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Not all cattlemen happy with JBS deal

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NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Japanese seek assurances of continued wheat quality FILLING GAP  Cigi taking lead in reaching out to former CWB customers

CONCENTRATION 

R-CALF says the JBS takeover will hurt competition in the U.S. BY SHERI MONK

AF STAFF / PINCHER CREEK

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-CALF USA says it’s not happy with the news JBS USA will operate and perhaps purchase XL Foods, now reopened after several weeks of being shut down due to E. coli contamination. It wasn’t just XL’s Brooks plant on the table — the deal comes with a plant in Calgary and two cow-killing plants in the U.S., one in Idaho and one in Nebraska. While much of the Canadian industry was celebrating the agreement after fearing Lakeside might be closed forever, R-CALF USA is less enthusiastic. The controversial American cattle organization has requested the U.S. government investigate what effect the potential change of ownership would have on the American live cattle market, and on the consumers’ beef market. “The threat to our cattle industry’s fast-receding competitive marketplace is real,” said R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard. In a letter to the U.S. government, Bullard said JBS would become the second-largest Canadian packer, and likely largest or second-largest packer in the U.S. if the deal goes through. Brazilian-based JBS SA is the parent company of JBS USA, and is currently the largest beef processor in the world. “R-CALF USA has long held that both U.S. cattle producers and U.S. consumers already are being exploited by monopsony and monopolistic practices facilitated by the monopolistic structure of the U.S. cattle and beef markets in which JBS USA and only three other firms control approximately 82 per cent,” said Bullard.

ROUNDUP:

Satoru Koyajima holds an example of a product his company manufactures in Japan. He was at the Canadian International Grains Institute to learn more about Canadian durum. PHOTO: SHANNON VANRAES BY SHANNON VANRAES STAFF/WINNIPEG

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atoru Koyajima likes the quality of the Canadian durum, but wonders if it will be there in the future. “We are a little bit concerned now that the Canadian Wheat Board is not operating as it used to,” he said through a translator. But the research and development leader with Japan’s largest pasta producer was in Winnipeg last month to be convinced that he can still rely on Canada. “I’m hoping I can gather some information,” said Koyajima.

That hope is shared by the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi), which hosted 15 millers and pasta makers from Japan for a program focused on Canadian durum. “I think the role that Cigi plays, especially in the transition period, is that of assuring customers that Canada is still producing the best wheat and durum in the world, and that Canada can still deliver the best wheat in the world,” said Earl Geddes, the institute’s executive director. Founded in 1972, Cigi’s aim is to create profitable opportunities for Canadian field crops by sharing technical expertise, as well as offering training and support.

But since April, the organization has run programs like this without the direction of the Canadian Wheat Board, which used to be its main source of funds. Previously, the board would look at its customers and decide where a program would be most beneficial before inviting a group to participate. Now Cigi is relying on its farmer and industry advisory committees for direction. “So this is the first time we’ve done it just as Cigi, with advice from our industry partners, so it’s new to us in that regard,” said Geddes.

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news » inside this week

inside » Just a family company JBS grows from five to 90,000 head per day

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

livestock

crops 

Goats next to be tagged

Micronutrient firm recognized

columNists

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NEWS Resort taps into “cow power” to get skiers to the summit reuters Cow manure will be used to power skiers to the top of a Vermont resort this winter as part of a growing effort to generate electricity from a byproduct of the state’s iconic dairy farms. Killington, one of the largest ski resorts in New England, will use 300,000 kilowatt hours of electricity made from manure generated on 13 farms this year to run its K-1 Express Gondola to the top of the resort’s namesake 4,241-foot peak. The manure-generated electricity is distributed through a renewable energy program at Green Mountain Power, the state’s largest utility. The “cow power” program now generates five megawatts using manure from 10,000 of the state’s 270,000 cattle, and consumes 300,000 gallons of manure per day. “We’re always looking at ways to be environmentally efficient and we’re always looking forward to ways to help farmers,” said Sarah Thorson, a spokeswoman for the ski resort. Vermont power customers including Long Trail Brewing Company, Middlebury College and Woodchuck Hard Cider pay a premium of $.04 per kilowatt hour to offset additional costs of the renewable energy scheme. Killington is the first ski resort in Vermont to use manure power.

19

The beef business has changed, so must producers

Daniel Bezte

27

Producers asked for input on national I.D.

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Manning award for innovative technology

25

Forecasts — using science, or a dartboard

48

Farmfair becoming a venue for high-end genetics sales celebration } Annual event stays true to ag focus with more attractions and judging, a workshop on livestock photography and a canine presentation. Fiddler says a genomics showcase will feature the latest in the genomics technology and show visitors where the technology is heading. “Producers can take that technology and turn it into profit,” said Fiddler. “I’m really excited about what that might mean to them.”

by alexis kienlen af staff / edmonton

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dmonton’s annual celebration of western heritage, rodeo and agriculture returns this week. Farmfair International and the Canadian Finals Rodeo are the two feature events of the River City Round Up Festival, held throughout Edmonton from Nov. 4 to 11. “It continues to be one of Canada’s top agricultural shows. We expect to have 93,000 guests come into Northlands Edmonton Expo Centre to see the show and top-quality livestock,” said Richard Andersen, president and chief executive officer of Northlands. This year, Farmfair will be welcoming international guests from the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, Russia and Brazil, as well as local ranchers. The fair is an opportunity for guests to show, sell and buy top-rated livestock and agriculture-related products. Dave Fiddler, show manager, said Farmfair International is attracting a higher level of international visitor. “We’re not huge in our number of international visitors, but we’ve got in-country ambassadors in Australia, Brazil and Mexico who are representing Farmfair internationally and they’re bringing qualified buyers to the show, representing a significant international 9/29/12

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Rodeo

Northlands president and chief executive officer Richard Andersen expects 93,000 guests at River City Round Up this year.  Photo: Alexis Kienlen

business component. This is attracting a very sophisticated Canadian exhibitor that is positioned well to do export,” he said.

Outside the ring

Farmfair will continue to present cattle and equine shows, competitions and clinics. This year, Farmfair hosts the Canadian National Lowline Show as well as the Western Canadian National Hereford Show. This year’s newest market-

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Is the pork industry’s business model broken?

Brenda Schoepp

Edible bean growers smiling After a run of bad luck, good prospects this year

Bernie Peet

Call your Salford dealer today, or visit

ing opportunity is Cattle Drive, which provides producers the opportunity to promote and display their genetics outside of the traditional show ring. Herd sires, offspring and featured genetics will be on display. Guests at Farmfair can also check out the stock dog competition, alpaca show, team penning and the Heritage Ranch rodeo. Farmfair celebrates 4-H day, which features a number of activities including a commercial bred heifer viewing

The Canadian Finals Rodeo runs from November 7 to 11 and brings together top competitors in major events while showcasing the best bucking stock and rodeo animals, said Les McIntyre, one of the rodeo announcers with CFR. Top rodeo contestants will compete in bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping, ladies barrel racing, saddle bronc riding and bull riding and take away $1.4 million in prizes. Farmfair and the Canadian Finals Rodeo are now seen as the signature events of a larger, city-wide festival called the River City Round Up. The event has been around for eight or nine years, but has only been affiliated with Northlands for two years. “At the request of the mayor and the city, we took on a leadership role with it,” explained Andersen. For the complete schedule of events visit www. farmfair.ca.

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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Western alfalfa seed industry not ready for Roundup Coexistence } Efforts are underway to find ways GM alfalfa can be grown in Eastern Canada By Allan Dawson fbc Staff

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fforts to commercialize genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready alfalfa in Eastern Canada can’t be done without harming forage seed exports from Western Canada, according to Manitoba forage seed officials. “I’m very concerned because I do not believe there’s any way to restrict the seed to Eastern Canada,” Kurt Shmon, president of Winnipeg-based Imperial Seed, said in an interview Oct 26. “There’s just no way to do it.”

Kelvin Einarson, a forage seed farmer near Hnausa, Man., agrees. Both made their case Oct. 24 at a workshop in Kitchener, Ont., hosted by the Canadian Seed Trade Association looking for ways to allow Roundup Ready alfalfa production in Eastern Canada to coexist with organic and conventional production. Although Roundup Ready is approved in Canada, Forage Genetics International, the firm licensed by Monsanto to sell the seed, has agreed to consult with the industry before commercialization. “The meeting was about

(introducing Roundup Ready alfalfa in) Eastern Canada and it’s very clear the West is different so this was a meeting about the East,” Canadian Seed Grower Association president Stephen Denys said in an interview. “When either the participants in the western business or the commercializing companies want to talk about the West, either way, the West will have to be tackled on its own.”

Opposed to commercialization

Einarson represented Forage Seed Canada, an umbrella group that

Roundup Ready alfalfa may move out of the test tube to fields in Eastern Canada.  ©thinkstock

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speaks for provincial forage seed associations. Western forage seed farmers and processors oppose commercializing Roundup Ready alfalfa, even if restricted to the East, he said. “Once it’s introduced into Canada it’s eventually going to make its way into the forage seed-producing areas,” Einarson said. If it is kept out of Canada, there are opportunities to expand exports to markets such as Europe and Japan that want GM-free seed. The U.S. is unable to assure customers of non-GM supplies. The risks to Canada’s alfalfa export markets aren’t justified by the benefits, Shmon said. “When Canada is such an exporting nation I do not understand why we want to paint ourselves into a corner,” he said. “It’s not worth the risk.” Denys said some of the risk is mitigated by restricting GM alfalfa production to the East, which is far away from western alfalfa seed fields. Most of the alfalfa grown in the East is farm fed. Strict contracts would discourage eastern farmers from selling the seed to western farmers, he said. As well, cutting GM alfalfa before it flowers prevents its genes from spreading to non-GM fields, Denys said. Feral alfalfa isn’t as widespread in the East as it is in the West. The next step is for the workshop’s consultants to work on “best management” practices to avoid the spread of Roundup Ready alfalfa if it’s introduced in Eastern Canada. It’s important for the industry to develop a coexistence protocol for future GM crops, Denys said.

“Ultimately it’s up to the commercializing company,” he said. “It’s not the decision of the seed association or the stakeholders. The commercializing companies have indicated very strongly that they will not bring it into the market here until the coexistence plan is in place.”

Risks too high

It will be nearly impossible to prevent Roundup Ready alfalfa from spreading, Einarson said. Alfalfa is a perennial crop and, at least in the West, grows feral almost everywhere. And while farmers might intend on cutting their alfalfa before it blooms weather can easily delay it, he said. Volunteering Roundup Ready alfalfa is another concern as is the increase in Roundup Ready resistance weeds, Einarson said. Most farmers include grasses when they seed alfalfa for hay. That means they won’t grow Roundup Ready because spraying the field with glyphosate would kill those grasses, he said. In 2011 a field of Roundup Ready alfalfa was discovered on a Saskatchewan Hutterite Colony. Although Roundup Ready alfalfa is approved in Canada, the colony didn’t have a licence to grow it, since it’s not available for commercial sale in Canada, Monsanto spokesperson Trish Jordan said. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency oversaw the crop’s destruction, which was less than 20 acres in size, she said. The field was monitored in 2012 for volunteer alfalfa. Since the farmer co-operated fully, Monsanto didn’t sue the colony for unlicensed and unauthorized use of its technology, Jordan said.

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NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

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

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

Shawna Gibson Email: shawna@fbcpublishing.com

Is JBS the white knight that can save XL?

Director of Sales & Circulation

Smart operators } JBS didn’t get to be the world’s

Sheri Monk, Pincher Creek (403) 627-9108 sheri.monk@fbcpublishing.com

PRODUCTION director

largest by paying too much for labour or cattle

Lynda Tityk Email: lynda.tityk@fbcpublishing.com

CIRCULATION manager Heather Anderson Email: heather@fbcpublishing.com

By will verboven

Alberta Farmer | Editor

national ADVERTISING SALES James Shaw Phone: 416-231-1812 Fax: 416-233-4858 Email: jamesshaw@rogers.com

classified ADVERTISING SALES Maureen Heon Phone: 1-888-413-3325 Fax: 403-341-0615 Email: maureen@fbcpublishing.com

ADVERTISING Co-ordinator Arlene Bomback Phone: 204-944-5765 Fax: 204-944-5562 Email: ads@fbcpublishing.com

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Associate PUBLISHER/editorial director John Morriss Email: john.morriss@fbcpublishing.com

Printed by Gazette Press, St. Albert, AB The Alberta Farmer Express is published 26 times a year by Farm Business Communications. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage for our publishing activities. Publications mail agreement number 40069240 Canadian Postmaster: Send address changes and undeliverable addresses (covers only) to Circulation Dept., P.O. Box 9800, Winnipeg, MB R3C 3K7

ISSN 1481-3157 Call

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T

here seemed to be a collective sigh of relief from the western Canadian cattle and beef industry when it was announced that JBS would be taking over management of the XL Foods Lakeside beef plant in Brooks. The reality is that there was a very good possibility that the plant was not going to reopen unless a white knight came to the rescue. The financial hit the Nilsson brothers were going to have to take along with the ongoing acrimony between them and the CFIA would have made the operation difficult to start up again. It’s been estimated that the losses, including recalls, lawsuits, hedges, contracts etc. will be around $100 million. JBS wisely separated itself from any outstanding or future liabilities incurred by XL Foods before agreeing to manage the plant. The arrival of JBS to rescue the plant is no surprise. Company representatives at cattle industry events over the past year have indicated that they were actively looking for a way to expand their operations into Canada. For the giant global JBS organization, Canada was one of the last significant beef-producing countries where they did not have a serious presence. One suspects that JBS might already have had exploratory talks with XL prior to the E. coli debacle. Clearly that event would have expedited any interest JBS had in acquiring XL. It seems to have the best deal — figure out if the plant can make money and if it does, buy it. If not, walk away. But if the industry is now relieved that JBS

has arrived to save the day, that morningafter feeling may not be so pleasant once the company figures out what it needs to do to get the plant back on its feet. If there is one observation that the industry agrees upon it is that JBS knows how to operate big beef plants — its global success surely proves that. It has become known for acquiring processing plants that are in financial or operating difficulty and turning them around into viable operations. The question that should arise for those who have a stake in the Brooks plant, from feedlot operators to plant workers, is how does it turn losers into winners? I expect the formula is pretty simple.

Worldwide expertise

First the positive side of the formula — JBS’s expertise in massive production will see its experience used to streamline efficiencies in the plant like never before. Next, its global marketing presence bodes well for increasing Canadian beef exports to new markets. JBS is easily equal to, or even better at Cargill in competing for markets anywhere, and has the deep pockets to wage market share battles with anyone. In addition, its sheer corporate global size and expertise should garner it some respect from the prickly CFIA. That should help in re-establishing realistic plant food safety programs and inspection protocols. There is of course the other side of the coin in achieving plant viability and profitability — cost reduction. There would be a number of ways to do that and a longtime operator like JBS would know all the angles. If one agrees that JBS knows how to operate a big, low-cost beef plant, it would surely know how to buy cattle at the lowest price.

I expect that after the initial honeymoon period is over, feedlot operators are going to be faced with newly inspired JBS cattle buyers who will do what they have to, to acquire cattle at the lowest price. The reality is that meat plants anywhere are not usually successful because they have an overly generous livestock-buying policy. It was discouraging to see the belligerence of the plant union boss in almost cheering the demise of the Nilsson’s management of the plant. Union officials may yet come to regret the loss of those good times if the other shoe drops in making the plant viable. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the other way to plant profitability is to radically reduce labour costs. One expects JBS operating expertise will see efficiencies implemented to reduce labour, and that probably will not mean reducing the line speed by half. In fact the production realities of JBS management may well come home to haunt the plant workers and their union. For instance, meat processing and labour costs are considerably higher in Canada than they are in the U.S. The possibility is that JBS after some learning experience may just decide to eliminate most meat fabrication jobs at Brooks and ship carcasses to their underutilized American plants where labour costs are significantly lower. Considering the attitude and history of the union at the Brooks plant, one can see labour relations turning sour sooner or later. One doesn’t like to rain on the parade of industry relief, but there is a reality with the Brooks plant. If JBS can’t make it successful, it’s not going to buy it. If that happens the plant’s life may be over. It’s changed hands four times now and there may be no more white knights left to save it again.

or U.S. subscribers call 1-204-944-5568 For more information on The Alberta Farmer Express and subscriptions to other Farm Business Communications products, or visit our web site at:

www.albertafarmexpress.ca or email: subscription@fbcpublishing.com At Farm Business Communications we have a firm commitment to protecting your privacy and security as our customer. Farm Business Communications will only collect personal information if it is required for the proper functioning of our business. As part of our commitment to enhance customer service, we may share this personal information with other strategic business partners. For more information regarding our Customer Information Privacy Policy, write to: Information Protection Officer, Farm Business Communications, 1666 Dublin Ave., Wpg., MB R3H 0H1 Occasionally we make our list of subscribers available to other reputable firms whose products and services might be of interest to you. If you would prefer not to receive such offers, please contact us at the address in the preceding paragraph, or call 1-800-665-0502. The editors and journalists who write, contribute and provide opinions to Alberta Farmer Express and Farm Business Communications attempt to provide accurate and useful opinions, information and analysis. However, the editors, journalists and Alberta Farmer Express and Farm Business Communications, cannot and do not guarantee the accuracy of the information contained in this publication and the editors as well as Alberta Farmer Express and Farm Business Communications assume no responsibility for any actions or decisions taken by any reader for this publication based on any and all information provided.

Beef industry report almost tells the whole story By will verboven

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n agricultural think-tank called the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) has released a study on the direction of the cattle industry and its future ramifications. The future it seems doesn’t look all that promising, since the study brings to light some of the inherent weakness and challenges of the present industry. The study, which was partially financed by the Alberta Meat and Livestock Agency, is not the first study about the realities of the cattle and beef industry in Canada, but it is more up front and direct than most past efforts. The problem it has — as do most such studies — is will it be taken seriously and acted upon, or will it be filed away in that place were so many other well-meaning studies end up? The study, in a tactful way, hints at the need for different leadership in the cattle industry to face the marketing reality and to take some dramatic steps. That no doubt ruffled some feathers within the ranks of many existing cattle producer and beef industry groups. Those folks figure they already are the leadership. The report tries to dodge that reaction by suggesting various initiatives need champions to carry them out. It’s not clear where those champions are to come from, nor who will pay for their time and effort, never mind the lack of power such champions would have outside the existing

industry and government leadership establishment. One suspects that the authors were treading carefully on the issue of industry leadership that got us to where we are now, and who should lead us to marketing salvation. One hesitates to suggest a followup study, but it would seem pertinent in this case to suggest who and what kind of leadership it will take to redirect the cattle and beef industry. Such a study would need a critical review of the present leadership structure, along with robust, honest and courageous recommendations to establish the effective leadership needed to carry out the study initiatives. That won’t be easy considering the political nature of the industry. The primary production, feeding, processing, and the retail marketing sectors of the industry have been mutually antagonistic since the beginnings of the business. That’s evolved into a baffling political structure based on self-interest. Some years ago a report noted that in Alberta there were 26 organizations, committees, agencies, advisory councils, roundtables and myriad other ad hoc groups of every stripe all claiming to represent cattle producers and the beef industry. That doesn’t help industry unity and many are sensitive to any threat to their turf or leadership. That’s the biggest hurdle, so a study that would give the industry a clear road map as to how to resolve industry disunity is the real first step. If that can be done the rest will be easy.


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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Calling the XL Foods E. coli alert a crisis is irresponsible RESPONSE  When the problem was detected, the system went into action the way it’s supposed to BY TODD HIRSCH

W

hat is it about people that we’re so attracted to economic panic and alarm? Are the business pages and economic news stories so bland and lifeless that we need to stir up crises out of nothing? Consider one of the biggest news stories this fall in Alberta: the E. coli situation. Several weeks ago, there was a serious breach of safety standards at one of Canada’s largest beef-packing facilities in Brooks, Alta. Meat tainted with E. coli ended up on supermarket shelves, and several people grew ill. It was a real problem. But it is not a “crisis” — and referring to the problem as a crisis is not only exaggeration, but it borders on irresponsible. A crisis is a word reserved for things like tsunamis, terrorism, famine and financial collapse. Situations like NHL hockey strikes, traffic congestion, rising unemployment, and Dutch elm disease are serious and need to be addressed. But they are not crises — and Alberta’s E. coli situation falls into this category. Commentators have been quick to point out how the system failed Canadians. Politicians, quick to gain a political edge on the back of an unfortunate situation, have referred to it (irresponsibly) as the tainted meat scandal. Indeed, parts of the system did fail, particularly since it was American meat inspectors who detected the problem.

Still, most parts of the system worked precisely as they should have. When the problem was brought to light (admittedly a bit late), a massive meat recall went into action. Through Canada’s highly advanced tracking system, it is possible to know precisely where each beef product came from — the farm, the cow, the slaughterhouse, the beef packer. And that tracking system was able to remove all of the potentially unsafe beef products off the shelves in short order. While several beef consumers did become ill, no one died — which would have been the mark of a true system failure.

It was a real problem. But it is not a “crisis” — and referring to the problem as a crisis is not only exaggeration, but it borders on irresponsible. Effect on farmers

There are two primary economic threats that could have arisen out of the E. coli situation. The first is the immediate hit to cattle prices received by farmers. Within days

1,333 wasted cattle

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n the morning of Oct. 22, I woke up, made coffee and turned on the TV to my favourite news channel. The first thing I saw was the story on the landfill at Brooks, Alberta and the truckloads of meat being dumped and buried there. My first reaction was shock as to the volume of a million pounds of beef. Then it brought a tear to my eyes as I realized what it really meant. It meant that nearly 1,333 head of cattle were wasted, and some of those wasted animals could have been ones that I raised. As a rancher I have a social contract with my animals. I provide feed, water and shelter to them and in turn they provide their young to feed Canadians. As part of the contract I am to be humane to them, not to abuse them or mistreat them, to care for them if they are ill, to provide assistance if they need it during birth and above all, to ensure

their young are cared for and that their short lives are not wasted. Now through an act of man’s greed these some 1,333 lives were wasted. These were living beings that gave their lives to nurture us — not to be dumped as garbage into landfills. We have a moral responsibility to ensure we do not mistreat or waste these animals. They deserve better. Canadians must get involved and demand accountability for this wanton waste and demand our food system be restructured so that no more XLs occur. Write your MLA, MPP, MP and county and city councillors and demand change — and demand to be part of that change. And yes please light a candle and place it in your window for those 1,333 wasted lives. Neil Peacock NFU board member Sexsmith, Alta.

of the facility closure, a backlog of animals ready for slaughter started to put downward pressure on prices at cattle auctions around the province. The facility accounts for about a third of Canada’s total slaughter capacity, and if it cannot receive livestock, things back up quickly. The cattle rancher cannot ask his animals to stop eating, no matter how politely he might ask. Cattle are funny that way. Secondly, and perhaps more seriously, there is an enormous reputational threat to the Canadian beef industry if consumers lose confidence in the product. Thousands of ranchers and hundreds of other workers in the beef-

packing and distribution industry are at risk — and for a problem not of their making. For each additional day the E. coli situation remains in the media, and for each time someone calls it a crisis or a tainted meat scandal, fewer shoppers will feel like picking up that roast or steak for the barbecue. And once a reputation is seriously impaired, it is a long, uphill battle in winning back the trust and respect of consumers. Fortunately, it appears that neither of these two threats to Alberta’s and Canada’s beef industry will amount to much. There have been a series of improvements and safety changes, including a corporate takeover of the facility. These should help bolster confidence and rectify the problem very soon. Cattle prices are unlikely to sustain too much of a needless hit, and shoppers are likely to lose any fear of beef they may have suffered when the problem arose. All of that is positive — not only for cattle ranchers but for the provincial economy. While the energy sector tends to capture most of the attention, the importance of agriculture to Alberta should not be forgotten. The E. coli situation was a serious problem. But it never was a crisis, and once all of the remaining hurdles have been cleared in the coming weeks, it will be time for everyone to move on and throw another juicy T-bone steak on the barbecue! Todd Hirsch is senior economist with ATB Financial. Troy Media.

