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A DONE DEAL
Mandatory $1 cattle checkoff will continue thanks to memorandum of understanding BY VICTORIA PATERSON AF STAFF /CALGARY
n agreement has been reached to keep the $1 nonrefundable cattle checkoff mandatory in Alberta. “Basically the crux of the understanding that we reached was the piece of legislation or the piece of regulation that allows the ABP (Alberta Beef Producers) to collect a $1 non-refundable federal levy will continue until June 30 of 2015,” said Doug Sawyer, chair of the Alberta Beef Producers. The memorandum of understanding was signed between ABP and the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association (ACFA) and was necessary to keep the levy non-refundable. Sawyer said the memorandum signed by both groups runs from March 30, 2013 until March 30, 2014. The present regulation allowing the mandatory checkoff collection was set to run out March 31.
SEE CHECKOFF page 6
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NEWS » INSIDE THIS WEEK
INSIDE » EGG FARMERS LOOK TO ALTERNATIVES Directors to set date to end conventional cages
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
MAKING FORAGE MORE COMPETITIVE
MARKETS GROWING FOR CPS WHEAT
BERNIE PEET PRODUCTIVITY INCREASES UNDERMINE HOG PRICES
TELLING THE FARM STORY Young farmer group plans social media blast
Duckweed touted as biofuel source
uckweed, the tiny plant that thrives on marshes and sloughs, is an ideal raw material for biofuel production, say scientists writing in the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. Christodoulos A. Floudas, Xin Xiao and colleagues describe four scenarios for duckweed refineries that use proven existing technology to produce gasoline, diesel and kerosene. Those technologies include conversion of biomass to a gas; conversion of the gas to methanol and conversion of methanol to gasoline and other fuels. The results show that smallscale duckweed refineries could produce cost-competitive fuel when the price of oil reaches $100 per barrel. Oil would have to cost only about $72 per barrel for larger duckweed refiners to be cost competitive. The authors say duckweed grows fast, thrives in waste water that has no other use, does not impact the food supply and can be harvested more easily than algae and other aquatic plants.
Grazing specialist calls for more research
Regulatory changes allow more U.S. varieties
EASING YOUR HORSE OUT OF WINTER BLUES
Caffeine gives bees a buzz that improves their memory The benefits are synergistic, the bees remember where to find the caffeine-containing flowers, and the plants benefit from increased pollination
cientists have shown that caffeine improves a honeybee’s memory and that helps the plant recruit more bees to spread its pollen. Publishing in Science, the researchers show that in tests honeybees feeding on a sugar solution containing caffeine, which occurs naturally in the nectar of coffee and citrus flowers, were three times more likely to remember a flower’s scent than those feeding on just sugar. Study leader Geraldine Wright, reader in neuroethology at Newcastle University, U.K., said the effect of caffeine benefits both the honeybee and the plant. “Remembering floral traits is difficult for bees to perform at a fast pace as they fly from flower to flower and we have found that caffeine helps the bee remember where the flowers are. “In turn, bees that have fed on caffeine-laced nectar are laden with coffee pollen and these bees search for other coffee plants to find more nectar, leading to better pollination. “So, caffeine in nectar is likely to improve the bee’s foraging prowess while providing the
plant with a more faithful pollinator.” In the study, researchers found that the nectar of citrus and coffea species often contained low doses of caffeine. They included ‘robusta’ coffee species mainly used to produce freeze-dried coffee and ‘arabica’ used for espresso and filter coffee. Grapefruit, lemons, pomelo and oranges were also sampled and all contained caffeine. The effect of caffeine on the bees’ long-term memory was profound with three times as many bees remembering the floral scent 24 hours later and twice as many bees remembering the scent after three days. Typically, the nectar in the flower of a coffee plant contains almost as much caffeine as a cup of instant coffee. Just as black coffee has a strong bitter taste to us, high concentrations of caffeine are repellent to honeybees. “This work helps us understand the basic mechanisms of how caffeine affects our brains. What we see in bees could explain why people prefer to drink coffee when studying,” Wright said.
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SOME AUSTRALIAN ADVICE ON WORK-LIFE BALANCE
The project was funded in part by the Insect Pollinators Initiative which supports projects aimed at researching the causes and consequences of threats to insect pollinators and to inform the development of appropriate mitigation strategies. “Understanding how bees choose to forage and return to some flowers over others will help inform how landscapes
could be better managed. Understanding a honeybee’s habits and preferences could help find ways to reinvigorate the species to protect our farming industry and countryside,” said co-author Professor Phil Stevenson from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the University of Greenwich’s Natural Resources Institute, U.K., in a release.
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Supply management groups plan PR campaign to combat “misinformation and misperceptions” Research conducted for the province’s five supply-managed commodities has found many consumers have a negative view of the system
Supply management representatives say consumers tend to support the system if they understand how it works. paign is the “next logical step,” said Karlee Conway, corporate af staff / calgary communications co-ordinator for Alberta Milk. rovincial groups repreOnce consumers understand senting the five supply- how supply management works, managed commodities are “the more supportive they tend to teaming up to get their story out be,” Webb said. “We’ve done some consumer Supply management has come research and really shown that a under increased criticism in the lot of negative feedback about the mainstream media in the past system is all based on misinforma- year, said Webb. The increased tion and misperceptions, mostly,” attention may be a result of the said David Webb, marketing and dismantling of the Canadian communications manager for the Wheat Board (despite the differEgg Farmers of Alberta. ences between the board and supHis organization, along with ply management), a greater focus those representing dairy, hatch- on cross-border price compariing eggs, turkey and chicken pro- sons, and because supply manducers (known as the SM5), have agement has been a sticking point worked together for some time to in the Trans-Pacific Partnership lobby government. Combining talks, he said. Salford_SFM03_22-10.25x3_AFE.qxd 3/22/13 3:23 PM 1 forces on a public relations cam“We’re confident thatPage supply By Victoria Paterson
“When you have finished product coming in from another country, what you do is unemploy your own people.” Bob Smook
management isn’t as readily on the table as some people would make it out to be,” Webb said. “We’re supportive of all Alberta agriculture and we’d rather work together and think there is a fea-
sible solution to the negotiations that doesn’t have to pit agriculture against agriculture.” The consumer outreach won’t just be about how the system works, but what it offers to consumers, said Karen Kirkwood, executive director of the Alberta Chicken Producers. “That’s locally produced, safe, fresh food,” she said. Consumers also need to be reminded that quality comes with a cost and producers need to earn a fair return, said Bob Smook, the general manager of Alberta Hatching Egg Producers. “If they can’t cover off the costs, they won’t be there,” he said. There’s also a hidden cost to importing food, he added. “When you have finished product coming in from another
country, what you do is unemploy your own people,” he said. He also noted that imports are allowed. For example, in his sector, up to 17.5 per cent of hatching eggs are imported from the U.S. tariff free — with tariffs only kicking in once that threshold is reached, he said. The campaign will be rolled out later this year, and the officials say it can’t come soon enough. “We need to do a better job of explaining why it works for Canadians and Albertans,” said Alberta Milk’s Conway. “The better our uniquely Canadian system is understood, the more support we will have for it,” added Cara Dary, executive director of the Alberta Turkey Producers. firstname.lastname@example.org
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APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
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Trials and tribulations keep on coming for cattle industry
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Resilience and patience have become industry strengths confronting myriad challenges
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By will verboven
Alberta Farmer | Editor
t’s a good thing folks in the cattle and beef industry are tough and resilient considering what has happened to them over the past year or so. I should add patient to those attributes for their accepting with fortitude every new calamity and setback that would almost wipe out a lot of other industries. Perhaps after BSE 10 years ago, cattle producers and the beefprocessing industry are just able to survive most anything. It’s even starting to feel like this is just the way the cattle and beef business has become. One starts to expect when, and not if, the next adversity will happen. It’s certainly a rogue’s gallery of bad luck. About a year ago the American beef industry was battered by a contrived media hysteria about the use of so-called “pink slime,” more properly known as finely textured beef. Although it didn’t affect the Canadian retail market, as the product was not used here, the bad PR spilled over the border as the sensationalist media made ground beef in general look suspect in the eyes of the consumer. The truly sad part was that this was a perfectly safe use of a product that was otherwise discarded, rendered or used for pet food. It didn’t take long for the next calamity to strike and it was a bombshell. E. coli 157 contamination broke out with some beef products made by XL Foods. Several people got sick, but no one died. This outbreak effectively put the company out of business. The meat recall, union belligerence, consumer suspicion, media hounding and CFIA antagonism made it all but impossible to restart the plant without big financial support from somewhere. Luckily a white knight in the form of JBS USA rode
into town to save the day and the plant from a permanent shutdown. An investigation into the E. coli outbreak and the role of the CFIA has been announced. It’s desperately needed, but will it be forthright or will it bring another hit to the image of beef food safety?
