struggling to hold above the $6 level. A global pickup in importer demand during late summer had allowed for a brief stint of price strength in early autumn, but the revelation — amid a strong U.S. crop harvest and massive crop plantings across South America — that global grain supplies will likely rise to record levels in 2013-14 served to yank wheat values lower again as the year wound down. Heightened supply competition from other crops coupled with the real potential for U.S. winter wheat supplies to prove even larger than currently anticipated are likely to cap wheat values for the near term at least, and could well drive prices even lower into the new year.

From famine to feast

The chief driver of the wheat market meltdown over the past year or so has been the steep rebound in global grain supplies from the drought-stunted levels of 2012 to record abundance in 2013. Combined U.S. grain production jumped by more than 80 million tonnes or just over 23 per cent in 2013-14 over 2012-13 levels. Grain inventories swelled by an even greater degree over the same period, expanding by 50 per cent

from around 42 million tonnes to close to 63 million tonnes. This upswing in supplies naturally had a negative impact on grain values, with corn prices down around 45 per cent from their mid-July 2012 peak. Wheat prices have lost around 30 per cent over the same time frame as consumers and speculators alike pared back their buying interest and allowed for the waves of fresh supplies to steer prices lower. At a global level, grain supplies have also climbed over the past year or so, though not to the aggressive extent seen in the U.S. This U.S.-centric grain supply glut has been the main factor weighing on wheat prices lately, and stands to be the chief bar to upside progress in wheat values over the near to medium term. More specifically, it is the large supply of corn in the U.S. lately that stands to weigh on wheat prices in the short run, as corn is expected to displace wheat in feed rations throughout the coming months and lead to a further build in domestic wheat inventories.

export values higher in those regions lately, offering U.S. exporters a chance to step in to fill any resulting supply void. But the limited U.S. export business conducted in recent weeks suggests consumers are not in too much of a hurry to compete for fresh supplies, and are potentially content to wait for the logistics backlog to clear in their preferred origins. At the very least, the rather subdued demand pace for U.S. supplies even as export prices rose elsewhere suggests that consumers remain price sensitive even in the face of delays to shipments, and expect U.S. suppliers to offer attractive terms on sales in order to win the deal. That said, the weakening trend in U.S. wheat export prices relative to France and other regions does indicate that grain handlers and exporters are attempting to generate additional demand. But with Canadian feed wheat trading at a more than $30-$40 per tonne discount to U.S. soft red out of the U.S. Gulf, it is clear that U.S. exporters have not yet felt compelled to aggressively slash offer prices in order to ship extra grain.

Crowded field

Big crops getting bigger

A saturated wheat export market will do little to alleviate any U.S. surplus either. Exporters in the European Union, Black Sea region, Australia and Canada are all expected to move to protect or gain market share around the world in 2014 following large crop hauls in each of those areas. Congested ports and grain-handling facilities in Canada, France and elsewhere have pushed wheat

U.S. exporters may be waiting to get a better handle on the scale of the emerging U.S. winter wheat crops before they reduce wheat sale prices any further. The crops across the southern Midwest and U.S. Plains recently entered their dormancy period amid generally good health and across a large expanse of acres. Indeed, winter wheat-planted area in the U.S. hit a four-year high in 2013, and in terms of quality

Chicago traders are focusing on their domestic surplus rather than on world conditions overall. PHOTO: THINKSTOCK entered the winter dormancy period with its highest overall rating since 2009-10. Further, weather conditions during the critical early development phase were close to ideal in key locations such as central Kansas, where soil moisture levels climbed thanks to above-normal rainfall in September and October to provide the crop with yield-enhancing moisture reserves at the start of the growing season. Similarly, conducive crop conditions were evident across Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, suggesting that if the remainder of the growing season pans out amid normal conditions, the overall U.S. winter wheat crop could well surpass current projections in terms of scale and quality.

Taking cover

While the steady erosion in wheat values over the past several weeks has been the clearest indicator of

bearish attitudes in the market, the recent climb in bearish option purchases has been another signal that many traders anticipate prices to weaken even further in the weeks ahead. Just within the month of December, open positions at the $6-perbushel strike price in March 2014 Chicago wheat puts has increased by more than 30 per cent, revealing that a growing number of traders expect March wheat prices to slump well below that level early in the new year. Since Chicago March wheat futures have not slipped below that price since early 2012 — and then for only a very limited time — this large placement of bets that 2014 values will descend well below there is a clear warning that more weakness could well be in store for this market over the coming months. Gavin Maguire is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own

Farmers fare better under right-of-centre governments Conservative governments talk fiscal restraint but they are pretty liberal when it comes to helping farmers FARE SHARE NEWSLETTER

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new study shows liberal fiscal policies for agriculture are common under Conservative leadership. Tor Tolhurst and Shuang Li, M.Sc. students, FARE and John Cranfield, professor, FARE examined the seemingly contradictory nature of Conservative fiscal support for farmers. Known for espousing small government and fiscal conservatism, Conservative governments in Canada have instead shown a consistently “leviathan” approach to agriculture. The researchers examined data — specifically the number of Conservative-held seats in Parliament relative to direct and indirect federal transfers — over a 25-year period from 1986 to 2010 using figures from the organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. They also included controls for state of the agricultural economy, trade negotiations, importance of agricultural trade and the general state of the Canadian economy. The study demonstrated a statistically significant and positive relationship between transfers to agricultural producers and Conservative Party power.

The researchers then went on to ask the natural followup question, “Why are governments of the right — against party ideology and rhetoric — leviathan for agriculture?” They outline several theories espoused in research literature, including: successful, well-organized farm group lobbying; vote pandering; and the relationship between the tax burden of farm support relative to national income, among others. But these theories don’t address the question of “why Conservative parties?” in particular. For this, the researchers found a number of authors who support the notion of a long history of agrarianism that took root over time. This trend was developing at the same time that Liberal parties were aligning themselves with urban and labour interests. The researchers concluded that these theories might be overly simplistic due to the complexities of the ever-changing makeup of political parties in Canada. Instead, they pointed to their data that suggests the best use of political resources was to capture social conservative and fiscal liberals among agricultural producers.

Producer support equivalents (CND$) versus percentage of seats in federal parliament held by the Conservative Party of Canada, 1986-2010. SOURCE: OECD AND PARLIAMENT OF CANADA More specifically, investment in agriculture equalled votes from individuals in the margins. It might surprise some Canadians to know how much of their taxes go to support those in the agriculture industry; it might surprise them even more that the data supports the reality that

Conservative governments are often the leviathan for the industry. The FARE Share Newsletter is a collection of research articles written by graduate students in the department of food, agricultural and resource economics (FARE) at the University of Guelph. It can be found online at www. uoguelph.ca/fare/institute/newsletter.html.


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Off the front

2013 stories } from page 1 and then stalled over the south. Combined with saturated ground and snowmelt, the deluge first prompted flood warnings and then watches. And watch we did, as numerous rivers — including the Bow, Elbow, Red Deer, Highwood, Little Bow and South Saskatchewan and their tributaries — turned into raging torrents. Thirtytwo states of local emergency were declared throughout the province and the town of High River was evacuated. The flood was the second most costly natural disaster in Canadian history. But Alberta farmers were generally spared. “Fortunately the flooding in agriculture areas was localized around waterways,” said provincial agriculture spokesperson Stuart Elson. “We didn’t have a lot of reports of widespread livestock loss. However, we do know that there were some agriculture operations that were impacted.” There were some agriculturerelated claims under the Disaster Recovery Plan, ranging from lost fencing to damaged buildings. But only 200 out of the 9,500 claims were associated with the floods and irrigation districts escaped with only a few minor problems in the Bow River and Eastern Irrigation District. But a warning was issued to all Albertans. “We need to be a lot better than we were before,” High River mayor, Craig Snodgrass told the Canadian Press last month. “Going back to normal isn’t an option for me.” — Alexis Kienlen

End of an era

Prairie grain farmers entered uncharted territory with the

demise of the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly on Aug. 1, 2012, but the first full year of marketing freedom was celebrated by many. “There were a few farm groups that were very nervous and thought they might see grain prices go way down,” said new Grain Growers of Canada president Gary Stanford, who farms at Magrath. “From our point of view, it was a very good move for Western Canada and we can sell when we need to sell it for cash flow. You can deal with the grain companies that you’d prefer to deal with. From my perspective and the group’s perspective, it was a win-win.” A bumper harvest and strong (albeit declining) prices were also a major part in helping farmers adjust to the new era and even NFU president Jan Slomp, a dairy farmer from Rimbey, admitted last month that “things have moved on.” But the old CWB is being talked about for another reason: The plugged grain system has many yearning for the days when the wheat board had a strong voice when it came to rail movement. And unlike the olds days, this debate isn’t just being held in coffee shops. “Bring back the cwb,” one farmer tweeted during a recent Twitter conversation on grain movement and basis levels. “Then everyone is treated fairly. No winners. No losers.” — Alexis Kienlen and Will Verboven

Bin buster

Grain bins and rail cars were filled to the brim as Alberta brought in a bumper harvest on most of the major crops. In the third quarter, Alberta’s farm cash receipts totalled a record $9.1 billion, the highest in Canada. Total field crop

january 6, 2014 • Albertafarmexpress.ca

End of an era: The Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly ended in 2012 but the first full year of marketing freedom was celebrated by many. production in 2013 was nearly 27 million tonnes — a record-setting yield. It was a good year practically everywhere, including the U.S., which rebounded strongly from the 2012 drought. “We had tighter supplies but now we’ve moved into the current crop year where Mother Nature is co-operative around the world and co-operative here in Alberta,” said Charlie Pearson, crop market analyst with Alberta Agriculture. “The end result has been bigger crops and we’re going to see production exceed consumption for most crops. The bigger supplies around the world are putting some pressure on prices.” That’s especially true this winter as plugged elevators mean weak basis levels. B:10.25”are in the best Many producers financial shape of their lives, and T:10.25”

will be content to ride things out, waiting for grain to move and basis to improve. But those needing cash flow now — such as younger farmers just starting out or those who have extended themselves to buy land or upgrade equipment — are in a different boat. “It will be the guys who have bills to pay and have quite a bit of debt that will have to be pricetakers in this market so that they can actually get someone to take their grain,” said Andy Kirschenman, a producer in the Medicine Hat area. — Alexis Kienlen and Jennifer Blair

Historic agreement

Much of modern Alberta would be unrecognizable to those who lived here a century ago. Unless they visited 130-year-old Waldron Ranch, situated on prime

grazing land along the eastern slopes of the Rockies. And a century from now, it will still look the same, thanks to a historic conservation agreement struck by the Waldron Grazing Cooperative and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. For $37.5 million, the conservancy purchased a conservation easement from the co-op that will shield nearly 31,000 acres from cultivation, subdivision, and development. “As a conservation organization, we try to conserve places that have high conservation value,” said conservancy official Larry Simpson. “The Waldron certainly fits that description.” Although the deal sets out standards for caring for the land, the 72 ranchers in the co-op will just

continueD on next page }

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Albertafarmexpress.ca • january 6, 2014

HISTORIC AGREEMENT: A conservation agreement ensures that nearly 31,000 acres — including the Waldron Ranch area — will be protected.  photo: kyle markquardt

Controversial deal

The name is a mouthful — the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement — but after five years of negotiation, you’d expect the proposed trade deal between Canada and Europe would indeed be comprehensive. Agriculture and food are main components of the deal, and federal officials were tossing around big numbers when discussing what it could mean for Canadian exports — $600 million more in beef exports, $400 million more in pork, and $100 million more in grains and oilseeds. “The Canadian government has secured real and substantial access to one of the world’s few billiondollar export markets, and they did it ahead of our major competitors,” said Kathleen Sullivan, executive director of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance. In all, it could mean an extra $1.5 billion of Canadian food and agricultural products could be heading to Europe. However, ‘could’ is the key word. It’s expected to take another two years just to ratify the deal and Canadian exporters will then have to elbow aside others already providing those products to the lucrative European market. Meanwhile, dairy farmers fear of a flood of gourmet European cheeses made from heavily subsidized milk will pour into Canada because the deal will double tariff-free access to 30,000 tonnes annually. Others worry about the precedent. “This is the first time the government has taken a piece of supply management and used it as a negotiating tool,” said David Hyink, vice-chair of Alberta Chicken Producers. — Will Verboven and Alexis Kienlen

Harmony Beef

Rising cattle prices and lower feed costs likely top the 2013 highlights list for beef producers. But another bright sign for the industry came in October, when it was announced the long-shuttered Rancher’s Beef plant in Balzac will reopen under new management next summer. “It’s an excellent plant, (but) we’ve got an awful lot of work to do on the inside,” said new owner Rich Vesta of the facility, which will process up to 775 head a day under the name Harmony Beef. Vesta, a well-regarded 47-year veteran in the beef sector, said accessing global markets, specifically the EU, will be a priority. “As I understand it, this is the

— Jennifer Blair

Checkoff woes

Three years after the implementation of Bill 43, the checkoff chickens are coming home to roost for Alberta Beef Producers. The organization has seen a 30 per cent reduction in income because the bill allows for a refund of checkoffs. Most of the refund requests came from large feedlots. ABP has already cut various projects and research activities, and heads into 2014 wondering how much longer it can afford to foot 30 per cent of the budget of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. That could have a big impact on the national association’s efforts to develop markets for Canadian beef and deal with trade issues such as the U.S. COOL legislation, which continues to depress prices north of the border. “Our reduced income is going to hurt the industry in the long run,” said past ABP chair Doug Sawyer. There was better news on a $1-per-head non-refundable national cattle checkoff. ABP and the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association struck a deal in March to extend the mandatory checkoff to March 31, 2014. Sawyer had hoped for a five-year agreement, but said the one-year extension creates “a bit of stability” for the Beef Cattle Research Council and Canada Beef Inc.

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— Jennifer Blair

largest EU-approved plant in Canada, so I’m sure that will be a big part of our focus,” he said. The trick will be meeting demand in those markets, said Doug Sawyer, past chair of Alberta Beef Producers. “We’re struggling with our really small plants to be able to service some of the markets that are out there,” he said. But Vesta said he’s up for that challenge. “In terms of capital, expertise, and know-how, we think we’re the right people to do this, and we’re excited about the opportunity,” said Vesta. “We look forward to marketing Alberta beef.”

— Will Verboven

Better? Really?

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keep doing what they have been doing. “We know how to graze our ranch, and we don’t want somebody telling us how to change it,” said co-op chair Tim Nelson. If all goes according to plan, Waldron will be preserved in perpetuity. “We’re going to do our very best to keep this landscape agriculturally productive, ecologically functional, and inspiring for everyone,” said Simpson.

The commercials sure got noticed on Alberta ranches — and no doubt had many beef producers yelling at their TV sets as an A&W pitchman extolled the company’s pledge to use “better beef.” The fast-food chain announced this fall that its burgers would be made from beef containing “no added hormones.” “As we started looking at consumer behaviour and preferences, Canadians have more and more

ducers, who were unhappy with the message the campaign sent to consumers about the safety and quality of Canadian beef. Despite the backlash, A&W plans to expand its meat offerings without added hormones as well as introducing steroid-free beef in the coming year. The company also pledged to source more of its beef from Canadian producers who meet the program’s criteria, in addition to supplies from Australia. “We look forward to having even more Canadian ranchers join with A&W as we launch into hormoneand steroid-free beef,” said Senecal. — Jennifer Blair

‘W5’ egg farm exposé

The video footage shot at two Alberta egg farms and aired on CTV’s “W5” last fall was very graphic. In addition to crowded and dirty conditions, the video showed a practice called “thumpinterest in the food that they eat,” ing” — killing sick or injured birds said Susan Senecal, chief market- by smashing their heads on concrete or some other hard surface. ing officer for A&W. It was “disturbing,” said Susan “We thought that we should take up the challenge to see if we Schafers, a Stony Plain-area egg could deliver that beef to our cus- farmer. “It was … certainly not very reptomers.” Consumer response to the resentative of what happens on announcement was generally egg farms here in Alberta or even positive, but the move earned SEC_PAST13_T_AFE.qxd 12/11/13 across 1:19 Canada,” PM Page she 1 said of the mixed reviews from cattle pro- welfare concerns at KuKu Farms

and Creekside Grove Farms, both located near Edmonton. In the wake of the video’s release, Egg Farmers of Alberta is creating policies to reinforce best management practices, including a shift toward enriched egg-laying cages. Earlier this year, the board approved a resolution to begin the transition away from conventional cages in 2014. “We’ve seen the direction that the industry is going in for several years,” said spokesperson David Webb. But any changes adopted by Egg Farmers of Alberta will be based on hard data, not politics, he added. “We don’t want to make a decision based on assumptions, and we don’t want it to be based on pressure from activists,” he said. An announcement on when the transition will begin is expected early this year. — Jennifer Blair

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8

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Line up private field crop inspection services early A 109-year-old system is changing in just 18 months and nobody knows how smoothly it will go BY ALLAN DAWSON STAFF

S

eed growers should make arrangements early with the company they want to inspect their pedigreed seed crops this year. “The key message is seed growers and (inspection) service providers need to be getting together over the next two to three months and nailing down the service agreement or arrangement for 2014,” Dale Adolphe, executive director of the Canadian Seed Growers Association, told the Manitoba Seed Growers Association’s annual meeting in Winnipeg Dec. 12. It’s part of the move to privatize the field inspection of seed crops following federal government budget cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. CFIA staff used to do the inspections, but starting

this year private inspectors will inspect more than a million acres of crops intended for pedigreed seed. CFIA, which is still ultimately responsible for overseeing the inspections, will license inspectors and their employees and audit their work. CFIA will also provide inspection services if a seed grower can’t hire a private inspector for some reason. Start early. A 109-year-old system is changing in just 18 months and nobody knows how smoothly it will go. That’s why seed growers should start the process early, Adolphe said. A list of authorized inspection companies is expected to be posted on the CSGA’s website this month. Twenty-seven companies were listed as potential service providers on an unofficial list last month. It showed at least two or three providers serving almost every region of

Canada, including seven available to Manitoba seed growers. Adolphe recommends sending applications early to be sure the service provider will accept the application. “Application deadlines (for inspection) become even more critical under alternative service delivery, particularly in those situations where you designate a service provider and that service provider rejects your designation.” To encourage on-time applications, fines for late applications are being increased from $25 to $100. The CSGA also wants to reduce paperwork and move to an electronic, web-based system, Adolphe said. Growers who fail to provide the CSGA with either an email address or fax number on their application forms will be fined $25. CSGA forms, which growers can

fill out and submit online, or mail in, are also changing. There is now a separate membership form, plus growers must submit an application for each field they want inspected. The CSGA will also start charging growers 1.5 per cent interest on overdue accounts. “The reality is none of us know how it’s (privatization) going to work until we’ve got a year under our belt,” Adolphe said. In the meantime, CSGA will work with growers, service providers and CFIA to fix problems that arise, he said. It’s also unclear how much seed growers will have to pay for inspections. It’s almost certainly going to be more. In the past Adolphe speculated that inspection fees could cost $4 an acre instead of 75 cents. “It’s up to seed growers to negotiate the best deal possible,” he said.