Lack of worker protection embarrassing W ill Verboven’s excellent challenge to both the premier and the agriculture industry’s inaction and silence on Occupational Health and Safety standards is important. Albertans want to know that their food is produced while providing our labour force with the best of protection of their health, compensation and human rights. The fact the temporary foreign workers are, by international agreement, required to work within these standards while in

Alberta raises an embarrassing contradiction for homegrown workers. When is this international embarrassment going to end? Albertans deserve better and farmworkers (including children) deserve better. David Swann MD Official Opposition of Alberta MLA for Calgary-MountainView Calgary


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OFF THE FRONT

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

JAPANESE WHEAT  from page 1

BRIEFS

Specific requirements

The Cigi-Japan Durum Wheat Program has also been changed to reflect changes in the Japanese market. “Japan’s durum millers and pasta processors have very significant and specific quality requirements,” said Esey Assefaw, head of Asian products and extrusion technology at Cigi. “The Japanese pasta market is going through considerable changes brought about by economic factors and changes in consumer preferences.” Koyajima said more people are now reheating noodles, making the texture even more important for consumers. “In Japan, consumers are going frequently to convenience stores and they are looking for pasta lunch boxes, and also frozen pasta,” he said. “But still, (they) are looking for a very high-quality pasta.” Those consumers are also looking for lower prices. “Therefore, Japanese manufacturers are trying to bring the costs down,” said Koyajima. Cigi wants to understand these market changes better, and also

Climate threat to world’s poor is underestimated

Satoru Koyajima leads research and development at Japan’s largest pasta manufacturer. He was at the Canadian International Grains Institute to learn more about Canadian durum. PHOTO: SHANNON VANRAES work to help Japanese manufacturers meet these new demands, said Geddes. The Japanese market relies on nearly 100 per cent Canadian durum, the equivalent of about 240,000 tonnes each year. They also buy the highest quality, often at the highest

price, adds the executive director. But even as the institute works with countries like Japan, as well as many others — it was just finishing a program with Germans and Americans — Geddes said other organizations are working at a cross-purpose.

Marketing agencies, such as U.S. Wheat Associates, have worked to convince some clients that Canada can’t deliver in post-single-desk system,” he said. “Of course that is just wrong,” said Geddes. “And we have to spend some time dispelling that myth.”

LONDON / REUTERS Climate change will greatly increase the suffering of the world’s poor, says Oxfam. More frequent extreme weather events will create shortages, destabilize markets, and cause price spikes on top of projected structural price rises of about 100 per cent for staples such as maize over the next 20 years, the charity said in a report. “For vulnerable people, sudden and extreme price hikes can be more devastating than gradual long-term rises to which they may have more chance of adjusting,” the report states. “Though the price spike and coping strategies may be short term, the impacts are often felt across generations. An increase in malnutrition can cause stunting and reduce developmental potential in young children.”

Potash Corporation to temporarily idle mines as demand wanes REUTERS Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, the world’s largest producer of its namesake soil nutrient, said it will shut down two of its mines for eight weeks to match supply to demand. The company’s biggest mine, at Lanigan, Sask., will close between Nov. 18 and Jan. 12, while the Rocanville, Sask., mine will be shut from Dec. 2 to Jan. 26.

FCC recognized among best employers in Canada

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Farm Credit Canada (FCC) has been ranked fifth in Maclean’s magazine’s top 50 Best Employers in Canada rankings, the 10th year in a row that it has been named for the award. The annual list is based on the results of the 2012 Aon Hewitt survey that gauges the level of employee engagement in participating companies. “Making the Best Employers in Canada list is rewarding, but it’s really a side benefit of the survey,” FCC president and CEO Greg Stewart said in a release. “More importantly, the survey recognizes the significant contributions of our employees toward shaping their own work environment. It provides us with a valuable opportunity to listen and act on their ideas on how we can improve as an employer of choice.” FCC has more than 1,500 employees working from coast to coast.


7

Albertafarmexpress.ca • november 5, 2012

Canola exports now expected to decline Supply concern } Production now forecast lower than last year,

and price-conscious buyers expected to cut purchases

China sales to decline

By Dwayne Klassen

Commodity News Service Canada

C

anadian canola exports during the 2012-13 crop year were expected to come in at a record-high level — but smaller-than-anticipated production is now predicted to dim those prospects. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in its September supply/demand outlook, had forecast Canada’s 2012-13 canola export program to come in at a record 8.701 million tonnes, with Japan, China, the U.S., Mexico and the European Union being some of the largest customers. “The ability of Canada to export canola has taken a serious downturn and now appears that only 7.2 million tonnes will be moved offshore,”

This year’s canola pile is smaller than last year’s.  ©istock said Fred Oleson, director of AAFC’s market analysis group in Winnipeg. During the 2011-12 season, Canada exported 7.105 million tonnes of canola. The decline in the export picture was linked solely to the significant reduction in canola output during 2012-13 which

was made by Statistics Canada, he said. StatsCan, in its production survey released Oct. 4, pegged Canada’s 2012-13 canola crop at 13.359 million tonnes, which compared with the August forecast of 15.409 million. In 201112, Canada’s canola production totalled 14.493 million tonnes.

With canola exports now forecast to drop to 7.2 million tonnes, Oleson speculated sales to China, Mexico and other destinations would drop proportionately. He acknowledged that in AAF C’s S eptember supply/ demand tables, it had been forecast China would take roughly 2.5 million tonnes of Canadian canola in 2012-13, Japan would purchase 2.2 million and Mexico 1.5 million. The rest would be split between outlets such as the U.S., the EU and the United Arab Emirates. However, with the reduced exportable canola supply from Canada, Oleson estimated that China’s purchases would likely drop to the 1.5-million- to twomillion-tonne range while Mexican demand would fall toward the 1.2-million-tonne range. Japan, which has been a tra-

ditional customer of Canada’s canola, was expected to remain a consistent buyer, taking the full 2.2 million tonnes. The key to canola export sales in 2012-13 will be which country wants the commodity the most and who is willing to pay the cost to get that product, said Mike Jubinville, an analyst with ProFarmer Canada in Winnipeg. Pakistan, which bought at least 500,000 tonnes of Canadian canola in 2011-12, is a cost-sensitive customer, he said. “The fact that canola ending stocks are forecast at only 450,000 tonnes in 2012-13, should result in values of the commodity staying fairly high,” he said. Oleson said that Canadian canola sales to the EU, Pakistan and the UAE will likely decline as a result of the strong price outlook.

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Canadian hay marketers are continuing to see a surge in demand, but unfortunately, this combined with a shortage of forage due to drought appears to be bringing out some less-than-ethical operators. The Canadian Forage and Grassland Association (CFGA) has been advised of several situations whereby large deposits had been paid, but the hay was not delivered, and a couple of situations where the delivered hay was not of the agreed quality. We urge buyers and sellers to take steps to ensure that the buying and selling is done in a fair and equitable manner benefiting both parties. If you are considering purchasing or selling hay there are a number of factors that you should take into consideration including: • Have you purchased from or sold hay to this person before? If not, are you able to obtain at least two independent references? • Has the hay been analyzed and is the analysis information available? Is the hay free of mould and do you know the moisture content? Do you have some way to visually inspect the hay? • Are you purchasing from a member of the CFGA who has agreed to the Code of Ethics of the CFGA? A list of our members is available on our website. If you have concerns regarding the purchasing or selling of Canadian hay products please contact us through our website www.canadianfga.ca/foragemarketing/.

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8

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Researcher offers advice on dealing with “hidden” rural poverty TEAM APPROACH  Laura Ryser says banding together at a regional

level is key to making the most effective use of scarce resources BY ALEXIS KIENLEN AF STAFF / OLDS

R

ural poverty is often “hidden” and longer lasting than its urban counterpart, and many low-income residents don’t appreciate that higher education is their best hope of escaping their situation, says a researcher from the University of Northern British Columbia “Unfortunately due to the smalltown environment, people work really hard to hide their dire financial situations,” Laura Ryser told attendees at the recent Alberta Rural Development Network Creating Rural Connections conference. In rural areas that are heavily dependent on resource industries, the unemployed often try to wait things out when there’s a slump in those sectors, she said. “As a result, unemployment tends to last longer, as people tend to wait out economic downturns and hope for recovery,” said Ryser. As part of her research, she conducted 22 interviews with lowincome residents and government officials in communities across the Robson Valley, located southeast of Prince George. The main service centres in this region are McBride and Valemount, which serve a population of about 3,000 people. Because it’s a two-hour or longer drive to Prince George and Kamloops, “it shouldn’t be surprising that in smaller communities there are fewer opportunities for advancement,” Ryser said. This includes access to postsecondary education, but what’s especially discouraging is that many don’t see how important education is to their future income prospects, she said. “It can also be a challenge to get residents, especially youth, to see the value of education, which has been historically undervalued,” said Ryser. “People have typically been able to get higher-paying resource-sector jobs with lower education. Unfortunately this is no longer the reality, but this perception exacerbates poverty in smaller communities.”

load and you don’t have access to some of those supports.” Communities are responding with “one-stop shops” that attempt to backfill decreasing government support. For example, Robson Valley Support Services provides literacy classes, employment training, family supports, and handivan services for seniors in the region. Organizations are also working together at a regional level to avoid service duplication and provide outreach supports to people in isolated locations. “This helps protect the identity of people who are reaching out for support and it makes them feel more comfortable accessing those supports,” said Ryser.

“This is really important because if they’re not accessing supports early on, they just spiral (down) faster.” Rural regions can help alleviate poverty by using their resources wisely and being creative. “There’s also a need to strengthen economic co-operation at a regional level,” said Ryser. Opportunities and spaces for social interaction in a community are also important, because they help build social cohesion, which is crucial in alleviating poverty. “Top-down programs and policies are also needed to support regional collaboration,” she said. “This should support regional strategies, networking and alliances.”

Laura Ryser conducted 22 interviews with low-income residents and government officials in small communities. PHOTO: ALEXIS KIENLEN

With every change comes opportunity.

Internet access

The rising cost of gasoline combined with limited public transportation puts the rural poor further behind the eight ball, as does Internet access. “If you’re living in a remote setting, you’re not going to have access to high-speed Internet,” she said. “Even if you have dial-up, the government web pages won’t

“Unfortunately due to the small-town environment, people work really hard to hide their dire financial situations.” LAURA RYSER

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9

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Southern Alberta has gotten drier and warmer in the last 50 years WATERSHED FORUM  Science forum hosted by the Oldman Watershed Council

covered diverse topics and identified new areas of concern

BY HELEN MCMENAMIN

AF CONTRIBUTOR / LETHBRIDGE

W

Water quality changed after logging, even though timber removal left a buffer alongside the creek and there had been no disturbance for at least 20 years. PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

armer and drier. That’s been the climate story for southern Alberta during the last 50 years, says University of Lethbridge geography professor, Stefan Kienzie. Kienzie presented his analysis of Environment Canada weather data going back to the 1960s at the recent biennial science forum hosted by the Oldman Watershed Council. The data shows Lethbridge’s annual precipitation has dropped by nearly 20 per cent (from 395 millimetres to 325) and dry spells have become longer. The latter changed

only modestly near Lethbridge (an average of 34 days versus 32 in the ’60s) but at the south end of the Eastern Irrigation District, the dry spells were 50 per cent longer (42 days versus 28). But one of the biggest changes over the last 50 years has been the length of the growing season — an increase of 11 days to 213 days around Lethbridge and more than 20 days longer farther east. “The melting Arctic Ocean may have a big effect,” said Kienzie. “A warmer Arctic tends to hold the jet streams stationary, so a wet spell lasts longer and so does a dry spell. But none of this is locked in stone. Things can change with changes in sea surface temperatures.” Other presenters reported

“A warmer Arctic tends to hold the jet streams stationary, so a wet spell lasts longer and so does a dry spell. But, none of this is locked in stone.” STEFAN KIENZIE

on the development of various computer models that use river measurements and weather station information to predict water flows across the whole watershed. They’re also looking at the impact of “extreme events” — storms and drought, which are predicted to be more frequent with a changing climate. During a water quality session, pesticides in city storm drains and in irrigation water were discussed, with 2,4-D and other long-used broadleaf herbicides being the most common in both situations.

Logging changes waterway

Two sessions covered the impact of land use on water quality in creeks and rivers. U of Alberta grad student Kirk Hawthorn looked at two streams in the headwaters of the Oldman River, one in a valley that was extensively logged in the last 60 years and another where the natural forest is untouched. Even though timber removal left a buffer alongside the creek and there has been no disturbance for at least 20 years, the creek has been changed. The water chemistry in the two creeks shows very low P levels, suggesting the creek in the logged valley has recovered, but it has high levels of algae, that grow much more rapidly. Hawthorn has found greatly increased amounts of fine sediment carried into the creek by erosion after logging. Phosphorus bonded to these sediments is gradually released into the creek as bioavailable P, which shifts the ecosystem to produce more algae and micro-organisms. Another grad student, Preston Lennox of the U of L, found an artificial channel that carries the Crowsnest River through and between the small towns of Crowsnest Pass discourages some stages of some fish from moving upriver to underused habitat. Opening up the old, natural river channels might give fish an alternative route to the mountain creeks. Greg Chernoff of the Mistakis Institute at the U of Calgary, discussed a mapping system the group has developed for the MD of Ranchlands, which covers a large portion of the eastern slopes southwest of Calgary. The community identified things about the special area that they valued and identified areas that contributed to those things — for example, habitat for special species, or particularly scenic views. The many layered maps Mistakis developed have given decision makers in the municipal district a valuable tool when dealing with development proposals.

2012 brought us many changes— from unpredictable weather storms that threw baseball-size hail and grassfires our direction…to the way we market our grain. We even saw a blue moon radiate over our land—demonstrating the scope of our efforts. Through it all, we persevered with true Alberta spirit. We’ve seen positive shift in commodity prices, and became a leading agriculture provider to countries around the world. Be proud of your labours. Embrace the changes made in your industry, and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead. Because the forecast looks hopeful—for a future that may grow as steadily as our crops. Here’s to you on a successful year. atb.com

facebook/atbfinancial @ATBAgriculture

12-09-21 1:14 PM


10

NEWS » MARKETS

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

LONGER GRAIN-TRADING TO STAY

CME PAYS $2 MLN TO CLIENTS

CME Group Inc. will not reduce nearly non-stop electronic grain-trading hours it implemented in May to fend off a challenge from rival IntercontinentalExchange, a top executive told Reuters. Grain traders have circulated a petition asking CME, which owns the CBOT, to reduce its 21-hour trading day because they say the longer cycle has spread out volume, cutting liquidity and increasing volatility. “Just because the IntercontinentalExchange has not garnered a lot of market share... there is a competitive issue for us,” CME executive chairman Terrence Duffy said. “We will keep our markets open as long as others are open at that time.” — Reuters

CME Group Inc. plans next month to begin paying $2 million to former clients of Peregrine Financial Group, the failed futures brokerage looted for years by its now-jailed founder. The payments will go to nearly 200 farmers, ranchers and co-operatives who traded on CME’s exchanges, a CME spokeswoman told Reuters. The payouts are CME’s first from a fund it established in response to the collapse of MF Global last October, which left a $1.6-billion shortfall in customer funds and shook confidence in an industry where the safety of customer money had long been an article of faith. — Reuters

Canola shortage sparks creative attempts to attract deliveries ICE-Y FUTURE  Minimal uptake in new milling wheat,

durum and barley contracts puts their life in doubt

BY DWAYNE KLASSEN

COMMODITY NEWS SERVICE CANADA

S

teady demand provided canola futures on the ICE Canada platform with plenty of support during the week ended Oct. 26. Much of the demand was associated with the emergence of fresh Chinese buying interest, with at least three cargoes of Canadian canola purchased by the country. There were hints that additional sales were made, but export outlets were unwilling to confirm the extra business. Much of the export interest was said to be tied to the downswing in the value of the Canadian dollar, which was pushing back towards parity with the U.S. currency. The weaker loonie makes it more attractive for importers to purchase canola. Domestic processors also continued to be fairly steady buyers of canola, even though crush margins deteriorated during the reporting period. A lot of the demand for canola from the domestic and export sectors has been front-loaded, meaning sales on the books have been aggressive likely through to the new year at least. As a result, there has been a bit of an upward push in canola futures as the commercials try to cover those sales. The problem of course with that is that canola production in Canada was not able to meet those expectations, falling well short in the latest Statistics Canada production survey. This in turn has sparked some cre-

ative efforts by elevators to attract deliveries. Farmers have been sellers of the tight canola supplies, but on a scale-up basis and only when the cash bids become attractive. However, market participants are warning that while canola has been able to regain a premium to soybeans, the upside may be limited. They point out that while there is a seasonal rally in U.S. soybeans and subsequently canola during late October through to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday in late November, the limiting factor is the record soybean acreage that is going in the ground in Brazil and Argentina. Granted, there is much debate about the condition of the soils those soybeans are being planted into, but the key factor to remember is that those crops will go a long way to replenishing the global oilseed supplies. The fact that those soybeans are normally priced well below canola and the U.S. soybean market, means that buyers will be attracted to those supplies.

Two contracts

There was finally some action seen in the milling wheat contract on the ICE Canada platform during the week. A whole two contracts were traded between commercials which brought open interest in the commodity to 74 contracts (December and March combined). Durum and barley contracts in Winnipeg again failed to draw any attention. With the absence of activity in the mill-

ing wheat, durum and barley contracts, the longevity of those futures is in doubt. Market participants are quick to point out that the commercial sector has failed to support those futures. They also believe the contract size of 100 tonnes for wheat and durum works against the smaller speculators and encourages the use of the futures on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. The removal of the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly on the sale of western Canadian wheat, durum and barley has also failed to attract participants to the commodities offered on ICE Canada. The liquidity issues in dealing with ICE Canada contracts, with the exception of canola, also favour the MGEX.

Record S.A. soy?

Soybean futures at the CBOT also posted advances despite late-week profit-taking. Strength in soybeans continued to be linked to strong demand from the domestic and export sectors as well as to the tight supply outlook. The upside in soybeans was again tempered by the threat of a record-size soybean harvest in Brazil and Argentina. There are a number of analysts who are more than willing to point out that they have never seen better conditions for the planting of the crops in those countries. However on the flip side of that coin, there are others who are indicating that conditions are less than prime in a number of key growing areas and that the crop is still far from being harvested.

Corn futures on the CBOT eased during the reporting period with the total absence of demand for the commodity from the domestic or export sectors stimulating the declines. The drop in demand has been pretty wide and has included the U.S. livestock sector, the ethanol groups, importers, exporters and a whole list of others. They continue to look at the price of corn in the U.S. and then look at the cheaper alternatives. The nearby wheat futures on the CBOT, MGEX and KCBT experienced some minor weakness while the more deferred months were able to post advances. The sell-off in CBOT corn and the absence of demand allowed the nearby months to weaken. Much of the support in the deferred values, meanwhile, was linked to news that Ukraine will halt sales of its cheap wheat beginning Nov. 15. The decision by that government to halt wheat exports was tied to the fact, the well has finally run dry. Of course this sparked ideas that importers will look to the U.S. to cover those requirements. The sentiment among market participants is that if the wheat supply in Ukraine is running dry, that all the wheat stocks in the Black Sea region may be short in supply. This in turn has helped to spark demand for the more deferred wheat contracts. Dwayne Klassen writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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11

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Analyzing the loonie’s move to below par Indicators } Chart patterns provide clues on when

to convert the greenback to the loonie By david drozd

T

he Canadian dollar has been trending lower, since it penetrated the lower boundary of the uptrending channel. I have found that chart analysis is a valuable resource for determining the price trend and where support and resistance to the trend may be anticipated.

Trendlines

During the course of a trend and all the fluctuations which compose it, prices tend to follow a sloping straight line path. During a period of rising prices, this path is determined by a line drawn across the lows of the reactions. These price reactions, illustrated as (A) and (B) in the accompanying chart must bottom at progressively higher levels. When an emerging trend can be identified and followed to its conclusion, it translates into opportunity. I find drawing trendlines is a valuable tool for accomplishing this. As a market begins to turn up, an uptrend line may be constructed after two reaction lows have formed (A) and (B), the second at a higher level than the first. In the late stages of a dynamic bull move, prices are likely to have accelerated up and away from the trendline (C), taking on a very steep slope.

of each progressively higher advance. The return line points out the areas where reactions to the trend are likely to begin.

Market psychology

Price activity that lends itself to trendline and channel construction reflects a particular sequence of behaviour. As a new uptrend begins to emerge, buy orders materialize, but many are at a limit price under the market. In the normal ebb and flow of the market some of this buying is satisfied on price declines. However, not all of the demand is satisfied and when prices again begin to move up, some of these buyers jump in for fear of missing the move. The balance of unfilled buying will continue to trail the market in hopes of catching a price reaction. Most of these buyers will gradually increase their bids as the market advances.

Ultimately, there will come a point during a bull move when the advance begins to accelerate sharply (C). Much of the patience of those waiting for a big break will have worn thin by this time, so more buying is thrown into the market at the prevailing price level. As this occurs, the demand which had trailed the market is gradually being absorbed. When the price finally turns down for real, trendlines will be quickly broken as the demand has either been totally satisfied or the volume of selling simply overpowers what little buying remains. Just as chart patterns gave indication as to when to convert the Canadian dollar to U.S. currency, they will also provide clues on when to convert the greenback to the loonie. Send your questions or comments about this article and chart to info@ag-chieve.ca.

canadian dollar      trending lower

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 grain-marketing advisory services, or call us toll free at 1-888-274-3138 for a free consultation.

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Once a trend begins in earnest, it has a high tendency to persist. The longer a trendline continues, the more significant becomes its eventual penetration as an indicator of a trend change. Once a trend begins in earnest, it has a high tendency to persist. The longer a trendline continues, the more significant becomes its eventual penetration as an indicator of a trend change. After a valid penetration (G), prices will move with an initial thrust in that direction, but will often bounce back to approach the trendline (D). This proves to be a point of resistance, in which the 1.0200 — 1.0220 area provided a good opportunity to convert Canadian currency to U.S. funds. In fact, a harami (sell signal on a candlestick chart) materialized at the point of resistance and was followed by another sell signal called a two-day reversal just before prices dropped down below par.