“(O)ne starts to expect when, and not if, the next bad incident will happen.” Cattle and beef trade issues took a new turn and it wasn’t very positive. One has to feel real sympathy for CCA trade policy staff who have worked so hard for so many years to obtain more marketing access for Canadian cattle and beef, only to be constantly frustrated with new roadblocks and conniving foreign trade officials. Better access to European beef markets seem so close with a new free trade deal with the EU. But alas that seems unlikely as the EU will not give Canada any more access than it plans to give to the U.S. Not even a complete capitulation on more tariff-free EU cheese exports to Canada is likely to change their position. I suspect that Canada will throw Canadian beef exports under the bus just to sign a free trade agreement with the EU before it makes a deal with the U.S. I do wish that I am wrong, but there is a foreboding feeling about this trade deal that agriculture will be the sacrificial calf. Just to add to CCA anxiety about trade issues, their pals at the USDA have shown their utter disdain of a WTO trade ruling on COOL. It responded by making COOL regulations even worse. It’s part of an attitude that those clever Yankee traders always
display — “we export, you import.” They also know that it’s likely Canadian officials with their boy scout reputation, will eventually compromise and not impose retaliatory tariffs against some American imports. The problem American trade officials have with WTO rulings is that some of them require changes to legislation already passed by Congress. Few bureaucrats have the inclination to go back to their political masters and tell them they made a mistake. I suspect that ‘delay, delay, delay’ is the real plan for COOL. But that seems to be the game with sore losers. If all of that were not enough, there is more bad news for the cattle industry. The Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency lost $8 million in the recent Alberta government budget. That may seem minor, but a big chunk will come out of cattle- and beefrelated projects. Then there is the recent agreement between Alberta Beef Producers and the Alberta Cattle Feeders Association to continue the $1 non-refundable cattle checkoff. This deal took months of valuable time and energy over an issue that seemed to most as resolvable with some common sense. It is for two years, which guarantees that more drawn-out discussion will again begin in a little over a year. There is a clear resolution to this, but don’t hold your breath waiting for any common-sense intervention from the Alberta government. It boggles the mind to think how much time has been spent on the checkoff issue over the past five years. The beef industry’s domestic and international meat competitors must be chortling with delight watching the biggest player in the Canadian industry squander so much time and effort. Yes, it’s been an interesting (or is it exasperating/aggravating?) year or so in the life of the cattle and beef industry.
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Another view — farmers well represented by commodity groups Greg Porozni farms at Willingdon. He wrote this letter to the editor of the Manitoba Co-operator in response to an editorial addressing Danny Penner’s opinion piece on the opposite page.
am replying to your recent article regarding the farmer’s voice splintered. I am a grain farmer from Alberta growing wheat, canola and peas and have been involved in the canola and newly formed wheat commission in this province for the past 20 years. I take exception to your comments because I live and actively participate in this sector and can honestly say that the lobby and investment efforts in the grains and oilseeds sector create value to producers. CFA (Canadian Federation of Agriculture) has always poorly represented the grains and oilseeds sector. It is funded by supply management to a large extent and that’s who it represents, especially at the WTO trade talks. I know because I have attended
the last three World Trade Organization negotiations and left every time wondering how CFA claims to represent all farmers. You also claim that commodity groups have similar functions in research and market development. This is ridiculous when you compare canola, an oilseed crop, and wheat, for example. They are entirely different crops with completely different end uses. The canola industry works closely with all of industry i.e. the Canola Council of Canada, which I think you are well aware of yet fail to acknowledge. The Canadian Canola Growers Association, which is also based in Winnipeg, represents all growers throughout Canada and also does the administration for cash advances for all commodities. It is also a member of GGC (Grain Growers of Canada), which is based in Ottawa and lobbies on behalf of all grain and oilseed producers in Canada. The Alberta Wheat Commission is also a member, along with numerous other commodity groups throughout Canada.
GGC has never had a higher profile than now and has the ear of the minister of agriculture because it is proactive and looking for solutions, instead of protecting supply management, which CFA is primarily focused on. The wheat and barley industry is currently working on forming national value chain councils similar to the successful CCC. Grains and oilseeds producers are represented better now in Ottawa than they have ever been because of unified lobbying by commodity groups represented by GGC. They share an office with CCC and CCGA to be efficient as well. Finally checkoffs are not costing producers $20,000 per year; they are approximately $1.20/acre, therefore are approximately $6,000 on a 5,000-acre farm. This is an excellent return because it provides value to producers by investing in research, market development and lobbying efforts for the grains and oilseeds sector. And it is refundable for accountability.
ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
A call for a new producer-driven national farm organization A farm voice splintered along commodity lines is expensive and ineffective by Danny Penner
The following is a letter sent to producer checkoff-funded organizations across Western Canada March 4.
ver the past few months, I have been consulting with other farmers and farm leaders who are passionate like me about farm policy, agriculture and food. The consensus is that the agriculture industry is in need of some leadership enhancements. I would ask that you please forward this letter to your board and raise these ideas for discussion at your next meeting. We are writing to request your support for the creation of a new producer-driven national farm organization that would work to solidify marketing systems for grains, oilseeds, pulses and special crops. While it is widely agreed that changes in an open market will continue to benefit producers, even those who disagreed with the Canadian Wheat Board’s (CWB) work and policies, we sense that the end of the monopoly has left a void. We invite you as a leader in the sector to take ownership of this initiative and help drive all grain farmers into the best possible future.
We feel strongly that managing consumer concerns and industry challenges under one umbrella is necessary to arriving at powerful and cost-effective solutions. The following examples highlight the need today for a broad and cohesive farmer voice in industry discussions. • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) exiting cereal variety finishing, and making germplasm available to industry and producer-run research organizations. There is mounting frustration with all the existing new checkoffs for the producer-run cereal commissions working to replace the public-sector interests in development of new varieties, and skepticism of the overall economies of a segmented approach. • Continued market access and consumer resistance issues. Numerous individuals from different organizations have had to deal with essentially the same hindrances with canola, lentils, flax and others, resulting in overlapping efforts. Consumer backlash against conventional food production has made improving science literacy a priority without a formal champion.
• The provincial canola growers’ associations are raising issues of contract fairness with respect to delivery terms, penalties for non-compliance, and grade and dockage assessments between elevators. Fair and consistent standards would improve the ability for markets to function for all crops sold across the Prairies. Efforts to lobby for changes to one crop or in one region are impossible with counter-parties that all operate nationally. • The expanding size and scope of farms, amidst fast-moving technology, volatile markets and ongoing regulatory changes has brought challenges with respect to education and professional development, as has been recognized repeatedly in AAFC and provincial Growing Forward initiatives. While several small, regional service providers exist, overall, it appears that the gaps in producer engagement of the issues and their implications are widening as efforts are stymied by a lack of long-term resources and priorities. These are just a few areas where there is immediate payoff potential from us tackling these issues through something bigger than existing regional and crop-spe-
cific, producer-run organizations. Individual farm cost savings are another important reason for consolidating efforts. A typical 4,000- to 5,000-acre farm could end up paying $4 to $5 per tonne on average, or upwards of $20,000 in total for checkoffs under the current regime. In light of the fact these are significant amounts, we have to ask ourselves, are these funds empowering the farming industry to its full potential? We are proposing that this new organization would somehow be affiliated with the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC), historically the grain industry watchdog, and currently part of a critical review process of longterm industry needs. Producers and government alike need to come to a full understanding of what’s at stake to capitalize on all of the opportunities ahead, and the CGC is already involved in all of the areas producers need to be concerned with long term. Clearly much work remains to scope out and design proper governance and management systems, which is why we hope that you will take the first opportunity to discuss this idea with your board and membership. Only by working together,
combining resources and leveraging individual successes will this initiative generate the input and direction from key producers such as yourselves that it needs to take shape. We are seeking all of your groups’ ideas, and close collaboration with your team in the near future. In closing, we hope you will agree that producers today are facing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a great need to create a new national organization to speak with one voice. The reality is there is no such thing as a ‘wheat farmer’ or a ‘flax farmer,’ etc. Producers across the country may as well think like neighbours since their interests in the marketplaces are essentially identical. If our efforts can gain some traction and stay on course, the outcome of this initiative will be a cutting-edge farm lobby more effective than anything of its kind in the world. It’s important for us to do this for future generations of farmers and consumers alike. Thank you in advance for your consideration. Danny Penner is a grain and oilseed farmer from Letellier, Man., and past president of the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association. email@example.com
Time to beef up on hogs versus cattle? They anticipate a drop in fresh meat supplies once the barbecues start cooking By Gavin Maguire chicago / reuters
he lean hog market is approaching a well-defined seasonal bottom that usually occurs during the opening half of April, and a number of traders are gearing up to go long that commodity over the coming weeks. They hope to be in position ahead of any upturn in values fuelled by a drop in fresh meat supplies and the start of the U.S. spring grilling season. But this year many traders are looking to marry any long position in the hog market with a short stance in cattle, as multi-year high beef prices look set to crimp beef demand and further accentuate pork’s appeal.