Seed growers should line up inspection services early as the new private system is untested, says CSGA executive director Dale Adolphe. PHOTO: ALLAN DAWSON The CSGA is the world’s largest seed certification agency, CSGA’s operations manager Doug Miller told the meeting. Each year more than one million acres of seed crops are inspected across Canada during a four-month period, he said. There are 14,000 to 18,000 crop inspections a year involving 2,000 different varieties, 52 crop kinds grown by around 3,500 seed growers. allan@fbcpublishing.com

WHAT’S UP Send agriculture-related meeting and event announcements to: will. verboven@fbcpublishing.com January 10/11: Peace Country Beef Congress, Exhibition Grounds, Dawson Creek, B.C. Call: Chris 250-784-4490 January 14: Manage & Market what you Measure, Legion Hall 11:00 am, Mayerthorpe. Call: County Office 780-785-3411 January 14/15: Agronomy Update 2014, Sheraton Hotel, Red Deer. Call: AGINFO 800-387-6030 January 15: Manage & Market what you Measure, Community Centre 11:00 am, Leslieville. Call: County Office 403-845-4444 January 16: Farm Succession Workshop, Community Hall 10:00 am, Castor. Call: Meaghan 780-582-7308 January 16: Manage & Market what you Measure, Community Centre 11:00 am, Claresholm. Call: County Office 403-845-4444 January 17/18: Ladies Livestock Lessons, Olds College, Olds. Call: Sarah 403-934-3321 January 21/22: Irrigation Crop Production Update, Lethbridge Lodge Hotel, Lethbridge. Call: Elizabeth 403-381-5118 January 24/25: Canadian Bull Congress, Exhibition Grounds 9:00 am, Camrose. Call: Marilyn 780-672-3640 January 28/30: FarmTech 2014, Expo Central, Edmonton Northlands, Edmonton. Call: Rick 866-327-6832 February 11/12: Precision Ag 2.0, Deerfoot Inn & Casino, Calgary. Call: Ashley 780-416-6046

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9

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

CFA comes out in full support of new farm legislation Government now has backing of most groups for omnibus Farm Bill added that the proposals in the legislation show the government has been listening to farm groups. The backing of most farm groups should speed up the bill’s passage through Parliament in 2014. Grain Growers of Canada and the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance have thrown their support behind it. Bonnett added that the proposed changes to the Advance Payments Program, under which farmers can borrow against the value of unsold crops, “should reduce red tape by limiting the administrative burden of using the program year after year.” The government has promised additional consultations during the next few weeks on the advance payments changes, which will add livestock and additional crops and permit multi-year agreements, Bonnett said. “CFA and other

BY ALEX BINKLEY

AF CONTRIBUTOR / OTTAWA

T

he Canadian Federation of Agriculture has endorsed the contents of Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, meaning Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has the backing of most farm groups for the legislation. CFA had already endorsed the plant breeders’ rights portion of the bill but reserved judgment on the rest until it had time to review changes to the advance payment program provisions. Its conclusion is that they too will benefit farmers. CFA president Ron Bonnett said the legislation “takes on several issues that will increase access to important programs for farmers and will result in cost savings for administrators and farms.” He

producer groups will be consulting closely with Agriculture Canada to ensure these changes best meet the needs of producers and do not impose undue additional costs or burden on producers,” Bonnett said. CFA will be seeking an increase in maximum payments available through the program “to address the continued inflation of farm expenses, which was not addressed in this bill,” Bonnett said. Another change will allow farmers to reschedule payments so they are not forced to sell product “at inopportune times just to meet repayment requirements,” Bonnett noted. As well, farmers who hold outside jobs to support their farm will be eligible to apply for advance payments on their production, which will benefit

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many startup and expanding operations, he added. Plant breeders’ rights (PBR) will allow researchers to collect royalties on new varieties they develop to help finance additional research. It will bring Canada in line with an international convention established in 1991. The CFA said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which will administer the PBRs, needs to discuss any proposals to control farmer-saved seeds before bringing them in “or the balance in the act may be lost.” It wants the agency to ensure seed prices remain reasonable and protect farmers from claims of patent infringement for “the natural or accidental spreading of patented plant genetic material, or the insemination of an animal by an animal with patent protection.”

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NEWS Feds fund canola research Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has announced funding of $15 million for research led by the Canola Council of Canada. An Agriculture Canada release said the research will build on earlier funding of $14.5 million that included preliminary research suggesting canola oil may be helpful in fighting obesity and cardiovascular disease. Agriculture Canada researchers will also collaborate on other research including new uses of canola in animal feed diets, ways to maximize production and resistance to stresses, strategies for pest management and disease resistance as well as improving the economic and environmental sustainability of canola production.

SeCan acts on midge-tolerant wheat infringement SeCan says that it has reached agreement with Gary Christianson and Eastway Holdings of Naicam, Sask. for infringement of its Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) in midge-tolerant wheat variety AC Unity VB. In a release, SeCan business manager for Western Canada Todd Hyra said not only was the variety protected under PBR, stewardship of midge-tolerant wheats is important to prevent midge from overcoming the tolerance. “It took over 15 years and millions of dollars to develop the midge-tolerance trait — there are no additional midge-tolerance traits waiting in the wings — we need to make this one last,” Hyra said. SeCan said it works with the Canadian Plant Technology Agency (CPTA) to search out, investigate, and take all necessary action against all infringers of plant-related intellectual property. CPTA executive director Lorne Hadley said that under PBR, producers are allowed to save their own seed, but the midge-tolerant wheat stewardship agreement allows only one generation of farm-saved seed past certified.


NEWS » Markets

10

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

ADM/Toepfer fined $54 million

China rejects more GM corn

Archer-Daniels-Midland has agreed to pay more than $54 million to resolve U.S. criminal and civil charges that it paid bribes to Ukrainian officials for tax benefits, a U.S. Justice Department official said Dec. 20. The company’s Ukrainian unit, Alfred C. Toepfer International Ukraine Ltd., also pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “ADM’s subsidiaries sought to gain a tax benefit by bribing government officials, and then attempted to deliberately conceal their conduct,” said Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s criminal division. — Reuters

China had rejected a total of 545,000 tonnes of corn from the United States as of Dec. 19, after detecting an unapproved genetically modified strain, the government’s quarantine authority said. China has already approved 15 varieties of genetically modified corn for imports and the strain, MIR 162, is awaiting approval. Industry sources said China’s strict checks on U.S. cargoes were aimed to curb cheap imports and support domestic corn prices that were pressured by a record harvest and weak consumption.

Burdensome canola supplies trump steady demand There’s not much to be bullish about in grain and oilseed market fundamentals By Phil Franz-Warkentin

I

CE Futures Canada canola futures finished 2013 at a much weaker point than where they started, with prices losing over $150 per tonne over the course of the year. Wheat, corn and soybeans in the U.S. were also down considerably, as bumper crops across North America led to burdensome supplies of the major grains and oilseeds. Where the markets head in 2014 remains to be seen, but a number of overarching issues from 2013 will play a part. Just ahead of Christmas, the frontmonth canola contract was trading below $450 per tonne. A year ago, the nearby futures were closer to $600. Demand remains steady from both domestic processors and the export sector, but the supply side of the equation is completely different. Spring wheat futures in Minneapolis, which may be the closest linked market to hard red western Canadian wheat, have lost nearly $2 per bushel over the past year. Actual Canadian prices have lost even more, as basis levels widen across the Prairies. The largest factor, closest to home, influencing Canadian grains and oilseeds to start 2014 is the sheer size of the 2013 crop. Record production of most everything Canadian farmers grew in 2013 will limit the need to buy acres in the spring and will likely keep the supply situation burdensome through the next year as well. Canada grew a record 18-million-tonne canola crop and 37.5 million tonnes of wheat. With four million tonnes more canola around compared to the previous year, and 10 million tonnes more wheat, there are few (if any) fundamental arguments to be made for higher prices. Supply/demand forecasts put out by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on Dec. 20 predict that three million tonnes of canola will be left over at the end of the 2013-14 crop year — nearly five times the carry-out from the previous year. Wheat ending stocks are forecast at 11.4 million tonnes, more than double the previous year. The railways, line companies and other participants along the chain make their money off of volumes and will be doing what they can to move those crops out of the Prairies. While there have been legitimate complaints about logistic issues moving the big crops, the system can also only handle so much. Canadian Grain Commission data, as of Dec. 15, shows Canada had exported a total of nearly 15 million tonnes of the major crops in the crop year to date. That’s about 3.5

There have been legitimate complaints about the logistics of moving Western Canada’s crops to port — but faced with record crops this year, the system can also only handle so much.   photo: cn million tonnes ahead of the pace at the same time the previous year. When all is said and done, AAFC forecasts canola exports in 2013-14 at 8.2 million tonnes, which would be a million tonnes ahead of the previous year, and wheat exports 2.5 million above the previous year, at 21.9 million tonnes. Canadian barley, oats and pulse crops were also large in 2013, but the Canadian market does not operate in a vacuum. What about the rest of the world?

Looking beyond the borders, there is also little fundamental news to get bullish about.

Bounced back

The Black Sea region had better grain crops, after problems the previous year, and is creating more competition into some export markets. The U.S. also bounced back after a drought in 2012. South America is seeing good growing conditions in the early stages of the corn

For three-times-daily market reports from Resource News International, visit “ICE Futures Canada updates” at www.albertafarmexpress.ca.

and soybean seasons, while there have been little weather issues out of Australia either. From a technical standpoint, both canola and wheat were looking oversold heading into the new year and in need of a corrective bounce. However, given the overarching fundamentals, many analysts remain of the opinion that any rallies should be seen as good selling opportunities with yet more room to the downside before the lows are in place. It remains to be seen where those lows may be. Outside factors including currency exchange rates; the global economy; Chinese demand (or lack thereof); actual South American production; weather conditions; and the annual fight for acres will all come to play over the next few months and colour the markets heading through 2014. Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.


11

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

Canadian dollar falls to a 3-1/2-year low just as snowbirds head south market outlook } Knowing when to convert your money could save you thousands of dollars By david drozd

O

ne year ago, the Canadian dollar was at par with the U.S. dollar. This year the loonie is only worth 94 cents to the U.S. dollar. Although the weak Canadian dollar makes vacationing in the southern U.S. more expensive, the lower Canadian dollar is supportive to Canadian grain prices. In reality though, grain prices in Canada tend to be higher when the Canadian dollar is at par with the U.S. dollar. However, higher grain prices were not a result of the loonie’s strength. Higher grain prices were a result of a low U.S. dollar, which makes U.S. grain more attractive to foreign buyers which in turn increases demand, draws down stocks and drives up U.S. grain prices. This occurred in the early 1970s and in 2008 when grain prices realigned to new higher trading ranges. In both instances, the Canadian dollar was at par or better. Farmers who are paid in U.S. currency for selling grain and livestock into the United States benefit on the exchange rate when the Canadian dollar is low relative to the U.S. dollar. Farmers who are purchasing soybean meal or machinery in the U.S. benefit on the exchange rate when the Canadian dollar is relatively strong against the U.S. dollar. This also applies to those purchasing investment or retirement property in the United States and to Canadian snowbirds going south for the winter. As a farmer, you could encounter both scenarios. In a year like this, you may be getting paid in U.S. currency for selling durum wheat to the U.S. and in another year you may need to convert the Canadian dollar to U.S. currency to pay for equipment purchased in the United States. Knowing when to convert your money could save you thousands of dollars. Defining areas of support and resistance are useful tools for identifying where a market will change direction or possibly accelerate within the current trend.

Support and resistance

Support and resistance are terms used to describe a price level where the buying or selling of futures contracts is expected to noticeably increase and at least temporarily halt the current direction of the market. On bar charts these areas will appear as well-defined price ranges within which the market traded prior to making a decisive move up or down.

Market psychology

Support and resistance areas evolve because equilibrium is reached between buyers and sellers. The market attracts buying around the bottom of the range and selling in the top portion. If prices break down through the lower boundary (illustrated as A in the accompanying chart), then all recent buyers will be holding losing positions. Any return move back to this level represents an area in which to liquidate a long position at break-even or with a reduced loss. The offering of contracts for sale at this area also increases, as

those who sold in the upper portion of the trading range now have profits and may utilize the bounce to sell more contracts. Conversely, if the congestion range is resolved by an upside breakout (illustrated as B), a pullback to this level will encounter increased buying from longs wishing to add to positions acquired near the bottom of the trading range as well as from shorts who having sold in the upper portion of the range are seeking to cut their losses. Support or resistance areas can help one formulate expectations of future price action. These areas are extremely important as they illustrate where future rallies and declines are likely to fail. As illustrated in the accompanying chart, there were ample opportunities to convert the Canadian dollar to

U.S. currency every time the loonie bounced against the line of resistance. Farmers and livestock producers can certainly benefit from keeping a watchful eye on the Canadian dollar. Send your questions or comments about this article and chart to info@ag-chieve.ca.

     Canadian dollar weekly nearby

Chart as of December 13, 2013

David Drozd is president and senior market analyst for Winnipeg-based Ag-Chieve Corporation. The opinions expressed are those of the writer and are solely intended to assist readers with a better understanding of technical analysis. Visit Ag-Chieve online at www.ag-chieve.ca for information about our grainmarketing advisory service and to see our latest grain market analysis. You can call us toll free at 1-888-274-3138 for a free consultation.

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12

NEWS » LIVESTOCK

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

DAIRY SUPPORTS TO RISE

U.S. -CHINA BEEF TALK PROGRESS

Canada’s dairy producers’ overall revenue from sales of industrial milk is scheduled for a one per cent increase on Feb. 1. The Canadian Dairy Commission on Dec. 18 announced the support price for butter will increase to $7.4046 from $7.3379 per kilogram and the support price for skim milk powder will increase to $6.4754/kg, from $6.417. The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association criticized the increase. “We have told the CDC that they are pricing dairy off the menu,” CRFA CEO Garth Whyte said in a release.

China and the United States have made progress towards reaching a deal on American beef exports but agreement on technical issues is still needed before final approval, China’s vice-agriculture minister, Niu Dun, said on Dec 20. China has restricted imports of American beef for 10 years following the first reported U.S. case of BSE in Dec. 2003. Niu said that agreement was still needed on issues including the range of products to be approved as well as safety and traceability.

Economists say management makes the difference in cow-calf profits Studies done in Alberta and Saskatchewan both found that lowering days on feed is the key to boosting profitability BY HELEN MCMENAMIN

AF CONTRIBUTOR / LETHBRIDGE

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ow-calf producers should expect margins to shrink in the coming years and will have to improve their management to maintain profitability, say two economists. Producers should work on the assumption that average margins will be five per cent smaller five years from now, said Dale Kaliel, senior production economist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Since BSE, many cattlemen have focused on cutting costs by shortening the grazing season,” added Kathy Larson, chief economist for the Western Beef Development Centre. Larson’s 2012 study of cowcalf returns found feeding periods ranging from 130 to 219 days, but the most profitable 25 per cent of cattle operations were all at the lower end of that range. Those producers used a variety of methods to cut feed costs, including putting cows out on stockpiled grass and stubble, having them

rustle in straw or chaff piles, or graze corn or swathed cereals. The cost of grazed feeds can be half to 75 per cent that of hay — and unlike hay, the cows move to the feed rather than having the producer fire up the tractor. “Whatever you can do to keep the cows out of the yard and at least have them spread the manure on the field themselves, cuts the cost per pound of calf weaned,” said Larson. Her study group averaged a profit of $46.54 for a 510-pound April calf — or nine cents per pound of calf weaned, after all costs, including unpaid labour and homegrown hay and pasture, were charged to the cows. Kaliel and Larson work together and said Alberta and Saskatchewan figures are very similar. Both also said margin per pound of weaned calf is the crucial number. “The patterns are very consistent,” said Kaliel. “There’s been a shift to feeding less and grazing more. The best way to do that is different from one producer to another.” “The cost per pound of weaned calf is about productivity,” added Larson. “You

PHOTO: GRACIE CRAYSTON

have to make the best of your pasture as your main source of feed, but also manage nutrition, herd health and breeding program. “Marketing is important, too. A change in mindset, considering opportunities beyond the local auction mart can pay off — online sales or contracting with a feedlot, or look at preconditioned contract or auction sales.”

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Most of the producers in the Saskatchewan study backgrounded at least some of their calves. But, when a 550-pound calf brings over $900, you have to wonder if this might be the year to take a holiday. “Knowing your costs of production and your calves’ likely performance numbers (daily gain, cost of gain, total costs) as well as managing

your market risk is key to profits from backgrounding,” said Larson. Kaliel recommends focusing on things which offer the biggest payback — whether that’s grazing longer, using a new source of grazing, or shifting the calving season — but don’t negatively affect nutrition, herd health or breeding management. “You can’t control the price you get — but you can manage what it costs you to produce each pound of calf,” said Kaliel, who is still accepting participants in the 2014 version of his AgriProfit$ program. The participants provide financial data and receive back financial and benchmarking reports. Individual data is kept confidential. “Our farm information and management tools can take you well beyond the simple benchmarks that are more common,” says Kaliel. “We analyze the cow herd plus other key enterprises of interest to the producer. The emphasis is on showing whether or not each aspect of the business is carrying its weight and contributing to profits.” Kaliel can be reached at 780427-5390.