Uptrending channel

After a trend is established and a trendline constructed, a line may be drawn that is parallel to the trendline depicting the corridor within which prices will fluctuate as the trend proceeds. This is called the trend channel. In an uptrend, the uptrend line (E) is the channel’s lower boundary and it is drawn first. The upper boundary (F) is the return line. It is parallel to the lower boundary and drawn across the highs

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12

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

CME buys Kansas City exchange Next step } Deal expected to boost trading of hard red winter wheat

and may put Minneapolis Grain Exchange in play by ann saphir and carey gillam

chicago / kansas city / reuters

C

ME Group is buying the Kansas City Board of Trade for $126 million in cash, cementing CME’s dominance in world grain futures markets and keeping rival IntercontinentalExchange from gaining an important foothold. It is CME’s first exchange purchase in five years since it wrapped up a buying spree that put the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the energyfocused New York Mercantile Exchange all under its control. The deal comes as the Chicagobased giant faces one of the biggest challenges yet to its benchmark wheat, soybean and corn contracts: ICE’s renewed efforts to build its agricultural markets business, including the launch this year of look-alike U.S. grain futures that opened a new front in the decade-long battle for commodity derivatives dominance. So far, ICE’s copycat contracts have garnered little volume. But CME has responded swiftly to protect its lucrative grains franchise, a mainstay of global markets for decades, expanding trading hours to keep step with ICE in a move some floor traders have protested. In Kansas City, a dozen or so traders, many clutching the electronic pads now used to execute most trades, gathered on the red and blue steps of Kansas City’s modest trading floor to watch a single lot of the exchange’s hard red winter wheat futures contract trade the oldfashioned way, with cries and hand gestures, rueing the likely closure of the pit next year.

behind its more liquid rival in terms of volume. News of the acquisition sparked speculation that the Minneapolis Grain Exchange could now be in line for a bid. Some traders said a deal seemed inevitable. “You would think that MGEX would look like a ripe target for some type of merger or acquisition, if nothing else because we are essentially a North American spring wheat contract, and the combined North American spring wheat is huge, even bigger than the U.S. hard red winter wheat crop,” said Austin Damiani, an analyst at Frontier Futures in Minneapolis, referring to combined U.S. and Canadian wheat production. Asked about the possibility of a bid for MGEX, a CME spokesman said: “We remain focused on completing this transaction, as we believe it will create significant value for customers and shareholders of both companies.”

B:17

The once-colourful days of a trading floor are coming to an end again, this time in Kansas City.   Photo: USDA

“The CME is taking an aggressive stance to firmly establish itself as the world leader in exchange-traded products…” Ken Smithmier market analyst, hightower report

And at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGEX), which shut its futures floor four years ago, dealers speculated that it was only a matter of time before ICE made a bid for the last independently owned U.S. agricultural marketplace. “The CME is taking an aggressive stance to firmly establish itself as the world leader in exchangetraded products, so this isn’t a surprise,” said Ken Smithmier, market analyst for The Hightower Report, a Chicago-based research and advisory firm.

Minneapolis next?

But one thing did surprise him: “I thought Minneapolis would be the first to be gobbled up.” The deal will bolster volume in both CME’s and KCBT’s wheat contracts and provide new trading opportunities, said CME executive chairman Terrence Duffy. Kansas City’s wheat contract is for “hard red winter” wheat, a variety that is grown on twice as much U.S. farmland as Chicago’s “soft red winter” brand — but which has long lagged

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13

Albertafarmexpress.ca • november 5, 2012

Province urged to overhaul water laws to stave off a billion-dollar crisis DROUGHT WARNING } Water Matters says a return to periodic multi-year droughts is inevitable

but better rules could save both rivers and the public purse by helen mcmenamin

af contributor / lethbridge

A

lberta needs to revamp its water regulations before an inevitable long-term drought pushes the current water allocation system into crisis, according to the Water Matters Society of Alberta. “We need to ensure water is available for all the competing demands on our rivers — but in Alberta, nobody is responsible for the health of the aquatic ecosystems,” said Bill Donahue, science director for the society, which was founded to provide expert and independent advice to government and the public on watershed management. “We’re approaching the limits of

the water our rivers can supply. It’s time to stop avoiding the difficult decisions.” In a recently released report, the watershed protection group offers a number of options for improving management and allocation of water in Alberta. The goal, said Donahue, is to avoid what happened in Australia, where a simple cash-for-rights water market (like Alberta’s) created to protect river health instead intensified overallocation in the Murray-Darling Basin. When drought virtually dried up the river, the Australian government was forced to enter the water market and buy licences at a cost of $8.9 billion. “The Alberta government paid out $2.2 billion in drought relief in 2000-

A new report offers several options for improving management and allocation of water in Alberta. 02,” said Donahue. “If we don’t plan for the worst-case scenarios, we’ll pay billions and billions.” And such a scenario may not be far off, he warned.

Tree ring studies show 10-year droughts have occurred about every 50 years in southern Alberta. But current regulations were developed during the wettest period in

the last 1,000 years and that has led to water in the South Saskatchewan River Basin being overallocated. Sooner or later, long-term drought will return and river flows are likely to be too low for healthy ecosystems. That’s why a reworking of the province’s water laws, including changing water licences, is needed now, said Donahue. “If the goals of Alberta’s water policy were clearly stated, we could use infrastructure more efficiently,” he said. “If reservoirs are primarily for irrigation, we could be more flexible in filling reservoirs, be able to take more advantage of high-flow events, store more of higher spring flows. Some reservoirs might need to be built up. At others, cottagers might lose their beach for part of the year. Clear objectives and purpose would clarify the expectations of each user group.”

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During a century of irrigation in Alberta, water managers have worked together to accommodate the needs of all water users, but these sorts of “gentlemen’s agreements among stakeholders” won’t be enough to deal with a severe crisis, said Donahue. “It’s time the Alberta government accepted its responsibility for water management, identified its goals, and made long-term plans and monitored progress towards those goals, including being prepared to modify plans if we’re not making progress,” he said. An alternative to the Australian experience can be found in Oregon, he said. There, 25 per cent of any savings in water use revert to the state to enhance and sustain river health. If public funding is used in gaining water efficiency, water savings revert to the river in proportion to public spending on the project. Returning water savings to the river for aquatic health is guaranteed under law. Irrigators would not lose out under this type of change, said Donahue. He said owners of water rights might lease them to a water trust, a charity or non-profit that holds water rights for the environmental health of a river, possibly working with various groups to improve river health. “A water licence holder or a member of an irrigation district could decide not to give up all or a portion of their rights for a year or several years,” he says. “The government could create financial or other inducements to encourage people to work with the water trust.” A water trust can give farmers more flexibility and help them be more efficient, says Donahue. “One approach that’s worked in some places is to pay a farmer or provide hay in exchange for water rights used to grow hay on marginal areas.” Water Matters has reviewed water management around the world and discussed options with Alberta water managers. All have expressed a willingness to work to enhance and maintain river health as long as decisions are based on science-based information and not within the control of politicians, said Donahue.


14

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

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Low rainfall during the growing season is the most obvious factor causing reduced grass production. However, low available mineral nitrogen at less than 100 pounds per acre is responsible for greater than half of the reduction in herbage production. “Most grassland pastures managed with traditional practices have mineral nitrogen available at 60 to 75 pounds per acre,” says Lee Manske, North Dakota State University Dickinson Research Extension Center range scientist. “Long-term use of a deferred grazing practice reduces mineral nitrogen to 31 pounds per acre. Because of these chronic nitrogen deficiencies, these pastures have reduced grass production, even during growing seasons with no water deficiencies.” Growing seasons with water deficiencies are normal conditions on the northern Plains. In western North Dakota, 79 per cent of the past 118 growing seasons have had an average of two months with water deficiencies. Growing seasons with moderate drought conditions have occurred during 12 per cent of the years. Severe drought conditions, such as in 1919, 1934, 1936 and 1988, have occurred during three per cent of the years, or about one in every 29 years. Growing seasons without water deficiencies are an abnormal phenomenon and have occurred during six per cent of the growing seasons, or about one in every 17 years. Some level of water deficiency has occurred during 94 per cent of the past growing seasons. Grass production is reduced during growing seasons with water deficiencies because of low water and low mineral nitrogen. “However, grassland pastures are not low in nitrogen,” Manske says. “Most of the nitrogen in grassland soils is in organic form, but plants cannot use organic nitrogen. The organic nitrogen must be mineralized by soil micro-organisms. Soil organism biomass is limited by access to a simple carbon chain energy.” Soil organism biomass can be increased greatly with biologically effective management strategies that have grazing rotation dates co-ordinated with grass growth stages. Partial defoliation by livestock during vegetative growth stages causes grass carbohydrates to be released into the soil. These exudates increase the quantity of energy available to the microbes. The resulting increased population of soil organisms mineralize nitrogen at quantities greater than 100 pounds per acre. As a result of the increased quantities of available mineral nitrogen, greater herbage biomass is produced during growing seasons with water deficiencies. Would greater pasture grass production help your ranch during the next growing season with water deficiencies?

National on-farm biosecurity standard for cattle completed GROWING TREND  Biosecurity plans started in Canada as the result of

avian influenza, but have now spread to all sectors BY SHERI MONK

AF STAFF / PINCHER CREEK

J

ust in time for Christmas, the Beef Cattle On-Farm Biosecurity Standard is complete and available online for that hardto-please bovine on your gift list. And if all goes to plan, an owner’s version should by ready by then, too. “The standard has been published. We’re still working on a producer’s manual that will be an aid for producers to implement,” said Rob McNabb, general manager of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). Biosecurity is a standardized protocol for reducing the risk of contracting and spreading diseases, pests, and invasive species, and it’s an increasingly important facet of livestock production. Avian influenza prompted industry and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to create the nation’s first sector-specific biosecurity protocol, but all other sectors have since initiated the process, such as sheep, goat, dairy, mink and bees. A user-friendly producer’s guide is currently being reviewed by the CFIA, and will be available in the near future, said McNabb. The CCA worked with the CFIA to develop the protocol and will help launch the initiative, but once that’s complete, the provinces will have to take the baton. “The responsibility for implementing biosecurity will be at the provincial level,” said McNabb, adding Manitoba was so gung-ho about the idea it created its own user guide rather than waiting. “Our main commitment was to provide the education and awareness tools that producers can use and then who knows, the future could be that we incorporate it into our OnFarm Food Safety infrastructure.”

Among the practices being recommended are segregation of cattle coming back from community pastures or from other ranches, and keeping an on-farm visitors’ log. FILE PHOTO The protocol isn’t mandatory, but McNabb expects good buy-in. “We think it will be another attribute we can add to the Canadian Beef Advantage if we get that critical mass of production under that,” McNabb said. Among the practices being recommended are segregation of cattle coming back from community pastures or from other ranches, and keeping an on-farm visitors’ log. In many cases, the protocol will merely formalize what producers have been doing for decades.

“The original process involved an extensive survey of producers and I think what we found is that a lot of these practices are just everyday good management and, for the most part, are being observed or implemented without a lot of second thought,” said McNabb. “But now there’s an opportunity to document it or perhaps kick it up a notch.” The biosecurity standard can be found at http://bit.ly/SKiCgN. The producer guide should be available by year’s end.

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15

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

XL Foods takeover latest in a series by global meat giant JBS FAMILY COMPANY  History of aggressive acquisitions has carried Brazilian

processor to the top of global meat industry BY DANIEL WINTERS STAFF

N

ews that XL Foods, one of the two major cattle-slaughtering plants in Canada, is cashing in its chips after a devastating beef recall raises an important question. Just who is JBS, the company taking it over? Founded in 1953 by Jose Batista Sobrinho, it began as a tiny, five-headper-day abattoir in Anapolis, Brazil. Today, according to a report on KPMG’s ConsumerCurrents website, it’s Brazil’s most successful food multinational and the world’s largest meat processor, with 10 per cent of global slaughter capacity. It has 140 production units and more than 120,000 employees worldwide In 2011, it raked in US$33.6 bln. revenue from its 90,000-head-per-day beefslaughter capacity. After becoming a listed company in 2007, the Sao-Paulo-headquartered giant swallowed up Colorado-headquartered Swift & Co., for US$1.4 bln., and later bought a controlling stake in Pilgrim’s Pride, one of the world’s largest chicken producers. In 2008, it bought Smithfield Food’s beef business, renaming it JBS Packerland. JBS exports to 110 countries. It operates in the U.S., Australia, Mexico, Para-

guay, Uruguay and Argentina, in addition to its home nation, and derives 75 per cent of its income from foreign operations.

Family operation

Even after decades of stunning growth, JBS continues to be run by the founder and six family scions. Wesley Batista, the founder’s son, became president and CEO after his brother Joesley became chairman in 2011. KPMG quoted Wesley Batista as saying that Asia accounts for one-third of the company’s exports, and that the company’s present focus was on expanding production in Brazil to meet growing demand from the South American economic powerhouse’s growing middle class. However, in the interview, Batista did not rule out acquisitions overseas. “The first thing we ask is if it fits with our strategy to expand our business in the protein and food sector. Second, is it the right country to operate in? And third, is it the right asset? This is a broad set of criteria but a target has to fit them,” he said. A Reuters report in 2009 said that in contrast to other groups, JBS often bought plants — many of which were in a fragile financial situation — instead of building them, which made the growth process faster. The company, whose website carries the slogan, “Trust in God, and respect nature,” has seen a few missteps, however.

A Wikipedia entry on the company, citing an article in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, states that major U.K. supermarket chain Tesco had cancelled its contract with JBS due to a claim by Greenpeace that JBS could have supplied meat from farms in deforested areas of the Amazon. In the Reuters report, former agriculture minister Marcus Pratini de Moraes, who sits on JBS’s board, said another reason for the group’s success was giving attention and support to cattle suppliers and clients. “They are always available to talk. There’s always a big effort to do so, despite being a company with 124,000 employees,” he said. The company was the first in Brazil to allow ranchers to use their own weigh scales to determine the price of cattle. While Wesley Batista has often spoken to media and at industry events, brother Joesley and father Jose Batista Sobrinho — like the Nilsson brothers whose operation they are taking over — are notoriously camera shy. According to the Reuters report, the father gave only one interview to a Brazilian newspaper two years earlier. “Things happened, nothing is programmed in life,” Jose Batista Sobrinho told the newspaper. “It’s natural that everyone thinks about growing. But back then, it was another world, nobody would dream about this.”

“It’s natural that everyone thinks about growing. But back then, it was another world, nobody would dream about this.” JOSE BATISTA SOBRINHO JBS FOUNDER

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Comments invited on mink code of practice The Canada Mink Breeders Association (CMBA) and the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) say the draft code of practice for the care and handling of mink is now available for public comment until Dec. 7. The draft code can be viewed and submissions made through NFACC’s website at www.nfacc.ca/ codes-of-practice/mink. In a release, the organizations said anyone can provide comments and suggestions on the code, but all submissions must be made through the online system and follow the instructions provided. A scientists’ committee report on research related to mink welfare is also available on the website. The mink code development committee is comprised of producers, animal welfare and enforcement representatives, researchers, veterinarians and government representatives. The code covers housing, food and water, care and supervision, biosecurity, euthanasia, transport and other management practices for mink in Canada.


16

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Goat producers sought for national scrapie study

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Goat producers are being urged to participate in a scrapie prevalence study, part of an effort to rid the country of the disease. “What we’re trying to do is establish a strategic plan to get producers involved with scrapie eradication in a way that works for producers,” Corlena Patterson, project co-ordinator of Scrapie Canada, said at the recent Alberta Goat Breeders Association conference. Scrapie affects sheep and goats, and is a type of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), also know as prion disease. Other TSEs include BSE in cattle and chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. Part of the challenge in eradicating scrapie in the goat sector is a lack of good statistics on goat operations in Canada and the numbers and types of goats on farms. Scrapie Canada has had a survey done and is now asking goat producers to voluntarily submit obex samples (a portion of the brain) or frozen head samples for the prevalence study. If scrapie is found, international regulations mean “we have to tell the whole world about it,” said Patterson. But it’s far better to find out this way than have scrapie discovered in an abattoir because there is currently no way to trace the animal back to the farm it came from, she added. “If you collect a sample from a goat that doesn’t have identification and can’t be traced back to its farm of origin, we have to tell people we found it, but couldn’t do anything about it,” Patterson said. “This is not a position that the livestock industry as a whole wants to be in.” The Canadian Food Inspection Agency also has an eradication plan, surveillance program and disease control action, which is not affiliated with Scrapie Canada’s. Eradicating scrapie in Canada will prevent the destruction of herds, and also import bans. Two-thirds of the countries in the world have a scrapie control program which includes imposing import restrictions to prevent import scrapie from trading partners, Patterson noted. Scrapie Canada will cover the cost of obex testing and will offer reimbursements to producers to offset the cost of harvesting samples as long as funds are available. Samples can be sent to the University of Guelph’s animal health lab, the Prairie Diagnostic services lab in Saskatoon or Alberta Agriculture’s TSE lab. Anyone who needs a sample submission form or specifics for submitting samples can contact Patterson at Scrapie Canada at 1-866-534-1302.


17

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

COW CALFENOMICS 2012

CANADIAN BEEF SCHOOL AT OLDS

Cow Calfenomics 2012 will be held in Fairview, Barrhead, Rimbey, Lloydminster, Brooks and Nanton in Nov. and Dec. Topics include farm transition, strategic risk management, cattle price insurance, economic value of genomics and BIXS/traceback tools to improve herd profitability. To register for this event, contact the Ag-Info Centre toll free at 1-800387-6030. More information and an agenda for each location is available on Alberta Agriculture’s website under Coming Events.

The Canadian Beef School, a three-day, hands-on workshop at Olds College Nov. 27-29, 2012, presents an overview to beef producers, restaurateurs, food editors and food service representatives regarding quality, fabrication and marketing of beef, gate to plate. Topics include live animal evaluation, quality grade, yield grade, dressing percentage and cutability yields from live to primal to retail. For further information and registration, contact Olds College 1-800-661-6537 (ext. 4677), or visit the Olds College website.

“Traceability and animal identification are almost non-negotiable right now…”

Goat producers urged to provide input into a new national ID program MANY ISSUES  Some dairy goat producers want leg bands instead of ear tags and there are

different methods for reporting and recording of animal movement, and retiring tags BY ALEXIS KIENLEN AF STAFF / PONOKA

A

traceability program for goats is coming, and now is the time for producers to give their input on how the system should operate, says the general manager of the Canadian National Goat Federation. “Traceability and animal identification are almost nonnegotiable right now,” Jennifer MacTavish said at the recent Alberta Goat Breeders Association conference. “Our role is to get a traceability and an animal identification program that will work for the goat industry.” The sector is one of the last groups to get a traceability system, and the current voluntary tag program operated by the federation will eventually become mandatory, said MacTavish. The federation is working with Ketchum Manufactur-

ing to test three different types of tags. All three types come with a tag assessment form, she noted. “Now is your chance to get yourself heard and give feedback to us,” MacTavish said. “I really encourage you to start tagging your goats.” Traceability ensures animals can be accounted for in case of an emergency, including fire, a natural disaster, or an animal disease outbreak. “If the processing plant needs to do a recall or there’s another issue and we need to know where animals are, it will benefit the chain,” she said. Traceability will boost consumer confidence in the goat sector, and other livestock groups have used animal identification and record-keeping to improve management decisions and herd productivity, she said. But there are different ways to create a system, she added. For example, some dairy goat

producers would like leg bands instead of ear tags to identify their animals and the federation is currently evaluating this option. This sort of feedback is critical as the federal government will soon be drafting traceability regulations for the goat industry, she said. “We’re going to need producers to comment on these regulations so we can build a traceability program that works for you,” MacTavish said. “We really need you around the table, we need your input and we need to know what’s going to work on the farm for you so that we can do our jobs better.” Other issues that need to be considered are the reporting and recording of animal movement, and how tags are retired when an animal dies. Goat producers who want more information or who want to join the voluntary tag program can find more information at www.cangoats.com.

Traceability ensures animals can be accounted for in case of an emergency, including fire, a natural disaster, or an animal disease outbreak.

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18

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Is the pork industry’s business model broken? added value } More of the retail dollar must be passed

back if the industry is to remain sustainable

By bernie peet

T

here is no doubt that, whichever way you look at it, Western Canada is a good place to raise pigs. The combination of abundant space and locally grown feed ingredients provides key elements that are missing in some important pig-producing countries such as Denmark, where manure disposal is a challenge, and China, where a lot of corn and soybeans have to be imported. So why is it that the industry has struggled so much over the last five years? Why did two of the country’s largest producers fail when the hog price fell precipitously this fall? Could it be that the pork industry is not sustainable in its current form? The Canadian pork industry grew rapidly from about 1995 to 2005, with total hog numbers increasing by 80 per cent. Canada became the biggest pork exporter in the world. However, both the expansion in hog numbers and Canada’s success in export markets were built on a weak Canadian dollar, not on its natural advantages. As the currency strengthened, producer and packer profitability fell, leading to a rapid reduction in the number of producers between 2007 and today. The likelihood of a lower-value loonie coming to the rescue seems slim, so the industry will have to

adapt to a new economic environment or further contraction is inevitable.

Government help

The industry crisis of 200709 severely weakened producers’ balance sheets, leaving them vulnerable to a sudden financial shock, even with better prices from the summer of 2010 onwards. The industry was saved from total annihilation by government assistance, both in the form of loans, the Hog Farm Transition Program and AgriStability payments. Now, not only are many producers’ AgriStability reference margins low or non-existent, but there are distinct signs that both provincial and federal governments are not in the mood for further bailouts. How will the industry survive in future? Production costs in Western Canada are among the lowest in the world and efficiency is good. While cost of production can continue to be reduced, this isn’t the root of the problem. The fact is that we are not adding enough value to our products, both in domestic and export markets. If greater value was created, some of the extra margin could be passed on to producers. Also we continue to base the price that Canadian producers are paid on a U.S. index that is only used to price a small fraction of U.S. pigs and bears little

resemblance to what most U.S. producers actually get paid. As a result, we now have the situation where processors are in danger of not having sufficient pigs to fill their plants in future, unless they secure that supply, which they will likely do by purchasing production capacity and moving towards a more integrated business model.

Domestic market eroded

One of the biggest areas of opportunity for adding value is the domestic market, which has been virtually ignored in the rush to export pork. The U.S. has taken full advantage of this situation, with over 25 per cent of all pork consumed in Canada now coming from the U.S. In the first 38 weeks of 2012, imports were up 18.3 per cent compared to last year. During the recent publicity about the perilous state of the pork industry, it would have been nice if our industry leaders had been able to urge the public to support them by buying Canadian pork — except for the uncomfortable fact that it’s mostly impossible to tell the origin of pork in the store. Canadian producers desperately need a pork quality mark to identify their product, based on stringent and independently audited quality-assurance standards and backed up by good advertising and promotion. Coupled with improved pack-

aging, more product differentiation and branding and, as a result, greater value adding this could enable Canadian pork to command a premium compared to U.S. product. Regaining our own market and adding more value could enable processors to decouple their pricing formulae from the U.S. markets.