April lean hog prices have lost more than 12 per cent since the beginning of the year on the back of increases in domestic production and stocks, as well as a slowdown in U.S. exports. But traders are anticipating a turnaround within the next month as demand picks up once the spring grilling season gets underway and Americans increase their consumption of
pork chops, hotdogs and other popular meat cuts. So pronounced is this pickup in outdoor cooking during spring that lean hog prices tend to display one of the most well-defined seasonal rallies of all commodities around that time, with April lean hog futures having rallied during the first half of April in four of the past five years. Furthermore, this year’s pickup in demand is expected to be especially strong given lingering cold weather across the country that has kept a majority of Americans locked indoors for longer than usual, adding to pentup demand for sunshine and barbecues once the weather warms up.
Steaks and burgers usually also feature heavily on U.S. home-cooked menus during the spring and summer, but they may suffer from a drop-off in demand this year as ground beef prices reach record levels and steak prices hit eightyear highs at the grocery store. Pork chop prices, by comparison, are slightly lower versus year-ago levels — about equal to ground beef prices and just over half the price (per pound) of sirloin steak at the grocery store.
This means that cost-conscious shoppers planning any early-season grillouts will likely be tempted to scale back on any beef purchases in favour of pork over the near to medium term. That should not only fuel upbeat sentiment in the hog market but also underscore any bearish rumblings in the cattle and beef markets.
Traders are gearing up to exploit this potential simultaneous run-up in pork demand and decline in beef consumption by going long lean hogs and short live cattle. They’re also drawn to this trade by the fact that the value of a one contract position in each market (long hogs and short live cattle) is at its lowest level in more than 10 years, and so has abundant potential upside room from current levels, and very little precedent for declining further at this point in the calendar year. One potential negative for the hog market over the near to medium term is the relatively high level of pork inventories currently in cold storage facilities across the United States. But those stocks look set to be chewed through quite quickly if the expected
swell in pork product purchases takes place once spring weather sets in. Furthermore, while speculative traders have been actively funnelling money out of the hogs’ arena in recent weeks, managed money traders are already sitting on their largest net short position in lean hog futures and options in close to a year and so are unlikely to ratchet up short exposure at this juncture, given the well-known tendency for hog values to rally over the coming weeks. Indeed, speculative money flow is likely to pour back into the hog arena as those traders pile on to the seasonal bandwagon as well, further accentuating any upthrust in hog values over the opening half of April. So while the recent bias of lean hog values has been to the downside, the approach of the U.S. grilling season is prompting a number of traders to brace for a turnaround in that market before long. At the same time, with beef prices close to record highs, many traders are adding a short cattle component to that hog trade so as to benefit from any drop-off in beef purchases that may be seen just as pork demand picks up. Gavin Maguire is a Reuters market analyst
Off the front
CHECKOFF } from page 1
NEWS BRIEFS “We thought that in the spirit of co-operation we would agree to a two-year extension.” Bryan Walton ACFAs
The $1 checkoff goes to fund research and marketing efforts by groups such as the Beef Cattle Research Council and Canada Beef Inc. “That puts a bit of stability into those organizations in terms of their funding,” Sawyer said. He said it’s tough to plan and administer research efforts on a yearly basis when many projects run for a few years. In addition to agreeing to the non-refundable extension, Sawyer said the memorandum speaks to ABP and ACFA meeting at least quarterly to work on issues of common interest. The negotiations were “difficult,” Sawyer said. ABP wanted to see a five-year extension of the $1 non-refundable checkoff, while the Cattle Feeders wanted one year. They compromised on 2015. “I genuinely believe, certainly from ABP’s perspective anyway… we signed an MOU that we fully intend on fulfilling,” he said. Bryan Walton, CEO of the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association, said the negotiations went well. “We thought that in the spirit of co-operation we would agree to a two-year extension,” Walton said.
April 1, 2013 • Albertafarmexpress.ca
He said two important points both groups agreed on was the need for accountability and movement towards a contemporary governance structure for the board of Canada Beef. “We all want to see a return on investment. I think the staff at Canada Beef are working hard. We believe that there’s value in the research,” Walton said, adding the ACFA has independently invested in various research projects that will benefit the whole beef industry. He said he thinks the memorandum of understanding is positive, particularly with the quarterly meetings. ABP executive director Rich Smith said the provincial government regulatory hurdles have been jumped and the next step lies with the ABP board. After it approves the levy expiry date change to the commission regulation, which Smith predicted no problems with, it’s off to the Agricultural Products Marketing Council for implementation. He expected the steps would be wrapped up a few days prior to the Mar. 31 deadline. firstname.lastname@example.org
New WCWGA president Staff The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association has elected Levi Wood of Pense, Sask. as its new president. Wood, who farms with his father on a fifth-generation farm, replaces Kevin Bender, who stepped down after four years at the association’s convention in January. Wood graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in commerce. He obtained his MBA from the University of British Columbia. He returned to farming in 2007 after previous work as a foreign exchange trader. The Wheat Growers will continue to work on policy issues to enhance the prosperity of Prairie grain farmers, including work to create a more attractive investment climate, further Canadian Grain Commission reforms, trade agreements and a science-based regulatory approval system for seed and other farm inputs.
How competitive are Canadian farmers, really? Staff A new project will find out how cost competitive Canadian grain producers are on factors influencing cost of production versus producers in competing countries. The
Farmers of North America Strategic Agriculture Institute (FNA-STAG) is leading the work, together with its partners, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The research is aimed at analyzing international cost competitiveness of Canada’s grain producers and facilitating an enhanced understanding of the advantages and disadvantages Canadian grain farmers face on their farms compared to major competitor countries. Representatives of FCC, Grain Growers of Canada, Manitoba Canola Growers Canadian Federation of Agriculture and FNA-STAG board of directors will serve on a project advisory group. Work on the project is expected to be complete by the end of 2013.
U.S. deserves top mad cow rating, health officials say By Charles Abbott washington / reuters The United States is expected to get the top safety rating for mad cow disease in spring, under a recommendation from international livestock health experts that was greeted Feb. 20 as a surefire boost to U.S. beef exports. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the recom-
mended upgrade, to “negligible” from “controlled” risk, was proof that U.S. beef meets the highest safety standards in the world. A trade group, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, said the move was “a big step forward towards enhancing our export opportunities.” The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) was expected to formally adopt the recommendation at its annual meeting in May in Paris. OIE’s scientific arm recommended the upgrade after reviewing U.S. safeguards. The United States would be the 20th country to get a negligible risk rating for the fatal, brain-wasting disease, formally named bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), according to data on OIE’s website. Four cases of BSE have been reported in the United States since 2003. The most recent was April 24, 2012, in an elderly, lame dairy cow in southern California. The United States requested an upgrade in its OIE rating last year. Vilsack said the OIE panel agreed U.S. safeguards and surveillance systems were strong. U.S. safeguards include a ban on using ruminant parts in cattle feed and keeping spinal cords, brains and nervous tissue, the items most at risk of infection, out of the food supply. USDA tests about 40,000 head a year for the disease.
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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
States agree EU farm policy vision to keep reform on track EU governments have agreed to negotiate mandate in reform talks BY CHARLIE DUNMORE BRUSSELS / REUTERS
he European Union is on course to complete reforming its 55-billion-euro-a-year farm policy from the start of 2014, after EU governments agreed a joint negotiating position March 19. Farm ministers from the 27 EU member states backed the main lines of the reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) first proposed by the European Commission in 2011, although they weakened the changes in several areas. The agreement provides government negotiators with a mandate for talks with the commission and European Parliament to finalize the reform, which are due to begin next month with the aim of reaching final agreement in June. “We should rightly acknowledge our achievement today. But we should also acknowledge that it is only an interim success,” said Simon Coveney, farm minister of Ireland, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. “We need to move on quickly from here and build on the momentum of the last week, which has also seen the European Parliament finalize its position on the CAP reform package,” he said in a statement. Agreement was only reached after various concessions were made to individual governments to weaken elements of the reform. These included allowing countries not to apply a proposed cap on annual subsidies to individual farmers of 300,000 euros. The commission and parliament both say it should be mandatory. Ministers also voted to delay the abolition of national sugar production quotas and minimum sugar beet prices until 2017 — two years after the deadline of 2015 proposed by the commission, but sooner than the 2020 favoured by the parliament. Britain’s Farm Minister Owen Paterson said some countries had wanted to keep the quota system until the end of the decade, but that London and other capitals had opposed the move. “Sugar beet quotas are bad for business and bad for consumers. They are driving up the wholesale price of sugar by 35 per cent and adding one per cent to hardpressed families’ food bills,” he said in a statement.