13

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

Report says business management the key to success in farming STRAIGHT FROM THE HIP  Report highlights need to manage capital,

focus on marketing, and become better employers BY BRENDA SCHOEPP

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he Conference Board of Canada is set to release a Canadian food strategy in March based on results of two previous food summits and some on-the-ground research. One of the supporting documents is, Seeds for Success: Enhancing Canada’s Farming Enterprises, which is a broad look at farming that makes recommendations that may surprise you. While we all recognize that farming has changed, the authors suggest management perhaps has not kept up. They argue farmers must be increasingly skilled at managing their business. Although Farm Credit Canada reports 98 per cent of Canadian farms are family operations, the conference board notes a growing number are now incorporated. But although many farms are now technically corporate, the heart of the company is the family. Perhaps what surprised the authors the most was the variability in farm profitability. You might assume all farms in supply-managed commodities were profitable, but this isn’t true. In fact, farmers competing in a completely open market were often just as profitable. The two drivers behind this were cost-production man-

agement and marketing. Not surprisingly, farms that also incorporated value added into the operation were often quite healthy. On the whole, the cream for net profit is shared between the dairy, oilseed and grain sectors. When it comes to farm management, the conference board identified four key areas. Capital management led the discussion because farms are very capital intensive. To remain competitive there needs to be a balance between what is owned (asset value) and operations. More capital almost always leads to greater investment in equipment and supporting technologies. The trend to rent or lease is gaining in popularity and as the farming population ages, this works for both parties. The idea of managing capital is to take the entire enterprise and maximize value. Marketing on the farm is more exciting than ever. Marketing doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago and new opportunities are opening up for buyers and sellers. Many commodities are risk managed and marketed electronically, without the intervention of a middle person. The use of electronic platforms and the farmer’s ability to connect with the end-user is a huge shift. Managing this can be pure joy… or a nightmare. It takes a

lot of work and attention, and I like to see a member of the team designated to it. The conference board agrees, suggesting farmers need further education in this area.

in place before farmers even ask for employee commitment. This discussion all rolls into relationships and that was identified as a key management area. There are diverse styles of legal business relationships and of gaining knowledge, but they are not always used. We are all connected to the same earth and the same sky, so going it alone is really not going forward. The conference board strongly implied that improved skills in relationships are very important to manage all this capital and the marketing challenges. At the end of the discussion, the authors made recommendations for a stronger farming industry. They suggest farmers maximize operations and assets by creating the right mix between capital requirements and costs. The idea of scale is hard to pinpoint and I prefer to call it optimization of resources, capital, human capital and operational costs. At some point, we may become overcapitalized because it requires another half-person, half-tractor or half-combine. Farms that contract are often doing so for reasons of optimization. Of course, a writer in Ottawa is going to include value added and specialization as a recommendation. And that is good because as the farming community has more access to information, technology, markets and oppor-

On the whole, the cream for net profit is shared between the dairy, oilseed and grain sectors.

Another area where the report says farms could use a little help is in how to attract, keep and protect their workers. It is one thing to offer a wage, but quite another to build a team and ensure its long-term health, wellness and commitment. Some farms have issues applying this approach with their own family members, let alone employees. Young and technically advanced farmers also need the stability of the employee who can handle a shovel. So the balance is delicate. The authors say workplace safety and standards need to be

tunity, the ability to grow profits increases. But the conference board also recognizes this requires a different management skill set and farms must be prepared for this change. This is all part of innovation — which can be described as the application of better solutions — and includes process innovation. For some, that could be product development or highly evolved management models, while others focus on operational changes such as leasing or cost sharing. It all starts with people. As much as we love the farm, others may not have the same affection. The report did not find that farming was a not-desirable occupation nor was it supported by incorporation of human resource or safety standards. That leaves agriculture with a big gap for we cannot produce food for people without the people to produce the food. Above all, attraction usually follows money and until farms focus on marketing first they may lack the stability to apply all the previous recommendations. Brenda Schoepp is a Nuffield Scholar who travels extensively exploring agriculture and meeting the people who feed, clothe and educate our world. A motivating speaker and mentor she works with young entrepreneurs across Canada and is the founder of Women in Search of Excellence. www.brendaschoepp.com

Finding a practical definition of property rights Provincial office deals with questions of private ownership versus public use AGRI-NEWS

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he Alberta Property Rights Advocate Office became operational in December 2012 as a response by the Government of Alberta to landowners’ needs. The office is based in Lethbridge, with a branch office in Edmonton. The property rights advocate, Lee Cutforth, works out of the Lethbridge office, with the assistant advocate, Graham Gilchrist, located in Edmonton. “In their day-to-day work the office often deals with the question of what is meant by property rights,” says Cutforth. We like to use a practical, working definition of property rights, one that looks at three basic elements: Right of possession, Right of use, and Right of disposition. “Property rights really have to do with how free an owner is to operate in those three elements with his or her land. The degree to which that ability is compromised or restricted, represents an encroachment on those rights.” Many may question why freedom to enjoy property a right, instead of a mere privilege. Cut-

forth notes that in 2002 there was a Court of Appeal decision where Alberta Chief Justice Fraser set out a number of property right principles. One of those principles states that private ownership of land is a fundamental element of the democratic system. “That is such a basic truth,” said Cutforth. “I have said a number of times that property rights are a measurement of and a means toward a free and prosperous society.” That is not to say that there can never be any encroachments on a person’s property rights. Gilchrist adds, “There is a balance to these rights, especially for a public purpose, or sometimes to help other property owners use or access their property (such as with mineral rights). The important thing is that encroachment on property rights should be for a limited purpose, and the landowner should be fairly compensated.” Finding a way to balance these property rights is a part of making good fences, between good neighbours. The office can be reached at 403-388-1781 or at propertyrights@gov.ab.ca.

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JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Forget the ruler — a new electronic grading system will provide the true measure of Canadian lamb grade Lamb producers will receive real-time feedback on their carcass quality through a new electronic grading system By Jennifer Blair af staff / calgary

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new electronic grading system will move Canada’s lamb industry from grading with a ruler in a cold room into the 21st century. “It’s hardly a way to run an industry,” said Terry Ackerman, chief executive officer of the Canadian Lamb Producers Cooperative, of the current system. Ottawa is giving the co-op $1.4 million to develop the new grading system, which will be implemented this fall in two processing plants, one in Ontario and one in Alberta.

The goal is to “reward producers for good-quality lambs,” said Ackerman. The co-op will be working with researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lacombe to develop an algorithm for the system, using 500 lamb carcasses to evaluate different factors affecting grade. “In effect, we’ll be able to measure any kind of lamb in Canada and get a good reading on how much meat is actually on the lamb carcass,” said Ackerman. Lambs today are mostly bought on appearance and weight, and there’s no unambiguous way to precisely know how well a farm’s genetics and feed management systems are working.

“In effect, it’s a crapshoot,” said Ackerman. “There’s a huge amount of difference between what a lamb looks like and the meat that will come off the carcass.” The new system will provide feedback on the quality of carcasses in real time as the lamb is being graded. “They will also get a grid and compare their lambs against all the other lambs being graded,” he said. “This has never been done before in the world.” Radio-frequency identification tags will be used to track animals from the farm right through the plants and that traceability will help open markets in the EU, said Ackerman.

“These markets will now open up because of the grading system. We can trace, and we know the grade of the lambs,” he said. Federal researchers at Lacombe have been working with the Alberta Lamb Producers organization and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development to find a way to better predict lean meat yield. “Not all grading systems are alike throughout the world, so we want to see if we can include other factors in a grading system to improve carcass and meat quality and, really, uniformity of the lamb carcasses in Canada,” said research scientist Jennifer Aalhus. The project will also look at pro-

Western Canadian Holistic Management

duction factors that contribute to variability in lamb carcass quality. “If (producers) are not getting the results they want in terms of the grading system, they could be changing their production and management to get what they’re after in terms of grades,” she said. Once completed, the project will complement the new electronic grading system, with results that have “ramifications right across the country,” said Ackerman. “It’s not something that’s a study of a study,” he said. “It’s something that will actually be in place, with real results.” jennifer.blair@fbcpublishing.com

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Agri-News

here are many ways to contact a specialist or department staff member of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD). However, if talking to someone face to face is preferred, rather than over the phone or via email, then look no further than the local ARD field office. “The ministry is accessible to the public through Field Offices and more specifically, field office administrators,” says Tricia Simon, communication co-ordinator at Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s Ag-Info Centre in Stettler. “There are 13 field offices located throughout the province — Airdrie, Barrhead, Brooks, Camrose, Fairview, Grande Prairie, Leduc, Lethbridge, Olds, Red Deer, Stettler, Stony Plain and Vermilion.” Field office administrators assist clients by providing up-todate agricultural and program information and a connection to department information, department staff and specialists. For instance, a field office administrator can act as your direct link to specialists within the department, ARD publications and fact sheets and ARD on line information. They often provide additional support to clients who are looking for information on programs such as Growing Forward 2, age verification, farm fuel renewals and premises identification Field office administrators also have on-site tools that they can loan or, in some cases, give to clients such as ear tag readers, Livestock Identification Services (LIS) manifest books and rat displays and information to help with proper identification Field offices are open from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. After-hours information is available from ARD by accessing the department’s website, or by emailing duke@gov.ab.ca.


15

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

RCMP seeks help in cattle thefts More than 600 cattle not accounted for STAFF

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he RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating more than 600 head of cattle related to an ongoing criminal investigation into thefts and fraud committed by Timothy William Flad, age 47, of Brownsville, Alberta. RCMP said that on Sept. 5, 2013, Flad was convicted of cattle theft over $5,000 in St. Paul Court of Queen’s Bench. His conviction was the result of a joint investigation by Provost RCMP Detachment, “K” Division Livestock Section, the Livestock Identification Services Inspectors in Alberta, Saskatchewan Agriculture Livestock Inspectors and the RCMP Detachment in Spiritwood, Sask. RCMP said the cattle were financed without notifying the lender that he had disposed of the assets. He was sentenced to one year probation and 100 hours of community service. A restitution order was given requiring him to pay back $12,000 to the lender for the 40 head that he had sold illegally. Flad had previously been convicted in Wainwright of breaching his judicial release conditions relating to the charge of theft of cattle. RCMP’s livestock investigation section continues to investigate as more than 600 head of cattle are still unaccounted for. Anyone who can assist is asked to call their local RCMP detachment or CrimeStoppers at 1 800 222 8477.

Lethbridge barley prices still looking for a bottom Compared to previous years, there’s still room for prices to decline BY BRANDON LOGAN

COMMODITY NEWS SERVICE CANADA

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t’s been a volatile year for Lethbridge barley with prices moving as high as $300 per tonne in early summer, Jim Beusekom, grain broker at MarketPlace Commodities in Lethbridge, Alberta, said, before noting that a bumper crop sent the market in a steep decline that’s expected to continue into 2014. “Well, we went from a market in January through July where sellers, basically to some extent, had some control over the shipment and price of grain. Obviously that’s why we saw the market peak out in May at around $300 a tonne in Lethbridge,” he said.

“Now we’re sitting in a surplus situation on feed grains and the markets are down. It started in August at a free fall, levelled out through harvest, and right now they feel like they’re going to free fall again.” Despite the noted surplus of barley, recent price declines seen in December have been due to competition from other commodities for a spot in the local feed marketplace, Beusekom said. “We started December trading Lethbridge barley at around $180 per tonne and currently we’re trading Lethbridge barley at $160 per tonne,” he said. “There’s a surplus of barley, but it’s the effects of other commodities on barley that’s causing it to drop here. Normally in Decem-

ber we see the market fairly flat, but this year we’re getting so much competition from wheat right now.”

Normally in December we see the market fairly flat, but this year we’re getting so much competition from wheat right now. JIM BEUSEKOM MARKETPLACE COMMODITIES

“I think we can expect further price declines into the new year as the market continues to fight for space and homes in the feed market.” Beusekom said he doesn’t know how far the market could fall, but noted that it’s been to even lower levels in the past decade. “Go back to 2009-10 and Lethbridge barley was trading in the $140 to $145 range,” he said. “Go back eight or nine years ago and we’re trading Lethbridge barley at $105 to $115 per tonne. So, I don’t really know where the market’s going to go, but people have to be aware that it’s not that many years ago that it was that cheap. “I think it’ll find a bottom and then trade there.”

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16

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Dry weather hurts argentina’s soy, corn

German wheat up, rapeseed down

High temperatures and a lack of rain expected for the last week of the year in Argentina’s Farm Belt will hurt the 2013-14 soy and corn crop, the Agriculture Ministry said Dec. 23. “If temperatures remain high without rain, as forecast, the situation will get worse,” the ministry said in its weekly crop report.The dry weather has also hit Argentina’s main wheat-growing region, which up until November had enjoyed some of the best climatic conditions for growing grains, the government said. — Reuters

German farmers have expanded sowings of winter wheat for harvesting nexr summer 2014 by 2.5 per cent on the year to 3.13 million hectares, the German government’s statistics office said in its first sowings estimate. The agency also said that rapeseed sowings have been reduced by 1.8 per cent on the year to 1.43 million hectares. A cut in rapeseed planted area had been expected for crop rotation reasons and because of sluggish German sales of biodiesel. Germany’s winter barley-planted area has been increased by 2.7 per cent to 1.24 million hectares, the statistics office said. — Reuters

Top Canadian weather stories of 2013 The storms that barrelled across the Prairies bearing heavy snow in early March also made the cut by daniel bezte

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s we begin a new year I always find it interesting to take a look back at what the big weather stories were over the previous year. Environment Canada creates a list of the top Canadian weather stories annually; you can find the full list of stories for 2013 at ec.gc.ca. I don’t always agree with the order of the stories as I find they can sometimes have a bit of an eastern lean to them, but for 2013 I don’t think anyone can argue with the top story. The No. 1 weather story for 2013 across Canada was the super flood that hit southern Alberta in June. This ended up being the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history. Projected losses from the flood are expected to exceed $6 billion. As with most natural disasters, it was a series of events that led to the epic flooding. The mountain snowpack in May was extremely deep, and groundwater and stream levels were already high due to snowmelt and heavy May rainfall, so there was little room for more run-off. The final blow came when a very moist weather system moved into Alberta on June 19 and brought three days of rain, with amounts ranging from 68 millimetres in Calgary to as much as 345 mm at some mountain locations. The rainfall alone would have been enough to cause significant flooding, but add to that all of the snow, rain and warm temperatures that helped with melt, and we ended up with record flooding. The next big Canadian weather story of 2013 also had to do with rainfall and flooding, but this time it was in Toronto. On July 8, atmospheric conditions came together to create slow-moving thunderstorms over greater Toronto that ended up dumping some truly impressive amounts of rainfall. Over a couple of hours during the early evening, two lines of thunderstorms slowly moved over Toronto, dumping upward of 100 to 125 mm of rain. The intensity of rainfall would cause flooding in most regions, but when it falls on an area that is

mostly concrete and asphalt, almost none of it gets absorbed into the ground and it has to run off somewhere. Insurance estimates put the damage from this rainfall and flooding at close to $1 billion.

The winter that wouldn’t leave

For the next big weather story I’m going to combine two into one. In early March, a strong storm system barrelled its way across the Prairies, bringing high winds and heavy snow. Calgary saw wind speeds approaching 100 km/h, and received over 20 cm of snow. In Saskatchewan several highways, including the Trans-Canada, were closed due to the storm. In Manitoba, between 20 and 45 cm of snow fell, prompting the closure of many roads and schools. This system was just one of several stormy and cold periods that affected the Prairies during the winter of 201213. With record to near-record snow cover in many places, it wasn’t so surprising that spring didn’t seem to want to return to the Prairies. From late March right through to the end of April, the Prairies saw well-below-average temperatures. Regina saw April temperatures 11 C colder than average, Winnipeg’s average temperature didn’t make it above 0 C until April 26 and Edmonton saw only one day between Oct. 16 and April 24 that did not record a freezing temperature. All in all, it was a very long winter across the Prairies! The final big weather story of 2013, at least for me, follows on the heels of the previous story. After what was arguably the longest winter in a long, long time, it wasn’t looking very good for the growing season. Crops were getting in the ground late and in most areas the ground was starting off cold and wet. With such a bleak outlook it’s quite surprising that by the time fall rolled around, some farmers were reporting unbelievable harvests, with some even reporting their best of a lifetime. After a late start to the growing season, weather-wise, the summer was just about per-

This map from the Alberta Government’s AgroClimatic Information Service shows the 365-day precipitation for the province up to Dec. 1, 2013 fect for growing. The lack of any prolonged heat waves or severe thunderstorms, combined with the appearance of some timely rains, kept soil moisture levels in the good to excellent range all season. With some crops running a little behind due to their late

start, the warm fall weather really helped out. September saw some of the warmest temperatures in history across the Prairies. This meant little to no frost and nearly ideal conditions for crops to ripen and for harvest to take place. When the harvest was all said and done,

it was estimated that western farmers harvested a record 30.5 million tonnes of wheat! In the next issue we’ll take a look at the top weather stories worldwide for 2013, then we’ll look ahead to see what the long-range forecasts call for in 2014.


17

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

CARGILL INCREASES CAPACITY AT VIKING

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Cargill says it’s already started construction at its site at Viking, about 120 km east of Edmonton, to add 10,000 tonnes of storage capacity and boost the elevator’s rail spot to 100 cars. The Viking facility today is Cargill’s second-smallest primary elevator in the province, at 13,640 tonnes of capacity with a 52-car spot. The upgrades are expected to be completed by February 2015. The elevator on Canadian National (CN) track now ships the majority of its grain to Cargill’s North Vancouver and Prince Rupert export.

Not a fan of aeration? It could cost you thousands of dollars Quality can deteriorate within days of grain being put in a bin, but less than half of Prairie farmers are using aeration to protect their harvest BY ALEXIS KIENLEN

“Storing your grain is about capturing the premium in the marketplace and providing flexibility as to when the grain will be delivered.”

AF STAFF / CAMROSE

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ou’ve seeded, grown and harvested your crop. But the job is not over. “Maintaining the grain quality is the final part of the process and what we want to do is maintain the best quality inside that bin, preserving your investment,” said Derek Johnson, sales manager with Ag Growth International (AGI) in Nobleford. “Because there’s more grain this fall, more farmers require storage since grain is not moving. Commodity prices have softened and on-farm grain storage has become more critical.” A 2009 study by the Canola Council of Canada found only about 35 per cent of producers are using aeration to preserve their canola. That number hasn’t changed much and it’s a similar situation for grain storage, Johnson said at a recent grain storage seminar hosted by UFA. Not having aeration is risky, he said. Grain harvested at 25 C with a moisture level of 18 to 19 per cent can begin to deteriorate in as little as six days, he said. Even when harvested at 20 C and 16 to 17 per cent moisture, producers only have 40 to 60 days of

DEREK JOHNSON AGI SALES MANAGER

Aerating your grain is a risk management strategy, says AGI sales manager Derek Johnson. PHOTO: ALEXIS KIENLEN

safe storage without aeration, he said. “Aeration is very much a technical practice and it just requires some education and experience,” said Johnson. “Once a farmer has used an aeration system inside his bin, he realizes that it provides the flexibility so that he can properly store his grain until it can be dried or properly cooled down.”