Risk management

The events of the last five years have also exposed the need for better risk management by producers. Many of our larger production companies not only hedge feedingredient prices but forward contract their hogs. However, some independent producers still prefer to play the market, a strategy which has killed many of them off. For example, the Alberta Hog Price Insurance Program (HPIP) was designed after the 2007-09 crisis to meet industry requirements for a means of ensuring a specific price at some point in the future. The uptake by producers has been almost non-existent. For U.S. producers, price protection, both for inputs and hog revenues, is standard practice. It was possible for producers to lock in at least a proportion of their pigs for September at a price that would have at least covered costs, but many chose not to do this. In future, being able to lock into a profit, however small, may make the

“I wonder where these ribs come from?” More than 25 per cent of pork in Canadian stores now comes from the U.S.   PHOT0: istock difference between survival and failure. The Canadian pork industry is in danger of losing critical mass. Without some fundamental changes, it will continue to atrophy each time we reach a low in the hog price cycle. It needs greater co-operation between the parties in the pork supply chain to create more value. It needs creativity and funding to put in place the activities necessary to recapture the domestic market. And it needs continual improvements in efficiency and cost reduction. An industry that was based on a weak Canadian dollar cannot survive for the long term without a major change in its business model. Bernie Peet is president of Pork Chain Consulting of Lacombe, Alberta, and editor of Western Hog Journal

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Christine Jones Fundamentals of Soil

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19

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

The beef business has changed and producers will have to change, too From the hip } Those who prosper in the future will excel in risk management,

understand the consumer, and provide detailed data on how their cattle were raised By brenda schoepp

R

ecent events in the beef sector feel like a raw deal for cattle producers, although there are ways to not only cope but excel in these situations. Year to date, the fed beef cattle industry in Canada has not seen any marked improvement despite volatile action on the live cattle futures and a perceived shortage of inventory. In fact, cash fed cattle prices are only a few cents off of the highs. Large carcasses have made up for the inventory deficit and the Canadian dollar took care of the upside potential on Canadian cattle. Packers have dragged their heels when pricing cash cattle. Cull cows enjoyed good prices as packers needed the commercial beef for the grind. Feeder cattle and cull cows remained strong until October when prices were pressured by uncertainty in the fed cattle markets due to the closure of XL Foods, which processes 40 per cent of the nation’s beef. The immediate changes we could expect to see will be “muscling” by packer and feeder cattle buyers as prices are falsely held down. This problem will be short in duration. The cull cow market will not recover until after the plant is well into production and this will be a handicap to those who were dependent on cull sales. The fed cattle market is unlikely to be robust unless we can gain beef delivery from XL into the United States. The carcass breaks are higher in the U.S. and we can expect feedlots to play the heavy weights and try to sell on cash or contract into the U.S., thus relieving pressure on the Canadian side. This is already happening with trucks of Canadian live cattle headed south. Boxed beef prices will continue to follow overall demand and are independent of the packing issues at this time. Retail prices will remain high (relatively unchanged) as this is an opportune time to increase retail margin. Consumer confidence will waiver this time. This is not BSE with a hypothesized health threat — it is E. coli, which is very real and the effects are immediate in victims. The original press releases urging consumers to cook meat longer were indicative of an industry that does not appreciate food transparency, nor consumer knowledge and the fact that they have protein options that are both food and non-food animal. Any hope of converting the ethnic population, which in some areas of Canada reaches 45 per cent, has been generationally lost. There is no escaping the fact that the biggest change in the beef industry will be in the need to mature to appreciating and understanding and supporting the consumer and that includes her trading partners. The future of the profitable beef farm is no longer in cash bids on fed cattle or live auction bids on feeder cattle. Those days are long gone. Fed cattle margins on the production side are in feeds and feeding, while the margins on the sale side are in the implementation of risk management. We used to call it a paper trade but today it is more important than the actual

animal itself. It sounds easy to protect your investment through a live or basis contract, hedge or options, but the reality is that this is a new skill for most farmers. FCC holds workshops that are excellent but we need more exposure and information to make informed choices. The day-to-day pricing is readily available through the Internet, but it takes time to understand market fundamentals. This is where our schools play an important role. The lack of business education in school is concerning enough, but college and university students need a broad understanding of the food industry both domestically and internationally as well as consumer preferences, needs, and their future expecta-

tions. They need an appreciation of food production systems that include sanitary and biosecurity training as well as food storage and presentation. This allows for a positive look at the industry from a systems approach that embraces all points of food production. More importantly, they need a firm and practised approach to risk management and risk management strategies so they become a part of everyday business. Those producers who had protected their investment through advanced risk management strategies in the last few years did not suffer marketing losses and were confident buyers of feed grains and feeder cattle. Feeder cattle are now more data

sets than breed and type. There is an array of contract options and methods of electronic selling which supports animal welfare initiatives. There is also a growing interest in information regarding feeder cattle history such as hormone free, organic, vaccinations, past performance history, dam and sire information, feeds and full disclosure of ownerships and antibiotic use. As the feeding industry aligns to the food industry, feeder cattle and calves — the original inventory — will be bought on their data and that includes animal welfare and treatment history. We have seen substantial premiums paid in direct sales for calves and feeders that accompany data sets (not the other way around). It is a changing world and future

farmers will execute advanced risk management strategies and have access to a qualified mentor. They will also benefit from a full understanding of food production systems. We owe it to them and to ourselves to ensure that our educational system encourages the introduction and usage of tools to build better products that have an end-user interest. Are you a female future farmer? Please fill out our survey at www. brendaschoepp.com. Brenda Schoepp is a market analyst and the owner and author of Beeflink, a national beef-cattle market newsletter. A professional speaker and industry market and research consultant, she ranches near Rimbey, Alberta. beeflink@telusplanet.net

WELSH BLACK SELECT FEMALE SALE

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Preliminary Catalogue will be available on the website or from the office by early November

FOR MORE INFO CONTACT ONE OF THE SALE COMMITTEE: • Jim Blanke

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• Arlin Strohschein

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• Tyson Mitchell

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403.556.3655 306.421.0145 403.443.8492


20

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Alfalfa hays: Merging myth and reality EXCESS  The additional protein in alfalfa can cause problems,

especially in young horses BY CAROL SHWETZ, DVM

O

ne of the most misunderstood feedstuffs in the horse industry today is alfalfa hay. Its position in the feeding program of horses is both revered and spurned. To unravel its benefits and the harms it is necessary to understand the nutrient-rich profile of this hay. When understood, it is the overfeeding of alfalfa hay, not the feeding of alfalfa hay, that becomes detrimental to horses. It is important to recognize “overfeeding” may occur with a surprisingly small amount of alfalfa hay. Ten to 20 per cent of alfalfa hay in a horse’s diet, like small amounts of grain, can be supplementary, adding specific nutrients. Remember this flux in percentage reflects dietary needs of horses during different stages of life and their varying lifestyles. Horses

that are “easykeepers” or struggle with metabolic dysfunctions, such as insulin resistance, Cushing’s or hypothyroidism, do best with no alfalfa at all in their diet. Good-quality alfalfa hay contains more energy, protein, and calcium, pound for pound, than most grass hays, up to 50 per cent more. These values are readily accessible through a routine forage analysis. In general horses do not need this many calories, nor this much protein or calcium. Furthermore when fed in excess, alfalfa hay becomes a metabolic liability to the horse whom suffers ill consequences over time. Alfalfa hays, depending upon when they are harvested, generally run 18-20 per cent protein content. A mature horse requires eight to 10 per cent protein. When the extra protein is used as an energy source the process produces acidic byproducts. As a consequence the body must call upon its buffering mecha-

Quality mixed grasses and grass hays are the mainstay of a horse’s diet, supporting health, performance and longevity.

The nutrient-rich profile of alfalfa hays, especially second-cut alfalfa such as this field, serve the horse better as a supplement to its diet than a dietary mainstay.

nisms to maintain homeostasis. The body will retain water to dilute the acidic byproducts. It will also pull alkalizing minerals from the musculoskeletal system to buffer the acids. Over time, supporting skeletal tissues become demineralized and weakened. Since this process is rarely life threatening, and it takes time for structural unsoundness to become apparent, the connection between unsoundness and diet is rarely made.

Mineral imbalances

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The metabolic consequences of “overfeeding” a protein-rich diet are compounded for the horse by the mineral imbalances presented in alfalfa hays. Alfalfa has a high calcium-to-phosphorus ratio, often 4:1 and higher. The ratio in a healthy horse’s diet is 1.5 to 2:1. Whilst it may appear that more calcium is available to the horse, the unbalanced ratio interferes with the body’s abilities to assimilate and process not only calcium but companion minerals such as magnesium. Magnesium influences how calcium is transported out of the gastrointestinal tract and formed into bone. It also helps control hundreds of enzymatic reactions in cells that influence bone density. As magnesium levels decrease in bone, bone crystals become large and brittle. Inadequate magnesium levels in the blood serum impairs the action of hormones. Magnesium is the relaxation-inducing mineral for both the body and the mind, so deficient horses become tight, sore, and anxious. Calcium imbalances in the diet can lead to thumps, muscle cramps, or tying up. It can also interfere with the absorption of iodine, a mineral necessary for healthy thyroid gland function. The high energy and protein levels found in alfalfa-based diets of young horses spur rapid growth of body mass, overburdening an immature skeletal frame. Its calcium imbalance interferes with the levels of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and copper that are biologically available to the growing horse. Bone quality suffers lacking the building blocks for density and substance. Like concrete lacking the strength of rebar, so is for the young horse that is unsound at five or six years of age ailing with various degenerative bone diseases. Structural soundness may not be readily apparent to the naked eye in a young horse, yet becomes apparent over time. Quality mixed grasses and grass hays are the mainstay of a horse’s diet, supporting health, performance and longevity. These hays closely approximate the horse needs. Exercise caution if incorporating alfalfa hays into your horse’s diet being mindful of its nutrientrich profile. Carol Shwetz is a veterinarian specializing in equine practice at Westlock, Alberta.


21

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Swine dysentery is back and in a new strain PREVENTION  University of Saskatchewan researchers will soon begin inoculation trials BY SHANNON VANRAES STAFF

F

or years it has been absent from western Canadian hog barns, but now swine dysentery is back in Canadian and American herds. “From my understanding it was in the mid-1990s when classical swine dysentery, brachyspira hydosenteriae, sort of went off the radar,” Joe Rubin told the 2012 Canadian Swine Health Forum in Winnipeg last week. The post-doctoral fellow at the University of Saskatchewan has been working on developing methods of positively identifying the bacteria in swine, as well as looking at what appears to be a new species of the bacteria under the same genus. In its classic form, the bacteria can cause prolonged and sometimes hemorrhagic diarrhea in animals. What the new species will be called and how it will be identified is still being worked out. “We haven’t quite got our nomenclature down yet,” said Rubin, but the term brachyspira 30446 is being used in the interim. The new strain of the pathogen doesn’t appear to cause symptoms as severe as brachyspira hydosenteriae, but both the old and new strains have emerged in hog barns.

Emerging problem

In 2003 cases of swine dysentery reappeared in American hog barns, while the first cases in Western Canada appeared in 2009. In 2010 four cases were reported in Quebec. “We have a clearly emerging problem in North America,” Dr. Doug MacDougald of South West Ontario Veterinary Service told attendees.

“I think a lot of people were surprised to see this. With improved biosecurity it was not expected.”

to the farm? Or did they pick it up while living near the hog barn? We just don’t know,” he said. Other preliminary discussions have led to the suggest contaminated surface water may be playing a role in the spread, but no formal research studies have tested that hypothesis. Janet Hill of the University of Saskatchewan is leading that school’s brachyspira research program and said they will soon begin inoculation trials with brachyspira 30446. “It’s a really important step when studying potential pathogens,” she said. “Just because you can isolate and detect an organism in association with disease, doesn’t necessarily mean the organism is the cause.” Once causation is firmly established, the next step is to look at the epidemiology of the disease and determine its origin. “I think a lot of people were surprised to see this,” she said. “With improved biosecurity it was not expected.”

A U.S. researcher says a lot of basic biology still needs to be done on this new species affecting herds.

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He added that communication between producers, industry and researchers is crucial to addressing the disease as it emerges. “I think that we are in the same stage in the U.S. as in Canada, we’re trying to keep it controlled and come up with a good method of detection,” said Eric Burrough of Iowa State University, who spoke about the American experience with the disease. But Rubin points out a lot of basic biology still needs to be done on this new species of brachyspira affecting herds. “Where did it come from? We don’t really know a lot about where these organisms hang out when they’re not in pigs,” he said. Suggestions have been made that rodents or wild birds are responsible for the re-emergence, but so far no studies have been conclusive. Rubin notes studies looking at birds living on hog farms have found them to contain the bacteria, but the question then becomes a chicken or egg discussion. “Did the birds bring it with them

Visit UFA.com for everything you need for a successful roundup. Our handy online checklist will help you save time while getting the most out of your season.

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22

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Science broadcaster calls chronic wasting disease “a slow-motion epidemic” MEDICAL MYSTERIES  Jay Ingram reprises popular lecture tour on prion diseases,

which include CWD, BSE and scrapie, as well as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease BY SHERI MONK

AF STAFF / PINCHER CREEK

A

lbertans will get a chance to learn more about the “fascinating” world of prions when well-known author and broadcaster Jay Ingram hits the road for a second lecture tour on prion diseases. “Last time we went to Medicine Hat, Grand Prairie and Red Deer and there were good turnouts, and very interested audiences with good questions,” said Kevin Keough, executive director of the Alberta Prion Research Institute, which is sponsoring the three-city speaking tour along with Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions. Prion diseases, which are caused by “misfolded” protein molecules, are a source of fascination for sci-

entists and a scourge of livestock producers. Among the prion diseases are bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), chronic wasting disease (CWD) and scrapie, as well as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. All are fatal. “The thing about prions is that they’re interesting on many different levels,” said Ingram, former host of Discovery Channel’s science program “Daily Planet.” “They were fascinating biologically because they seem to be a simple protein molecule that could actually reproduce, and that was sort of unheard of. And the fact that while mad cow disease is fair to say is largely under control, you have CWD in Alberta and Saskatchewan and in 18 states, and that’s definitely not in control.” First noted in the 1920s, prion

diseases gained attention in the 1950s when Kuru disease was discovered in a tribe in Papua New Guinea that practised ritualistic cannibalism to honour their dead. “Sadly, if you’re going eat somebody’s brain that has a prion disease in it, you are doing the absolute worst thing you could possibly do,” said Ingram, whose latest book, Fatal Flaws, tells the story of prion diseases, clinically known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. “Kuru is incredibly interesting, partially because it triggered interest in the wider medical community around the world, and it actually led to the understanding that CJD and scrapie were all in the same family.”

More attention needed

While the BSE crisis has faded,

Ingram warned that CWD among cervids is not getting the attention it deserves. “It is an epidemic, but because it is so slow running I don’t think people can get their heads around the fact that this is spreading out of control,” said Ingram. “In 1967, it starts in a deer enclosure in Colorado and now there’s 18 states and two provinces? Sure, the time frame is decades, but the incubation period of these diseases is incredibly long, and maybe this is just a slow-motion epidemic.” Although prion diseases are very rare in both humans and wildlife, they may have connections to some very significant human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, juvenile diabetes and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

“These are all chronic neurodegenerative diseases, but they all are linked to the prion diseases because they all feature the accumulation in the brain of misfolded proteins,” said Ingram. “So as the issue of BSE declines in apparent importance, the possibility of clues to these hugely important human neurodegenerative diseases has become much more important.” Ingram will speak at Lethbridge College on November 13, at Lakeland College, Vermilion Campus on November 14, and at Olds College on November 15. His “Prion Diaries” presentations will be followed by question-and-answer sessions with two researchers from the Alberta Prion Research Institute (see www.prioninstitute.ca for more information).

Olds College.

A complete century of real-life, hands-on learning. In 1913, The Olds School of Agriculture and Home Economics opened its doors, changing the course of rural education in ways that still resonate today. To celebrate this milestone, Olds College invites you to a year long roster of signature events. As our 100th year approaches, we extend a big thank you to our generous sponsors. Your support will help make our Centennial – a whole year of celebrations – truly memorable. Your sponsorship is very much appreciated. We value your commitment and contribution to our Centennial and we thank you for getting involved and celebrating with us. For more information on sponsorship opportunities please contact: Ken Risi, Director of Development: (403) 556-4641 or krisi@oldscollege.ca

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Olds College is pleased to announce the launching of our Olds College Online Retail Store! It is fun, easy to use and you will be supporting the future of Olds College and its students. With over 30 items and more being continually added, this is a great way to support Olds College while celebrating a 100-year milestone. Items can be viewed at www.oldscollege.ca/onlinestore and are available for worldwide shipping or Campus pickup. Any questions can be directed to: Jim Ingoldsby at (403) 507-7721 or jingoldsby@oldscollege.ca.

LIMITED EDITION CENTENNIAL MERCHANDISE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ONLINE:

2013 marks the 100th Anniversary of Olds College Join all of us at Alberta Farmer Express as we extend our most sincere congratulations to Olds College on 100 years of excellence in education.

• Clothing including caps, shirts, belt buckles, sports bags, hoodies and scarfs • World Plowing Championship registration packages • Reaping the Rewards - Limited edition framed print celebrating the Olds College Centennial by Wendy Risdale • Seeding Success - The story of Olds College since 1913 by author Barry Potyondi • Centennial Coffee

For more information on how you can show your support in this space contact: Tiffiny Taylor tiffiny.taylor@fbcpublishing.com


23

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Two Angus bulls — which would you pick? COMPARISONS  As the years pass, experienced cattle producers understand

the need to genetically balance the cow herd

CHOOSE

BY KRIS RINGWALL, BEEF SPECIALIST

Which would you pick? Bull A Bull B Weaning weight EDP +74 +18 $ weaning index +40.77 +29.11 $ cow energy value –20.07 +33.63

NDSU EXTENSION SERVICE

P

erhaps the beef business is not unique. However, each year, when our students gather to study beef production, they are geared to determine what is right. Many think they already know. This bull or that bull, this steer or that steer, this cow or that cow. The comparisons can be numerous, but the urge is always there to pick the best. Unfortunately, the question often is wrong or the answer already is assumed before the question is asked. Students compete with each other as they compare predetermined or ingrained concepts of what is best. In class the other day, two Angus herd sires were presented. The herd sires were taken by chance from two websites of two different Angus breeders. Each student was asked to compare the bulls. Cutting to the chase, one bull (A) had an expected progeny difference (EPD) for a weaning weight of plus 74. The other bull (B) had an EPD weaning weight of plus 18. An ingrained response was evident because all nods went to bull A. This means that bigger and better would be the motto. Bull A is in the upper one per cent of the breed for pre-weaning growth, while bull B is at the lower end. Checking the Angus Association website, the weaning index EPD for bull A was plus 40.77 (upper two per cent of the breed). For bull B, it was plus 29.11 (upper 35 per cent of the breed). The weaning index did not change opinions. Checking the Angus Association website again, we looked for the

TWO ANGUS BULLS

Breed association websites contain well-compiled information on almost all the bulls within the breed. cow energy value ($EN). Bull A’s $EN was minus 20.07, while bull B’s $EN was plus 33.63. In terms of breed ranking, the bulls had completely reversed. Bull B was in the top two per cent in the Angus breed, while bull A was at the lower end. The class was silent, at least momentarily. A real challenge was presented with these two bulls. Bull A led the way for growth, but is sacrificing maternal issues, while bull B led the way to impacting the maternal side of the breed but is sacrificing growth.

Genetic balance

In fairness to the students, the discussion did acknowledge the dilemma. As the years pass, experienced cattle producers understand

Prion institute granted three more years of funding

the need to genetically balance the cow herd. Likewise, in earlier years, various breeds of cattle evolved with more focus on selected traits. The early split was between maternal breeds and paternal (or terminal) breeds. It was fairly well understood that one breed would have difficulty in meeting the needs of the complete package. In today’s beef world, producers tend to be more single-breed orientated because they are looking for the complete package within that one breed. What is interesting, as was noted with the genetics students, is the presence of variation. The point being, if a producer seeks the right information and obtains the right data, correct decisions can be made to steer the cow herd.

Perhaps the overriding factor in today’s drought-driven, expensive feed scenarios is that increased attention needs to be directed to the cow herd. The pounds of feed delivered and utilized by the cow herd affect the bottom line. Therefore, at least for today, the students could ponder that bigger is not always better. When one compares bull A, a trait leader for weaning growth, versus bull B, a trait leader for cow energy values, astute producers will search the Angus database for a better balance between the two traits.

Growth versus efficiency

The next day’s assignment for the class was to find a bull that would achieve the desired outcome of growth but not at the expense

of cow efficiency. The next class period brought home some good bulls that did balance growth and cow efficiency. The bottom line for the students is to know the needs of the herd and then ask the right questions to find the right bull. The bull business is competitive and, unfortunately, that means one bull producer against another. Sometimes lost in the discussion is the bull buyer. Thanks to the many breed associations, bull buyers of today do not need to get lost in the flurry of information and fluff of the sale. Breed association websites contain well-compiled information on almost all the bulls within the breed. There is no need to find out by paying excessive feed bills that the base cow herd is inefficient. In a matter of minutes, one can type in the registration number of the bulls used on the appropriate breed association website to gain a good understanding of the genes that have been selected and placed in the herd. The only one responsible is the producer. Buying the right bulls will position one to be better prepared for the next drought. Bigger is not always better. North Dakota State University Extension Service beef specialist Kris Ringwall writes a weekly column

Cow-Calfenomics 2012: Transitions, Tools and Technologies

THE RISE  Chronic Wasting Disease is now

in 18 states and two provinces

BY SHERI MONK

AF STAFF / PINCHER CREEK

The Alberta Prion Research Institute (APRI) was founded in 2005, and given an initial seven-year mandate which recently expired. “Our funding has been continued by the Alberta government for three years, which we’re very pleased about. There are still some challenges there, it’s a bridge not completely built by any means,” said executive director Kevin Keough. With BSE in decline and stringent SRM regulations in place, further cases are not unexpected, but the incidence has dropped dramatically. Keough maintains the research is just as important as ever. “I don’t want to scare people, but it’s not trivial that this chronic wasting disease stuff is out there. It’s a disease that no doubt is spreading in North America. It’s spreading in Alberta, it’s spreading westward and northward a bit. It’s spreading in Saskatchewan. It’s spreading in the U.S. more extensively.” Although SRM removal has been pivotal in reducing BSE spread, it has been expensive for the industry. “We need to try and figure out

better ways to deal with that from the perspective of economics. Secondly, a substantial amount of SRMs we still bury, and even though they are in a relatively highly-contained environment, we don’t know all of the things we need to know about prions to say that we can walk away from it and we don’t need to study this anymore,” Keough said. He said Alberta has become known around the world as a powerhouse in prion research, which is a natural fit because Alberta was already very strong in both protein and neuroscience research. “There’s some real opportunity for Alberta to be a significant leader internationally and we’re becoming recognized as being a leader in this area, and that has been a really great return on the public investment in this over the past few years.” As well, there are what are called “sporadic” cases of BSE that occur in cattle. Unlike classic BSE, these cases have no known cause and Keough says research to learn more about them is also important. “It’s more about being prepared to deal with something and being vigilant and understanding it so you can head it off rather than responding to a crisis.”