areas to 12 per cent of total direct subsidies. “This is a significant change, since the European trend until recently has been to cut coupled subsidies in a bid to end them altogether,” French Farm Minister Stephane Le Foll, who was among the ministers pushing for the change, said in a statement. Ministers backed the commission’s plan to make 30 per cent of future direct subsidies conditional on farmers meeting new environmental criteria, and agreed to financial penalties for those producers who fail to comply. But they watered down the environmental steps that farmers must take — such as crop diversification and leaving land fallow — and agreed that producers could
Farmers and stockbreeders attend a protest in February against proposed cuts in their sectors, outside the headquarters of the European Union in Madrid. Leaders are moving ahead with a watered-down version of earlier proposals for cuts. PHOTO: REUTERS/SUSANA VERA
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Governments deleted a plan to move to flat-rate, per-hectare subsidies by 2019 to reduce inequality in payments to farmers. In major beneficiary countries such as France, Italy and Spain, the most productive farms currently receive far more EU cash than the rest, thanks to a link between subsidies and 2000-02 production levels. Moving to a flat-rate system could see the subsidies paid to Europe’s biggest grain and livestock farmers cut by up to 40 per cent, EU officials have said. Rather than ending the link between subsidies and production levels — blamed for creating the EU grain mountains of the 1970s and 1980s — governments agreed to increase the level of “coupled” payments in certain
be paid twice, under both the direct aid and rural development programs for the same steps. EU farm lobby Copa-Cogeca praised the compromise, saying it would help ensure that farmland would not be taken out of production unnecessarily. But environmental groups panned the agreement. “At a time when austerity prevails throughout Europe, it is extraordinary that the council seems to have no shame in endorsing paying farmers twice for the same measure,” said Faustine Defossez of the European Environment Bureau. “Continuing down this path will surely spell the end of public support for funding European agriculture.”
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APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Social media campaign encourages farmers to tell their story to consumer The non-profit group Farm On wants farmers around the world to talk about their farming experiences via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter on April 22 BY ALEXIS KIENLEN AF STAFF
group of young Alberta farmers is urging producers from across the province, and around the world, to join a social media ‘Farm Voices’ campaign on April 22 and tell the public what really happens on farms. “About 80 per cent of the search results in Google are results from non-farming organizations telling farmers’ stories,” said Sarah Wray, a director with Farm On, the non-profit group behind the Farm Voices campaign. “We decided that it was crazy that other organizations and non-farming special-interest groups are telling the story of agriculture and going out and having a larger voice than farmers do.” Wray’s group wants producers to share their farming experiences via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #farmvoices. Having actual farmers talk about what they love about farming, their challenges or how they care for the land or animals will give urbanites a better understanding of agriculture, she said. “This movement is about the entire industry and all farmers working together,” she said. Pushing a united voice out to consumers makes the farm voice stronger, she said. “The best way you can help is to pass this on to the people you know and work to spread the message in any way you can,” said Wray from her home in Bashaw. “It’s really important to us that this is owned by farmers themselves and not necessarily by us.” Farmers from Canada, Australia, the U.S. and the United Kingdom have contacted Farm On to offer support or get involved. Lakeland College helped the group create the promotional video used to spread the word about the Farm Voices campaign. “Lakeland College has been a key group in helping us bring this forward,” said Wray. “The kids are so awesome and they are actually currently running a campaign for Phase 2 of what we’re creating. This wasn’t just about consumers coming on board and hearing all the stories. That was the first piece of it, but the second part of it is to try to find a way for consumers to show support for young farmers and invest in them.” Farm On is currently running a competition in co-operation with Lakeland College to try to get suggestions for “swag” products consumers can purchase with proceeds going towards a fund for young farmers. Young farmers will be able to access the fund to help acquire mentorships, take business courses, or pursue post-secondary education. Farm On’s goal is to be a channel to help funnel new farmers to the people who have experience and information, Wray said. “We’re not claiming to be business experts or to have all the answers, but what’s been
really cool is to see the industry coming together and working together to try and make it easier and take down some barriers for young farmers,” she said. Farm On’s mission is to help farmers in the business of farming. “What we’ve been doing is working with different organizations in Alberta and Western Canada to pass on their learning and knowledge to the younger generation,” she said. “We’ve also been working with experts in different aspects of business, in financial management, marketing and all those other areas.” More information can be found at www.farmon.com and http://farmon.com/TheMove ment email@example.com
These young Alberta farmers hope to be joined by counterparts in other provinces, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia on Apr. 22. PHOTO: VIDEO STILL
It’s that time: When you put seeds in the earth. And everything on the line.
Alberta produces 4.2 million tonnes of durum wheat annually. Jackie Jensen seeding spring wheat near Standard.
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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
Farmers who commit totally to sell locally can make a profit But farmers who only dabble in it quickly lose their nerve PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY RELEASE
PHOTO : THINKSTOCK
armers can make a profit selling their produce directly to local businesses, but they must not let possible new costs weaken their commitment to the new venture, according to an international team of researchers. “We found that the farmers who really made a conscious decision to sell local and who made more of a commitment tended to do better than those who are just testing the waters with local direct selling,” said Amit Sharma, associate professor of hospitality management, Penn State. Sharma added that farmers who were only testing the idea of sell-
Let’s seed the earth, beat the odds and feed the world. (Again.) The Alberta soil awaits, awakened from its winter slumber by the warmth of the strengthening spring sun. The long days and nights ahead begin with this moment—the marriage of seed and earth while nature toggles between cooperative and cruel. This is more than an act of faith. This is the beginning of a test of that faith—a test you endure every year because the word is counting on you. A test that you always pass with flying colours. Because there’s a lot more than just seed going into this soil. There’s belief. Pride. Determination. Passion. Spirit. Yours—and ours. atb.com Long Love This Land.
ing to local restaurants tend to either never try to reach the local market, or quickly opt out of local selling. The researchers, who report their findings recently in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development, said that farmers face a number of higher costs when they sell to local restaurants and shops, especially locally owned businesses that are not associated with national chains. Their research was supported by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Development at Iowa State University. The added costs include money for additional marketing and transportation and delivery costs. Costs can also increase when local businesses require special packaging, according to Sharma, who worked with Catherine Strohbehn, extension specialist and professor of apparel, events and management, Iowa State University; Rama B. Radhakrishna, professor of agriculture and extension education, Penn State and Allan Ortiz, lecturer, University of Costa Rica. However, farmers can manage most of the costs, Sharma said. “For some farmers, it may seem like making a website, for example, is a monumental task,” Sharma said. “But, it actually may be easy to make a website, or even hire someone to create one for very little money.” In addition, many farmer organizations, extension units, and state agencies host websites with templates that producers can use to market their products. These organizations often use grant money to make the templates free for the farmers. Farmers can capture additional revenue for the venture through higher prices and improved sales margins, the researchers said. “The local foods movement is huge and retailers are wishing to meet the desires of their customers,” Sharma said. “Other research conducted by our team has found that 40 per cent or more of people will pay a premium for identified local ingredients.” Most local outlets can charge a slightly higher price for goods, giving farmers a premium on products sold to those businesses. Selling produce themselves, instead of through a distribution company, may also improve margins for the farmers, since they are not losing revenue to the distributor. “Farmers may find that their margins may be higher when they sell locally,” Sharma said. “They are cutting out the middleman.” To study the costs and added work for farmers who want to enter the local market, the researchers interviewed 10 farmers who were selling food to the local market near a Midwestern university. The farmers, who were identified through a local growers’ directory, were then asked about direct and indirect costs of their operations, including production, storage, packaging, marketing, transportation and delivery. “A lot of times there’s a status quo that exists and it’s difficult for farmers to get out of that mindset,” said Sharma. “Farmers are reluctant to take on these extra costs.”
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Economist says agriculture is in new era that offers both opportunities and challenges Larry Martin says while global demand for food is rising, producers need to think hard about how they respond to it BY ALEXIS KIENLEN AF STAFF / SMOKY LAKE
hese are unprecedented times for agriculture, but that presents new challenges, says a leading agricultural economist. “Are we going to have these high prices that we’ve seen for these last few years, or is that just a glitch?” Larry Martin asked attendees at the recent Smoky Lake Agricultural Conference. “We’ve never had a five-year glitch before in the whole history of agriculture.” But while demand, driven by biofuels and population growth, looks like it will continue to increase, agriculture will need to adapt, said Martin, best known for his years at the George Morris Centre and now a partner in Agri-Food Management Excel-
lence Inc., a company specializing in management training for the agri-food sector. “The problem is that our productivity is not increasing as fast as the demand is increasing,” he said. The demand side is complicated because the greatest population growth is occurring in developing countries with the least access to resources, he said. “The biggest increases in population are taking place where there are the least resources, and incomes are growing the fastest where population growth is the lowest,” said Martin. In countries where incomes are rising rapidly, demand for meat, milk and grains will soar, but other countries are looking for fractionated products which can be shipped cheaply and reconstituted.