The best time to aerate is right after grain is put in the bin. Most Prairie farmers turn on the fans once the bin is filled and run them up to a week to cool the grain. They may also turn their fans on in the spring to ensure bins are kept cool. The key factors are airflow (measured in cubic feet per metre per bushel of grain) and static pressure (the resistance to airflow created in a bin full of grain). “Resistance varies based on the commodity that we’re storing as well as the height and diameter of the bin,” said Johnson. A smaller seed, such as canola, has a higher static pressure than larger ones, such as wheat or barley. As well, a five-ring bin will have lower static pressure than a 12-ring one. It’s key to have the right size of fan for the diameter and height of the bin, as well as

the crop being stored. Aeration fans with varying levels of horsepower can be installed, based on bin diameter and height, as well as the type of commodity stored. There are a number of different aeration systems, but all are designed to distribute airflow throughout the bin, said Johnson. The cost is worth it, he said. Johnson used an example of 5,000 bushels of canola at $10.47 per bushel that cost $23,300 to produce — leaving a profit of $29,050. An aeration system would run about $3,450 and it would cost $112 to run it for two weeks, he said. He also recommends purchasing bin monitors in order to keep watch on temperature and moisture levels in a bin. akienlen@fbcpublishing.com

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18

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Storage and cash reserves key as elevators fill up with grain Record high yields have plugged Canada’s grain-handling system, and those who need cash to pay their bills will likely suffer the most BY JENNIFER BLAIR AF STAFF

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Grain companies want railways to add more cars and locomotives to ease the bottleneck.

he plugged grain transportation system in Western Canada is the result of a “perfect storm,” says one Alberta farmer. “We have excellent yields all across Western Canada this year, and we have produced more grain than probably they were predicting,” said Andy Kirschenman, who grows durum, flax, yellow peas, mustard, fall rye, and canola with his father on 5,000 dryland acres. Terminals in his area north of Medicine Hat on the Saskatchewan border are nearly full, he said. “And if they’re not full, their pricing is indicating they would not like to buy any grain anyway.”

We know the value of cold weather germination. We have to. It’s Canada.

The record harvest — up 33 per cent from last year — is causing problems in country elevators across the country, said Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association. “They’re at about 90 per cent capacity right now,” he said. But the “major bottleneck in the system” is the railways’ willingness to add additional capacity for grain movement, he said. “Unless the railways make some changes and provide additional rail car capacity to the grain industry, the way we’re going, we’re going to end up with carry-over at the end of the (crop) year.”

Storage risks

Like many Prairie growers, Kirschenman is sitting on a lot of grain — but able to ride it out. “We’re in a place where we can be in a drought situation very quickly,” he said. “So going into a year like this with enough income, we have no problem sitting into the spring and even the summer just to see how the rain plays out. “We’re in a better situation than quite a bit of Western Canada.” On-farm storage is the biggest factor on most farms, said Sobkowich. “If (a producer) has enough bin space, he can sit on it, but if he doesn’t have enough bin space, he has to look for other ways to simulate cool and dry conditions,” he said. Some are storing the grain in machine sheds, grain bags, or on the ground — and that’s always a worrisome situation, he noted. “Things can happen that degrade the quality of the product, and when it comes time that he can deliver that grain, he’s now delivering a product that’s of lower quality than it originally was, so he’s carrying that risk,” said Sobkowich. Storage isn’t a problem on Kirschenman’s farm as he moved a lot of his pea and rye crops at harvest. But he’s struggling to sell his remaining peas, durum, and canola, and is shopping around to find the best prices he can given the limited capacity at grain terminals in his area. “The flax and the rye are moving well this year, and the drop in prices hasn’t been nearly as severe for those two,” he said.

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2013-12-19 11:28 AM

Publication: Alberta Farmer Express

Other growers he knows haven’t been as lucky, said Kirschenman. “We heard around harvest that there were guys hauling grain for a dollar value,” he said. “It didn’t matter the bushel cost. It was a dollar value in order to pay bills.” The pressure on farmers struggling with cash flow will “only get worse” in the coming months, he said. “It will be the guys who have bills to pay and have quite a bit of debt that will have to be price-takers in this market so that they can actually get someone to take their grain.” Even then, that may be a while. Although elevators are using “every single rail car (they) can get from the railways,” producers will have few options until more rail cars start moving, said Sobkowich. “We’re going to have to wait for relief from the railways so that we can try and draw this grain into the country elevator system.” jennifer.blair@fbcpublishing.com


19

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

Engineer says running fans continuously is not a smart move Ron Palmer says moisture levels often rise during the day, even when the fans are running, and it makes sense to only operate them intermittently By Helen Mcmenamin

“Except for that critical first 24 hours, run aeration only when the outside air temperature is the same or lower than that of the grain. Cooling is virtually the same as drying grain.”

af contributor / lethbridge

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onventional wisdom says you should run fans 24/7 for six weeks or so after harvest to dry down grain. But conventional wisdom is wrong and will not only needlessly run up your power bill, but could also lower grain quality, says a University of Regina professor of electronic systems engineering. Instead, Ron Palmer recommends running the fan for the first 24 hours, and then only turning it on at night or when it’s cold. Studies at the Indian Head Research Centre that continuously measured grain moisture levels found they fell for the first 24 hours of aeration. But after that, moisture levels would fall and rise in a more or less daily cycle. In other words, the grain was drying out and then absorbing moisture, often in a single day. Even stranger, the lowest moisture readings were in early morning and the highest at the end of the day — no matter how warm and dry that day was. It’s the opposite of what you’d expect — we all know wet clothes dry faster when it’s warm — but it’s not that simple, Palmer said at the Farming Smarter conference last month. “We talk about humidity when we really mean relative humidity,” said Palmer. “But that’s not a measure of the wetness of the air, or how much water is in the air. Relative humidity is not a lot of use when we want to know if a kernel of grain will give up its moisture to the air or absorb moisture from the air.” The Indian Head moisture data intrigued Palmer, who is well known for his pioneering work in the development of auto steer, but also has had a lifelong interest in aeration. He decided to look at a whole bin of grain, rather than wonderSEC-FUS13-T_AFEx.qxd 1/30/13 ing about different parts of it, and

Ron Palmer University of Regina engineer

Two specially equipped bins allowed researchers to measure air temperature and humidity, airflow, and grain temperature and moisture levels.   photo: courtesy of ron palmer just consider the amount of moisture going in and coming out of the bin. He measured the amount of air, its relative humidity, and air temperature entering and exiting the bin, and then calculated the amounts of moisture. He found that during the first 24 hours after grain was loaded into the bin, aeration lowered grain temperature and removed 1,198 pounds of moisture from a 2,000-bushel bin, or 1.8 percentage points.

Adding and subtracting

After that, aeration benefits were smaller and more erratic. Some days, the grain lost over 300 pounds of water, while on others, it absorbed similar amounts. During a cool week, the grain lost 617 pounds of moisture. “After the first 24 hours, the grain consistently dried overnight and at 9 o’clock in the morning, it flipped into gaining moisture,” said Palmer. “The air you’re pushing into the bin is wettest at 1 p.m. and driest at 6:30 a.m. That’s when dew forms, so we think of it as wetting, but all the moisture has dropped out of the air then. Dry, cool air dries and 4:51 PM Page 1 cools grain. In the afternoon, the

warm, moist air hits cool grain and can’t hold its moisture (much like the air outside at 6 a.m.) and it gives up its moisture to the grain. “When it’s warm, aeration wets the grain. It’s not just a waste of energy, it’s damaging the grain, heating it and wetting it.” The only times Palmer recorded grain drying during the day was on cold days. “If the aeration is cooling the grain, it’s drying the grain,” he said. “Except for that critical first 24 hours, run aeration only when the outside air temperature is the same or lower than that of the grain. Cooling is virtually the same as drying grain.” Palmer modifies this advice slightly to allow for warming of the air from compression by the fan and heat from the motor. In one of his bins, compression raised temperatures, but not moisture levels, near the bottom of the bin by 2 C compared to the top.  To avoid creating a drying gradient (there is no drying front, he said), Palmer advises measuring the temperature difference between high and low in the bin and adding this “offset” to the outside air temperature when deciding whether to run the aeration fan.

“If the air temperature plus the offset is less than the grain temperature, run the aeration,” he said. “Or, you could use a smaller fan motor.” Palmer tested his strategy by filling two 2,000-bushel bins with barley at 25 per cent moisture, one with continuous aeration and the other aerated according to his strategy (see box). Conventional aeration did remove more moisture (5,114 kilograms versus 3,690), but Palmer’s method cut the number of hours the fans ran by nearly 80 per cent. So instead of a $533 electrical bill, a farmer using Palmer’s method would only pay $93 for the cost

of running the fan. The grain was harvested on Aug. 29, so there were many nights when the air temperature plus the offset were above the grain temperature, which meant the fan didn’t cut in or only ran for a few hours. The barley in the second bin obviously needed more aeration, but was in good condition, he said. “We kept the grain as cool as possible, and we never put any moisture back into the grain,” said Palmer. “Drying the grain with cool air is the safest and cheapest way to aerate grain. And for less than $20 in electronics you can automate the system.”

     Not a fan of big electrical bills? Here are the results of Ron Palmer’s test of two different aeration methods, both performed on identical 2,000-bushel bins filled with barley.

Continuous aeration Intermittent aeration Initial moisture level 24.5% 25.4% Initial temperature 43.5 C 43.25 C Initial water loss 1,609 kg (after 48 hrs.) 987 kg (after 24 hrs.) Water loss over 60 days 5,114 kg 3,690 kg Fan hours over 60 days 1,200 251 Electricity cost ($0.10/kW-h) $533 $93 Final moisture level 16.67% 20% Final grain temperature 3 C -24.5 C Ron Palmer’s powerpoint presentation can be found at www.farmingsmarter. com (enter ‘2013 conference’ in the search box and then click on ‘Presentations Available from the 2013 Conference’ and follow the links)

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20

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Your farm safety resolutions for 2014 ARD has prepared a checklist to start the new year off on the right foot

Agri-News

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he New Year brings with it talk of resolutions. Resolutions; however, have a reputation for being declared and then forgotten. This year, why not make a promise that involves your family and their future? Make a promise to create a safer work environment on your farming operation. “Chances are you include an element of safety on your farm already,” says Kenda Lubeck, farm safety co-ordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Working with powerful equipment, large animals and strong chemicals year after year requires some degree of safety knowledge and standards. But, there is always room for improvement. From big-picture items such as a comprehensive farm safety plan to details like putting tools in their rightful spot and securing all gates, the cycle of plan-do-check-act never ends.” In true safety style, here are a few items to consider in the New Year.

• P roperly dispose of any chemicals that are no longer being used or medical products that have expired. • M ake sure Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are available for each chemical and are stored in a central location that is accessible to all employees. • Ensure that all hazardous substances are properly stored and that all containers are labeled. • Make sure all workers have Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training as necessary.

Machinery and PTO

• Inspect shields and guards on equipment — look for damage. • Ensure proper lighting and marking on all machinery, such as slow-moving vehicle symbols. • Make any necessary repairs and replace broken or damaged shields or parts. • Lubricate PTO shields to keep them rotating freely. • Ensure that all workers wear close-fitting clothing,

keep long hair tied back, use proper PPE and observe safe practices while operating equipment.

Large animal handling safety

• Ensure all gates, fencing and handling systems are in good repair and working order. • Train all animals to encourage calm working sessions. • Wear an approved equestrian helmet when mounted on a horse. • Design a biosecurity plan for your farm to prevent cross-contamination of diseases. • Have calving and foaling plans in place to prevent injuries to humans and baby animals. “Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development is in the process of piloting the Alberta FarmSafe Plan,” adds Lubeck. “This is an interactive farm safety plan tailored to individual farming operations. There are a few spots left, so if you are interested in signing up, contact Laurel Aitken at 780-480-4320.”

General farm yard safety

• Get rid of clutter and stay organized. Throw away stuff you don’t need or use. • Properly store tools, equipment and paperwork to eliminate tripping hazards. • Fix anything that’s broken or needs extra attention. • Check condition of items such as ladders, electrical cords, and tools. • Make sure workers have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves, hearing protections, respirators, etc. • Check all extinguishers, smoke detectors, shutoff switches and eye wash stations. • Post first-aid kits, emergency contact numbers, maps and fire extinguishers. • Make sure all workers are familiar with your farm’s emergency plan and know where the designated meeting place is. (You do have an emergency plan, don’t you?). • Get cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid training.

Chemicals and pesticides

• Take an inventory of all chemicals, pesticides, and medical products on the farm.

Canada’s Annual Ag Outlook Conference

February 24 & 25, 2014 The Fairmont Winnipeg

Western Canadian wheat bids stuck in downtrend Basis levels widened to an average of $66 relative to the futures

Speakers include: • Red Spring Wheat - Trevor Letkeman, Parrish & Heimbecker • Durum - John Griffith, CHS • Malt Barley - Ronald Volpi, Rahr Malting • Canola - Tracy Lussier, Louis Dreyfus Every farmer has been a marketing genius for the last two years. 2012 saw a good crop and the best prices we’ve ever had. 2013 saw the best crop ever grown in western Canada and still decent prices. You’ll have to sharpen your pencil for 2014 however. Two years of good prices have farmers around the world producing to the max. Making money will be a challenge in 2014. Arm yourself with information on the market outlooks for the various crops we plant in western Canada. Wild Oats Grainworld 2014 will provide you with detailed outlooks from traders who handle the crops.

• Soybeans - Karl Skold, Bunge • Corn - Nicholas Hoyt, Informa Economics • Barley - Jim Beusekom, Market Place Commodities • Oats - Randy Strychar, Ag Commodity Research • Peas - David Katerynych, Alfred C. Toepfer (Canada) • Canary - Kevin Hursh, Hursh Consulting • Paul Stow, OmniTRAX Canada • Dale Alderson, DA Seed • Todd Hyra, SeCan In addition, hear Charlie Mayer with a few thoughts on farmers, a rail transportation panel, a review of where the seed industry is headed and Dennis Gartman, publisher of The Gartman Letter, on financial policy. Join us at the Fairmont Hotel at the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg. Early-bird registration is $400 and includes all sessions and meals. Register at wildoatsgrainworld.com or call 1-800-567-5671.

By Phil Franz-Warkentin commodity news service canada

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estern Canadian wheat cash bids moved lower during the week ended December 23, following the losses seen in the U.S. futures markets. Basis levels also widened for both Canadian Western Red Spring (CWRS) and Canadian Prairie Red Spring (CPRS) varieties, which contributed to the price weakness. On December 23, average spot bids for 13.5% CWRS across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta came in at around $170 per tonne, or $4.63 per bushel, based on pricing available from a cross-section of delivery points, which compares to $178 per tonne, or $4.85 per bushel the week prior. Basis levels widened to an average of $66 relative to the futures, from $62 the previous week. Average CPRS values were at $147 per tonne, or $3.99 per bushel, down from $157 per tonne, or $4.27 per bushel a week

earlier. Average basis levels were widened to a discount of $91 compared to futures, from $85 the week prior. U.S. wheat futures were sharply lower, as the large global supply situation continued to overhang prices and U.S. values drifted lower in an attempt to uncover some demand of their own. The March spring wheat contract in Minneapolis, which most CWRS contracts in Canada are based off of, was quoted at U.S.$6.44 per bushel on December 23, down 10.25 cents from the previous week. The Kansas City hard red winter wheat futures, which are now traded in Chicago, are more closely linked to CPRS in Canada. The March Kansas City wheat lost 17 cents over the week, settling at U.S.$6.485 per bushel on December 23. Durum prices moved lower in reaction to the large global supply situation and logistical problems in moving the Canadian crop. Average spot bids decreased by $8 to $181 per tonne, or $4.92 per bushel.


21

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

Weyburn terminal up for sale; two directors resign Locally owned since 1976, the facility cites revenue problems from recent poor crops and CWB changes AGCANADA.COM

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wo Saskatchewan farmers have quit the board of Weyburn Inland Terminal in disagreement over their fellow board members’ plans to sell the independent grain company. The Weyburn, Sask. company’s board confirmed Dec. 20 it’s hired Regina-based Johnson Advisory Services to consult on “exploring and evaluating strategic options” and plans to “develop and negotiate a definitive transaction agreement.” The move to negotiate a sale follows several “non-binding expressions of interest” to buy

some or all of the farmer-owned business, WIT said. WIT didn’t name any proposed buyer and emphasized there’s “no firm timetable” to reach a deal, nor any guarantee a deal will be concluded. If such a proposal meets the board’s approval, WIT said, it would then go to a shareholder vote. However, two of the company’s farmer-directors, Dale Mainil of Weyburn and Allan Richards of Regina, have now cast their votes on the plan by quitting the WIT board. In both cases, WIT said in a separate release, the reason given involved “a fundamental disagreement with the strate-

Indonesia may increase cattle imports up to 66 pct

gic direction adopted for the corporation by the board of directors.”

‘Reduced revenue streams’

WIT’s plans come at a financial low tide for the company, which in its third quarter ending Sept. 30 booked losses attributable to shareholders of $313,000 on $41.67 million in revenues, down from a $207,000 loss on $25.14 million in revenues in the yearearlier Q3. WIT’s grain, special crop and livestock feed-pelleting operations are still running “significantly ahead of last year, as a result of the return to more

normal levels of crop production in 2012 and 2013 after two years of reduced volumes due to flooding,” the company said in its third-quarter report. Those two consecutive years of flooding in Saskatchewan’s southeast led the company to cut its dividend to stakeholders in 2012. The federal government’s 2012 deregulation of the Canadian Wheat Board’s single marketing desk for Prairie wheat and barley “has reduced some revenue streams,” WIT said in its recent Q3 report, but it’s expected that “merchandising revenue will help to bridge that gap.” The CWB’s transition to an

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open market was also cited as a reason for last year’s closure of WIT’s satellite grain elevator at Lake Alma, about 90 km southwest of Weyburn near the U.S. border. Founded by local farmers in 1976, WIT today runs its 105,490-tonne-capacity grain terminal near Weyburn, retail facilities for seed, chemicals and fertilizer, and its Pro-Pellets facility, which can produce about 10 tonnes of feed pellets per hour. The company’s holdings also include stakes in Vancouver’s Alliance Grain Terminal, Weyburn-area ethanol processor NorAmera BioEnergy and seed company Alliance Seed Corp.