TOPICS COVERED:

• Transitioning the Business: A Next Generation Perspective • Strategic Risk Management for Cattle Producers • Cattle Price Insurance Program – Managing your Risk • Economic Value of Genomics – Current and Future • BIXS/TRACEBACK – Tools to Improve Herd Profitability • Profitable Strategies for Full Time Ranching (Producer Panel)

Date

Town

Location

Time

November 20, 2012

Fairview

Dunvegan Motor Inn

9:30 am - 3:30 pm

November 21, 2012

Barrhead

Barrhead Agrena Rec Centre

9:30 am - 3:30 pm

November 22, 2012

Rimbey

Best Western Rimstone Ridge

9:30 am - 3:30 pm

December 11, 2012

Lloydminster

Lloydminster Exhibition Association

9:30 am - 3:30 pm

December 12, 2012

Brooks

Heritage Inn and Conference Centre

9:30 am - 3:30 pm

December 13, 2012

Nanton

Nanton Community Centre

9:30 am - 3:30 pm

HOW TO REGISTER:

To register call the Ag Info Centre at 1-800-387-6030. Registration fee is $25.00 (includes lunch) and payment can be made by cheque or credit card (MasterCard or Visa). Please make cheques payable to the Government of Alberta. Cheques can be mailed to Ag-Info Centre, Bag 600, Stettler, Alberta T0C 2L0.


24

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

NDSU feeding trials with peas, hulless barley and DDGS Surprise } Peas did not affect feeding performance but had no effect on meat quality ndsu extension service

Researchers discovered that feeding only hay and only distillers grains on alternating days resulted in changes in forage intake and concentrations of volatile fatty acids produced in the rumen without affecting digestibility.

North Dakota State University researchers have reported on beef cattle-feeding trials with field peas, hulless barley and distillers grains over the past year. Some results include: • Dried distillers grains plus solubles (DDGS) can be used to supplement growing steers fed medium-quality hay. • Feeding DDGS on alternate days may be an option when forage availability is limited. • Field peas make an excellent feedstuff for finishing diets for feedlot cattle. • Hulless barley is a viable grain for finishing feedlot cattle. The objectives of the first DDGS study were to determine the effect

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of increasing supplementation of corn DDGS on forage intake, average daily gain, gain efficiency and feeding behaviour in growing cattle fed medium-quality hay. Previous research suggested that ethanol byproducts, such as distillers grains, can be an effective supplement for forage-based diets. However, less is known about the effects of supplementation on feeding behaviour and behavioural factors contributing to differences in animals’ responses to supplements. The recent study that NDSU animal sciences department researchers conducted indicates supplementation with DDGS increased growth performance and total drymatter intake in growing steers fed medium-quality hay and reduced their hay intake and the time they spent consuming the hay. In another DDGS study, NDSU animal sciences department researchers evaluated the effects of feeding forage-fed steers DDGS on alternate days as a way to reduce feed costs. Researchers discovered that feeding only hay and only distillers grains on alternating days resulted in changes in forage intake and concentrations of volatile fatty acids produced in the rumen without affecting digestibility. These results indicate that the reduction in forage intake and limited metabolic consequences warrant further investigation of alternate-day feeding schedules as an option when forage availability is limited.

These results indicate that the reduction in forage intake and limited metabolic consequences warrant further investigation… Field pea results

The field pea finding resulted from a feedlot finishing study researchers at NDSU’s Carrington Research Extension Center and the animal sciences department conducted to evaluate how including field peas in yearling beef heifer diets affected feedlot performance, carcass traits and palatability in different muscles in the carcass. The researchers learned that field peas do not have any adverse effects on performance or meat quality. However, including field peas in the cattle’s diet did not increase beef tenderness, which was contrary to the researchers’ expectations. In the barley study, researchers substituted hulless barley for corn at varying levels in a finishing study with 158 crossbred steers. The researchers found that feed intake decreased as the proportion of hulless barley increased, but overall gains were not affected, resulting in an improvement in feed efficiency. For more information on these studies and other recent NDSU beef cattle-related research, visit the “2012 North Dakota Beef Report,” which is available at www. ag.ndsu.edu/cattledocs/researchreports.


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ADVANCED AGRONOMY CONFERENCE 2012 The fifth annual Advanced Agronomy Conference will be held Nov. 19 and 20 at the Delta Edmonton South in Edmonton. CCAs will be able to obtain six of the nine credits offered. Topics include soil compaction, precision vacuum planters, late-season foliar nutrition and the best ways to optimize implement tires for traction and weight bearing. Registration costs are $160 for CCA members and $185 for non-CCA members. A full agenda can be found on the ARECA website.

Manitoba micronutrient company picks up award GUARANTEE  The firm says that if its products are applied properly,

it will remedy any nutrient deficiencies BY ALLAN DAWSON FBC STAFF

W

olf Trax Innovative Micronutrients is one of those overnight successes 14 or more years in the making. The Winnipeg-based firm and recent recipient of the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation Innovation Award, has been quietly building sales of its patented Dry Dispersible Powder (DDP) micronutrient fertilizer coating in 75 regulatory regions, including the U.S., Mexico and northern Europe. Now the privately held firm, founded by company president Geoffrey Gyles and managing director Kerry Green, is gaining attention and sales in Western Canada. Wolf Trax is also selling a new seed-nutrition product called Protinus that promises quicker seedling emergence, especially in cold, wet soils. “Every single time the farmer gets a bigger, healthier crop and that bigger, healthier crop… fights disease better, it ends up yielding better, it ends up doing better for the farmer all the way through,” Gyles said. However, unlike some micronutrient sellers, he stresses not every field needs micronutrients. “Our basic philosophy is if you don’t need micronutrients don’t use them,” he said. University of Manitoba soil science professor, Don Flaten says most Manitoba and Western Canada soils don’t need micronutrients,

Geoffrey Gyles (l) and Kerry Green are the founders and majority shareholders in Wolf Trax Innovative Micronutrients, which recently won the Ernest C. Manning Innovation Award for its patented Dry Dispersible Powder (DDP) micronutrient fertilizer coating. but where they are needed and not provided, yields can suffer. Soil and plant tissue tests are good ways to measure whether micronutrients are needed or not. Not only have some sellers pushed micronutrients on farmers who don’t need them, but some formulations aren’t readily available to the crop. Moreover, where micronutrients are needed, they’re only needed in small quantities, making distribution difficult. Gyles says Wolf Trax’s process addresses that by ensuring micronutrients are spread evenly, because they’re stuck on every prill of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium being applied. Wolf Trax’s micronutrients are also immediately available to crops and continue to be over the whole growing season, Gyles said. Both innovations are what prompted the Manning Award.

Guarantee

Wolf Trax is so confident about its micronutrients it guarantees when applied properly they will eliminate the deficiency. Both Wolf Trax’s DDP products and Protinus were registered in Canada by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency when companies still had to prove their products worked. (The federal government recently dropped that regulation. Now new fertilizer products can now be registered without proving they are efficacious.) Wolf Trax’s micronutrients can also be mixed with water for foliar applications.

Local deficiencies

There are regions in the West where micronutrients deficiencies are more common. For example copper is frequently short in fields on either side of Alberta’s Highway 2

All purchases are subject to the terms of labelling and purchase documents. The DuPont Oval Logo is a registered trademark of DuPont. ®, TM, SM Trademarks and service marks licensed to Pioneer Hi-Bred Limited. © 2012 PHL.

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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

between Edmonton and Calgary, Gyles said. There’s also growing demand among high-input farmers pushing yields, especially in crops like corn and soybeans where zinc and manganese are important, respectively. “As you push the soil harder and harder the deficiencies start to show up,” Gyles said. Protinus, Wolf Trax’s seed-applied fertilizer, includes zinc and manganese. It “spoon feeds” nutrients to seedlings for a fast start, said Jennifer Bailes, director of seed innovations. It also changes the pH around the seed making it easier for the seedlings to absorb nutrients. Replicated trials show Protinus boosts crop yields even where soil tests show adequate nutrients, Bailes said. “Seventy per cent of the time we see a positive yield response,” she said. Protinus-treated wheat, corn, soybean and canola yields are five, four, three and one per cent higher than the untreated crops, respectively, Bailes said. Recommended application rate is six ounces per 100 pounds of seed. (The suggested retail price is $49.75 a kilogram or almost $24.90 a pound.) The cost per acre for wheat, soybeans, corn and canola is around $7.63, $5.08, $1.40 and 42 cents, respectively. In the first 28 days after emergence plants grown with Protinus-treated seed are typically 15 to 20 per cent larger than non-treated plants and have up to 30 per cent more root development, according to Bailes.

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04/10/12 4:14 PM


26

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Harvest one of the sweetest ever for southern Alberta beet growers NOT FINAL  Grower returns will still depend on storage risks and the market price for sugar BY HELEN MCMENAMIN

AF CONTRIBUTOR / LETHBRIDGE

T

he sugar beet harvest is winding up and it looks like it might be one of the best ever for Alberta’s beet farmers and the Rogers Sugar plant (Lantic Inc.) in Taber. “The beets we’ve processed so far are really good quality,” said Andrew Llewelyn-Jones, agricultural superintendent for Rogers Sugar. “Sugar content is as good as our best-ever crop. And, the tonnage is good too. I think we’re close to record tonnage.” The good harvest is due to a combination of things, according to LlewelynJones. The weather played a big part, but advances in plant breeding help too as beet growers have been using Roundup Ready beets for the last few years and the simpler, more effective weed control has made a difference. “Our farmers are becoming better and better growers all the time,” said Llewelyn-Jones. “Good management and the early planting date have helped us get such a good harvest this year, but at the end of the day, you need a good slice of luck for a good crop and we seem to have had that this year.” Llewelyn-Jones expects a total harvest of around 800,000 tonnes of beets from about 30,000 acres, almost 27 tonnes per

Beet harvest started Sept. 19 with a limited early harvest to start the Rogers Sugar factory at Taber. PHOTO: HELEN MCMENAMIN acre. Early sugar yields have been close to 19.5 per cent, better than the long-term average of 18.5 per cent. The amount of sugar the factory can actually extract depends mainly on storage conditions, but things look good for this year. “I’m happy with the way things have gone so far this year,” said Llewelyn-Jones. “I hope we can generate good returns for our farmers as well as the company.”

Growers still face risk

Beet growers are pleased with the crop, but they have some reservations. “We’ve delivered probably the best crop ever produced in southern Alberta,” said Gerald Third, executive director of the Alberta

Sugar Beet Growers. “Three-quarters of the way through the sugar production cycle we’re cautiously optimistic that our growers will see the best returns they’ve had in 25 years. But, there’s still lots of stuff can go wrong and the growers have no control over,” he said. “The production cycle includes seeding to harvest, delivery, storage and processing. We have absolutely no control once the beets are delivered, but we still own them and carry 100 per cent of the risk until the sugar is in the bin.” The returns to farmers are a combination of beet tonnage, the sugar extracted and the world price of sugar. But, stored beets can respire and lose sugar or even rot.

Beet harvest started Sept. 19 with a limited early harvest to start the factory, which limits harvest to the amount of beets it can use immediately to avoid losing sugar as stored beets respire. Once the snow and freezing temperatures arrived in the fourth week of October, most of the beets had been piled at receiving stations that pile beets 24 hours a day. Beet acreage fluctuates as growers opt for other special crops, but this year’s harvest with its high sugar content could take the factory closer to its 150,000 tonnes of sugar capacity. Last year, it produced about 121,000 tonnes of refined sugar, much better than the 86,000 and 64,000 tonnes in previous years. The company extracts and purifies sugar through the winter, storing refined sugar and packaging and shipping it throughout the year. Almost three-quarters of production is sold as white granulated sugar, with liquid sugar for beverage and other manufacturers making up most of the remaining sugar. But, production is limited by domestic markets and competing production from beet growers in Central Canada and cane sugar refining. “The Canadian sugar market isn’t afraid to compete on a world market, but we are protected by antidumping laws and a tariff against sugar import from the U.S.,” said Llewelynjones. “So we’re limited in our potential to expand.”

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27

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Good yields and good prices for edible beans this year Perseverance } After a run of poor luck, things look good for growers this year by helen mcmenamin af contributor / taber

G

rowing edible beans in Alberta has always been a bit of a gamble — more than one grower has paid off a land purchase with a good crop of the type of beans in demand that year. On the other hand, with any combination of a poor harvest, the wrong type of bean or a poor price, you could be in trouble unless you have crop insurance. Recent years have dealt more than the average levels of poor luck for bean growers. “Beans like hot, dry summers,” says Owen Clelland, manager of the Viterra Bean Plant in Taber. He says that despite working in the bean business for most of his career, even he was wondering how much more he wanted of it. “We really struggled for about three years, I think 2006 to ’09 when we had horrendous years with showery weather in late July and August. Then in ’09 and ’10 we had lousy harvest weather and we didn’t even harvest some beans, they were so poor. And we’ve had prices down around 20 cents a pound too.” However, it wasn’t enough to cut bean acreage very much. Almost 46,000 acres of beans were contracted to Viterra this year. Clelland too is feeling better about the bean business again. Every type of bean has yielded well, but especially myocobas (yellows) and pintos, and they all came off in good condition. The Viterra plants at Taber and Bow Island are both full and so is an offsite facility that holds almost 10 million pounds. Despite the big harvest, Clelland’s plant worked well for growers. Growers bring in beans right off the combine, because they undercut the plants a little below soil level so they catch all the pods and there’s quite a bit of soil along with the beans. When beans are delivered to the plant, they are scalped and the soil is returned to the farmer’s truck. This year’s excellent harvest weather with no real break spread the deliveries more than usual. “Most trucks were in and out in an hour or an hour and a half,” he says. “When we’ve had a week of bad weather, everybody is rushing and waits are regularly four to six hours. This year the worst waits were two or maybe 2.5 hours.”

Good prices

Markets are good this year, too, especially for yellow beans. They sell into the southwestern U.S. and for the last few years they’ve sold for around 75 cents a pound, as long as the marketers can catch the period between our harvest and January, when Mexico’s brighter-coloured beans reach the market. Other types look set to make over 50 cents a pound.

“Most of our growers stay with beans year after year, sticking to their rotations.” Owen Clelland Viterra

“The yellows are the only type that we don’t have our own variety,” says Clelland. “The variety we have isn’t as bright as the Mexican varieties, but we have some nice ones coming along, probably in 2015 or 2016. We’ve a new Great Northern for next year. AC Tundra has all the good traits of our current variety, Resolute, with better yield potential.” Clelland says good prices and high yields usually attract new growers, but he’s not ready to contract a lot of acres. “That would be shooting ourselves in the foot,” he says. “We have to compete with U.S. and other growers and the U.S. has signed trade agreements with some of our traditional customers. We used to sell a lot of beans to the Dominican Republic and we had very good

relations with some families. But now, our beans face import taxes 30 or 40 per cent higher than U.S. prices. Friendship only goes so far.” The Canadian trade agreement with Colombia has allowed Alberta beans back into that country. But perhaps trade will never be quite what it was before the U.S. gained a trade advantage with its trade agreement. Viterra only contracts amounts of beans that match sale projections, although growers can grow any beans on spec and market their crop themselves. Clelland says most growers stay with beans year after year, sticking to their rotations. “They’ll put in a little less if the markets look poor or a little extra when the market outlook is bright, but they’re long-term growers who realize you get ups and downs in any industry.”

Edible bean prices depend on supply and demand for each variety every year.

Come to a canola meeting near you! Each meeƟng features a unique line up of speakers discussing growing canola, markeƟng canola, and farm business management. There’s also an update on the acƟviƟes the ACPC is undertaking to improve the long term protability of canola for growers in Alberta.

Check out some of the great speakers lined up for this year! Please note that not every speaker is at every meeƟng - check our web site for each meeƟng’s agenda.

Merle Good

Clint Jurke

Mike Jubinville

Jennifer Otani

Greg Kostal

Murray Hartman

Dan Orchard

David Wong

Neil Harker

Greg Sekulic

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Bob Blackshaw

Tuesday, November 20 Camrose, AB

Wednesday, November 28 Lacombe, AB

Friday, November 30 Westlock, AB

Wednesday, November 21 La Crete, AB

Wednesday, November 28 Falher, AB

Tuesday, December 4 Medicine Hat, AB

Friday, November 23 Lethbridge, AB

Thursday, November 29 Devon, AB

Wednesday, December 5 Viking, AB

Tuesday, November 27 Rosebud, AB

Thursday, November 29 Sexsmith, AB

Thursday, December 6 Marwayne, AB

Pre-register for any meeƟng to be entered to win a three-day pass to the FarmTech 2013 Conference !

For complete details and to pre-register go to www.canola.ab.ca or by calling 1-800-551-6652


28

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Industry surprised grain act amendments don’t go further CGC MANDATE  Expected changes to the Canadian Grain Commission aren’t part of the new legislation BY ALLAN DAWSON FBC STAFF

M

ost of the amendments to the Canada Grain Act tabled in the House of Commons last month were expected. What wasn’t is that the changes cutting the 100-year-old Canadian Grain Commission’s (CGC) role in the grain industry were buried in the controversial 457-page omnibus budget implementation bill. The legislation doesn’t change the CGC’s mandate or governance, which also surprised and disappointed some. “We view this as a missed opportunity to properly adjust to deeper changes we’ve seen in farm operations and grain handling and marketing and exporting in the global marketplace,” Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, said in an interview Oct. 18. “I would say this is only the first step,” said Richard Phillips, executive director of the Grain Growers of Canada. “There needs to be something a little more sweeping than what’s happened so far.” National Farmers Union president Terry Boehm is pleased the CGC’s mandate to regulate Canada’s grain industry “in the interests of the grain producers,” is untouched for now. The grain act and CGC were created to help farmers counter grain and railway company power and is needed as much today as in 1912, he said. The federal government should cover the CGC’s $83-million annual costs because of the grain industry’s economic value to Canada, Boehm said. Grain act amendments won’t undermine Canada’s grain quality, CGC spokesman Remi Gosselin said. “We’re going to continue to set standards and grain grades and that’s going to continue to be the standard for all of industry,” he

A grain train at a Vancouver terminal. After changes to the grain act, commission personnel will no longer monitor inward weighing but retain responsibility for outward inspection of vessel cargoes. PHOTO: REUTERS

“There needs to be something a little more sweeping than what’s happened so far.” RICHARD PHILLIPS

said. “We don’t feel this is going to have an impact on Canada’s grainquality assurance system or our reputation internationally.” The single biggest change — ending mandatory CGC inward grain inspection (weighing and grading) at terminal elevators — has been discussed for 20 years and included in previous failed Conservative bills. Grain shippers, including pro-

ducer car shippers, can request inward inspection, but they’ll have to pay an independent third party authorized by the CGC and chosen by the terminal operator. “These amendments will streamline and modernize the operations of the CGC, reduce the regulatory burden for grain producers and eliminate about $20 million annually in unnecessary costs from the grain-handling system — costs that are ultimately borne by farmers,” the federal government said in a news release.

Higher fees

The Public Service Alliance of Canada estimates 250 CGC jobs will be cut, said Fabian Murphy, first national vice-president of the Agriculture Union, which is part of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The CGC is supposed to be self-sufficient but typically has a $30-million deficit that Ottawa covers. Cutting CGC costs by $20 million means another $10 million needs to be earned to cover all its costs. The Grain Growers of Canada expects higher fees, including for outward inspection, which includes the CGC’s “Certificate Final,” guaranteeing the grade of exported grain. “If our outward fees have to go up substantially then that makes us less competitive in the world market,” Phillips said. The WGEA, GGC and the Keystone Agricultural Producers support ending mandatory inward

inspection. Since most grain coming to port terminals is owned by the same company, CGC inspection is an unnecessary expense, they say. But according to Boehm mandatory inspection makes grain grading more transparent, encouraging companies to share blending benefits with farmers.

Producer security

The Grain Appeal Tribunal is being scrapped. If a disagreement arises from a requested inward inspection, Canada’s chief grain inspector will settle it. Other amendments include: • No official CGC inspection and weighing of laker shipments. • One class of licence for terminal and transfer elevators. • No regular primary, terminal and transfer weigh-overs. The CGC will also revamp its producer security program, replacing the bonding system to cover money owed farmers with an insurance scheme, paid for by companies, not farmers, Gosselin said. Defaults would be 100 per cent covered. Insurance will be cheaper for companies and less costly for the CGC to oversee. The CGC will release its revised service changes in the coming weeks and seek feedback, he said. These amendments focus on reducing costs to the grain industry, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in an email. “Making these specific changes now will not in any way prevent the CGC from continuing their mod-

ernization and consultations on future changes,” Ritz wrote. The WGEA’s Sobkowich isn’t so sure. “This is our shot to modernize the Canada Grain Act,” he said. “Who knows how long it will be before we have the opportunity to address these important things?” Sobkowich said more changes are needed. “Because they have been able to carve out one of the higher-cost component pieces, we wonder also if the same desire is going to be there down the road to make these further amendments.” The WGEA wants optional outward inspection, Sobkowich said. The KVD (kernel visual distinguishability) system, used to visually segregate wheat classes until Ottawa ended it in 2008, still hasn’t been replaced in the grain act, he added. The WGEA wants the act to include penalties for misrepresenting varieties on delivery. The WGEA also wants the federal government to pay for CGC’s “public good” services such as grain research and monitoring grain for pesticides and toxins — something not included in the current amendments. The GGC wants that too, but the government can add it later, Phillips said. It’s up to the grain industry to keep the pressure on the government to bring in additional amendments to the grain act, he said. “That comes down to us having effective lobbying and having their ear and keeping the pressure on to getting it done.”

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29

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

U.S. winter likely to continue hot weather trend

A SOLUTION TO OAT RUST

Oregon State University researcher Tom Wolpert examines an oat plant. Wolpert and colleagues recently published a paper outlining their discovery of why oats, barley, rice and beans are susceptible to rust. They say the fungus Cochliobolus victoriae tricks the plant into a self-destructive defence mechanism. The findings could result in development of resistant varieties, the researchers say.

UNCERTAIN  An

elusive El Niño challenges government predictions BY DEBORAH ZABARENKO AND AYESHA RASCOE REUTERS

A

fter a hot spring and a scorching summer, this winter is likely to continue a U.S. warming trend that could make 2012 the hottest year since modern record-keeping began, U.S. weather experts said Oct. 18. Drought that ravaged much of the United States this year may spread in the coming months, said Mike Halpert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center. “The large majority of that drought we expect to persist,” Halpert said. “We even see drought expanding westward... into Montana, Idaho and part of Oregon and Washington.” Drier-than-usual winter weather is expected in much of the Pacific Northwest, with higher-thannormal precipitation predicted for the Gulf Coast, according to NOAA forecasts. For much of the country, a threemonth (December-February) winter forecast is hard to pin down. The vast majority of states have what the experts said was an equal chance of below-normal, normal or above-normal precipitation.

PHOTO: OSU

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Less certain upper Midwest

The densely populated East Coast, along with the southern tier of states from Texas to Florida and the upper Midwest also have an equal chance of colder, normal or warmer weather this winter, according to the forecasters. Still, there is enough data to predict a warm winter overall, said Deke Arndt, chief of climate monitoring at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. The first nine months of 2012 were the warmest of any year on record in the contiguous United States, and this has been the third-hottest summer since record-keeping began. “The main issues facing the U.S. going into this (winter) outlook period stem from persistent heat and drought,” Arndt said at a telephone briefing. “It is likely that 2012 will be the warmest of the 118-year record for the contiguous United States.” An El Niño pattern — a recurring patch of warmer-than-usual water in the equatorial Pacific that can have a potent effect on U.S. weather — gave hints of developing in September but then subsided, the first time this has happened in approximately 60 years of record-keeping on this phenomenon, Halpert said. “This is one of the most challenging outlooks we’ve produced in recent years because El Niño decided not to show up as expected,” he said. A record-warm winter would be in line with NOAA’s latest report on global temperatures, which found September 2012 tied for the hottest September in world records going back to 1880.