“There are a lot of companies that are thinking about fractionated products but most Canadians aren’t,” Martin said. “We’re still thinking about commodities. We’re missing a boat.” Higher prices are leading to better management and yield increases in some places, he noted. More land is being cultivated, including central west Brazil, Ukraine and Africa. As prices rise, marginal lands around the world will come back into production or increase productivity, he said. Unfortunately, access to land and water are problematic in much of the world. Soil fertility and environmental impact have huge effects on agricultural productivity. As the amount of land is static or slightly declining, and the number of people increases, an increase in productivity becomes even more important, said Martin.
Biofuels are also increasing demand for agricultural products. In 2010, 20 per cent of the world’s sugar cane production was used for ethanol while 13 per cent of the world’s corn production (including 40 per cent of U.S. corn production) was used for the biofuel. Grains continue to constitute a large portion of livestock feed and there is increased demand for grain. About 16 per cent more grains were used for livestock feed in 2013 in comparison to 1988 or 1989. This doesn’t even account for the growing amount of distillers dried grains with solubles from ethanol production used in livestock feed, said Martin. Soybean and corn consumption are growing faster than wheat consumption, because soy and corn can be used for ethanol, biodiesel and animal feed, while wheat is mainly used for human consumption.
Larry Martin, partner with Agri-Food Management Excellence PHOTO: ALEXIS KIENLEN
“Livestock and biofuel are really driving demand on the corn and soybean side,” he said. “There’s also a supply-side issue because we haven’t done any genetic improvement on wheat.” Increasing water scarcity and soil degradation must also be factored into the global demand picture, he said. It all adds up to interesting times, he said. “There are projections out there that say that human beings will eat more food in the next 40 years than in all of human history,” Martin said. “I do believe that we’ll reach a point where we go from surplus to scarcity.” firstname.lastname@example.org
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Complete with headlights, interior lighting, propane heating and a stereo Greg Lavoie (l) takes his recently finished caboose he built on its maiden voyage east of Namaka, Alberta. PHOTO: KEVIN LINK
ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
Agricultural fund suspended after criticism Oxfam says funds drive up prices and ‘speculate on hunger’ PARIS/REUTERS
Other housing systems such as this one are being installed in other jurisdictions.
PHOTO: MANITOBA EGG FARMERS
Alberta Egg Farmers look to alternative housing systems
BNP Paribas, France’s No. 1 listed bank, has suspended a 160-million-euro ($214-million) agricultural commodities fund after international aid group Oxfam criticized French banks for speculating on food prices. “We are suspending subscriptions,” a spokeswoman for BNP said of its Parvest World Agriculture fund, explaining the move as part of the bank’s policy on corporate and social responsibility. The fund is the bank’s most exposed to food commodities, she said. Banks around the world have come under fire for speculating on grain and other agriculture products, which critics say has pushed up food prices and fuelled unrest in some poor countries. BNP also intends to close its Easy ETF Ultra Light Energy fund,
which had 43 million euros in assets by end-January, of which 37 per cent was linked to food commodities, the spokeswoman said. Food commodities amounted to 411 million euros, or 0.08 per cent of the total in assets BNP Paribas manages, it said. BNP said the move was taken after regular meetings with non-profit group Oxfam, which released a report on Feb. 12 blaming banks for “speculating on hunger.” Oxfam called for more banks to close food-related funds. “Banks have a decisive role to play in the fight against food price volatility, which jeopardizes the right to food for hundreds of millions of people in the southern part of the world,” Oxfam France said. Barclays said Feb. 12 it was halting trading in agricultural markets with hedge funds in a move to burnish its reputation amid a major overhaul.
Egg farmers will still have lots of choice on how to house their hens: EFA versity of Alberta’s faculty of agricultural, life and environmental sciences, says the EuroAF STAFF /CALGARY pean Union banned conventional cages at the beginning of 2012 and California recently gg farmers in Alberta will likely start to had a proposition moving producers away move away from conventional cages from them. thanks to a resolution passed during “The sentiment is that animals that are the Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) annual genused for food production should be treated eral meeting held recently in Red Deer. “It was humanely. I think there’s a lot of public giving our board the mandate to look towards misperception about cages. However, perenacting a policy that would begin the process ception is what rules,” Zuidhof said. of transitioning our industry from a convenWhile not familiar with the recent EFA tional cage to alternative systems,” said David resolution, Zuidhof said over the years the Webb, marketing and communications mangroup has been proactive with animal care ager for the EFA. and it doesn’t surprise him He said the resolution is they’re moving to ensure non-binding and more a their producers follow pracdirective for the board, and tices that are acceptable to “Certainly from an was put on the floor by a consumers. Like Webb, he animal welfare and an farmer. He said the direcnoted a number of options tive for the board is to set a will still be available for egg animal care standpoint date by which no new confarmers, including alternawe think that’s definitely ventional cage systems can tives like colony cages and be installed by Alberta egg aviaries. a move in the right producers. One particular example direction.” “Certainly from an animal is an aviary in the Netherwelfare and an animal care lands that designed a sysstandpoint we think that’s tem with input from stakedefinitely a move in the right holders ranging from the DAVID WEBB direction,” Webb said. general public to animal The move away from conrights groups to the govventional cages will still give ernment and producers. egg farmers lots of choice in The result was a biosecure how to manage their flocks, Webb said. environment that allows the flocks access to “Whether it comes to animal welfare or the outdoors and gives the public a chance to food safety, there’s no single perfect system. view the aviary. “It’s a really great example It really comes down ultimately to the farmer of I think where the industry should be going and the care that they provide hands on, on in terms of transparency in how food is protheir farms,” he said. duced,” Zuidhof said. There isn’t a set time for when the board will A resolution at Calgary Co-op’s annual act on the directive from the AGM, but Webb general meeting directed the Co-op’s board said it isn’t a new topic for the directors or proof directors to investigate the feasibility of ducers. He said they’ve been paying attention phasing out selling eggs that come from hens to worldwide trends and research, as well as in conventional cages. communicating with egg farmers about hen According to an Egg Farmers of Alberta’s housing. “They’ll do their due diligence and press release, 85.8 per cent of Alberta’s eggs investigate it,” Webb said. came from hens in conventional cages in 2012. This number was down from 98.5 per Worldwide trends cent in 2006. When it comes to worldwide trends, Martin email@example.com Zuidhof, an associate professor with the UniBY VICTORIA PATERSON
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NEWS » Markets
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Egypt expects easy terms
Heavy snow in Russia, Ukraine
Egypt expects U.S. and European exporters to provide “easy terms” as it seeks to replenish falling stocks, the Financial Times quoted Minister of Supply Bassem Ouda as saying Mar. 25. “Whoever does not help Egypt through the current difficult period, we are not prepared to help them market their products. We expect our friends in the U.S. and Europe to give us easy terms against our buying their wheat.” Egypt is the world’s biggest wheat importer, but two years of political turmoil and economic crisis have eroded its hard currency reserves at a rate of about $1 billion a month. — Reuters
Recent heavy snowfall over parts of Ukraine and Russia may jeopardize this year’s spring barley crop if the two countries are forced to push back sowing, analysts and weather forecasters said Mar. 25. Record levels of snow fell on northern and western Ukraine the previous weekend. The yield of spring barley in Ukraine could be reduced by as much as 18 per cent if sowing is significantly delayed, forecasters said. — Reuters
Anxiety rises over possible Prairie seeding delays Concerns over Canadian crops now have market traction
By Phil Franz-Warkentin
CE Futures Canada canola contracts posted good gains during the week ended March 22, as solid end-user demand, the weaker Canadian dollar, a slowdown in farmer selling, bullish technical signals, ongoing concerns over tightening old-crop supplies, new concerns over possible planting delays this spring, and logistical issues moving soybeans out of South America all served to keep the path of least resistance to the upside. However, while the nearby bias may be higher, canola remains rangebound overall, awaiting a larger catalyst to push it out of the $20-pertonne range it’s been in for the past month. That catalyst could come with the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s prospective plantings report on March 28. The report will include the first official survey-based estimates from the government agency on the size of this year’s soybean crop. After seeding 77.2 million acres in 2012, pre-report trade guesses are generally anticipating a new recordlarge acreage base for the oilseed. How much larger remains to be seen, but a bearish or bullish surprise from
USDA could lead to some volatility ahead of the Easter weekend. CBOT soybean futures dropped to their softest level in a month during the week, before uncovering some technical support and recovering to post small gains overall. Soybeans also find themselves trading sideways overall, and positioning ahead of that acreage report will likely keep that directionless trend intact until there is something new to drive the market. In addition to the acreage numbers, soybean traders are following the news out of South America closely. Farmers in Brazil are said to be over half finished bringing in their potentially record-large crop, but logistical issues in the country have hampered export movement so far. There are reports that over 100 boats are waiting to load beans at some port facilities — and while that bottleneck sorts itself out, some business is being diverted north. For corn and wheat in the U.S., the trend was mostly higher during the week. Both commodities were said to have reached price points recently that brought in some new end-user demand. Short-covering off of those nearby lows was another supportive feature. Corn traders will be following the USDA acreage estimates closely
as well, with pre-report opinions divided as to whether there will be an increase or decrease on the 97.2 million seeded in 2012. If corn acres go up, some of that area would likely come from land already seeded to winter wheat that was abandoned.