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Looks to avoid the shortages and price spikes of 2013 JAKARTA / REUTERS

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ndonesia plans to approve an up to 66 per cent jump in live cattle import permits for next year, a Trade Ministry official said Dec. 20, as Southeast Asia’s biggest economy looks to avoid the crippling shortages and price spikes seen this year. Beef and cattle imports have been a controversial issue in Indonesia this year after an import corruption scandal tainted the ruling coalition government, which was then involved in a diplomatic spat with main supplier Australia. “In 2014 we plan to allow live cattle imports of 722,000-750,000 head, of which around 25 per cent have to be productive female cattle,” Bachrul Chairi, director general of foreign trade at the Trade Ministry, told reporters. This year Indonesia issued import permits for 452,000 cattle head, Chairi added. In an effort to ease future food inflation after a beef shortage, Indonesia loosened rules on imports, all but abandoning a 2014 self-sustainability drive. Earlier this week, Indonesia’s agriculture minister said beef and cattle consumption would hit 560,000 tonnes in 2014, up from 549,000 tonnes this year. Indonesia only allows beef and cattle imports from either Australia, the world’s No. 3 beef exporter, or New Zealand.

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22

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Irrigation water use doubles between 2010 and 2012 Greatest volume increases seen in Manitoba and Alberta: ag water survey STAFF

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he amount of water Canadian farmers used for irrigation more than doubled between 2010 and 2012, with the greatest volume increases in Alberta and Manitoba where farmers reported increases of more than 150 per cent. Water use data released by Statistics Canada show approximately 1.7 billion cubic metres of water used in 2012 across the country, with just over threequarters of that applied to crops in Alberta. Nationally, more than 590,000 hectares of land were irrigated in 2012, up 12 per cent from 2010. Seventy per cent of that land was in Alberta where 420,940 hectares of land were under irrigation in 2012.

Farms in British Columbia were responsible for the secondlargest amount of water used for irrigation, although their usage remained stable over the period. Most water was used to irrigate field crops (61 per cent) and forage crops (34 per cent), with just three and two per cent used on fruit and vegetable crops respectively. British Columbia had the largest number of farms that reported irrigation (2,950 farms) while Manitoba and the Atlantic region had the fewest (110 and 130 farms, respectively). Close to 75 per cent of the water used for irrigation came from offfarm sources, while 20 per cent came from on-farm surface water and five per cent came from onfarm underground water sources. Off-farm water was the predominant water source for Alberta and

Saskatchewan, while the majority of irrigation water in Eastern Canada came from on-farm, surface water sources. Just over half (56 per cent) of all water used for irrigation in Manitoba came from on-farm groundwater sources. The majority of farms (6,860 farms) in 2012 did not have problems with irrigation, but some producers did have to stop or forgo irrigation due to shortage of surface water or underground water, poor water quality and other issues, the report titled Agricultural Water Use in Canada 2012 says. Seven hundred and eighty-five farms could not irrigate because of a shortage of surface water, and 340 farms experienced a shortage of underground water. Over 1,600 farms could not irrigate because of poor water quality, an irrigation ban or other reasons.

Nationally, more than 590,000 hectares of land were irrigated in 2012. PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

A variety of conservation practices were in use in 2012. Watering at night or in the morning was the most common practice, followed by farms using water or energy-saving nozzles, or incorporating compost or other organic material into the soil. Approximately 500 farms did not use any energy- or waterconservation practices.

The survey gathered information on irrigation water use, irrigation methods and practices and sources and quality used by farmers during the 2012 growing season (April 1 to October 31, 2012) and was part of the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators program.

4-H launches video of Youth Ag-Summit STAFF

4

-H Canada and Bayer CropScience have posted a new video that highlights the global 4-H Youth Ag-Summit held in Calgary last August. As part of 4-H Canada’s 100th anniversary celebrations, 118 young delegates from 18 to 25 gathered from 24 different countries to discuss how their generation can overcome the challenges of feeding a growing world population of over seven billion people. 4-H members discussed the theme of “Feeding a Hungry Planet” and tackled topics such as food waste, climate change, the growing human footprint, consumer awareness of agricultural practices and farming efficiencies. The final vision reached by attendees was “to increase sustainable access to nutrient-dense food for women and children worldwide to alleviate global hunger.” “We were very proud to have had the global network to help facilitate bringing these bright minds to Canada,” Kamel Beliazi, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience said in a release. “We need new and fresh thinking to solve these problems — the future relies on these young minds.” The video can be accessed at www.youtube.com/ watch?v=QW9tYXDdc7k.

James Main, Three hills, AB As part of 4-H Canada’s 100th anniversary celebrations, 118 young delegates from 18 to 25 gathered from 24 different countries in Calgary last August.

BayerCropScience.ca/InVigor or 1 888-283-6847 or contact your Bayer CropScience representative. Always read and follow label directions. InVigor® is a registered trademark of the Bayer Group. Bayer CropScience is a member of CropLife Canada.

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Albertafarmexpress.ca • january 6, 2014

Could new trait make swathers disappear? Straight cutting will be more popular and add flexibility to those who continue to swath By Allan Dawson staff / banff

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Bayer CropScience assembled a panel of farmers and agronomists to discuss some of its new InVigor canola varieties Nov. 27 during its agronomy summit. Steve Larocque farms and runs Beyond Agronomy at Three Hills, Alta., (l-r), Murray Hartman, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development provincial oilseed specialist, Lacombe, Alta., Frank Groeneweg, Green Atlantic Farms, Edgeley, Sask., and Wes Anderson, agronomy manager, Richardson Pioneer, Regina, Sask.  Photo: Allan Dawson

ayer CropScience says it’s about to roll out a canola hybrid with patented pod shatter-reduction technology, and some farmers who’ve tested it say it might mean parking their swather for good. “For me that’s probably the most exciting trait of them all,” said farmer Frank Groeneweg of Edgeley, Sask. during a panel discussion during Bayer CropScience’s agronomy summit Nov. 27. Panellist Steve Larocque, who farms and operates Beyond Agronomy at Three Hills, Alta., agreed. “Having better pod shatter reduction and tolerance is the future,” he said. “I would hope that every variety would give us that option. “We sold our swather four years ago and started straight cutting canola and haven’t looked back and don’t want to.”

No swather means one less operation and one less piece of equipment to buy, Larocque said, adding a swather costs around $180,000. InVigor L140P, which is a midto early-maturing variety, matched the yields of InVigor 5440 and InVigor L130 when swathed at the normal swathing time, but yielded two and seven per cent more, respectively, when swathing was delayed or the crop was straight harvested, Bayer CropScience figures show. L140P also has Bayer’s latest blackleg-resistance genes. “It’s well suited for most of the Prairies, unless clubroot is an issue and then you go with a resistant variety,” said Bayer market development specialist Leighton Blashko. Ninety-four per cent of western Canadian farmers still swath their canola. Ideally farmers should swath canola when 60 per cent of the seeds from the main stem have changed colour.

“A larger farmer can’t get it all swathed at the optimum time,” said panellist Murray Hartman, provincial oilseed specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. Studies show farmers lose five to six per cent of their potential canola yield because pods shatter, spilling the seed on the ground before harvest. “So that’s five or six per cent right out of your pocket,” Hartman said. “I know a lot of farmers who will go out of their way to get a variety that is five or six per cent higher yielding.”

Wind damage

High winds at harvest can increase shatter losses to 20 per cent or more, Hartman added. Strong winds across much of Western Canada in the fall of 2012 robbed farmers of two to four bushels an acre on average, costing them more than $500 million, according to Bayer CropScience estimates. Larocque said his standing canola still yielded 30 bushels an acre despite winds of more than 100 kilometres an hour, while neighbours who had swathed harvested seven bushels an acre. Less shattering not only boosts potential yields, but also results in fewer volunteers, making future weed control easier, Hartman said. It also means potentially fewer problems with canola diseases such as clubroot and blackleg. “I see this trait as a direct return on investment as well as a risk management tool,” said panellist Wes Anderson, agronomy manager with Richardson Pioneer. “I think a pod shatter trait will rapidly increase the number of acres that’ll be straight cut in Western Canada and make farmers more money.”

Limited supplies

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Limited supplies of InVigor L140P will be available on a first-come, first-served basis this spring, said Blaine Woycheshin, Bayer CropScience’s manager oilseed crops — InVigor Seed. The company ran 22 trials across the West in 2013, but wants to “walk before it runs,” with the new technology, he said. InVigor L140P will sell for a $10-an-acre premium over other InVigor seed, Woycheshin said later in an interview. “There’s a yield advantage straight cutting and you save on the swather too, so you’ve got a double benefit,” he said. “It’s a win-win for the grower — time, money, flexibility.” Bayer CropScience is also promoting its sclerotinia-tolerant canola, InVigor L160S and its clubroot-resistant canola, InVigor L135C. InVigor L160S is tolerant, not resistant to sclerotinia, Blashko emphasized. Farmers can’t rely on it to stay disease free, especially in areas prone to high levels of sclerotinia such as Manitoba’s Red River Valley. However, it could fit with valley farmers who do not automatically apply a fungicide every growing season. “I look at it very much as a risk management tool,” Anderson said. Clubroot-resistant canola is important for the areas that have the disease and can play a role in preventing its spread, Anderson said. “Clubroot is going to be coming sooner or later,” added Larocque.

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24

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Tractor parts may soon sprout in farmers’ fields Tractors made with hemp-based panels have hit the fields as Versatile tests out new technologies BY SHANNON VANRAES STAFF

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armers are one step closer to growing their own tractor parts. Buhler Versatile has begun field testing tractors with a number of resin-infused hemp and agave biofibre composite parts manufactured by the Eastside Group of Companies in Winnipeg. So far, the results from field tests in Canada and the United States have been positive. Now the products will move on to a second round of testing. “We do a series of tests,” explained Paul Manaigre, director of engineering at Buhler Versatile. “Our Phase 1 test is performance and functionality — making sure that the panels meet existing requirements — then we do a durability test in Arizona where we test them for 2,000 hours, rip them apart and then see how well they fare, because product quality is absolutely critical to us.” The goal is to eventually replace all plastic components with fibrebased alternatives, but so far only tractor hoods, fan shrouds, crossover panels and fenders have been developed and tested. “We see the opportunity to not only improve our product, but to

Paul Manaigre, director of engineering at Buhler Versatile, stands in front of tractor components made from hemp and agave fibre. PHOTO: SHANNON VANRAES reduce our costs as well, while also improving the local economy,” Manaigre said. “If we can get a 10 per cent cost reduction into our current supply chain, that would be a win, win, win for everyone.” The fibre-based equipment parts were developed through a public-private partnership between the Composite Innova-

tion Centre (CIC), Buhler Industries, the Eastside Group of Companies and the federal and provincial governments. More than $150,000 in public funds went into the development of the novel fibreglass replacement product. “Many of the largest agricultural equipment manufacturers globally are moving towards greater

sustainability in their products and, as part of this strategy, are developing natural fibre-filled biocomposites and bioplasticadvanced materials,” said Simon Potter, product innovation manager at CIC. “These materials not only have reduced weight, they also assist in cost reduction and in replacing non-renewable

petroleum-based synthetic components with materials grown on the farm itself.” But it will still be some time before tractors featuring hempbased panels hit the market. “It all depends on when we are done our testing in Arizona,” Manaigre said, adding the new products would then be phased in over time. And although the technology behind the new product has proven sound, the engineer said reliability still needs to be built into the supply chain when it comes to obtaining the raw components needed to manufacture the parts. But all in all he sees the development as a real boon to Versatile. “Hemp in the agricultural industry has been tried by all the major producers and manufacturers, it’s the application of the technology and repeatability that is new. So in terms of the rest of the industry, I don’t think they’ve got the technology quite there yet, but it’s always on the horizon.” Potter adds that the success of the project also highlights what can be accomplished when businesses and government work together. “The whole thing is quite exciting,” he said. shannon.vanraes@fbcpublishing.com

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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

A Syngenta scientist casts doubts on neonicotinoid research One U.K.-based researcher believes the real culprit behind colony collapse is inexperience, poor weather, mites and disease — not neonicotinoids BY SHANNON VANRAES STAFF

A

Syngenta bee researcher told the recent GrowCanada conference neonicotinoids are being unfairly blamed for declining bee populations. “The risk to bee populations from neonicotinoids as they are currently used and used according to the label, is low,” Helen Thompson, a Syngenta bee researcher, told attendees. The U.K.-based scientist said studies used in the European Union to justify a two-year ban on the use of neonicotinoids across the continent were based on studies that didn’t replicate the kinds of conditions bees actually encounter in their natural environment. The conditions used in the studies were “very extreme,” Thompson said, adding that in some cases bees were exposed to thousands of times the amount of pesticide contained in actual agricultural products.

“I’m certainly one of those people now, who is a little more circumspect when I read the headlines in the press.”

the now ubiquitous varroa mite and the diseases it brings with it, such as deformed wing virus. “Viruses are a big challenge, and they’ve become an enormous challenge in the presence of varroa,” she said. “So again pesticides, not a major problem.” An influx of inexperienced beekeepers may also be part of the issue, according to the Syngenta researcher. “This is another challenge, how do you train those new beekeepers in good bee health... you need healthy bees, and people cannot just go and buy a colony, put it in the garden and keep bees, it’s a commitment,” she said.

Poor weather, with long cold and wet periods, has also affected bee colonies in recent years, Thompson added. Fear of a European-style ban on neonicotinoids has now prompted action by some Canadian farm groups, including Grain Growers of Canada and the Manitoba Corn Growers Association. “I have been working with my beekeeper neighbours for a number of years now and they have never indicated that neonicotinoids are a problem for their bees,” said Dennis Thiessen, director of the Corn Growers Association. A submission presented to

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency by the Grain Growers asserts that a decision to restrict neonicotinoid use in Canada “will majorly impact Canadian farmers’ ability to compete, and, in fact, increase the need for foliar spraying.” Thompson urged Canadian producers to keep fighting against a neonicotinoid ban and make their voices heard. “From a personal perspective, I would say the farmers have no voice... I heard no comments on how this would impact agriculture,” she said. shannon.vanraes@fbcpublishing.com

Helen Thompson, a Syngenta bee researcher. PHOTO: SHANNON VANRAES

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But a study led by the British researcher and used to oppose the European ban on neonicotinoids has also been called into question. Before joining Syngenta in September of this year, Thompson worked for the U.K. government’s Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA). It was there, British publications report, that her study on neonicotinoids and bumblebees drew criticism after control colonies intended to remain pesticide free, were contaminated with the neuroactive insecticide. Syngenta also financed an FERA research project in which Thompson participated, leading some in the British Parliament to question the impartiality of the work. But Thompson doesn’t put much stock in what the media has to say about her research, and believes opinions around the use of pesticides are tied more to perception than science. “I’m certainly one of those people now, who is a little more circumspect when I read the headlines in the press,” she said. While acknowledging that some bee populations are experiencing die-offs and colony collapse, Thompson attributed this to — among other things —

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26

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

CN a bit under, CP a bit over revenue cap in 2012-13 Critics say it shows the railways aren’t competing to transport grain BY ALLAN DAWSON STAFF

C

N Rail was $6.3 million under its statutory revenue cap for shipping western Canadian grain to export terminals in the 2012-13 crop year but CP Rail exceeded its limit by $177,961, the Canadian Transportation Agency said in a news release Dec. 16. Under the Canadian Transportation Act, the railways must remit excess revenues, plus a five per cent penalty, to the Western Grains Research Foundation, which benefits farmers through research. It is a small discrepancy, given under the Transportation Act CN and CP were allowed to earn almost $564 million and $544 million, respectively. But it also underscores a long-standing complaint

that the railways don’t compete for grain traffic. Economic theory holds that in a competitive market rail earnings would be well under the so-called revenue cap, introduced through federal legislation in 2000 as a form of “economic regulation” so the railways can’t charge what the market will bear. “Year after year we see the railways compete to be as close to the revenue cap as possible rather than compete to provide service at lower prices that you’d expect in a competitive market,” Doug Chorney, president of Manitoba’s Keystone Agricultural Producers said in reaction to the news. The railways are free to set their freight rates, which gives them the flexibility to encourage more efficient grain movement through reduced rates. The cap also guarantees the

railways a return on investment. That’s why the GTA calls it as a “revenue entitlement.” The revenue cap is adjusted for volume so there’s no limit on how much grain the railways can move. It’s also adjusted for inflation reflecting increases in expenses such as fuel. Although grain companies pay the railways to transport grain, most of the cost is passed back to farmers through deductions when they deliver to an elevator. Western Canadian farmers paid Canada’s two railways $1.1 billion to move their crops to export in the 2012-13 crop year. That works out to an average of $34.81 a tonne on CN lines — 40 cents a tonne under the cap and average of $33.99 a tonne on CP lines — two cents a tonne over the cap. The weighted average for both

Western Canadian farmers paid Canada’s two railways $1.1 billion to move their crops to export in the 2012-13 crop year. PHOTO: THINKSTOCK railways was $33.19 a tonne. While that is two cents a tonne under the cap, it’s 8.4 per cent more than the

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railways earned per tonne the previous crop year — a year in which both CN and CP exceeded the cap by $240,185 and $400,132, respectively. During the 2012-13 crop year the railways moved 32.4 million tonnes, down slightly from the 33.1 million tonnes moved the crop year before. CN hauled almost 16 million tonnes, while CP moved 16.4 million. Many farm groups have long called for a review of how much it costs the railways to haul grain, and if warranted, adjusting the formula used to set the revenue cap. It’s suspected the railways are more efficient now than when the formula was devised, resulting in farmers overpaying for grain shipping.