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30

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Rural electrification associations face buyouts from big operators CONTENTIOUS  Members have a number of options, including contract management or outright sale BY REBECCA DIKA

“It was almost getting where you couldn’t make a move without breaking a law.”

AF CONTRIBUTOR / GRANDE PRAIRIE

T

he rural electrification associations (REA) that brought power to rural Alberta in the 1950s after the province said it couldn’t afford to, may soon become an endangered species. Citing high maintenance and operating costs as well as onerous safety regulations, REAs across the province are being purchased by ATCO. The Peace Country REA (PCREA) is now on the block and members will be voting on ATCO’s offer of about $20,000 for each site. Total purchase price would be $66 million. It’s been likened to “selling the farm and then being forced to buy back the crop each year,” says a consultant hired by the PCREA Board to provide recommendations. The report recommends the association move to a self-operating business that would manage its own operations, and the board is supporting that recommendation. The offer to purchase is a contentious issue across the wide geographical area covered by PCREA. Aside from the self-operating entity, the two other options include to continue to contract with ATCO for most operations, maintenance and new construction or to sell the REA to ATCO and go forward under ATCO electric tariffs. PCREA president Clarence Gabert says research indicates that the self-operating model is

NICK HUDAK PEACE GROVE-WORSLEY REA

Rural electrification co-ops were widely adopted in the U.S. and Canada in the 1940s and 1950s. the best, lowest-cost way to provide energy. There are seven other self-operating REAs representing 37,000 members in the province. These organizations have been able to offer lower contract and Regulated Rate Option (RRO) rates and have done so consistently over the five years, said Gabert. In a letter to his members, he said the organization

“can finance the necessary capital additions, their replacements over time, and replenish and grow the deposit reserve to more than $2 million.” Information distributed to members said PCREA assets are increasing in value every year based on ATCO’s own formula for valuation, and questions selling an asset increasing in value.

If members vote to move to a self-operating status, the board said it would use North Parkland Power as a model. PCREA indicates that the RRO for all sizes of transformers would be lower using this model, estimating annual savings between $600-$1,900.

Only options

There wasn’t much of a question

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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 BiotechnologyDerived 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. Genuity and Design®, Genuity Icons, Genuity®, Roundup Ready®, and Roundup® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. Used under license.

a couple of years ago when ATCO came calling to the Peace GroveWorsley REA. By March 2011, 98 per cent of members voted to accept the $13-million deal which paid $19,492 for each site. President Nick Hudak said selling was the only viable option, and the sale was “the best business decision” given the ever-increasing set of what he called “onerous rules and regulations.” “All of the responsibility lies with the REA and its board as the prime contractor,” said Hudak. “It was almost getting where you couldn’t make a move without breaking a law.” ATCO had been pursuing the REA for some time. “There was a time I never thought we’d ever sell,” said Hudak. “But when the day comes that you can’t save your members a dollar, you have to ask yourself what you’re doing.” The Peace Grove-Worsley REA looked at other options as well, including contracting out all its maintenance and operations, but Hudak said “it wasn’t cost favourable at all.” At the time, ATCO told members it expected to recover less than half of the sale price from electricity costs paid by members over the next 25 years, he said. The time was ripe for selling, Hudak said, since the REA was in good shape financially, the lines were in good condition and a sale would be prudent before lines and other materials had the chance to depreciate. Some 17 months on, Hudak said members seem to be mostly happy with the sale. “The only jolt was that as an REA member you paid discounted rates for idle taps, about $12 a month. Once ATCO took over, that figure came to around $33.” If the REA hadn’t sold, the rates would still have had to be raised, Hudak said. As part of the deal, ATCO also footed the bill for a $240,000 ground rod replacement project, he said. “We really had no choice given the sheer amounts of rules and regulations required now, it was the only way to go.” Still, larger REAs like Central Alberta and South Alta are crying foul. “The multinational is eliminating their competition without risk to stockholders and making an additional profit while spending their Alberta customer money — not their own money,” says a press release. Where else, asks the REAs, can a company “that has a monopoly within a defined, protected service area be permitted to systematically buy out the competition… without risk to stockholders, include the cost of those buyouts in their approved customer rates and then receive a guaranteed return on the investment expense to buy out their competition?”


31

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Vet says don’t let your four-legged employees suffer from fleas Simple } Vet says flea control isn’t expensive, is

easy to administer and allows working dogs to focus on their job

by alexis kienlen af staff / ponoka

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our working dog won’t be at its best if he or she is itching from a flea infestation. “Flea prevention has become really easy, and there’s really no reason not to have that as part of your dog managing program,” said Lynne Copeland a Red Deerbased veterinarian who specializes in herding, guardian and working dogs. Many producers don’t bother with parasite control in their working animals — and that’s a mistake, Copeland said at the recent Alberta Goat Breeders Association annual conference. “Farm working animals are at the front line of encountering parasites and picking up parasites,” she said. “Unlike many companion dogs around town, they’re earning a living and making a valuable contribution to your farm. They deserve to be well looked after. If you look after your working dogs, they will look after you.” Because fleas live primarily on coyotes and foxes, they’re more prevalent in the country. They are often found in grass, where they wait and then hop on anything that walks by. “You tend to see fleas on dogs that are in close contact with coy-

“You tend to see fleas on dogs that are in close contact with coyotes and foxes, or that are regularly roaming through fields where coyotes and foxes make their rounds.” Lynne Copeland

otes and foxes, or that are regularly roaming through fields where coyotes and foxes make their rounds,” Copeland said. Fleas are one to 2.5 millimetres in length, fast moving and a redbrown colour. They often burrow down by the skin and move by jumping long distances. Fleas are not host specific and can live on dogs and cats, and will even try living on non-host species, including humans. “If you look at your dog and you see something darting in and out of its hair, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to be a flea,” Copeland said. Owners should maintain their dog’s coat and occasionally part the dog’s hair to look for fleas, she said. Flea bites, which look like mosquito bites, can cause rashes and inflammation. Hair loss is another sign, as dogs may pull out their own hair when biting or scratching themselves. The flea life cycle makes them difficult to get rid of. The pests live on an animal and the females produce eggs, which fall off the animal, and pupate in the environment. “If you’ve got a dog that sleeps in the barn or the doghouse, you can get quite a load of eggs and larvae living all around where the dog sleeps,” said Copeland. Flea eggs can survive freezing and can live for weeks before hatching and reinfesting the animal. “That’s why it can be tough and why you need ongoing prevention,” said Copeland. “It’s not enough to realize your dog has fleas and give him a good flea bath.” Start with a flea spray or shampoo to provide immediate relief. “Once you’ve got the majority of the load out of the way, start on a monthly treatment,” Copeland said. There are a number of good medications available. They can be administered topically or orally and work for up to 30 days. Doghouses and the bedding inside them can be cleaned with a shop vac or premise insecticide spray. Dogs with major skin rashes caused by fleas should be taken to the vet for antibiotics. “Flea prevention is not expensive and it’s very simple,” said Copeland. “Your dog is not going to perform well if he’s itching and scratching and he’s miserable with hot spots. He or she will not be focused on the job.”

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32

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

WAIT AND GRAZE

Ranchers are holding back their cattle, waiting for the XL Foods beef crisis to be resolved, while some producers are using smaller processing plants. These cattle are pastured southwest of Calgary, near Priddis, Alta. PHOTO: WENDY DUDLEY

WHAT’S UP Send agriculture-related meeting and event announcements to: will.verboven@fbcpublishing.com November 4/11 - FarmFair International, Edmonton Northlands, Edmonton. Call: Tyler 780-471-7324 November 6 - ABP 2012 Meeting Zone 8, Community Hall 6:00 pm, Streamstown. Call: ABP 403-275-4400 November 6 - Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance, Memorial Hall 4:00 pm, Valleyview. Call: Rhonda 780-324-3355 November 7 - ABP 2012 Meeting Zone 8, Community Hall 6:00 pm, Goodridge. Call: ABP 403-275-4400 November 7/10 - Agritrade 2012, Westerner Park, Red Deer. Call: Agritrade 403-755-7123 November 7 - Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance, Community Hall 4:00 pm, Spirit River. Call: Rhonda 780-324-3355 November 7 - Negotiating Surface Agreements, Recreation Centre 9:00 am, Lamont. Call: LALC 780-895-2874 November 7 - Athabasca Watershed Council, Hazel Bluff Hall 5:30 pm, Westlock. Call: Melinda 403-843-2960 November 8 - Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance, Elks Hall 4:00 pm, Manning. Call: Rhonda 780-324-3355 November 13 - Sawmill Workshop, Community Hall 10:00 am, Raven. Call: Toso 780-415-2681 November 13/14 - Canfax Cattle Marketing Forum, Deerfoot Inn, Calgary. Call: Iris 403-686-8407 November 14 - Feed Ingredients Workshop, Coast Hotel 10:00 am, Lethbridge. Call: AGINFO 800-387-6030

Visit canolarewards.com or see your nearest Parrish and Heimbecker dealer for details.

This season, we‘re helping hardworking growers like you with up to 20 cents per bushel back! Simply purchase your canola seed and herbicide, and sign a canola contract to collect your reward. As an added bonus, if you book your seed before December 31, 2012, you’ll be eligible to win a trip for two to the World Ag Expo in Tulare, California.

November 14 - Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance, Hall 4:00 pm, Eureka River. Call: Rhonda 780-324-3355 November 15 - Annual Farm Women’s Conference, Quality Inn, Grande Prairie. Call: Tracy 780-524-2987 November 15 - Alberta Pulse Growers Zone 2, Memorial Hall 9:00 am, Three Hills. Call: Duane 403-483-5097 November 15 - Feed Ingredients Workshop, Memorial Centre 10:00 am, Lacombe. Call: AGINFO 800-387-6030 November 15 - Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance, Elks Hall 4:00 pm, Grimshaw. Call: Rhonda 780-324-3355 November 16 - Alberta Wheat Commission Region 5, Dunvegan Inn 9:00 am, Fairview. Call: Elizabeth 403-345-6550 November 19 - Alberta Wheat Commission Region 2, Travelodge Inn 9:00 am, Strathmore. Call: Elizabeth 403-345-6550 November 20 - Canola Growers Meeting, Norseman Inn 9:00 am, Camrose. Call: ACG 800-551-6652 November 21 - Alberta Pulse Growers Zone 4, Fairview College 9:00 am, Fairview. Call: Duane 403-483-5097 November 21 - Ab Wheat Commission Reg 1, Holiday Inn South 9:00 am, Lethbridge. Call: Elizabeth 403-345-6550 November 21 - Canola Growers Meeting, Heritage Centre 9:00 am, La Crete. Call: ACG 800-551-6652

Read the latest ag news from across the province or across the nation at

PLUS: Search for new and archived features from across the network.


33

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Importers fear grain market consolidation will raise prices BIG SIX  Just a few firms now control 75 per cent of world grain trade. Consumers,

farmers squeezed as grain giants tighten grip BY NIGEL HUNT LONDON/REUTERS

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global race for grain trading power is putting more of the world’s vital cereals in the hands of fewer companies, with a string of recent acquisitions raising fears that consumers will pay even more for their food, while farmers are squeezed. Archer Daniels Midland’s bid for Australia’s last independent grain handler GrainCorp, the latest in a series of moves by grain-trading heavyweights to grab a larger slice of a booming market as developing economies seek food security. The four “ABCD” firms -— ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus — dominate global grain trading along with top global commodities trader Glencore and Japan’s Marubeni, both of which have made major acquisitions in the last few months. With food price volatility increasingly coming to the fore, most recently in the wake of drought in the U.S. and other key producing regions, concern is growing among importers about extra upward pressure on prices. “The increasing concentration of power in the global grain market is not healthy. This will lead to grain prices being controlled by top trading companies,” said Rusman Heriawan, deputy agriculture minister of Indonesia, Asia’s top wheat importer. “So-called grain majors account for about 75 per cent of the global grain market. If they keep on merging with other grain companies, there is the possibility of a monopolistic situation,” said Han Sukho of the grains division at the Korea Rural Economic Institute. “This will make things difficult for importing countries like South Korea. We might have to pay more than what things actually cost,” the assistant director of the state-run think-tank added.

Operational efficiency

After a doubling in quarterly profits helped by the impact of drought on the grain trade, Bunge chairman and chief executive officer Alberto Weisser said he expected industry consolidation to continue. “I do believe that we will have more consolidation because the market has shown that it is necessary to have large companies with geographically diverse assets and strong balance sheets to operate and serve the market in these volatile times,” he said. “We are part of it.” Lee Gaus, vice-president of International Futures Group, said there were some benefits from the consolidation for the grain-trading companies, who will have more flexibility from expanded networks. But consumers will feel the impact if importers and supermarkets are subject to higher prices, as the flexibility of supply reduces. “There are efficiencies that are gained when you have this kind of consolidation. But, on the other hand, there’s a danger in a situation where you have more and more controlled by fewer and fewer,” he said. “Ultimately this hurts the consumer. I don’t know any time that you can concentrate so much lever-

age in so few hands that it doesn’t eventually impact the consumer,” Gaus added. Gaus also saw the consolidation as a threat to producers who are faced with fewer potential buyers for their crops, meaning that they might be forced to accept lower prices for their produce. Farmers are often dependent on the grain-trading companies for their seed and fertilizer as well as providing a buyer for their crops. “It (grain market consolidation) has a negative impact, both on the many producers that feed into this very small number of traders and on the other end on their customers and ultimately consumers,” said Jodie Thorpe, policy adviser for Oxfam.

ADM, through the acquisition of GrainCorp, will join Cargill and Glencore, both of whom have already made major acquisitions in the world’s second-largest wheat exporter. “If GrainCorp is swallowed up by U.S. giant Archer Daniels Midland, all bulk grain-exporting capacity in South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland will be foreign owned,” said Warren Truss, leader of the opposition National Party. “We are rapidly descending into a state where farmers will toil in their paddocks while postfarm gate profits from Australia’s $9-billion-a-year grain crops will be counted in multinational boardrooms,” he added.

ADM has launched a bid for GrainCorp, Australia’s last independent grain handler.

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34

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Crop insurance tab for U.S. drought could top $15 billion Public expense } Although privately run, Washington picks up most of the

tab for premiums as well as other costs by charles abbott washington / reuters

U

.S. taxpayers could pay a record $15 billion to subsidize the privately run crop insurance program in the wake of this year’s devastating drought. The program’s runaway costs are in focus as Congress looks for ways to cut government spending, making crop insurance a bigger target for reforms. Precise estimates won’t be available until late fall, when harvest is over, but the cost to taxpayers will be huge. Although crop insurance is sold by 15 private companies — the best known is Wells Fargo — Washington contributes in several ways. It not only pays roughly 62 cents of every $1 in crop insurance premiums, but also covers part of industry overhead and defrays the impact of severe losses on insurers. Agricultural economist Vince Smith of Montana State University has done the math and come up with an estimate that taxpayers will shell out $15 billion — $7 billion in premium subsidies, $1.3 billion in overhead costs for insurers plus about $7 billion from underwriting losses. That number will grab the attention of lawmakers when they return to Washington next month to tackle both the Farm Bill, which includes crop insurance, and broad spending cuts required to rein in the U.S. deficit. “I think the rising cost of crop insurance will bring even more attention to crop insurance than has been paid so far,” said Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group, which says crop insurance favours big farmers unduly and needs reform.

and also impose even larger cuts on big farmers. Cuts are not guaranteed, however, as both major U.S. farmer and banker groups have joined the insurance industry in opposing them. National Crop Insurance Services, an industry trade group, argues the program reduces taxpayers’ costs even in a disaster like this year by preventing calls for bailouts. The program is a financial safeguard against ruinous weather, it says. “It’s necessary this year, especially with the drought,” said Pam Johnson of Iowa, a farmer and president of the National Corn Growers Association. “We feel like we can’t afford to be without it.”

B:17

T:17

Farmers aren’t the only ones feeling the effect of this summer’s drought.  PHOTO: REUTERS

S:17

Highest cost

Crop insurance has become the biggest U.S. farm support as soaring prices for corn, soybeans and other commodities made the traditional price-support subsidies irrelevant. So-called revenue policies that shield growers from the effects of low prices and poor yields are the most popular version. Crop insurance blossomed into the biggest farm support because Congress seeded its growth. Lawmakers wanted to end unpredictable and costly aid bills every time there was a farm disaster, aid that cost $45 billion between 1989 and 2001. So a decade ago, lawmakers agreed to boost substantially the premium subsidy so farmers would buy higher levels of coverage. Policy value has tripled since then. Weighing the popularity of crop insurance and the withering attacks on crop subsidies, the agricultural community made the cold-eyed calculation that insurance is the only sure survivor of budget austerity. The still-unfinished 2012 Farm Bill would kill an unpopular $5-billion-a-year farm subsidy and use some of the savings to expand the crop insurance program. The easy way to reduce costs would be to cut subsidy for premiums, perhaps to 52 per cent,

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35

Albertafarmexpress.ca • November 5, 2012

Group aims to improve water quality in Battle River watershed PLAN } Run-off from the Battle River watershed can travel as far as Hudson

Bay, and it typically has very high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen by alexis kienlen af staff / ponoka

W

ater quality affects everyone, and that’s especially true in the Battle River watershed. “Unlike many other watersheds in Alberta that have headwaters in mountain regions, the Battle River watershed is Prairie fed and our headwaters are near 60 per cent of our population,” said Sarah Skinner, watershed planning co-ordinator for the Battle River Watershed Alliance. There is a lot of livestock production in the watershed, which sends water into the North Saskatchewan and South Saskatchewan rivers, and

eventually into Lake Winnipeg and Hudson Bay. The Battle River Watershed Alliance is currently hosting community meetings to seek input into a management plan for the area. “We’re looking to develop strategies that will lead to the ultimate goal of sustainability of our watershed, economically, environmentally and socially,” said Skinner. Although the alliance is not a regulatory body, it will make recommendations to government in regard to water quality, land management and drought management. The latter has been a focus for the past year. “We’re at the point of developing those management recommendations, how to plan for and deal with drought,” said Skinner.

The next step is looking at nonpoint source pollution management. “It’s often associated with water run-off from the land, so that can involve storm run-off and drainage systems that move water across the landscape,” she said. “As that water moves across our streets and sidewalks, it picks up different pollutants and we can never be quite sure where those pollutants are coming from.”

Guidelines exceeded

Alberta Environment has water quality monitoring stations throughout the province, including ones at Driedmeat Lake and Ponoka in the Battle River watershed. They were set up in 2007, and found phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients in the Battle River have exceeded provincial government targets since 2008. Recommended levels for phosphorus are exceeded 100 per cent of the time at seven of 11 stations while nitrogen exceeded the guidelines 50 per cent of the time at eight of the 11 stations. About 50 per cent of the nutrients are from non-point sources and many are from point sources, including municipal waste water. “Looking at the non-point sources, it’s not just rural and it’s not just urban,” Skinner said. “There is storm water that comes from our communities and streams that make it into the Battle River. But there’s also a lot of development in the countryside that could potentially be contributing nutrients and other pollutants in the river.”

“If you could limit the run-off from these areas, you have a major impact on the total amount of nutrients entering the watershed from agricultural land.” B:10”

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Poor water quality can result in algae blooms on the water, fish kills, impact human health, and loss of recreational activities. A 2006 provincial study on nonpoint source pollution found phosphorus in soil is directly related to the amount of phosphorus in run-off in those same areas. “The amount of nutrients in the soils are linked to the amount of nutrients we find in the water and our actions on the land have an impact on water quality,” Skinner said. “If you could limit the run-off from these areas, you have a major impact on the total amount of nutrients entering the watershed from agricultural land.” It’s recommended producers keep their cattle out of waterways and use offsite watering systems. Conservation tillage, planting cover crops and keeping stubble on croplands can also help preserve water quality. Overfertilization, whether on crops or lawns, also contribute to the problem.


36

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

GMO politics: California voters not just choosing Obama or Romney High stakes } Life science companies spend big to defeat proposition to label GM foods By Lisa Baertlein and Carey Gillam Reuters

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eavy advertising spending by Monsanto Co. and others opposed to a California ballot proposal to require labels on grocery products containing genetically modified organisms is paying off, according to a new poll that shows the measure has slipped into a virtual tie. Forty-four per cent of California voters now support the measure, while 42 per cent oppose it and 13 per cent are undecided, according to a University of Southern California (USC) Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll released Oct. 25. Those numbers have dropped sharply since September, when 61 per cent of voters responding to the poll supported the measure, 25 per cent opposed and 13 per cent were undecided. If California voters approve the measure on Nov. 6, it would be the first time U.S. food makers have to label products that contain genetically modified crops such as corn, soybeans and sugar beets. Scientists have spliced the DNA of those crops, and others, with DNA from different species in ways that make the crops tolerant of chemical sprays or toxic to certain insects.

Risks

The risk to companies such as Monsanto is that food companies might be more likely to stop using GMOs than to label them. That could disrupt U.S. food production because ingredients such as GM corn, soybeans and canola have for years been staples in virtually every type of packaged food, from soup and tofu to breakfast cereals and chips. Monsanto and DuPont, which lead global sales of genetically modified seeds, are the top contributors to the effort to defeat California’s “Right to Know” ballot initiative, known as Proposition 37. The “No on 37” side, which also includes companies such as soda and snack seller PepsiCo Inc., has collected more than $40 million for the effort and outraised the “Yes on 37” camp by a significant margin, and has been blanketing the airwaves with ads criticizing the proposal. “When voters hear a message so much more strongly from one side than the other, it’s not surprising to see the poll numbers move like this,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/L.A. Times Poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. The latest numbers suggest that supporters of the measure face slim odds of success.

“… nearly $1 million per day of negative deceptive advertising from the pesticide and junk food industries.” Stacy Malkin Yes on 37

“You never say never, but it’s relatively rare for an initiative to climb above 50 per cent once it has fallen below that threshold,” Schnur said. Stacy Malkin, media director of Yes on 37 California Right to Know campaign, said her side is up against “nearly $1 million per day of negative deceptive advertising from the pesticide and junk food industries” and that opponents have failed to pull ahead, despite constantly hammering California voters with ads. “No on 37” would not disclose its advertising spending. Spokeswoman Kathy Fairbanks repeatedly has said that the group — which among other things was forced to change an ad after it misidentified its star as a Stanford University doctor — is simply underscoring flaws in the labelling proposal.

Not required

The United States does not require independent safety testing for GM crops before they go to market. The American Medical Association has come out in support of mandatory pre-market safety assessment for GMOs and the World Health Organization has clearly stated that labelling is perfectly valid, said Michael Hansen, senior scientist at the Consumers Union. Industry says GMOs are safe, but a range of academic scientists, consumer and environmental and health advocates say many studies have indicated health and environmental harm are tied to them. Specific health concerns include fears that the GMOs can increase the allergenicity of certain foods and possibly increase the risk of cancer or other diseases.