North American supply/demand issues will become more important in the grains and oilseeds over the next few months, as spring seeding starts up in the southern U.S. and works its way into Canada. With much of the Canadian Prairies still covered in a layer of snow, concerns over a wet spring and possible seeding delays have started to gain traction. However, there is still plenty of time to go before anyone starts writing off this year’s crop. Aside from the concrete fundamentals, the shaky global economic situation reared its head again during the past week, providing a reminder that grains and oilseeds don’t trade in a vacuum. The tiny Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus found itself as the latest euro-zone country at the brink of collapse and in need of a bailout. The country represents only 0.2 per cent of the entire European Union economy, but there is a legitimate
concern that a failure with the banks there would snowball into problems elsewhere — and the shifting reports on the situation caused volatility in the international financial and commodity markets during the week. A plan that would see the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund provide a 10-billion-euro bailout failed to gain approval of the Cyprus government, as it would have seen an unpopular levy placed on all savings accounts in the country to drum up more money. Russia is also in the mix, as a large portion of money held in Cyprus’s banks was put there by Russian investors as a safe haven. Banks in Cyprus were closed all week as the politicians and bankers tried to work out a “Plan B.” A solution will inevitably be found, but the question over how long the EU can keep plugging its proverbial dike before it breaks remains to be answered. Such a development would definitely have repercussions in the agriculture sector here in North America as well. Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.
CME pares back grain trading hours The new grain cycle was cut to 17.5 hours from 21 hours By Tom Polansek
ME Group Inc. said March 5 that it plans to pare its nearly non-stop trading cycle for grains and oilseeds to 17-1/2 hours per session after traders complained a move to extend activity had hurt liquidity. CME, owner of the Chicago Board of Trade, sought to shorten the trading day less than a year after adding hours in response to a challenge from arch-rival IntercontinentalExchange. Many traders said the increase to 21 hours to 17 hours, implemented last May, had spread out volume, reducing liquidity and increasing volatility.
The longer cycle also kept futures and options markets for crops like corn, wheat and soybeans open for the first time during the release of key monthly reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which often cause sharp swings in prices. Traders formerly had two hours to analyze the reports before trading resumed, and some have called on CME to pause trading so they can digest such data. Under CME’s proposed hours, trading would still be open when USDA releases major crop reports at 11 a.m. CST. As proposed, electronic trading will run from 7 p.m. CST to 7:45 a.m. CST Sunday to Friday. Trading will then pause for 45 minutes before resuming on the
screen and in the historic Board of Trade open-outcry pits until 1:15 p.m. CST. Currently, electronic trading runs non-stop from 5 p.m. CST to 2 p.m. CST. Managers of country grain elevators are among those who want to maintain longer hours. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), which represents thousands of elevators and processors, said a “significant segment” of its members prefer the current 5 p.m. CST start time for overnight electronic trading to the planned 7 p.m. start time. The shorter cycle reduces the period of time that cash grain dealers can lay off price risks in the futures markets, according to NGFA.
Chicago traders want a 45-minute trading pause before they head into the pits. PHOTo: REUTERS
ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
PMRA reviews neonicotinoid insecticide link to honeybee deaths Popular seed treatments identified in widespread bee losses in Ontario and Quebec last year staff/reuters
The neonicotinoid products are also under review in the EU, and a ban is possible. PHOTo: Reuters T:8.125”
class of insecticides that could be banned in the European Union because of their risk to honeybees is also under review in Canada. The neonicotinoid class includes imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam products which are the basis for several popular insecticides and seed treatments in Canada. Imidacloprid products include Bayer’s Admire and Gaucho, and thiamethoxam is contained in Syngenta’s Cruiser products. Clothianidin is part of Bayer’s Prosper seed treatment. On June 12, 2012, the Pest Management Review Agency issued a notice that nitro-guanidine neonicotinoids were under re-evaluation for potential effects on pollinators “in light of changes in the information required and global updates to the pollinator risk-assessment framework.” The review was apparently in response to an unusually high number of honeybee-mortality reports last spring from beekeepers in corn-growing regions of Ontario, involving over 40 beekeepers and 240 different bee yard locations. One report was received from Quebec involving eight bee yards. A Health Canada report says, “The information evaluated suggests that planting of corn seeds treated with the nitro-guanidine insecticides clothianidin and/ or thiamethoxam contributed to the majority of the bee mortalities that occurred in corngrowing regions of Ontario and Quebec in spring 2012. The likely route of exposure was insecticide-contaminated dust generated during the planting of treated corn seed. The unusual weather conditions in the spring of 2012 were likely also a contributing factor.” Dry weather during seeding in 2012 apparently contributed to a higher-than-normal shedding of dust from treated seed. On Feb. 4, 2013 Health Canada released a document advising of best management practices for handling treated seed. “While the focus of this document is on nitro-guanidine neonicotinoid-treated corn seed, these measures may be extended to other types of treated seed or to other insecticides if a scientific evaluation shows that dust during planting poses a concern.”
also try to get a majority for a compromise proposal, put forward the restrictions in January after the EU’s food safety watchdog EFSA said neonicotinoids posed an acute risk to honeybee health. The proposal would ban neonicotinoids on all crops except winter cereals and plants not attractive to bees, such as sugar beets. It would apply from July 1, 2013, ensuring this spring’s maize sowing is unaffected, with a review after two years. A Syngenta- and Bayer-funded study showed a blanket ban on treating seeds with neonicotinoids would cut EU net wheat exports by 16 per cent and lead to a 57 per cent rise in maize imports, costing the EU economy 4.5 billion euros per year.
EU ban possible
EU governments failed to agree on a ban on the products at a meeting Mar. 15, but the European Commission could force one through by the summer unless member states agree on a compromise. Under EU rules, member states now have two months to reach a compromise or the commission will be free to adopt the proposal. “Forcing through the ban is one of the options available to us but first we need to reflect politically on the best way to proceed,” said EU health spokesman Frederic Vincent. The commission, which could
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APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
BIXS carcass data available Some ranchers are getting a taste of what national traceability system has to offer in terms of finished beef By Daniel Winters staff
f you shipped age-verified calves that were slaughtered at one of the major plants in Canada after May 2010, there may be some interesting information waiting for you online. “There’s two million records in the system, so there’s a good chance you’ll have some in there,” said Marlin Beever, a rancher from Rivers, Man. who has been hosting information sessions to explain what is available on the Beef Information Exchange System (BIXS). Carcass weight and meat grade records have been available for a couple of months now at www. bixs.cattle.ca, which is on the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association website, he said. Currently only data from the large Cargill and the former XL Foods plant is recorded. If the calves shipped ended up going south, their data won’t be on the system. Also, depending on how they were fed out, data from 2011 calves may be available, too. “If you wish to register, go
online and have a look, you’ll see what you can see,” said Beever. To access the data, farmers need the tag numbers and starting and ending birth dates for that year’s calf crop, as well as their premises ID number. Of the handful of records that he has seen from his own 100head herd, Beever said that it appears his mostly Angus calves ended up grading well and carcass sizes were a “a bit larger” than he figured. Bill Campbell, a Limousin breeder from Minto, Man. has taken a look and he likes what he’s found. “We’ve compiled some data from our 2011 calf crop,” said Campbell, adding that he was able to use it to help market the 2012 calves from his 130-head commercial and purebred herd. Campbell was surprised by the size of the finished carcasses, some of which were over 1,000 pounds, which yielded 22-inch rib-eyes, as well as the fat cover. “It was enlightening for sure. I think it’s a valuable tool for marketing your calf crop,” he said. He also planned to use the results for his April 2 bull sale.