“Year after year we see the railways compete to be as close to the revenue cap as possible rather than compete to provide service at lower prices that you’d expect in a competitive market.” DOUG CHORNEY

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But some in the grain industry note grain is the only commodity to enjoy the protection of a cap. That’s led some to suspect, including Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, that if the cap were eliminated farmers would get better rail service. “I don’t think that would happen,” Chorney said. “We see other rail shippers suffering with poor service too.” The Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA) is also skeptical. “I think removing the revenue cap is a very risky proposition because when we look at other industries that don’t have a revenue cap (and) they’re negotiating with the railways to get good rates and to get better service. We’re negotiating with the railways to get better service,” WGEA executive director Wade Sobkowich said in an interview last month. allan@fbcpublishing.com


27

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

Manitoba believes domestic market has value Manitoba’s agriculture outlook embraces exports, but also looks to value-added products and customer concerns BY SHANNON VANRAES STAFF

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hen it comes to the future of agriculture on the Canadian Prairies, export markets are top of mind for the region’s deputy ministers of agriculture — or at least most of them. Speaking during a panel discussion at the recent GrowCanada conference in Calgary, deputy ministers spoke of the need to move agriculture forward by capitalizing on changes outside of the country. “We do very much believe that there is huge market access opportunities, here and now and on the horizon for the next five to 15 years, specifically for Western Canada,” said Jason Krips, Alberta’s deputy minister for Agriculture and Rural Development. The Comprehensive Economic Agreement on Trade (CETA), recently negotiated between Canada and the European Union will play a role in expanding exports, he said, adding that the anticipated Trans-Pacific Partnership is another exciting prospect for agricultural industries. The former lawyer, who once represented agriculture clients on legislative and industry pol-

icy issues, noted that a growing middle class in Asia, particularly China, will present new markets for Canadian commodities in the coming years. By 2015, 400 million rural Chinese are expected to move into urban centres as incomes and standards of living improve. “That’s a market size bigger than the United States’ population,” Krips said.

“That’s a market size bigger than the United States’ population.” JASON KRIPS

Saskatchewan also aims to cash in on foreign markets, and increasing agricultural production is central to the province’s vision, said Alanna Koch, deputy minister of agriculture in Saskatchewan. “Agriculture’s goal within the plan for growth is to capitalize on the advantages that we have in the province in order to benefit from the growing global demand for food and to position

Saskatchewan as a global leader in food production, food security, and food innovation by 2020,” she said. That province set a goal to increase crop production by 10 million tonnes by 2020, but last year’s bumper harvest has actually pushed them past their target seven years early. “We blew that right out of the water,” Koch said. “It’s pretty exciting.” The challenge will now be to sustain those yields she said, acknowledging that this 2013’s bumper crop was the result of a combination of factors, including weather. Both Saskatchewan and Alberta cite innovation as key to capitalizing on new demands, focusing on technological changes that will increase yield.

Domestic value added

However, Manitoba’s deputy minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development believes another kind of innovation is also needed if agriculture is going to thrive in the future — the kind of innovation that fosters value-added opportunities in the domestic market. “That’s going to drive what we believe is the development of efficiencies in the livestock industry,” said Dori Gingera-

Beauchemin, adding that having markets at home, as well as in a diversity of overseas locations, is equally important. She pointed to work at the province’s Food Development Centre and new industry partnerships under Growing Forward 2 as examples. Koch said the Saskatchewan government would like to follow Manitoba’s example when it comes to developing valueadded products, but sees much of that work aimed at international trade. Both Koch and Krips assert that government regulation could be an impediment to trade, as could public perceptions. “If we as an industry can be responsible, then government won’t be pressured to come in and take wrong-headed or heavy-handed approaches to regulation,” said Koch, harkening back to her previous roles as former president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, and a past director with Agricore United. Gingera-Beauchemin said that Manitoba’s approach is to work with industry so there is more “nimbleness” when it comes to responding to regulations or demands by the public. shannon.vanraes@fbcpublishing.com

Jason Krips, deputy minister of Alberta’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, during GrowCanada in Calgary.

Dori Gingera-Beauchemin, deputy minister of Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, has her image projected onto a big screen during GrowCanada in Calgary.

Dori Gingera-Beauchemin, deputy minister of Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, listens to questions during GrowCanada in Calgary. PHOTOS: SHANNON VANRAES


28

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Consumers not stupid, just scientifically illiterate: Doering A former head of the CFIA says consumers shouldn’t know whether or not foods contain genetically engineered crops because the label is akin to a ‘skull and crossbones’ By Shannon VanRaes staff

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he old adage the consumer is always right doesn’t hold much cache for Ron Doering. In fact it doesn’t hold any. The Ottawa-based lawyer and former president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency spoke to members of the biotechnology industry during a recent GrowCanada conference in Calgary, urging them to continue to fight consumer demands for the labelling of genetically modified foods. “(Consumers) don’t have an ability to understand this stuff,” he said. “The more you tell them, the less they know, often.” The reality is that consumers need to be convinced that genetically modified organisms are nothing to fear, he told conference attendees, adding that will require messaging that goes beyond promoting what he called “sound science.” “I think what we have to do is accept that consumers can’t move. Scientists, government regulators, industry are going to have to move, we are going to have to be way more creative of how we explain this stuff to consumers because they’re not really capable of moving to where we are,” he said.

Doering later clarified and said that he doesn’t believe consumers are stupid, only scientifically illiterate. Bruce Cran calls that assessment “bulls--t.” “That is absolutely untrue, that is rubbish. Consumers in Canada are very sophisticated and they understand it well,” said the head of the Consumers’ Association of Canada. For nearly two decades the association has polled Canadian consumers on the issue of GM labelling and has consistently found that 90 per cent of Canadians want genetically modified foods to be identified. But the former CFIA head said he believes consumers have fallen victim to “chemical paranoia,” thanks to what he terms the “mainstreamliberal media.” “The growth of the environmental movement, the junk science of the Silent Spring book that got it started, obviously has created a major ideological challenge to the pesticide industry,” Doering said.

Organic ideology

Consumers have been duped into the belief that organic is better than conventional, he added. “Organic really is an ideology, you can’t fight it... you might as well debate faith with a Catholic,” he

Attendees at a recent GrowCanada conference in Calgary hold a mock rally to promote the use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms.  Photo: Shannon VanRaes

said, adding that the organic label amounted to a “tax on the gullible.” But Cran believes it’s the Canadian government that has failed consumers, in part by allowing its food inspection agency to have close ties with agribusiness — too close to allow for independent public policy or consumer rights. “There’s not enough information around, over whether genetically modified foods harm us... Canada hasn’t done a very good job, or any job, in relation to assisting consumersB:10.25” in understanding genetically modified foods,” he T:10.25” said, adding heS:10.25” doesn’t believe GM

foods have undergone sufficient testing when it comes to long-term health effects. Doering disagrees, and said longterm tests aren’t needed because people have been eating trillions of meals made with genetically engineered ingredients, without having so much as a “tummy ache.” Doering said that requiring GM labels on food, would only serve to confirm that the products are harmful in the eyes of the consumer, and that would be bad for the biotech business. “If you put a great big contains GM on all the products, you’re really

putting a skull and crossbones on it, you’re saying there must be something dangerous about this stuff, or the government wouldn’t require it,” he said. The Canadian government already requires nutritional labelling, including fat, salt, calorie and vitamin content. Although disappointed by the trampling of consumers’ right to know what’s in their food, Cran said the biotech companies may have already won, by dragging the process on for such a long time. “Genetically modified food has infiltrated its way into everything we eat, I don’t think it is possible to label it at this point,” he said, adding that 10 years ago his organization had a working group with the CFIA, but progress on the GM issue was stymied. “It was very obvious we were being obstructed at every move by governmental forces, including the CFIA,” said Cran. Indeed, Doering is proud of his work convincing then federal health minister Allan Rock to retract a plan to make GM labelling mandatory in the late 1990s. “I worked really, really hard to stop it,” he said, adding, “you just fight, fight, fight and never allow it to happen.” shannon.vanraes@fbcpublishing.com

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29

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

Trade shows ideal for capitalizing on learning opportunities Networking at workshops is often where you will have the best chance of meeting people in the industry AGRI-NEWS

A

s the workshop and conference season ramps up for 2013-2014, many producers find it difficult to make time to attend. The information and knowledge shared at such events, however, can be a boon to your business and to your customers. “The opportunity to network with people in your industry, grow your knowledge, stay abreast of changes in the industry, and perhaps even find inspiration can be invaluable,” says Dustin Morton, commercial horticulture specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Networking at workshops

is often where you will get the biggest bang for your buck in terms of meeting people in the industry. These events can also be great places for troubleshooting common problems with other growers or brainstorming new ideas. Alternatively, these are fantastic places to mentor the next generation of producers and to share your own wealth of knowledge.” Conference seminars provide a convenient place to pick up the latest research in a distilleddown format from lead investigators in their field. Topics are often wide ranging from the latest technology to marketing and soft skills. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to retain something is to pass it on. Taking

this information back to your employees is a surefire way to ensure that you won’t forget it any time soon. “The trade shows that often accompany conferences can be excellent places to look for the latest technology as well as another place to stay on top of trends in consumer demand,” says Morton. “Vendors often provide discounts to trade showgoers and this may be an appropriate place to secure inventory for the upcoming season. Furthermore, this may be the venue to approach companies with which you deal and provide them with feedback. “Workshops can be excellent sources of inspiration. With exposure to so many heavy hit-

ters in the industry, workshops can be the perfect chance to ask them how they got to where they are and what keeps them motivated. Additionally, there are often seminars devoted to dealing with burnout and re-engaging with your work. These segments may provide techniques to avoid burnout in the future and may allow you to connect with people who feel similarly.” Given the opportunity for networking, education, keeping up with the industry and rejuvenating yourself, it is easy to see how valuable workshops can be. As in life, so much of what you get back is how much you’re willing to put in. If you go excited and willing to learn, your business and your personal growth will skyrocket.

ICE canola sets new daily volume record

NITROGEN LOSS

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Majority of the volume was tied to inter-month spread activity BY COMMODITY NEWS SERVICE CANADA

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anola contracts on the ICE Futures Canada trading platform posted record daily trade volumes on Tuesday, Dec. 10, far surpassing the previous record which was set only a week earlier. There were 68,962 canola contracts traded on the Winnipegbased electronic market on December 10, according to preliminary trade data. That’s well above the previous daily record of 51,805 contracts set on Dec. 4. Prior to that, the record of 49,165 contracts had held since June 9, 2010. ICE Canada data shows that total open interest canola was sitting at 231,971 contracts ahead of Tuesday’s session. That’s an increase of about 30,000 contracts over the past month and the largest open interest since September 2012. Market participants said the majority of the volume was tied to inter-month spread activity, with over 65,000 of the contracts traded linked to spreading. Statistics Canada released updated production estimates on Dec. 4, pegging the country’s 2013-14 (Aug./Jul.) canola crop at a record 17.96 million tonnes. The production number was at the high end of trade estimates and about four million tonnes larger than the previous year. The record-large supplies were said to be playing a part in the record-large trade volumes recently.

Keep in mind that one of the best ways to retain something is to pass it on. Taking this information back to your employees is a surefire way to ensure that you won’t forget it any time soon.

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30

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

In the land of the holy cow, fury over beef exports Angry mobs have formed to rescue cows from being sent to slaughter By Jo Winterbottom and Meenakshi Sharma

“If somebody targets my mother, what would I do? I will stand and save her. Likewise, you should get up, gather and save our mother cow.”

delhi/mumbai / reuters

O

ne night last August here, an angry mob ran amok on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, burning trucks and government property and forcing traffic to halt and factories to shut. The rioters were incensed over an issue arguably as old as India itself: the eating of beef, which the country’s majority Hindus have considered sacrilegious for at least 1,000 years. Perhaps surprisingly in a country where so many people view cows as sacred, India could soon become the world’s biggest beef exporter, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Most, though not all, of the beef India exports is buffalo, an animal less venerated than the hump-backed indigenous Indian cow. But the trade, even in buffalo beef, still evokes revulsion among Hindu nationalists. The sharpest criticism comes from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition in parliament. Its candidate for prime minister in next year’s elections, Narendra Modi, has slammed what he calls the government’s “pink revolution,” (a play on the original agricultural or “green” revolution in India) and its “secret agenda... for export of beef.” India’s vegetarian traditions and the Hindu aversion to beef mean only 2.1 million tonnes of beef are consumed domestically a year. That compares with 11.5 million tonnes a year in the United States, which has just a quarter India’s population. But exports of beef from India are likely to hit close to 1.8 million tonnes in 2013, second only to Brazil, according to an April forecast by the USDA. The value of India’s exports has nearly doubled from $1.9 billion in 2010-11 to $3.2 bil-

Sailesh Soni

A street-side vendor stands on the pavement next to her cow as it rains in Mumbai July 10, 2013. The vendor sells grass stalks to passersby for five to 10 Indian rupees ($0.11-$0.22), which are then fed to her cow.   photo: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

lion in 2012-13, according to the government’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). Beef production in India is dominated by Muslims, a minority in the country. This year’s unrest along the Delhi-Jaipur highway shows how quickly beef can stir anger. Passersby reported a foul smell coming from a truck that had broken down; rumours spread that it was loaded with cow meat. Sloganshouting youths swept through the town of Dharuhera, some 40 km (25 miles) from Delhi, ransacking the truck and tearing out its cargo of ice-covered meat. By the time police calmed the riot, 74 trucks and buses had been burned.

In the end, the cargo turned out to be buffalo meat, not cow. But Sailesh Soni, a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a powerful Hindu nationalist group that backs the BJP and wants stricter enforcement of a ban on cattle killing, said all Hindus should be ready to defend all cattle. “If somebody targets my mother, what would I do? I will stand and save her. Likewise, you should get up, gather and save our mother cow,” he said.

Mythology

Hindus believe that Nandi, a bull, is the steed of powerful deity Lord Shiva, and that Lord Krishna was born as a cowherd. Many rural households in India, the world’s biggest producer of milk, own at least one cow or buffalo. Female buffaloes, in particular, are prized for their creamy milk, while the males are used for pulling carts and plows, and their dung keeps home fires burning in villages that have little or no access to power. Statistically, there are enough cows and buffalo in India for every rural household to have about two. But once cows are past their productive life, owners will often simply turn them out, unwilling to spend on fodder for no return. Buffaloes and cows are increasingly ending up in abattoirs mushrooming across the country, according to industry participants and officials interviewed by Reuters. Buffalo makes up by far the bulk of India’s beef exports. Cow meat is banned from export, but animal rights groups say some finds its way abroad. In all, India has half the buffaloes in the world, according to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and the largest number of cattle, with 327 million head, according to the USDA. The United States has around 89 million cattle.

Booming beef industry

Sitting in his airy ground-floor office in an abattoir about eight km from the town of Aligarh in northern India, Mahendra Singh says business is booming. His production of buffalo meat has increased to 150 tonnes a day from 100 to 120 tonnes around a year ago. His employer, Hind Agro Industries Ltd., has sought the local government’s permission to lift its daily output limit to 250 tonnes to meet rising demand. “Earlier there was only our plant but now there are more than five units in this area alone,” Singh, the plant’s general manager, said. Hind Agro sells most of its meat to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, but the government says India’s biggest beef buyers are Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Egypt. China, where beef consumption is growing rapidly, could soon be on the official customer list after the two countries signed a framework deal earlier this year. Global demand for exports of buffalo — leaner and cheaper than cow meat — is growing at around 30 per cent a year. The lack of growth hormones in Indian beef provides an additional attraction for health-conscious consumers, said M. Kalim Khan, vice-president of exports and marketing at Hind Agro.

High stakes and hijacks

The rapid expansion of the beef meat sector, rising prices and demand have encouraged cattle smuggling, animal activists and officials say. “Abandoned animals are picked up from the streets for slaughter. No one is bothered because everyone, including the police, get their share from the agents,” says Arvind Shah, a founder of Karuna, a charity for animal welfare in the city of Mumbai. Shah, whose tall and thin physique has made him a well-known

figure among residents near his tiny office, describes violent clashes between truck drivers and animal rights activists. “Stopping trucks on highways in the middle of the night is a very risky business. I was chased by masked men and threatened,” the 49-year-old activist says. Activists get tipoffs from villagers and even rival suppliers about the route and timing of vehicles carrying meat or animals, and then they work out a strategy to stop them. “We go in a group of 30 to 40 people and carry wooden sticks. Most of the time, we succeed in stopping the trucks and releasing the animals,” says Brijesh Shah, a 34-year-old member of Jiv Rakshak Dal, which literally means animal protection group. “Sometimes... they attack us with iron rods and other sharp weapons.” The group has stopped 120 trucks since 2002 and saved around 8,000 animals, he says. Truck drivers, for their part, have stories of beatings and robberies. “We are fed up with paying bribes to policemen and getting beaten up by animal rights people and political party members,” said Mohammad Gulfam, a driver at the Gulaothi market. While government regulations on the transport of animals are strict, implementation is often weak and cattle are squeezed into trucks to cut costs. Animals often make the journey to the slaughterhouse without food or water and are sometimes left in the baking heat while drivers take their breaks.

Playing politics

And there are dangers for beef traders even when they are operating legally. “On my way to make a delivery at Hind Agro, our truck was stopped by about 15 people belonging to some political party,” said Mohammad Yusaf, a driver waiting to load up at Gulaothi market. “They beat me and my co-worker and robbed us of 25,000 rupees ($408),” he added. After the outbreak of violence outside New Delhi, Muslim elders and clerics decided that preserving the peace was far more important than eating beef. Anyone killing cows, including the ones left to stray, will now be fined 115,000 rupees, they announced. Since then, tensions have eased in the area, where Hindus and Muslims live side by side and chat in each other’s front yards.