A group of demonstrators holds signs during a rally in support of the state’s upcoming Proposition 37 ballot measure in San Francisco.   photo: Reuters

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A


37

Albertafarmexpress.ca • November 5, 2012

U.S. meat producers may pare back output U.S. meat } Shipments hit a record in 2011 and look to be on course to better that total for 2012 by gavin maguire chicago / reuters

D

espite nearly record-high feed prices, U.S. meat production has continued to trend higher in recent months, and the latest monthly statistics show that beef, pork and chicken output all remain above the five-year average. Brisk meat exports combined with strong domestic wholesale and retail prices have encouraged these high production levels, but a seasonal downturn in exports may lead to a glut of domestic inventories towards year-end unless meat manufacturers dial down their current output pace. So far, 2012 has been one of the toughest years on record for livestock feeders as the price of key feed ingredients such as corn, soymeal and distillers grains have sharply outperformed cattle and hog prices. Hog and feeder cattle prices have actually traded in negative territory in recent

One of the bright spots for the U.S. meat production industry over the last few years has been the steady climb in overseas consumption. months as high input costs and anemic meat demand stamp out profit potential. Even so, meat makers have been able to pass on some portion of their higher costs on to consumers, as retail and wholesale meat prices pushed toward record heights in 2012. This rising retail price environment in turn encouraged

D V A N T A G E

meat producers to maintain their output levels even in the face of soaring input costs in 2012.

Exports on the rise

One of the bright spots for the U.S. meat production industry over the last few years has been the steady climb in

overseas consumption of American meat products. Indeed, U.S. meat shipments hit a record in 2011 and look to be on course to better that total for 2012. Demand growth appears to be widespread across beef, pork and chicken, although the prominence of Asian nations is clear in the beef and pork markets in particular. Nonetheless, there is a clear tendency for meat shipments to taper off towards the end of the year, especially in beef and chicken. Any pronounced dip in overseas demand could quickly result in a build in domestic supplies, which in turn could weigh on domestic meat prices and thus undermine one of the few supportive factors working for the U.S. meat manufacturers at the present time. So while the recent brisk pace of meat exports may give the impression of sustained robust off-take of American meat products — even in the face of historically high prices — U.S. meat producers should be wary. Now may be a better time for proactive cutbacks in production.

Brief Baytril use expanded to hogs and dairy heifers staff An antimicrobial weapon against respiratory illness in feedlot cattle can now also be used against pneumonias in hogs and non-lactating dairy cattle. Bayer HealthCare’s Canadian animal health division announced Oct. 24 it has approvals to sell its injectable enrofloxacin solution, Baytril 100, to treat swine respiratory disease (SRD) in hogs, and to treat bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in non-lactating dairy cattle under 20 months of age. “Left untreated, respiratory disease in pigs causes lung damage and increases mortality, impacting the bottom line,” Dr. Bruce Kilmer, director of technical services and regulatory affairs for Bayer HealthCare’s animal health arm, said in a release. In hogs, Baytril 100 is administered as a singledose therapy and “should not be used as a mass medication.” For nonlactating dairy cattle, it can be administered as a single-dose therapy or as a multiple-day therapy, but again shouldn’t be used as an en masse medication, the company said. In all cases, it should be used “after first choice treatment has failed.” In hogs, Bayer said, Baytril’s bactericidal effects work against Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, Pasteurella multocida and Haemophilus parasuis, the “major culprits” in swine SRD. In young cattle, Bayer added, Baytril 100 kills Pasteurella multocida and Mannheimia haemolytica, the chief causes of BRD.


38

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

IT’S LOOKING A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS

DOES YOUR YIELD MEASURE UP? 101% of 5440

106% of L150* It may be a bit early to trim the Christmas tree, but this Australian shepherd on a ranch near Priddis, Alta., is getting into the spirit after much of southern Alberta was hit by a hefty snowstorm in the third week of October.   Photo: Wendy Dudley SEC-MERE12-T_AFE.qxd

10/25/12

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39

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Virtual communities of pioneer women POIGNANT LETTERS  Social media was alive and well a century ago

in the pages of Prairie farm publications BY BARB GALBRAITH

AF CONTRIBUTOR/OAKVILLE, MAN.

B

efore the World Wide Web, women living on isolated homesteads belonged to virtual communities with much in common with today’s social media. These communities involved more than one physical location. They offered an exchange of ideas, opinions and information, and provided networking, education and problem-solving opportunities. Instead of Facebook or Twitter, they had names such as “Circle of Good Company” and “Home Loving Hearts.” Found in agricultural publications and newspapers, they were known collectively as the “women’s pages.” Conversations flowed in letters between editor and subscriber, but it was expected and understood that this correspondence was also read and responded to by a community of women, plus a few men. Unlike today, published letters to the editor didn’t require actual names and were the only form of regular contact with the outside world for many early homesteaders. A letter in a 1900 Family Herald and Weekly Star’s “Good Company” pages asked readers to “Imagine being 60 miles from a post office for over a year!” Prior to the 1880s, newspapers enjoyed financial support from political party contributions. Reporting was anything but balanced and impartial. The advent of the “new journalism” and its trend toward objectivity meant revenue sources went from partisan to business based. Papers needed increased readership to attract advertising dollars. This resulted in the creation of a section aimed specifically at women, the chief purchasers of items for the home.

Noms de plume

Previously, few women had written for newspapers, but those who did wrote from home under male, female or ambiguous (initials only) pseudonyms to protect their identity. That respectable women would want a career in journalism went against public opinion. Items on these pages were not hard news, so men refused to write them. Opportunities opened up for females as reporters and editors, and for a feminine world view. Male reporters considered these columns mere fluff, but in reality they were rich in diversity of topics and sometimes subversive. Activism requires a public means of communication. Through the printed page, feminists lobbied for change. Recipes and domestic advice ran side by side with articles on Canadian homestead law, the Dower Act and suffrage. “Butter and Eggs,” District of Assiniboia, wrote in 1905 to the Prim Rose at Home editor: “Will you, through your helpful columns, suggest the best means of acquiring land by a single woman... where is the benefit of opening up the agricultural colleges if a woman must, after gaining theoretical knowledge of the subject — take up some other calling in order to provide herself with means to purchase land? Is it not a rather useless concession? Could you not get up a petition for some small holdings for women…?” In the women’s pages of The Grain Growers Guide in 1910, “A Manitoba Woman Pioneer” wrote, “It’s a pity to see women shutting their eyes to the misery of their sisters, who are at the mercy of some mean men, who can will away everything and leave wife and children homeless and penniless; or of a drunkard who can, when in his cups, sell house and all and leave them in the same bad state.” Regarding a Dundurn farmer’s comments on Dower law, “Just a Woman”

CANTERRA 1970 1 Excellent 2 Very Good

countered: “To say he has a nerve is putting it mildly… He says the subject is worn threadbare. If it is distasteful to him there are 22 other pages in The Guide he might read.” An editorial in the same publication responded to letter writer Mrs. Ted: “Who assigned ‘church work and temperance work to women as their only righteous fields for her away-fromhome endeavours?’ Will a day spent away from home in church work be shorter than one spent away in politics?”

Charity by mail

Women networked within these communities to provide what are now government-mandated services. Several letters mentioned looking for permanent or temporary homes for children and babies. In an early form of recycling, used clothing, reading material and sewing patterns were sent directly to a recipient once an address was secured or to the paper and forwarded to a subscriber. In 1900, “E.M.T. of the Northwest Territories” (then including Alberta, Saskatchewan and a good part of Manitoba) wrote the “Hostess” of Circle of Good Company: “Will you kindly send me two or three addresses of people living in either Manitoba, Assiniboia, or Alberta, to whom we could send partly worn clothing or stockings. We have a quantity of such articles which could be cut down and made over for children. If the people whose addresses you send are too poor to pay carriage, please let me know, also the number of persons in the families.” Women who would never meet physically, yet held similar values, shared information ranging from domestic to feminist issues. The women’s pages might not have been digital, but they provided virtual communities which continuously grew as settlers pushed farther west.

The “Around the Fireside” pages for women in an April, 1910 issue of the Grain Growers Guide. One letter reads in part: We have in our district a homesteader whose wife furnished the money that brought them from the Old Country. She lives at home all the time with her five children — one of whom is consumptive — while her husband is every day in town and drinks incessantly. He will “prove up” this next summer. I wonder if Miss Johnson and Miss Baily (previous writers who opposed the dower law — marital property rights for women) will be glad to know this poor woman and her helpless children will be compelled to give up the only place they could ever call home, and it is sure to be their last. Yes, a dower law by all means.

DOES YOUR STANDABILITY MEASURE UP? 3 Good

SEE FOR YOURSELF

Always follow grain marketing and all other stewardship practices and pesticide label directions. Details of these requirements can be found in the Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers printed in this publication.


40

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Farm business management also important when times are good Suggestions } It’s a good time to reduce debt, and even to take a vacation Agri-News

A

griculture is a funny business. Someone’s misfortune can be someone else’s fortune. The U.S. is suffering with one of the worst droughts in recent history, and drought has affected other grainexporting nations such as Russia and Ukraine. The Canadian Prairies, on the other hand, are experiencing a one-year-in-10 harvest that is seeing above-average prices for grains and oilseeds. Prices for feed, seed and fertilizers are at historical highs, and even after a reasonable year in 2011, farmers are going to see good margins and returns in 2012. “We have addressed drought in Western Canada in 2002 and low prices in the last decade, but what decisions do producers have to make when times are good?” says Rick Dehod, grain farm business specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Ag lenders will tell you that good times cover up bad loans and poor management decisions as there is more room for error and forgiveness. However, staying diligent will help you position your farm for the tighter margins that will eventually come.”

Points to consider

Extension economist William Edwards of Iowa State puts forward a few suggestions that producers may want to consider: • Improve working capital — look at reducing operating loan balances. Strong margins allows equity to improve. These retained earnings can be used to strengthen the farm’s working capital position so that the farm is in a good financial position to weather the next storm or seek opportunities to grow when they arise. • Replace assets — update your machinery line and replacing equipment now will lower cash flow requirements as new technology provides some efficiency and decreases repair costs. Expand cautiously using equity dollars as much as possible. High leverage and debt payments incurred in good times, put a great strain and risk on an operation when margins get tighter. Borrowing to grow a business is acceptable as long as your financial ratios are in line. • I mprove efficiency — look for ways to invest

Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers

DO YOUR COSTS MEASURE UP? SEE FOR YOURSELF

C ANTERRA

1918 $45/acre

Watch your profits grow!

Always follow grain marketing and all other stewardship practices and pesticide label directions. Details of these requirements can be found in the Trait Stewardship Responsibilities Notice to Farmers printed in this publication.

Hybrid $60/acre

Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through StewardshipSM (ETS). Monsanto products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Monsanto’s Policy for Commercialization of BiotechnologyDerived 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 StewardshipSM is a service mark 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® agricultural herbicides. Roundup® 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®, Acceleron and Design®, DEKALB®, DEKALB and Design®, Genuity®, Genuity and Design®, Genuity Icons, Roundup®, Roundup Ready®, Roundup Ready 2 Technology and Design®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, RIB Complete and Design™, RIB Complete™, SmartStax®, SmartStax and Design®, VT Double PRO™, VT Triple PRO™ and YieldGard VT Triple® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada, Inc. licensee. 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. (3701-MON-E-12)

Advertise with AFe Classifieds Place your ad today by calling Maureen at

1-888-413-3325 Alberta Farmer 1 x 84 li B/W

in cost-saving technology. Innovations in guidance systems, grain handling and drying, and agronomy will save money in the long run. Knowing your cost of production and managing these tools will increase viability when margins are slim again. • Reduce debt — provides a guaranteed return on your investment. Improving your equity gives you the financial strength to weather the next financial storm or for access to credit when you wish to borrow in the future. • Fix interest rates — while current interest rates are at historical lows, look at fixing your interest rates. Interest shows up as an expense on the income statement. Today’s long-term rates may be a bonus and mitigate some risk a few years from now. There are two ingredients to interest expense, interest rate and debt levels. Try to decrease both. • Negotiate a flexible lease — as you negotiate a new land lease or renegotiate old leases look at incorporating both actual yields and prices into a formula that will automatically reduce rental costs when revenues decline. Avoid locking into high land rent leases unless you can lock in your prices for the same period. • Diversify your assets — agriculture is not the only place to invest your money. Non- farm real estate, equities, or mutual funds can return a steady income at a level of risk you may be comfortable with. GICs, Tax-free savings accounts and RRSPs may be a secure place for your cash, and provide you with a rainy day fund or finance you. • Consider Agri-Invest — each year, producers may elect to deposit up to 1.5 per cent of their Allowable Net Sales, subject to program limits, to an Agri-Invest account and receive matching government contributions. • Pay some income tax — after reviewing all tax strategies, it may be better to pay the tax and retain the balance in cash rather than buying a depreciating asset that the farm does not need at this time. • Take a vacation — you’ve worked hard. You and your family deserve a vacation, especially when the income is there.

GM cow makes anti-allergy milk Reaction } Two to three per cent of infants are allergic to cow’s milk london / reuters

R

esearchers in New Zealand have genetically engineered a cow to produce milk with very little of an allergy-causing protein. The technique, called RNA interference, reduces activity of certain genes without eliminating them completely. With mothers breastfeeding less, cows’ milk is an increasing source of protein for babies, even though two to three per cent of infants are allergic to it. The GM cow produced milk with a 96-per-cent reduction in the protein beta-lactoglobulin, a component known to cause allergic reactions. While there are dairy industry processes that can reduce the allergenic potential of normal milk, they are expensive and can result in a bitter taste. The research “offers a good example of how these technologies can be used to provide alter-

native strategies to current manufacturing processes,” said Bruce Whitelaw, professor of animal biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh. The same technique could be used to improve a cow’s defence against infection, he said. “Time will tell how widely applicable RNA interference will be in GM livestock. But this is certainly a milestone study in this field,” he said.


41

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

MAKING TRACKS

A coyote criss-crosses tractor tracks in a pasture northwest of Turner Valley, Alta.

PHOTO: WENDY DUDLEY

TV network wants federal court to hear ‘pink slime’ lawsuit DAMAGES 

Company seeks $400 million in lost profits claimed for ABC report REUTERS

ABC News wants a federal court to deal with a meat processor’s defamation lawsuit over reports about lean finely textured beef, a product that critics have labeled “pink slime.” Lawyers for the network filed to transfer the case, brought last month by Beef Products Inc, the leading producer of the product, from of a state court in South Dakota to a federal court. BPI is seeking $400 million in damages for lost profits it says was caused by ABC’s reports. BPI is also suing ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and two reporters who covered the story. Other defendants include Gerald Zirnstein, a former USDA microbiologist credited with coining the term “pink slime” in a 2002 email to colleagues later obtained by The New York Times. In March and April, ABC aired a series of television reports on BPI’s product, raising questions about its quality and sparking a public relations furor that roiled social media, consumer advocates and the nation’s beef industry. A number of fast-food restaurants and grocery retailers — including Walmart, Safeway and Supervalu — also stopped selling ground beef containing the product, even though the USDA and industry experts say it is safe to eat.

. t i m i l e h t o t t h g i r . . . s d l e Out yi nce. a m r o f r e ld p e i d y m u ith any hybri w e m v i ti ti x e p a m M canola is co bigger yield , VR 9559 G offers es to yield at’s more, it h W . When it com s ie ir ra ep ht across th system – rig s. fertility rate r e rra.ca h ig h to e r seed.vite o il respons ta re g a r Viterra on, visit you ti a rm fo in For more

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Nitrogen is not the only factor to yield. Weeds, insects, and disease also have an impact. Always practice a balanced crop and fertility management approach to ensure optimal yields. VR 9559 G canola is a Viterra researched and recommended variety. Roundup Ready® is a registered symbol used under license from Monsanto Company. Pioneer® and the Trapezoid symbol are registered trademarks of Pioneer Hi-Bred.

10607G-VIT-VR9559_GrainNews_MBcoop_ABFE_8.125x10.indd 1

30/08/12 2:06 PM


42

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Published by Farm Business Communications, 1666 Dublin Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3H 0H1 WINNIPEG OFFICE Alberta Farmer Express 1666 Dublin Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3H 0H1 Toll-Free in Canada 1-888-413-3325 Phone 403-341-0442 in Winnipeg FAX 403-341-0615 Mailing Address: Box 9800, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 3K7 • •

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43

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

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INC.

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shiPPing $16 • extra Fuel $6.95/Box - 5 Boxes For $24.95

YesterYear toYs & books Inc. DePt. BF • 16385 telePhone rD. s., Brighton, on k0k 1h0

FARM MACHINERY Combine – Accessories CIH 1010 22-1/2FT, STRAIGHT cut header, w/pu reel, excelelent condition, $7,000, (403)784-3248, Clive, Ab. JD 925 STRAIGHT CUT header, c/w pu reel, and Elmer’s 30ft transport, like new condition, always shedded, (780)518-0635, Sexsmith

Double LL Industries 780.905.8565 Nisku, Alberta

2005 Toyota 25 Forklift

ADVERTISING DOLLAR!

1-888-413-3325

41-35FT FLEXICOIL 700 chisel plow, W/harrows, w/spikes, Excellent trash clearance43ft Leon chisel plow w/harrows; 40ft crowfoot packer bar; IHC 12 bottom plow; (780)623-1008 IH 800 12 BOTOM plow; 40ft Blanchard crow foot packer bar; 41-35ft Flexicoil 700 chisel plow, w/spikes and harrows (780)623-1008

TracTors FARM MACHINERY Tractors – John Deere JD 2007 7520 C/W 741 loader, bucket & grapple, smooth bucket, pallet fork, 3hyd outlets, elect. joystick, 60% tire tread, 4790/hrs, good shape, $87,000 (403)337-2162, Carstairs

FARM MACHINERY Tractors – Kubota USED KUBOTA Utility Tractors (780)967-3800, (780)289-1075 www.goodusedtractors.com

FARM MACHINERY Tractors – Various NEW TRACTOR PARTS and engine rebuild kits, specializing in hard to find parts for older tractors, tractor seats, service and owners manuals, decals and much more, our 38th year! 1 800-481-1353, www.diamondfarmtractorparts.com

Big Tractor Parts, Inc. Geared For The Future

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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.

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2001 Kubota M9580

1987 John Deere 2950

2009 John Deere 5101

FARM MACHINERY Machinery Miscellaneous 1996 ROGATOR 854, 800/GAL, 80ft. 4x4, 2 sets tires, 3790/hrs, GFS boom, Raven auto-rake, Raven cruiser, GPS, spd. hydro. 195hp Cummins, $59,000; 1999 CAT 460 1300 sep. hrs, rake up $96,000; 2006 JD 567 mega-wide, mesh wrap, 5453/bales, $24,500; (403)665-2341, Craigmyle, AB. ACREAGE EQUIPMENT: CULTIVATORS, DISCS, Plows, Blades, Post pounders, Haying Equipment, Etc. (780)892-3092, Wabamun, Ab. LOW HRS; KOMATSU WA 320-1 3yd loader; 122 trackhoe; (306)236-8023

5000 lb Lift 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.

Tillage & Seeding

www.bigtractorparts.com

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

Stretch your

NEW WOBBLE BOXES for Macdon, JD, NH, IH, headers. Made in Europe, factory quality. Get it direct from Western Canda’s sole distributor starting at $995. 1-800-667-4515 www.combineworld.com

FARM MACHINERY Tillage & Seeding – Tillage

We can turn your nightmare into a dream come true!

FARM MACHINERY Haying & Harvesting – Swathers

Combines

FARM MACHINERY Parts & Accessories

SPRAYERS!

WANTED: JD 7810 c/w fel & 3pth; sp or pto bale wagon; JD or IHC end wheel drills. Small square baler. (877)330-4477

2002 CASE IH 2388, AFX rotor, 30ft cutter, Excellent condition, $130,000. Phone (403)877-2020, Lacombe, AB.

ANTIQUES Antique Equipment

FARM MACHINERY Sprayers

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FARM MACHINERY Combine – Case/IH

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FWA Tractor, 95 HP Diesel, 4767 Hours, 3PTH

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$ 28,500 19,500 www.doublellindustries.com $

FWA, 101 Eng HP, 84 Pto HP, 520 Hours, 3PTH, Made In USA, John Deere 563 S/L Loader

45,000

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UH

RETIRED FROM FARMING, MOST machinery shedded, 1998 Peterbuilt, 460 Cummins, 18spd, w/36ft tandem Doepker grain trailer $75,000; Rock picker, $1,000; (403)586-0978, Torrington, Ab. Looking for a hand around the farm? Place a help wanted ad in the classifieds. Call 1-888-413-3325.

Watch your profits grow! Advertise with AFe Classifieds Place your ad today by calling Maureen at

1-888-413-3325


44

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

FARM MACHINERY Machinery Miscellaneous WIRELESS DRIVEWAY ALARMS, calving/foaling barn cameras, video surveillance, rear view cameras for RV’s, trucks, combines, seeders, sprayers and augers. Mounted on magnet. Calgary, Ab. (403)616-6610. www.FAAsecurity.com Farming is enough of a gamble, advertise in the Alberta Farmer Express classified section. It’s a sure thing. 1-888-413-3325.

Barb Wire & Electric High Tensile Wire Spooler Adapter available to unroll new barb wire off of wooden spool

- Hydraulic Drive (roll or unroll wire) - Mounts to tractor draw bar, skidsteer or bobcat, front end loader, post driver, 3pt. hitch or deck truck (with receiver hitch & rear hydraulics) - Spool splits in half to remove full roll - Shut off/ Flow control valve determines speed - Works great for pulling out old wire (approx. 3--5 minutes to roll up 80 rod or 1/4 mile) The Level-Wind Wire Roller rolls wire evenly across the full width of the spool automatically as the wire is pulled in Ken Lendvay (403) 550-3313 Red Deer, AB email: kflendvay@hotmail.com Web: www.levelwind.com

See my display in the RED DEER AGRICENTER WEST BUILDING - IN BOOTH #6017 NOVEMBER 7TH-10TH WITH DUTCH BUNNING DISTRIBUTION (THE BIG GREEN BUNNING MANURE SPREADER)

Stretch your ADVERTISING DOLLAR!