Feedlots know that there can be a $200 difference in final returns on each steer, but without peeling the hide off, it’s hard to determine which ones will perform best. But with tag numbers corresponding to certain genetic packages, it’s possible to use proven historical data to predict future results, he added. For example, a finished animal that ends up with a carcass weight of only 700 pounds won’t be as attractive to a buyer as one that tips the scales at 900 pounds. “If feedlots are crying that they’re losing money, it’s because they aren’t feeding the right kind of cattle,” said Campbell. “Cattle that yield and give you meat make you money.” How many ranchers have actually accessed the information is unknown, but Beever hopes that early adopters will take the time to figure out how to dig up what’s there. “We’re in the early stages with a couple million records in there, so we’re hoping that people will take advantage of it,” said Beever. firstname.lastname@example.org
“It was enlightening for sure. I think it’s a valuable tool for marketing your calf crop.” Bill Campbell
Data on carcass weights and grades for your age-verified calves may be waiting online at www.bixs.cattle.ca.
USDA official sees 2013-14 global wheat crop around record levels Severe droughts cut production for key exporters last year By Colin Packham canberra / reuters
lobal wheat output could climb to record highs in the year to June 2014 on improved crop prospects for some key producers hit by severe droughts last year, an official of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said. “I think global production should get back to record level,” Joe Glauber, the USDA’s chief economist, told Reuters March 6. “We saw pretty severe droughts in the Black Sea and southern Europe and, assuming we see some snap-back, we should see strong global production levels again and hopefully some significant rebuilding of stocks.” In the U.S. Plains, warmer temperatures this week will melt much of the snow cover from a pair of big blizzards in late February, adding crop-friendly moisture to the
drought-stricken hard red winter wheat region. Australia, the world’s secondlargest exporter, on March 5 forecast wheat production in 2013-14 would rise 13 per cent from the previous year, boosted by increased planting and higher yields from better growing conditions. And Ukraine is likely to produce its largest harvest since gaining independence in 1991 thanks to favourable autumn weather and a larger sowing area, analyst UkrAgroConsult said. The consultancy revised up its forecast for the 2013-14 grain harvest to 53 million tonnes from 51.85 million. Glauber, speaking on the sidelines of an Australian agricultural conference, did not give a figure for world wheat output in 2013-14. Global wheat production stood at 653.6 million tonnes in 201213, according to the USDA’s most recent forecast, down six per cent from a record 696.6 million tonnes the previous season.
Wheat production in key exporters is expected to rebound under more normal growing conditions this year, potentially increasing global production to record levels. Photo: REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian 19452-07 DAS LiquidAchieve_13.167X9.indd 1
Albertafarmexpress.ca • april 1, 2013
U.S. farm banks’ business is booming Farm real estate loans are growing at a faster pace than farm production loans By Christine Stebbins chicago / reuters
.S. agricultural banks boosted farm lending by about 14 per cent in 2012 to $81.8 billion, reflecting a strong farm economy despite drought-related stress in the livestock and dairy sectors, the American Bankers Association said on March 19. “The agricultural sector continues to outperform the broader national economy and, as a result, farm banks posted solid performance in 2012,” the ABA said in its Farm Bank Performance Report. It cited a U.S. Agriculture Department forecast for nearrecord 2012 U.S. net farm cash income of more than $133 billion on the strength of high commodity prices and increasing global demand for food.
“This has translated into a solid performance on the part of our nation’s farm banks. Farm banks reported a strong increase in earnings and improved asset quality in 2012. In addition, farm banks, as a group, remained well capitalized through 2012,” the ABA said.
“The agricultural sector continues to outperform the broader national economy and, as a result, farm banks posted solid performance in 2012.” ABA
The main competition for private banks in lending to farmers and ranchers remains the giant Farm Credit System, a government-linked nationwide network of co-operative banks which dates from the early 20th century. Farm business balance sheets improved due to strong farm income and the continued appreciation in farmland values. The farm debt-to-asset ratio is projected to fall 40 basis points to 10.2 per cent in 2013. This would be a new historical low, confirming the strength of the farm sector’s solvency, the association said. “The continued growth in farm loans demonstrates the important role banks play in the success of farms and ranches both large and small,” said John Blanchfield, senior vice-president and director of ABA’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking.
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Cold start to spring slows demand for high-quality U.S. beef Wholesale prices for choice grade have dipped below lower-quality cuts By Michael Hirtzer chicago / reuters
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ersistently cold weather and snowfall on the first day of spring have crimped demand for high-quality cuts of beef in the United States at a time of year that typically sees increased purchases for so-called grilling season, analysts and traders said March 21. In a rare move, wholesale prices for choice-grade beef dipped below those of leaner but lesserquality select cuts, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. The wholesale choice beef cutout declined to $192.94 per cwt, the lowest level since the first day of the month, while select beef was priced at $193.21. “We need some nice grilling weather, some spring weather that facilitates the scraping off of backyard barbecues. Grilling season is an important turning point (in beef demand) and it’s certainly delayed this year,” said Jim Robb, economist at the Livestock Marketing Information Center. Late-winter snowfall on the East Coast and below-freezing temperatures on the spring equinox in the Midwest contributed to a slow start to the grilling season while an early Easter holiday also limited buying during Lent, when many Christians eat less meat. Beef prices remain near record highs after ranchers culled the U.S. cattle herd to the smallest in 60 years when last summer’s
Not warm enough to fire up the barbecue yet, so steak sales are slow. PHOto: thinkstock devastating drought sent animal feed prices soaring. And the high cost of beef — retail prices hit a record of $5.24 per lb. in January — may lead to more consumers grilling chicken or pork this summer while grocery stores give more advertising space to cuts with a better chance of selling. Rising gasoline prices and the expiration of a payroll tax break are also keeping a lid on U.S. discretionary spending. Top U.S. meat company Tyson Foods Inc. late last month said margins were “compressed” this year in its beef business. “With cheaper pork and broiler meat around, the retailers are likely to go away from beef. Beef is priced out,” said John Ginzel, an analyst at brokerage The Linn Group in Chicago. Choice beef was priced 27 cents per cwt below select and discounted for the first time since April and only the 14th time in history, USDA data shows.
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Continued uncertainty for hog producers in 2013 Some producers are hanging in, hoping for price increase, but it may be muted by higher hog numbers
Over the last 10 years, the number of pigs weaned per sow has increased by 0.2 and passed the milestone of 10 per litter in 2011. BY BERNIE PEET
fter a six-year period of poor profitability, Canadian producers are on a knife edge, especially those in the West. With the hog price at around $1.45 and production costs of at least $170 per hog, they have been bleeding cash over the winter. And now the latest census data suggests that the supply of hogs in North America this year is going to be larger than expected. Couple that with issues such as export barriers, COOL, the situation in the EU and unknown harvest prospects and it’s not surprising that the current mood is one of uncertainty. First, the combined U.S. and Canadian total hog inventory for December 2012 was only slightly down compared with 2011, while the breeding herd, at 7.03 million head, was up a little. Expectations were that high feed prices would have led to lower numbers. But it appears that U.S. producers have held their nerve, despite significant losses, and are banking on a big drop in the price of corn after this year’s harvest. In Western Canada, producers continue to quit production
as their equity runs out, but the attrition is not yet reflected in the census figures. Those still in business are hoping for a surge in summer prices, but this seasonal rise will probably be muted by the higher-than-expected hog numbers. Futures prices and the pundits’ predictions have already weakened. The George Morris Centre’s Canadian Pork Market Review published in the middle of last month predicted an average price of $1.60-65/kg for Alberta during March, yet the price has stayed around the $1.45 mark so far, and that with the Canadian dollar weakening. It predicted a peak of $1.70-75 in May, and a fourth-quarter price of $1.50-55. If the current price weakness persists and the midyear price peak is only $1.60-65, that means that producers will be unprofitable for the whole year unless feed prices weaken substantially prior to the harvest.
The other factor working against higher prices is the continuing improvement in the productivity of the U.S. industry. Over the last 10 years, the number of pigs weaned per sow has increased by 0.2 and passed the milestone
of 10 per litter in 2011. With nearly six million sows in the U.S. breeding herd, that’s about 1.2 million extra pigs coming to market each year, with plenty of scope for more improvement. My concern right now is that, in the fall, prices will weaken even more than predicted and, despite lower feed prices, Canadian producers will be under severe economic pressure. Each time this happens, it has been Canadian producers who have quit, not those in the U.S. who receive a higher price for their hogs and have much better hedging opportunities.