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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

U.S. Nov. cattle placements drop November placements down three per cent year over year

reuters

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he number of cattle placed in U.S. feedlots in November was down three per cent from a year earlier, the U.S. Agriculture Department said Dec. 20. The decrease was attributed to sufficient wheat pastures that allowed ranchers to graze cattle and keep them out of feedlots, analysts said. Ranchers also held back heifers in an effort to rebuild the U.S. cattle herd, analysts said. The herd is the smallest since the early 1950s as years of drought in parts of the country damaged crops and pastures and drove up feed costs. US D A s h o w e d N o v e m b e r placements at 1.882 million head, down three per cent from 1.943 million a year earlier. Analysts, on average, expected a 0.4

Over 500 calls to ALERT Line Of those, 88 cases that were investigated required some form of intervention Agri-News

S

ince 1995, the Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) ALERT Line (1-800-506-2273) has been providing a valuable service to and been an integral part of the province’s livestock industry. Last year, over 500 calls were received at the ALERT Line. Of those, 88 cases that were investigated required some form of intervention. “Producers were asking for an alternative service where the public could report any suspected animal care concerns in a confidential way, and enable producers themselves to get some help,” says Pam Miller ALERT Line co-ordinator. “We know animal welfare is a growing public concern — agriculture is definitely under scrutiny. The ALERT service also helps to educate the public.” AFAC has established resource leaders and team members across the province to respond to situations arising from ALERT Line calls. “The resource team members have successfully nipped problems in the bud, providing practical hands-on advice to improve animal care and support responsible producers when the public calls were unfounded,” adds Miller. Miller explains that when a call comes in the ALERT co-ordinator determines the nature of the call. “If the caller is unfamiliar with agricultural practices the co-ordinator will provide information that will enable them to better understand the situation they were calling about. We receive a lot of calls that are unfounded. More and more, ALERT has become a source of information.”

per cent increase, but estimates ranged from 95.0 to 104.2 per cent of a year ago. The November placements were the smallest for that period since 2009’s 1.844 million head. “Placements were down because we have less cattle than we had before, and we have much-improved ability to hold them out on grass in the country,” said Livestock Marketing Information Center director Jim Robb. The planned retention of heifer calves for breeding played a significant role in the year-over-year placement decline, he said. The wide range of pre-report estimates for November placements was due in part to some analysts thinking that lowerpriced corn drew more cattle into feedyards, said U.S. Commodities analyst Don Roose. “The report says that the feeder pool is going to continue to be tight and overall supplies will

do nothing to derail the fact that total overall beef production is going to be down about six per cent,” he said. USDA put the feedlot cattle supply as of Dec. 1 at 10.725 million head, down 5.0 per cent from a year earlier of 11.348 million. Analysts polled by Reuters, on average, expected a drop of 4.7 per cent. The Dec. 1 feedlot cattle supply was the lowest for the month since 10.633 million in 1996. Ron Plain, a University of Missouri livestock economist, called the report “good news for cattle prices.” He cited the lower placements, slightly more marketings than anticipated and the smallerthan-expected feedlot cattle supply. “When you’ve got futures as high as they are, it’s tough to be wildly bullish about moving higher. But, certainly nothing in this report is going to discourage anyone from bidding higher come Monday,” he said.

The planned retention of heifer calves for breeding played a significant role in the year-over-year placement decline.  PHOTo: thinkstock

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JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

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33

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

DUPONT PIONEER DONATES $100,000 TO SAFETY

OTTAWA PLUGS ‘PIZZA KIT’ HOLE

DuPont Pioneer says it provided $100,000 in grants to rural emergency services to 31 Canadian communities to receive critical emergency rescue equipment and training. “At DuPont Pioneer, safety is of the utmost importance for us and we wanted to help rural Canadians improve their safety as well,” Ian Grant, president, DuPont Pioneer Canada said in a release. Items acquired through the program included grain entrapment rescue equipment and training, air bottle containment refill stations and other emergency resources.

Canadian importers of “pizza kits” of shredded mozzarella and sliced pepperoni from the U.S. will now have to eat a heavier tariff on that mozza. The federal government on Nov. 22 quietly passed a ways-and-means motion clarifying the tariff classification on “pizza topping food preparations,” otherwise known as “pizza kits,” as used by some pizza restaurants. The kits have been under fire from Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) and provincial dairy marketing boards for over a year as “a blatant example of circumvention of the government’s tariff system” on cheese imports.

Chinese men accused of trying to steal U.S. seed secrets Investigators found corn kernels stuffed under the seat of a car BY CAREY GILLAM

KANSAS CITY, MO. / REUTERS

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hree Chinese nationals — including one who attended a gala dinner for the then vice-president of China — have been charged in two separate cases of trying to steal seed technology, trade secrets under development in the United States, authorities said Dec. 12. After a two-year investigation, an executive working for a Chinese conglomerate was arrested on charges of stealing inbred corn seed from production fields in Iowa and Illinois and trying to smuggle it into China, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa Nicholas Klinefeldt said. FBI agents tracked Mo Hailong, director of the international business of the Beijing Dabeinong

Technology Group Co., a part of DBN Group, using GPS surveillance and planted listening devices in cars that he and other unnamed conspirators drove on rural roads, court papers said. The others included employees at U.S. seed companies who provided locations where experiments with genetically altered seeds took place; or they provided gene sequencing information for the bioengineered seeds, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Iowa. The thefts took place between September 2011 and October 2012, according to papers at the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Iowa. Both Iowa-based DuPont Pioneer, the agricultural unit of DuPont, and Missouri-based Monsanto, two of the world’s larg-

est agricultural seed companies, said they were co-operating with federal authorities in the ongoing probe. Mo was discovered in an Iowa farm field Pioneer used to test corn seed products the company planned to bring to market, court documents said. Later, police were called when Mo and two others were discovered in a Monsanto test seed field. Investigators found ears of corn stashed in an Illinois self-storage unit, dozens of bags of corn kernels stuffed under the seat of a car, and hundreds of pictures of cornfields and production facilities, court documents state. In February 2012, Mo was tracked to Des Moines where he attended the state dinner hosted by Iowa for then vice-president of China, Xi Jinping, who is now China’s president.

Kansas case

In the second case, two agricultural scientists from China were charged with trying to steal samples of a variety of seeds from a biopharmaceutical company’s research facility in Kansas. Zhang Weiqiang, 47, of Manhattan, Kansas, and Yan Wengui, 63, of Stuttgart, Arkansas, were charged with conspiracy to steal trade secrets, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas Barry Grissom. Grissom’s office declined to name the company, which had invested about $75 million in patented technology used to create seeds containing recombinant proteins, except to say it “has an extensive intellectual property portfolio of more than 100 issued and pending patents and exclusive licences to issue patents.”

Grissom’s spokesman, Jim Cross, said the two cases were unrelated. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found stolen seeds in the luggage of a group of visitors from China who were about to return home on Aug. 7, according to papers filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas. The group had visited various agricultural facilities and universities in the Midwest, as well as the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuggart, Ark. According to the complaint Zhang and Yan, both citizens of the People’s Republic of China, had arranged for the Chinese delegation to visit the United States last summer and gave them the stolen seeds. If convicted, Zhang and Yan face a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

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JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

AUSSIE ATTACK

A 10-month-old Australian shepherd ambushes his cousin, a six-month-old Aussie, on the Bar Pipe Ranch, west of Okotoks, Alta.

PHOTO: WENDY DUDLEY

Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame calls for nominations Deadline for nominations is April 30, 2014 AGRI-NEWS

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he Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame is accepting nominations to honour individuals who have made significant contributions to Alberta’s agriculture and agrifood industry. Every two years, Alberta’s Agriculture Hall of Fame recognizes up to three Albertans whose outstanding leadership, innovation and business practices have advanced Alberta’s agriculture and food industry at the community, provincial, national or international level. Since 1951, the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame has celebrated the accomplishments of men and women who have dedicated their lives to agriculture and their rural communities. The 126 inductees have been innovators and risk-takers in every area of agriculture from innovative farming techniques to scientific accomplishments, creating value-added products and other outstanding contributions that have had a lasting, positive impact on agriculture. The 2014 inductees will be honoured in Edmonton next October at a celebration ceremony. More information about the Hall of Fame and nomination forms can be found on Alberta Agriculture’s Hall of Fame web page, or by calling 780-4220492. For toll-free access in Alberta, call 310-0000 first. The deadline for nominations is April 30, 2014.


35

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

Closure spells the end of an era for renowned Rafter Six Ranch The owners had high hopes for a plan to expand the well-known guest ranch, but it instead led to its demise BY JENNIFER BLAIR AF STAFF

A

failed expansion plan has put one of Alberta’s bestknown guest ranches out of business. “We’ve always needed more accommodations to look after the economy of scale,” said Stan Cowley, owner of Rafter Six Ranch Resort near Exshaw. “We wanted to expand.” Rafter Six has a long history of growth at its home in Kananaskis Country. First built in the 1870s as a whiskey trading post, it became a remand centre for the RCMP when “the Mounties pushed out the whiskey traders.” When the RCMP moved their base closer to Calgary, Rafter Six became a guest ranch, and in 1976, the Cowleys bought the land and “expanded it to what it is today.” Since then, they have played host to “millions of people” from around the world, growing the lone lodge into a resort with a lodge, guest cabins, dance hall, church, and rodeo grounds. “We’ve been busy,” said Cowley of the “western hospitality” and activities he offered his guests over a 38-year run. In 2008, the Cowleys entered into an agreement with a resort developer in Calgary that would expand accommodations at the ranch, leaving the Cowleys as 50/50 owners in the improved resort. “It wasn’t too long after that, that the lawyers — who were principals in the finance organization and represented everybody, including us — put everything into receivership,” said Cowley. “We ended up getting nothing at all out of it and are stuck with being no longer in business.” The future is uncertain for Cowley and his wife, Gloria, who closed the doors on the ranch on Jan. 1. Though the couple has a small acreage and grazing leases for their horses, they will have no revenue stream until they reopen as an outfitter. “We’ll be going back into the horse business in the spring, of course, but you have to get over the winter,” he said. “There’s quite an expense in horses.” The Cowleys have set up a fundraiser through Indiegogo, a ‘crowd funding’ website that allows people to donate to causes they support. The couple has asked for help with legal, moving and feed costs, and support has been overwhelming, said Cowley. “We’ve been getting so many phone calls from all over the world when they’ve heard about it,” said Cowley. “It’s really quite heartwarming to hear the comments that we’re getting from people all around the world.” The ranch is being held by a trust and its future is not known. jennifer.blair@fbcpublishing.com

Program aims to boost fertilizer efficiency, producers’ bottom line, and environment BY JENNIFER BLAIR AF STAFF

F

armers are being offered cash incentives to lower greenhouse gas emissions while getting more bang for their fertilizer buck. “The primary goal (of the project) is to help farmers use their fertilizer and other crop nutrients more efficiently to reduce their losses of nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas,” said Clyde Graham, an official with the Canadian Fertilizer Institute. “Farmers are good stewards of the land, so there’s a lot of interest in the potential to do a better job for the environment.”

The institute recently obtained funding to support the second phase of its Farming 4R Land program, which promotes using the “right source of fertilizer at the right rate, the right time, and the right place.” The goal of this phase is to have enough acreage qualified under Alberta’s nitrous oxide emission reduction protocol by year’s end to offset 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. “We’re asking growers to take into account not only the economics of their operation but also society’s needs and also what’s good for the environment,” said Graham. “We’re going to be more intensive in our agriculture,

but at the same time we have to take care of the environment,” he said. “We think the 4Rs are the way to do that.” The process also offers farmers a more immediate return, said Susan Wood-Bohm, executive director of greenhouse gas management at Alberta Inno-

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

vates Bio Solutions, a partner in the project. “They get an economic return instantly from the fact that they’re not needing to purchase quite as much fertilizer,” she said. According to research conducted by the fertilizer institute, potential savings from more efficient fertilizer use can range up to over $80 an acre. “Producers spend a lot of money on fertilizer every year, so using it more efficiently obviously has some economic gains,” said Graham. More information can be found at www.farming4rfuture. ca. jennifer.blair@fbcpublishing.com

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JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Glyphosate-resistant weeds a real and present danger in Western Canada Canadian farmers are being warned to be careful not to lose their most precious weed-control resource By Allan Dawson staff /banff

I

t’s like an episode of the old TV show “The Twilight Zone” — farmers repeatedly spray their crops but the weeds refuse to die. But that’s reality for many farmers in the mid-southern United States. Glyphosate, “the world’s greatest herbicide,” is no longer effective there due to an explosion of glyphosate-resistant weeds caused by a lack of agronomic diversity, says University of Arkansas weed scientist Jason Norsworthy. Canadian farmers must take steps to avoid the same fate, Norsworthy and other experts warned during Bayer CropScience’s inaugural agronomy summit here last month. Fifty per cent of Arkansas’ cotton fields are now hand weeded and some producers have even lost their farms, Norsworthy said. Canadian farmers are also at risk, said Neil Harker, a research scientist with Agriculture and AgriFood Canada at Lacombe, Alta. “If we go to the same intensity with one, single-trait rotation like RR (Roundup Ready) corn, RR cotton, RR soybean like they have, which we have the potential to do in Western Canada... we’re going to be in a similar situation,” he said. Western Canada has some advantages over Arkansas. Most crops are grown in narrow rows, making them more competitive with weeds. The growing season is shorter and glyphosate isn’t applied as often.

“But we could be in a similar situation if we go the same direction,” Harker cautioned. “We’re just a few years behind in terms of our selection pressure.”

Protecting the resource

During his formal address Harker emphasized herbicides are “a precious, limited resource.”

“We’re approaching a cliff. If we don’t take steps to stop weed resistance we’ll fall back on a time when all weeds were hand weeded.” Neil Harker

“We’re approaching a cliff,” he said. “If we don’t take steps to stop weed resistance we’ll fall back on a time when all weeds were hand weeded. Every time herbicides are used in any setting, weeds evolve by developing resistance.” Harker said the problem is that farmers grow Roundup Ready canola, which is sprayed with glyphosate, too often because it’s profitable. A non-selective herbicide, glyphosate is the most applied weed killer in Western Canada. In 2012 a full rate of glyphosate was applied to the equivalent of 114.7

million acres in the West, Harker’s data shows. Since there are only 110 million cropped acres, many acres received more than one full-rate application. In contrast, all the other herbicides combined were applied to the equivalent of 112.4 million acres. More glyphosate was applied to western fields than all other herbicides combined. “That results in tremendous selection pressure so it shouldn’t be a surprise we have resistant weeds,” Harker said. Scientists believe about one weed in every billion is naturally resistant to a herbicide. Applying a herbicide repeatedly kills the susceptible weeds and leaves or “selects” the resistant ones. Canada already has some glyphosate-resistant weeds. The first documented case was giant ragweed in Ontario in 2009 followed by Canada fleabane in 2011, also in Ontario. Glyphosate-resistant kochia was confirmed in Alberta and Saskatchewan in 2012. Not only are Canadian farmers at risk of creating more homegrown glyphosate-resistant weeds, but also they are almost certain to import them in feed and equipment from the U.S., Norsworthy said.

Resorting to hoes

Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth infests 61 per cent of Arkansas soy acres and 87 per cent of its cotton acres. More than 2.5 million acres are affected even though the first resistant Palmer amaranth wasn’t discovered in Arkansas until 2006 — 10 years after Roundup Ready soybeans were first introduced.

“We’ve abandoned fields as a result of resistance,” Norsworthy said. “And here’s one that’s probably going to be a shocker for everyone in this room — we’ve had individuals who completely lost the family farm as a result of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth.” So how did things get so bad? “All we did was plant Roundup Ready crops... and we sprayed with only one herbicide and that was Roundup (glyphosate),” he said. Spraying weeds at sublethal rates to cut costs, or spraying weeds that were too big, also contributed. Now some Arkansas cotton growers pay up to $250 an acre to get their fields hand weeded. “If we lose a herbicide we’re right back to steel (machinery to control weeds) so we really do need to take care of our herbicides,” warned Stephen Lindell, Bayer CropScience’s lead herbicide chemist based in Frankfurt, Germany. With glyphosate’s early success, pesticide companies wrongly assumed new herbicides were unnecessary and cut research. As a result there hasn’t been a weed killer commercialized with a new mode of action in almost 25 years. While new herbicides are needed, they alone aren’t the answer, Lindell, Harker and Norsworthy agreed. The key, they said, is diversity. “Using the same tactics year after year are going to fail,” Norsworthy said. Farmers need to rotate herbicide modes of actions and crops, Harker said. Winter cereals, early silage and perennial crops should be added to the mix. He also recommends upping seeding rates and growing taller, more weed-competitive crops. Destroying weed seeds during or after harvest will become an important tool, he predicted.

Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Monsanto products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Monsanto’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. This product has been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from this product can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Excellence Through Stewardship. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Acceleron® seed treatment technology for corn is a combination of four separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients metalaxyl, trifloxystrobin, ipconazole, and clothianidin. Acceleron® seed treatment technology for canola is a combination of two separate individually-registered products, which together contain the active ingredients difenoconazole, metalaxyl (M and S isomers), fludioxonil, thiamethoxam, and bacillus subtilis. Acceleron and Design®, Acceleron®, DEKALB and Design®, DEKALB®, Genuity and Design®, Genuity Icons, Genuity®, RIB Complete and Design®, RIB Complete®, Roundup Ready 2 Technology and Design®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup Transorb®, Roundup WeatherMAX®, Roundup®, SmartStax and Design®, SmartStax®, Transorb®, VT Double PRO®, YieldGard VT Rootworm/RR2®, YieldGard Corn Borer and Design and YieldGard VT Triple® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. Used under license. LibertyLink® and the Water Droplet Design are trademarks of Bayer. Used under license. Herculex® is a registered trademark of Dow AgroSciences LLC. Used under license. Respect the Refuge and Design is a registered trademark of the Canadian Seed Trade Association. Used under license. ©2013 Monsanto Canada Inc.

Herbicide-tolerant weeds are a real risk to western Canadian farmers, says AAFC research scientist, Neil Harker  Photos: Allan Dawson

Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth is so widespread in the mid-southern U.S. that glyphosate is no longer a useful herbicide to many farmers in that area, says University of Arkansas weed scientist Jason Norsworthy. Other options

Australian farmers are experimenting with the Harrington Seed Destructor — a mill pulled behind a combine that captures and pulverizes seeds leaving the combine. Harker predicts that machine will be placed inside the combine and sold as an option. “Start clean and stay clean,” is Norsworthy’s advice. “The threshold for those weeds that are resistance prone should be zero, if we’re going to try to manage the soil seed bank in resistance.” Farmers also need to learn weed biology so they know the best time to spray. Make a herbicide application the best it can be by applying a lethal dose, using good-quality water and applying lots of volume at a speed where weeds are well covered. In Arkansas the mouldboard plow is sometimes used because it can bury small weed seeds so deep they can’t emerge. Instead of dealing with millions of weeds seeds they are cut to hundreds, but that technique can only be done once, he said. “Herbicides alone are not going to be the complete answer,” Norsworthy said. “Herbicides are going to be the backbone of what we do, but it’s going to take some other practices that we’re going to have to integrate... if we’re going to be successful from a resistancemanagement standpoint.” allan@fbcpublishing.com

10801A-Gen Legal Trait Stewardship-AF.indd 1 7/26/13 2:33 PM


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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

Just the facts — Alberta researchers making a difference Whether it’s combating disease or finding ways to boost yields, sound science and inquiring minds move farming forward

M

ost farm issues attract a range of differing views, but virtually everyone agrees that research is the bedrock of Canadian agriculture, and more is needed. Reporters Alexis Kienlen and Jennifer Blair provided coverage from across the province in 2013 and offer a pair of their most memorable stories.