FARM MACHINERY Machinery Miscellaneous

FARM MACHINERY Machinery Wanted

RON SAUER

WANTED: INTERNATIONAL 5000 SWATHER, needed hydrostatic pump. (403)638-2232

MACHINERY LTD. (403) 540-7691 ronsauer@shaw.ca

Flexicoil 6 run seed treater ................................ $2,000 2006 51’ Flexicoil 5000 airdrill, 10”, 5.5” rubber packers ............................................. Call 2006, 39’ Flexicoil 5000 airdrill 10”, 5.5 rubber packers, double chute, used 1 year, like new ............................... Call 134’ Flexicoil S68XL sprayer, 2007, suspended boom, auto rate, joystick, rinse tank, triple quick jets, auto boom height, electric end nozzle & foam marker............. $39,500 130’ Flexicoil 67XL PT sparyer, 2006,trail boom, auto rate, rinse tank, hyd. pump, combo jets, nice shape $26,500 51 Flexicoil Bodies c/w GEN. 4”carbide spread tip openers, single chute, like new ................ $3,500 2940 Premier MacDon, c/w 25’ 972 header w/PU reel .......................... $65,000 4800 Prairie Star MacDon diesel swather, c/w 25’ 960 header w/PU reel .......................... $30,000 8110 Hesston diesel swather, c/w 25’ header & PU reel, nice shape.................. $32,500 2360 JD swather, gas, c/w 18’ table & PU reel .... $7,500 30’ 8230 CIH PT swather, PU reel, nice shape,.. $10,000 25ft Hesston 1200 PT swather, pu reel, nice shape................................................ $7,500 21ft Westward MacDon PT swather, UII pu reel, nice shape ................................................................$5000 1372 MF 13’ swing arm discbine 4yrs, like new$20,000 MATR 10 wheel V-Hayrake, hyd. fold, as new .... $5,250 New Hawes fuel tank & Hyd. motor w/ring drives for P auger mover .................................... Call New Sakundiak 10x1200 (39.97’) 36HP Kohler eng., E-Kay mover, Power steering, electric belt tightener, work lights, slimfit, 12 gal. fuel tank..................... $18,000 New Sakundiak 7x1200 (39.97’) , 22HP Robin-Subaru eng.,w/Winter Kit, battery & fuel tank .......................$7,500 New E-Kay 7”, 8”, 9” Bin Sweeps .........................Call 8x1600(52.5’) Sakundiak auger c/w newer 30hp Koehler engine, gear box clutch, Hawes mover, spout, nice shape........................... $10,000 Flexicoil 10”x 50’ Grain auger ......................... $2,500 2002 7000HD Highline bale Processor, c/w twine cutter, always shedded exc. cond ........... $7,000 18.4”x30” tractor grip tires on rims .......................... Call New Outback Max GPS Guidance Monitor Available................................................... Call New Outback S3, STS, E drive, TC’s...................... In Stock New Outback E drive X c/w free E turns ..................... Call New Outback S-Lite................................................$900 Used Outback 360 mapping...................................$750 Used Outback S guidance .......................................$750 Used Outback S2 guidance ................................. $1,000 Used Outback E drive Hyd. Kits. (JD,Case, Cat & NH)$500

WANTED: NH BALE WAGONS & retrievers, any condition. Farm Equipment Finding Service, P.O. Box 1363, Polson, MT 59860. (406)883-2118 WANTED: Small square balers and end Wheel Seed Drills, Rock Pickers, Rock Rakes, Tub grinders, also JD 1610 cultivators (403)308-1238

PEDIGREED SEED PEDIGREED SEED Specialty – Various

Bioriginal Food & Science Corp., based in Saskatoon, are looking to contract Borage acres for the upcoming 2013 growing season.

HEALTH CARE

VISIT: WWW.TOYOURHEALTHPRODUCTS.CA For All your health care needs and read the testimonials that has helped other people by using the products. Call us (403)345-7788 collect

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

IRON & STEEL PIPE FOR SALE 3-1/2IN., 2-7/8in., 2-3/8in., Henderson Manufacturing Sales. (780)672-8585

Specialty LIVESTOCK Livestock Equipment 5’X10’ PORTABLE CORRAL PANELS, 6 bar. New improved design. Storage Containers, 20’ & 40’ 1-866-517-8335, (403)540-4164, (403)226-1722 HAYBUSTER 1000 TUB GRINDER; BP 25/bale processor, w/bunk conveyor and recutter; Sundance tub grinder; Oswald 400 feed wagon; 150/bu creep feeder; (780)623-1008

Great profit potential based on high yields, high prices and low input costs. Attractive oil premiums and free on-farm pick-up. Flexible contracting options available as well. For more information, please contact Shane at:

306-229-9976 (cell) 306-975-9271 (office) sfalk@bioriginal.com

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, (403)350-8777 Lacombe. FEED GRAIN WANTED! ALSO buying; Light, tough, or offgrade grains. “On Farm Pickup” Westcan Feed & Grain 1-877-250-5252

SEED/FEED MISCELLANEOUS Hay & Straw 500 ROUND BALES MIXED Alfalfa hay, $120/per ton, (403)638-2232, Cremona area HAY FOR SALE, 2012, excellent quality, no rain, 1600/lbs, 60% alfalfa, 40% grass, (403)854-2240, 403-854-0420, Hanna, Ab. HAY FOR SALE: large round 208 first cut Alfalfa/Timothy, 400 orchard/grass mix, $.04/per/pound, 300/bales second cut (both types) at $.05/per/pound, little or no rain, (780)696-2491, Breton, Ab.

SMALL SQUARE BALES HORSE hay, Crossfield, Ab. 50/lb bales $3.00/per bale, green, no rain (587)329-1796, (403)613-4570

REAL ESTATE

TIRES

SALES REP FOR GEORGE’S FARM CENTRE

REAL ESTATE Land For Sale

FEDERATION TIRE: 1100X12, 2000X20, used aircraft. Toll free 1-888-452-3850

Go public with an ad in the Alberta Farmer Express classifieds. Phone 1-888-413-3325.

LAND FOR SALE AT ELKTON Alberta, 20/ac, zoned agriculture, 1 hour NW of Calgary. $285,000 OBO (403)638-2232

Hit our readers where it counts… in the classifieds. Place your ad in the Alberta Farmer Express classifed section. 1-888-413-3325.

1-888-413-3325

New 30.5L-32 16 ply, $2,195; 20.8-38 12 ply, $866; 18.4-38 12 ply, $783; 24.5-32 14 ply, $1,749; 14.9-24 12 ply, $356; 16.9-28 12 ply, $558. Factory direct. More sizes available new and used. 1-800-667-4515 www.combineworld.com

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Visit us at the Red Deer Agri-Trade November 7 – 10, 2012 *Tours may be tax Deductible

Select Holidays 1-800-661-4326 www.SelectHolidays.com

CAREERS CAREERS Employment Wanted EARN $75,000/yr PART TIME in the livestock or equipment appraisal business. Agricultural background required. Classroom or home study courses available. 1-800-488-7570 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...

ROUND AND SQUARE HAY bales, excellent quality alfalfa timothy brome mix, shedded, good for horses & Cattle (780)967-2593, Calahoo, Ab.

WANTED: HESSTON 4870 BIG square bale shredder, or similar machine. (780)374-3574, 780-781-0046

**Flexi-Coil, Westward MacDon Swathers, NuVision, Sakundiak & Farm King Augers, Outback GPS Systems, EK Auger, Movers, Sweeps, & Crop Dividers, Degelman, Headsight Harvesting Solutions**

TIRES

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

1-888-413-3325


45

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Climate change brings far-reaching changes in northern climes clues } Researchers study 10,000-year-old spruce in hopes of finding ways to deal with a warming planet by alister doyle

fulufjallet, sweden / reuters

O

n a windswept Swedish mountain, a 10,000-yearold spruce with a claim to be the world’s oldest tree is getting a new lease on life thanks to global warming, even as many plants are struggling. Scientists are finding the drift of growing areas for many plants out toward the poles is moving not in a smooth progression but in fits and starts, causing problems for farmers aiming to adapt and invest in cash crops that are more sensitive to climate than is this ancient conifer known as “Old Tjikko.” At a range of latitudes, but especially in the far north, climate change is bringing bigger-thanexpected swings, putting billions of dollars at stake in a push to develop varieties with resilience to frost and heat waves, drought or flood. Understanding those plants which are thriving in such environments — like this ragged Christmas tree on a marshy plateau 900 metres above sea level — may yield clues. “It seems to be growing quite well,” said researcher Leif Kullman. “That’s a result of warming in the past 100 years.” Old Tjikko stands above dead roots that Kullman says date from 9,550 years ago, just as the Ice Age ended. The spruce regenerates clones when low branches sprout new roots so that, unlike California’s Methuselah bristlecone pine whose trunk bears over 4,800 annual growth rings, today’s fivemetre-tall trunk only began growing about 1940. Yet the tree’s survival may offer lessons for pioneers trying to take advantage of global warming to push the frontiers for crops farther north but finding most plants to be far more sensitive. Climate unpredictability is especially true farther north, in the Arctic, where the extent of ice on the Arctic Ocean shrank to a record low this summer. Less attention has been paid to how the thaw affects growing conditions on land. “That’s been a surprise in the last years. Everyone thought it would be warmer and nice weather. But suddenly it’s wetter and colder in some regions,” said Lars-Otto Reiersen, head of an Arctic monitoring program. Many studies show that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the main greenhouse gas, will initially lead to more growth of plants worldwide. But, Reiersen said, not enough study has been made of the downside of increased unpredictability. Part of the problem is warmer air doesn’t compensate for limited daylight and extreme weather means a greater chance of unseasonable frosts. Plant breeders and genetic

experts are looking for novel solutions, such as working with a frostresistant clover recently found on a northerly chain of islands. And they’re looking at a type of antifreeze in spruces that allow them to survive -50 C temperatures. But for many crops, the expansion of potential growing areas due to climate change may not add to overall production. For example, gains in cropping area in countries like Canada and Russia are likely to be offset by losses in developing nations that now produce wheat will lose out as it gets too hot. Meanwhile, Old Tjikko faces a new threat — sightseers coming to gaze at the “world’s oldest tree” are tramping down lichen at its base, which could damage its roots. Authorities are considering putting up a fence.

On a windswept Swedish mountain, a 10,000-year-old spruce with a claim to be the world’s oldest tree is getting a new lease on life thanks to global warming, even as many plants are struggling.   REUTERS/Alister Doyle

FarmTech 2013

Global Perspectives... Local Knowledge

Join us... Jan. 29-31 Edmonton EXPO CENTRE at Northlands FarmTech 2013 Speakers Stuart Barden International Farmer from Kenya

David Chilton

Author of The Wealthy Barber Series and co-star on CBC’s Dragons’ Den

Todd Hirsh

Senior Economist, ATB Financial

Dr. John Izzo

Author, Business advisor

Ron MacLean Host of Hockey Night in Canada FarmTech 2013 Banquet

Canada’s premier crop production and farm management conference. FarmTech 2013 features an outstanding line-up of speakers delivering more than 60 concurrent sessions covering the latest in technology, environment, agronomy and farm business management. The Agricultural Showcase is home to the most innovative companies displaying their products and services along with special events and networking opportunities.

www.farmtechconference.com For complete details and the latest updates

Toll Free 1-866-FARMTEC REGISTER BEFORE JAN. 11th, 2013 for Early Bird Discounts!

“It seems to be growing quite well.” Leif Kullman

FarmTech 2013 2012 is Proudly Hosted By:


46

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Alberta Barley Commission regional meetings in November DELEGATES  Several positions are open and farmers are encouraged to self-nominate AGRI-NEWS

T

he Alberta Barley Commission is holding its six regional meetings across the province in November. The meetings are a time for farmers to learn about the past fiscal year, hear from top agriculture speakers, look ahead to new commission initiatives and find out how barley can work on their farms. “It’s been a big year for barley and we are excited to share the success stories from the past year such as our food barley health claim,” said Matt Sawyer, commission chairman and region two director. With many new projects underway, the commission has delegate positions available for farmers in each of its six regions. Anyone who has left their barley checkoff with the commission for the past three years may run for a delegate position and can self-nominate from the floor at their meeting. “Being a delegate is a great opportunity to become more involved in the barley industry,” said Sawyer. “As a delegate, you are a voice for farmers in your region and work closely with your director. It’s one more way farmers can drive our commission and the barley industry in a positive way.”

These regional meetings will be held: • Region 1 — Lethbridge on Nov. 21 (four delegate positions available and three delegates eligible for re-election) • Region 2 — Three Hills on Nov. 15 (Six delegate positions available and seven delegates eligible for re-election) • Region 3 — Lacombe on Nov. 28 (Two delegate positions available) • Region 4 — Vermillion on Nov. 22 (Four delegate positions available and three delegates eligible for re-election) • Region 5 — Westlock on Nov. 30 (Two delegate positions available and one delegate eligible for re-election) • Region 6 — Fairview on Nov. 21 (Two delegate positions available and two delegates eligible for re-election) Following regional meetings is the Commission’s annual general meeting in Banff on Dec. 6. Presentations will be made by industry stakeholders, scientists and researchers. Topics will include barley breeding, malting contracts and international trade.

BRIEFS Tiger-Sul buys plant in Irricana Tiger-Sul Products (Canada) Co. has announced purchase of a sulphur-processing facility in Irricana. Tiger-Sul says the facility, originally constructed in 1998, was designed and built for sulphur processing. “Increased demand for our sulphur bentonite products means increased production. Our new facility in Irricana not only allows for increased production to meet customer demand, but gives us additional space for R & D that will be used to develop new and innovative products that meet the nutritional needs of today’s high-production crops,” Christopher Smith, president & CEO of patent company H.J. Baker said in a release.

Agrium donates $20,000 for Eastern Canada hay Agrium has donated $20,000 to HayEast 2012, the program to assist drought-affected eastern Canadian producers with shipments of hay from Western Canada. The partnership of farm organizations across Canada is a follow-up to the HayWest program that saw thousands of eastern Canadian farmers send forages to Western Canada in

2002 to help alleviate the effects of that region’s drought. Agrium’s donation will be split between Saskatchewan and Alberta to help reduce the cost of transporting hay from farm locations to rail depots. “We are grateful for Agrium’s show of generosity, and we hope that other Canadian businesses will follow suit,” Nial Kuyek, general manager, Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) and HayEast 2012 organizer said in a release. “Farmers in Western Canada have stepped up to donate thousands of round bales of hay to our Eastern neighbours in need, but we need cash donations to help us transport it across the country.” During HayWest 2002, the federal government covered the cost of rail cars, and CN and CP rail also made significant transportation donations. As well, nearly $110,000 was donated by the private sector in Canada’s eastern provinces. Organizers of HayEast 2012 have issued an urgent plea for Canadians and Canadian businesses to provide donations to support the transportation of donated hay from Western to Eastern Canada. Individuals or businesses can make a donation at any Scotiabank location across Canada, or cheques can be made payable to “HayEast 2012.”

EssEntial tools for farmErs The farmer’s Product Guide helps you make informed decisions on everything that’s essential to your farm. From equipment and accessories to buildings, technology, tillage and trucks – the farmer’s Product Guide covers it all.

find exactly what you’re looking for at

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thousands housands of fully searchable ag product and service listings! for more information on the Farmer’s Product Guide please visit www.farmersproductguide.com or call Terry at 800-782-0794

rEquirEd. rEfErEncEd. rEsPEctEd.


47

ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2012

BP second company this year to drop cellulosic ethanol plant OTHERS CONTINUE  Dupont to go ahead with $200-million corn stover plant in Iowa BY ROBERTA RAMPTON REUTERS

B

P Plc on Oct. 25 said it cancelled plans to build a plant in Florida to turn tough grasses such as sorghum and cane into cellulosic biofuel, the second oil major this year to back out of plans to produce “next generation” ethanol from non-food crops. Once seen as a promising alternative to the use of corn and other crops to make fuel, cellulosic biofuel has become a political football as companies struggle to produce commercial quantities, despite a government mandate. The U.S. Congress originally mandated that by 2012, five hundred million gallons of cellulosic

ethanol be blended into fuel by refineries. But because very little of the fuel is produced, the Environmental Protection Agency lowered the mandate to 8.65 million gallons for 2012. The U.S. oil industry’s lobby group has sued the government over the mandate, and Republicans in Congress have said the law should be changed. BP said it now plans to focus on research and development as well as licensing of its biofuels technology, instead of building the 36 million-gallon plant, the value of which was not disclosed. “Given the large and growing portfolio of investment opportunities available to BP globally, we believe it is in the best interest of our shareholders to redeploy the considerable capital required to

Glenwood’s cheese plant now a powdered milk plant

build this facility into other more attractive projects,” Geoff Morrell, the company’s vice president of communications, said in a statement. In April, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and privately held Iogen Corp scrapped plans for a commercialscale plant in Canada to make ethanol from straw and plant waste.

Others say full speed ahead

U.S. biofuels producers have launched a major lobbying campaign aimed at preserving the mandate for their fuel, and reacted strongly to BP’s announcement in a joint statement, noting other plants are going full speed ahead. Dupont has invested more than $200 million in an Iowa plant to turn corn waste into 28

million gallons of ethanol a year, and will break ground this year, said James Collins, president of Dupont Industrial Biosciences. Spain-based Abengoa plans to begin commercial production at a Kansas plant at the end of 2013, Chief Executive Manuel Sanchez Ortega said. “Every industry faces challenges at times, and the need to reallocate resources is a routine occurrence in the business world,” said Adam Monroe, president of Novozymes North America . Privately held Poet, one of the largest U.S. ethanol makers, broke ground on a $250 million cellulosic plant earlier this year and hopes to start producing commercial fuel after completing the plant in 2013.

Protect Your Investment

BY SHERI MONK

AF STAFF / GLENWOOD

It’s no longer a cheese plant and the workforce has dropped from more than 80 to 20, but the dairy plant here is still in business. Located in the County of Cardston, Glenwood is a village nestled south of Highway No. 3 and home to just 300 people or so. “We make skim milk powder only,” said Kendall MacDonnell, manager of Saputo Dairy Products Canada GP plant. “We’re just a drying facility.” Saputo bought the plant in December of 2000, and in 2004, the plant stopped making cheese and started making powdered milk. “When we were making cheese in 2004 we had 80-something people working here. That’s why it was an easy transition for us — we had everything here already,” said MacDonnell, adding that other Saputo plants didn’t have the equipment required to make the switch. Powdered milk isn’t used in Canada to the extent it is in developing nations, but it can be a critical ingredient to foreign aid. “We sell everything basically to the Canadian Dairy Commission and then they determine where it goes. When you have emergencies or catastrophes, that’s one thing you can ship over there. And when they get their water at least they have some type of a dairy product,” said McDonnell. The plant produces approximately seven million kilograms of powder annually.

Energy giant BP finds sugar cane too tough to turn into alcohol. ©THINKSTOCK

Price Protection

Crop input costs have a huge impact on your farm’s bottom-line. Buying fertilizer and fuel when the price is right can not only save your farm money, it can pay for your new on-farm storage. Our Meridian multi-purpose hopper bins and fuel tanks feature our premium powder coated finish and userfriendly safety features. Make sure you’re prepared and visit your authorized Meridian Dealer today to learn more about their full line of Meridian fertilizer bins and fuel tanks. To learn more, visit your local Meridian Dealer or www.MeridianMFG.com. © 2012 Meridian Manufacturing Group. Registered Trademarks Used Under License.


48

NOVEMBER 5, 2012 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA

Argentine storms slash crops

Rains help but still parched

Argentina could lose 20 per cent of its projected corn crop and 10 per cent of its soy this season because of violent storms over the last three months, a local expert said Oct. 30. “Given all the hail, rain, waterlogging and flooding we’ve seen, some cornfields will be lost. Others can still be replanted, but with uncertain results,” said economist and agricultural consultant Manuel Alvarado Ledesma. “You can expect a drop in corn production of about 20 per cent, to 22.4 million tonnes,” he said. “There has also been a delay in planting soy, which at this point looks like it will reduce the harvest by 10 per cent to 50 million tonnes.” — Reuters

Many areas of the drought-stricken U.S. saw improvement from rains in October, but for key areas there was little relief, according to a climatology report issued Oct. 25. “We’ve seen some improvement... but the impact of the drought and the dryness is far from over,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Roughly 61.79 per cent of the contiguous United States was suffering from at least “moderate” drought. In Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, severe or worse drought levels covered 84.90 per cent of the region. — Reuters

The secret of making a longrange forecast for winter just guess  } You could take a scientific look at the data,

or you could also just throw a dart

by daniel bezte

W

ith winter already making an appearance across much of Alberta I thought it would be a good time to look at what the long-range forecasts are predicting for this winter. Before we take a look at these predictions, let’s first take a look at some of the factors that go into making a long-range forecast. The first realization that we have to come to when looking at long-range forecasts is that pretty much anyone can make one. What I mean by this is that we just don’t have enough of an understanding of how to forecast the weather beyond about 10 days, let alone several months in advance. So for the most part, long-range weather forecasting is pretty much guesswork. For some, it is an educated guess, but a guess nonetheless! If we break down long-range forecasting into two parts, temperature and precipitation, and we look at each of these individually, a long-range forecast can have three possibilities, either above-, below-, or near-average conditions. So, if you simply guess at the forecast you have about a 33 per cent chance of getting the temperature or precipitation forecast correct. Compare this to our educated guessers and you are not doing too badly. Apart from the almanacs, which have claimed 80 per cent accuracy in their long-range forecasts, all the other forecasters’ accuracy usually falls in the 40 to 50 per cent range. That means more often than not their long-range forecasts are not correct, and as I pointed out, you would probably be better off making your own forecast.

The problem

Now on to the big question — why is it that long-range forecasts are so hard to do? To understand this let’s look at some of the main controlling factors that help drive our weather. The first and probably most well-known factor is El Niño or the El Niño/La Niña southern oscillation (ENSO). This is a periodic warming and cooling of the tropical Pacific

Ocean. El Niño is the warm phase while La Niña is the cool phase of this oscillation. Both of these phases affect the atmospheric pressure patterns over the Pacific which in turn influence the weather we experience over North America. For us, an El Niño winter often, but not always, brings milder and drier-than-average conditions, while La Niña will often bring colder and wetter-than-average conditions. Going into this fall an El Niño phase appeared to be developing, but over the last month it has weakened and is now considered to be neutral. Forecasts for the upcoming months continue to show either a very weak El Niño or neutral conditions to continue. This means the Pacific Ocean is likely not going to have any definitive influence on this winter’s weather.

AO and NAO

How about the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the larger associated Arctic Oscillation (AO)? We talked about these two connected oscillations of pressure patterns over the Arctic and North Atlantic in fairly good detail late last winter. The NAO controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. If there is a large difference in the pressure between Iceland and the Azores the NAO is said to be in the positive phase. This often leads to increased westerly winds and a stronger southwesterly flow of air over eastern North America. This can prevent Arctic air from plunging southward, resulting in milder winters. If the difference in sealevel pressure between Iceland and the Azores is small, the NAO is said to be in the negative phase. Westerly winds tend to be weaker allowing Arctic air to spill southwards into North America more easily. With the Arctic Oscillation in a positive phase we usually see the upper-level pressure pattern over North America in a zonal configuration, while the negative phase tends to have a much more meridional pattern. Last winter we saw a very negative AO and we can all remember back to last March when we experienced a very meridional

flow, with much of North America recording record-shattering heat.

Sea ice factor

So far we have three different factors that influence our weather. Each is hard to predict and each one will have some kind of impact on our weather, it all depends on which will be the more dominant one and how long it will remain dominant. Now, to make things even more difficult, we have recordbreaking Arctic sea ice loss to add to the mix. The extra heat being absorbed by the open Arctic Ocean gets released back into the atmosphere in the fall, and new research is showing that this appears to be influencing large-scale weather patterns. We now have another complicating factor. We are also moving toward the next peak in the sunspot cycle (expected next summer). Research shows that this cycle may have an effect on the Arctic Oscillation and with us now in a very active phase this could also impact the winter weather patterns. As you can now see, even if you have a background in weather, trying to make heads or tails out of all of these factors is tough. When you feel like taking a shot at coming up with a winter forecast, close your eyes, take out the darts, give them a throw — you just never know what you might come up with!

This issue’s map shows the total precipitation across Alberta during the 30-day period ending on Oct. 21. Unfortunately, the map misses out on some of the significant snowfall that occurred on Oct. 23, when 10-20 cm of snow fell across much of southern and central Alberta, with some areas seeing upwards of 30 cm.


Alberta Farmer Express