Not forgotten

A decade later, everyone in the livestock sector remembers May 20, 2003 — the day it was announced an Alberta cow had tested positive for BSE. Stephanie Czub was the scientist who confirmed that case. It was “a career- and life-changing experience for me and for the farmers,” Czub said at a gathering last May to commemorate that fateful day. Fortunately, there has been a significant decrease in the number of cases of BSE over the last 10 years, with no new cases found in Alberta in 2012, said Czub, now head of the prion, pathology, virology and wildlife disease units at the CFIA laboratory in Lethbridge. But BSE research continues to be as important as ever, she said. Scientists have discovered a new form of the fatal neurodegenerative disease called “atypical BSE.” It’s not known if it is related to feeding contaminated feed, and may occur sporadically among older cattle. It also infects more rapidly because unlike classical BSE, which grows slowly and intermittently, this new variant grows continually. The past year finally saw Japan ease its restrictions on Canadian beef, when it began allowing cattle under 30 months of age (versus 21 months previously). It was a good news story, but the work of Czub and others is a reminder that ongoing research and constant vigilance is a must. — Alexis Kienlen

“A career- and lifechanging experience for me and for the farmers.”

Bin busters

Alberta researchers have their own version of “Own the Podium” — only they’re going for outrageously high yields instead of Olympic gold. In wheat trials conducted at three sites in Alberta, the goal was to reach 150 bushels an acre. Barrhead came close at 148 bushels per acre, but Lacombe took top spot with a whopping 151 bushels. Of course, farmers don’t have an unlimited budget for inputs but the Wheat 150 project provided insight into what gives the biggest bang for your buck. In this case, dual fungicide application was the “real winner,” said research scientist Sheri Strydhorst. Timely application was key. Applying both Headline fungicide

at the flag-leaf stage and Prosaro fungicide at head emergence gave the biggest yield boost, she said. But it was worth the effort and expense. “At Barrhead with those yield increases that we’re seeing with the dual fungicide less the cost of applying it, we’re seeing a return of $111 per acre,” said Strydhorst. “At Lacombe, because we did have the slightly higher yields, the return was $144 per acre. It’s a really wonderful return with these dual fungicide applications.” Researchers in the Barley 180 were interested in plant growth regulators and nitrogen as well as fungicide applications. They didn’t reach their 180-bushel-an-

acre target but managed a hefty 156 in one trial by using all three. Plant growth regulators are going to be a topic of discussion in coming years, predicted agronomist Steve Larocque. You have to precisely time their application, which makes them “finicky” to use, covering a lot of acres would be a big challenge, he said. But their ability to shorten the height of the crop and prevent lodging makes them worthy of more investigation, he said. “There’s really good promise in it,” Larocque said. “I’m not going to say there’s no risk involved, but it’s something we need to figure out how to use going forward.” — Jennifer Blair

Steve Larocque

Sheri Strydhorst

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38

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

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39

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • JANUARY 6, 2014

SEED/FEED/CROP INPUTS Specialty Crops Various

Bioriginal Food & Science Corp., based in Saskatoon, are looking to contract Borage acres for the upcoming 2014 growing season.

� �

Great profit potential based on yield, prices and low input costs. Attractive oil premiums and free seed delivery and on-farm pick-up. Flexible contracting options available as well. For more information, please contact Carl Lynn P.Ag. of Bioriginal at:

Combine ACCessories

Spraying EquipmEnt

Spraying EquipmEnt

TracTors

FARM MACHINERY Combine – Accessories

FARM MACHINERY Sprayers

FARM MACHINERY Sprayers

FARM MACHINERY Tractors – Various

RECONDITIONED COMBINE HEADERS. RIGID & flex, most makes & sizes; also header transports. Ed Lorenz, (306)344-4811 or Website: www.straightcutheaders.com Paradise Hill, SK.

LIVESTOCK/POULTRY/PETS Pets & Supplies Border Collie Pups: Out of good working parents. Over 20 years breeding - pups guaranteed. www.riverhillsranchltd.com Pam McIntyre (204)365-0372

FARM MACHINERY Parts & Accessories

306-229-9976 (cell) 306-975-9295 (office) crops@bioriginal.com

Crop Consulting

We also specialize in: Crop Insurance appeals; Chemical drift; Residual herbicide; Custom operator issues; Equipment malfunction; Yield comparisons, Plus Private Investigations of any nature. With our assistance the majority of our clients have received compensation previously denied. Back-Track Investigations investigates, documents your loss and assists in settling your claim. Licensed Agrologist on Staff. For more information Please call 1-866-882-4779 FARM/CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT

Baling Equipment WANTED: JD 7810 c/w FEL & 3-PTH; sp or PTO bale wagon; JD or IHC end wheel drills. Small square baler. (403)394-4401

CIH 9380 Quad w/ PTO and New motor 9280 Power Shift New Michelin Tires 9280 12 speed with 80% rubber 4720 JD Sprayer w/ boom track autosteer, 4700 90 ft very clean Fendt 920 low hrs GOOD SELECTION OF JD & CASE SP SPRAYERS AND 4WD TRACTORS

“LIKE MANY BEFORE, WE’LL HAVE YOU SAYING THERE’S NO DEAL LIKE A KEN DEAL” • Phone: (403)526-9644 • Cell: (403)504-4929 • Email: kendeal@shaw.ca

MISCELLANEOUS PRODUCTS/SERVICES

FARM CHEMICAL SEED COMPLAINTS

JD 9400, 9420, 9520, 8970 JD 9860, 9760, 9750, 9650, 9600 JD 9430, 9530, 9630 Case STX 375, 425, 430, 450, 480, 500, 530 CIH 8010-2388, 2188 combine CIH 435Q, 535Q, 450Q, 550Q, 600Q pto avail. JD 4710, 4720, 4730, 4830, 4920, 4930 SP sprayers JD 9770 & 9870 w/CM & duals CIH 3185, 3230, 3330, 4430, 4420 sprayers

NEW WOBBLE BOXES for JD, IH, MacDon headers. Made in Europe, factory quality. Get it direct from Western Canada’s sole distributor starting at $1,095. 1-800-667-4515. www.combineworld.com

Degelman 10 ft. Snow Pusher Blade Versatile 875 JD 4250 FWA, 280 loader JD 4440 loader available JD 2950 Complete with loader JD 7700 FWA loader JD 4230 loader available JD 4020 Complete with loader JD 2550, FWA ST 250 Steiger, tires new 20.8 x 38 CAT 272D Skidsteer, 800 Hrs Clamp on Duals, 20.8x38-18.4x38 158 & 148, 265, 740.280, JD loaders FINANCE, TRADES WELCOME 780-696-3527, BRETON, AB

FARMING

IS ENOUGH OF A GAMBLE...

Tillage & Seeding FARM MACHINERY Tillage & Seeding – Various

We know that farming is enough of a gamble so if you want to sell it fast place your ad in the Alberta Farmer Express classifieds. It’s a Sure Thing. Call our toll-free number today. We have friendly staff ready to help. 1-888-413-3325.

CARBIDE DRILL POINTS & openers for air drills. VW Manufacturing Ltd Dunmore (Medicine Hat) (403)528-3350 US: Loren Hawks Chester, Montana (406)460-3810 www.vwmfg.com

Stretch your advertising dollars! Place an ad in the classifieds. Our friendly staff is waiting for your call. 1-888-413-3325.

Farming is enough of a gamble, advertise in the Alberta Farmer Express classified section. It’s a sure thing. 1-888-413-3325.

FARM MACHINERY Machinery Miscellaneous

FARM MACHINERY Machinery Miscellaneous

Stretch your ADVERTISING DOLLAR!

1-888-413-3325

Advertise in the Alberta Farmer Express Classifieds, it’s a Sure Thing!

1-888-413-3325 FARM MACHINERY Machinery Miscellaneous

FARM MACHINERY Machinery Miscellaneous

AUTOS/TRUCKS/TRAILERS Trucks 2003 GM 1500 PICK-UP, 5.3 V8, auto trans., complete w/topper. Good winter starter, excellent condition. Phone:(403)886-4285. FARM/CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT

Combines Various

Why would you buy a used John Deere? For the same reasons you’d buy new.

COMBINE WORLD located 20 min. E of Saskatoon, SK on Hwy. #16. 1 year warranty on all new, used, and rebuilt parts. Canada’s largest inventory of late model combines & swathers. 1-800-667-4515 www.combineworld.com

SEED/FEED MISCELLANEOUS Grain Wanted BUYING HEATED/DAMAGED PEAS, FLAX & GRAIN “On Farm Pickup” Westcan Feed & Grain 1-877-250-5252 BUYING SPRING THRASHED CANOLA & GRAIN “On Farm Pickup” Westcan Feed & Grain 1-877-250-5252 Hit our readers where it counts… in the classifieds. Place your ad in the Alberta Farmer Express classifed section. 1-888-413-3325. Round up the cash! Advertise your unwanted equipment in the Alberta Farmer Express classifieds.

BOW VALLEY TRADING LTD.

WE BUY DAMAGED GRAIN Wheat, Barley, Oats, Peas, etc. Green or Heated Canola/Flax

1-877-641-2798

BUYING:

HEATED & GREEN CANOLA • Competitive Prices • Prompt Movement • Spring Thrashed “ON FARM PICK UP”

1-877-250-5252

CANOLA WANTED Buying Tough, Heated, Green, Canola, Freight Options, Prompt Payment Bonded and Insured

There are many reasons to buy a pre-owned John Deere tractor or combine, and they all come down to one thing. Value. Technology. Consider–a 3-year old John Deere 8R. When it came off the line it was AutoTrac™ Ready and JDLink™ enabled*. With one phone call to your dealer, you can begin using precision technology to help reduce inputs, improve yields, and get more done in less time. Uptime. You can’t make money standing still. Pre-owned John Deere equipment, like a 9770 Combine, comes fully supported by your John Deere dealer. The pay-off: reliable, consistent performance, backed by an unrivaled dealer network. Resale value. John Deere tractors and combines are among the best in the industry at holding their value. So when the time comes and you’re ready to trade up to another used or new John Deere tractor or combine, your investment delivers yet again. Now is a great time to buy. Visit MachineƟnder.com to search our impressive selection of used John Deere equipment, then schedule some time with your John Deere dealer and ask about special pre-owned deals and incentives. Special Ɵnancing also available through John Deere Financial. New or new-to-you, Nothing Runs Like a Deere.™ *Activation/subscription required. Some additional accessories and/or components may be required. See dealer for details.

MachineFinder.com

CALL 1-866-388-6284 www.milliganbiofuels.com

57240-3AE_8.125x10.indd 1

10/29/13 7:37 AM


40

JANUARY 6, 2014 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

FARM MACHINERY Tractors – Various

FARM MACHINERY Machinery Miscellaneous

Big Tractor Parts, RON SAUER MACHINERY LTD. Inc. Geared For The Future

STEIGER TRACTOR SPECIALIST

RED OR GREEN 1. 10-25% savings on new replacement parts for your Steiger drive train. 2. We rebuild axles, transmissions and dropboxes with ONE YEAR WARRANTY. 3. 50% savings on used parts.

1-800-982-1769 www.bigtractorparts.com

FARM MACHINERY Machinery Miscellaneous 1999 CAT 460 1,400 sep. hrs, rake up $78,000; 2005 MacDon 922, 16-ft DK, $13,000; 2000 MacDon 972, 25-ft DK, DS, pick-up reel, $15,000; Bergen swath mover, $2,700; Road King ground loadstock trailer, 8 x 42.5-ft, will haul 25 cows, $12,500. Call:(403)665-2341, Craigmyle, AB. ACREAGE EQUIPMENT: CULTIVATORS, DISCS, Plows, Blades, Post pounders, Haying Equipment, Etc. (780)892-3092, Wabamun, Ab. QUONSET NEW IN CRATE, 35x52x18, $20,000; JD dozer blade w/guard fits 8970 16-ft. 6 way, $15,000; MF 860 & 20-ft. straight cut, $7,000; Ford 5000 w/ loader, $7,500; Vac sewer tank & pump, $14,000; Rotex SR7 power parachute 300-hrs, for parts, $3,000; Tree Farmer skidder $4,500; Bison head squeeze, $4,500; 2004 Rumble Bee short box, $11,500; Stock trailer, 43-ft. 3, 12,000-lb. axles gooseneck, no price. OBO. Downsizing! (306)236-8023.

FARMING IS ENOUGH OF A GAMBLE...

(403) 540-7691 ronsauer@shaw.ca

895 Versatile 4WD Tractor - 30.5 x 32 M & 24.5 x 32 duals, 6,000 hrs., clean unit, runs great ................ $29,500 B 275 IHC Diesel Tractor, 3 pth, pto, runs good ......$4,250 31’ Flexicoil B Chisel Plow Extensions Included, extends to 41’, 3 bar harrows, excellent condition.............. $12,500 Flexicoil 6 Run Seed Treater .............................. $2,000 134’ Flexicoil S68XL Sprayer, 2007, suspended boom, auto rate, joystick, rinse tank, triple quick jets, auto boom height, electric end nozzle & foam marker............. $39,500 100’ 65XL Flexicoil Sprayer, complete with windguards, elec. end nozzles dual tips, markers ........................ $5,500 30’ 8230 CIH PT Swather, PU reel, nice shape, . $10,000 25’ 8225 CIH PT Swather, PU reel, nice shape .... $9,500 25’ 1200 Hesston PT Swather, bat reel, good .... $5,500 30’ 4600 Prairie Star PT Swather, bat reel, good ....$5,500 30’ 1900 Premier PT Swather, bat reel, good .... $5,500 10 Wheel MATR (Italy) Trailer Type V-Hayrake, hyd. fold, as new.................................................. $5,000 14 Wheel Enorossi V-Hayrake extra contour wheels, as new .............................................................. $11,500 8 x 1200 Sakundiak Auger, 25 HP Koehler, Hawes mover, clutch, nice condition .............................................. $12,500 7 x 1200 Sakundiak Auger, 18 HP Koehler engine, looks and runs good..................................................$3,500 8 x 1400 Sakundiak Auger, 25HP Robin, Hawes mover, clutch, excellent condition ....................................... $12,500 8 x 1400 Sakundiak Auger, 25 HP Koehler, Hawes mover, clutch, reversing gear box, lights, spout, excellent condition ................................................. $13,000 8” Wheatheart Sweep, complete with motor & pump, like new ..................................................................$1,250 New E-Kay 7”, 8”, 9” Bin Sweeps .........................Call Jiffy Feed Wagon, like new, hardly used, shedded .....$9,250 8” Wheat Heart Transfer Auger, as new............ $1,500 New Outback MAX & STX guidance & mapping ...In Stock New Outback E-Drive, TC’s .................................In Stock New Outback E-Drive X, c/w free E turns ............In Stock New Outback S-Lite guidance ................... In Stock $900 New Outback VSI Swather Steering Kit...........In Stock New Outback E-Drive Hyd. kit, JD 40 series ........ $1,000 Used Outback E-Drive Hyd. kits..............................$500

**NuVision, Sakundiak & Farm King Augers, Outback GPS Systems, EK Auger Movers, Belt Tighteners, Bin Sweeps, & Crop Dividers, Kohler & Robin Subaru engines, Degelman, Headsight Harvesting Solutions, Greentronics Sprayer Boom Auto Height, Kello-Bilt Discs**

FARM MACHINERY Machinery Wanted

HEAT & AIR CONDITIONING

The Icynene Insulation System® • Sprayed foam insulation • Ideal for shops, barns or homes • Healthier, Quieter, More Energy Efficient®

www.penta.ca

1-800-587-4711

LIVESTOCK LIVESTOCK Cattle Various

NORTH CENTRAL CATTLE CO-OP

Up to $1500 per bred heifer or $1700 per cow/calf pair.

ORGANIC Organic – Grains

TIRES

Bioriginal Food & Science Corp., based in Saskatoon, is actively buying Organic Flax from the 2013 crop year. If interested, please send an 8lb sample* to the following address: Attn: Sandy Jolicoeur Bioriginal Food & Science Corp. 102 Melville Street Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7J 0R1 *Please state the Variety & Quantity for Sale

New 30.5L-32 16 ply, $2,195; 20.8-38 12 ply $795; 18.4-38 12 ply; $789; 24.5-32 14 ply, $1,749; 14.9-24 12 ply, $486; 16.9-28 12 ply $558, 18.4-26 10 ply, $890. Factory direct. More sizes available new and used. 1-800-667-4515. www.combineworld.com

For more information, please contact Sandy at:

TRAVEL

306-975-9251 306-975-1166 purchasing@bioriginal.com

AGRICULTURAL TOURS

SEED / FEED / GRAIN SEED/FEED MISCELLANEOUS Feed Grain BUYING ALL TYPES OF feed grain. Also have market for light offgrade or heated, picked up on the farm. Eisses Grain Marketing 1-888-882-7803, Lacombe. FEED GRAIN WANTED! ALSO buying; Light, tough, or offgrade grains. “On Farm Pickup” Westcan Feed & Grain 1-877-250-5252

India ~ Feb 2014 Vietnam/Cambodia/Thailand ~ Mar 2014 China ~ March 2014 Ireland & Scotland ~ June 2014 Ukraine ~ June 2014 Australia/New Zealand ~ 2015 *Portion of tours may be Tax Deductible

Select Holidays 1-800-661-4326

www.selectholidays.com

LOW FEES!

Administration 1.75% Insurance $5.00 per head. For more information please call: Coralea Pavoll | Secretary/Treasurer 780-724-3872 Harry Jacula | Supervisor 780-853-2361

WANTED: NH BALE WAGONS & retrievers, any condition. Farm Equipment Finding Service, P.O. Box 1363, Polson, MT 59860. (406)883-2118

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1-888-413-3325

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ALBERTA

SASKATCHEWAN


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