EU production down
While I remain somewhat pessimistic about prospects this year, there are several things that may change the situation. The latest forecasts of pig production in the EU have been revised sharply downwards, with Eurostat reporting that member countries predict a 6.9 per cent drop in slaughterings during the third quarter of this year compared to last and a drop of 7.2 per cent for the fourth quarter. This is partly in response to high feed prices, but probably more likely due to the partial sow stall ban which is leading to a significant exo-
dus from the industry in some countries. Fewer pigs in the EU will mean that they have fewer to export, opening up opportunities for North American exporters and increasing the demand for pigs, which would support prices. The second factor is the possible impact of changes in U.S. COOL legislation. Recently released proposed changes to the country-of-origin laws have been met with dismay by both Canadian and U.S. livestock and meat organizations. “The proposed rule is even more onerous, disruptive and expensive than the current regulation implemented in 2009,” said J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute. If the change goes ahead as currently written, Canada will likely be in a position to levy retaliatory tariffs that should flow to its pig producers. If by some miracle, the U.S. capitulates and complies with the spirit of the WTO ruling, then that will be beneficial to the trade in live pigs from Canada. Finally, U.S. pork exports have helped to support hog prices over the last few years and have mopped up surplus product. Exports set a record during 2012,
reaching 2.26 million tonnes, valued at $6.3 billion, up 3.5 per cent on 2011 and representing 23.5 per cent of U.S. pork and pork production. Exporting has not been without its problems, though. Russia stopped pork and beef imports from the U.S. in December, claiming it had detected traces of ractopamine. However, such non-tariff barriers are designed to support the developing Russian industry in which some of the powerful oligarchy have money invested. Their aim is to eventually be self-sufficient, although this will take a long time. In the meantime, they do not want to stop further expansion in response to low profitability and will seek to support the hog price by restricting imports by one means or another. There are a lot of unknowns facing western Canadian producers during the rest of this year. Unless some of the stars align more favourably for producers, there could be a significant drop in production over the winter period. Bernie Peet is president of Pork Chain Consulting of Lacombe, Alberta, and editor of Western Hog Journal
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CLGA gets export boost
Wealthy rancher calculator
The Canadian Livestock Genetics Association (CLGA) has received more than $1 million from the Growing Forward 2 AgriMarketing Program to help implement its long-term international market development strategy for dairy and small-ruminant genetics. The CLGA says it will also help expand and regain international markets for live cattle, semen, and embryos, and market its strong dairy cattle improvement and genetic evaluation programs. Canadian dairy genetics were exported to over 100 countries in 2012, with a value of $110 million.
The Wealthy Rancher Calculator built by Arnold Matson of the Grassland Stewardship, Science and Technology Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Edmonton, is now posted on Foragebeef.ca, and found in the backgrounding, cow-calf and the pasture economics folders. Foragebeef.ca has also added Basics of Body Condition Scoring (BCS) into the body condition scoring folder. This fact sheet from the South Dakota State University Extension Department shows the different levels of body condition using the American system of measurement.
Scientist urges forage growers to stay ahead of the production and management curve Duane McCartney says growers need to keep up with new varieties and improved methods for dealing with issues such as bloat and pasture management By Alexis Kienlen af staff / ponoka
orages don’t get the respect they deserve. That was the message retired Agriculture Canada research scientist Duane McCartney delivered to the Alberta Forage Industry Network meeting. “The forage industry in Canada and Alberta is a very, very big industry,” McCartney told attendees. “Your organization needs to get that kind of information out.” Forage acreage has dipped a little in recent years, but remains one of Western Canada’s largest crops and its economic impact is increasing, he said. While many considered the cattle industry to be centred on the Prairies, the 2011 Census of Agriculture showed the majority of cattle are in the Parkland areas — partly because they get more rainfall and therefore grow better grass. The rise in grain and oilseed prices has seen more Prairie pastures converted to crop production and that increases the need to improve pasture productivity, he said. “When people take those lands out of pasture, and put them in grain land, the acreages that are left have to be more productive,” said McCartney. “These acres have to support the grazing industry.” He urged his audience to seek professional advice and consider new ideas to improve both production and profitability of their forages. Research is showing that what happens between grazing periods is critical in forage production, he said. “The resting of the plant is the only way of sustaining high production year after year,” McCartney said. Even one day can make a difference, he said, because when a plant is grazed for an extra day
Research such as this on sainfoin is needed to make forages more competitive with cereals. in the spring, three days of grazing are lost in the fall. Extra care needs to be taken on pastures bordering waterways, he said. “In the past, we’ve been grazing riparian areas too long, too fast, and too often,” he said. “We have to continue promoting the idea of creating water systems so cattle are not in the streams.” Riparian areas need to be grazed, but should only be grazed during certain times of the year, he said.
“ It’s a big social issue but we still need to address it. It’s costing some people a lot of money each year because they have to feed the Queen’s cattle.”
Forage research is also constantly advancing. Forage breeding programs have released new crested wheatgrasses and hybrid brome grasses in recent years. Researchers in Quebec have been investigating energy and biomass production, while those in Saskatoon are investigating the importance of breed-
ing tannins into alfalfa varieties to prevent bloat. Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are investigating forage oat and barley breeding, while Lacombe researchers are investigating new varieties of improved triticale for cattle grazing.
Other research has shown that if cattle are allowed access to grass and alfalfa at the same time, they have a reduction in bloat. “There is a lot of activity on seeding grass and alfalfa in strips to prevent bloat,” said McCartney. Other research has shown having two legumes in production at the same time is the most beneficial and two grasses alone will not give adequate yield. “Alfalfa and other legumes draw water from way down in the ground, whereas grasses are shallow rooted,” he noted. By early July, southern Alberta has grown its peak amount of forage. In the Melfort, Saskatoon and Lacombe areas, July 15 is the date for top forage yields. “You have to decide at that point in time, whether you will have enough to carry you through the next winter,” he said. “These are two numbers
the forage industry needs to work around.” The forage industry can also become stronger if the hay industry is developed properly, he said. This includes re-evaluating the hay grading standard system. Anyone interested in selling to hay to the U.S. can look up protocols on Alberta Agriculture’s CowBytes website. Hay needs to be stored so air can circulate between bales. Growers also need to pay more attention to the issue of wildlife damage, he said. “Your organization needs to work with government and policy-makers to look at the hunting aspects so they can get rid of those kinds of problems,” said McCartney. “It’s a big social issue but we still need to address it. It’s costing some people a lot of money each year because they have to feed the Queen’s cattle.” email@example.com
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Collaborative farming makes partnerships a business From the hip } A visiting Australian has some good ideas on balancing business and family life By brenda schoepp
obin Schaefer knows all about collaborative farming. He owns a grain farm in south Australia with a nonfamily partner and is studying business management systems and weather forecasting worldwide. Working together, he and his business partner have found the optimal levels of operation and how to keep on the same page. When Robin talks about collaborative farming he is both direct and sincere. His easygoing style is a guise for the brilliant mind and extreme focus that makes him a great farmer as the owner of Bulla Burra and director of Collaborative Farming Australia. In a recent visit to Alberta, the 2012 Australian Nuffield Scholar, who is also studying climate, laid out the framework for great working relationships. As in all relationships there must be trust, but in business even trust cannot get you through a crisis if the partners do not have a common end point. A win-win attitude to get to the same goal keeps the business on track even when markets or harvest is falling off the rails. Robin emphasizes repeatedly that the end point must be clear, in the mission and vision statement, and repeated often. That way all the parties involved, from management to staff, know exactly what they are working toward.
Crisis evaluation and putting pressure on a finely tuned system gets the partners thinking in terms of “what if” and allows for a risk management plan. What if the crop fails? What if the engine blows? What if the one partner walks? The technical disasters such as a seized engine can be easy to fix, but the personal and management issues could be crippling to a company. I asked Robin what the structure was to ensure that partners stayed, or felt safe to leave if they needed to. He said that “we build in non-disturbance exit plans that are fair at the beginning of the partnership. That way if a partner needs to leave they can do so without disrupting the farming operation or hurting family members.” By doing a risk analysis and having an investment interest in the farm, the terms of exit are easier to discuss before a departure. The partners and their families are protected. Just as machinery needs daily inspection and servicing, so does a collaborative farming agreement. This is not only to provide mutual support to each other in reaching a common goal but to ensure the checks and balances implemented at the beginning of the working relationship are indeed fully functional and useful for the company. Robin explained that regular board and management meetings are a must, even with just two partners, and that their wisest
investment was the employing of a neutral, professional chairman for those meetings. This allows for open discussion in a process that is guided toward a mutual outcome. Every person has strengths and weaknesses and Robin recommends that partners identify this early and give each other full responsibility in their
As in all relationships there must be trust, but in business even trust cannot get you through a crisis if the partners do not have a common end point.
strong areas. If there is an area that needs addressing and neither partner is proficient, then expertise or employees are brought in with those skills. Collectively you then have a team that can cover all the basics of production and marketing. Working with the community in the same manner also allows for a more dependable working
model. For example, Bulla Burra contracts all grain hauling from the field and ensures timely service by paying for the haul in advance of harvest. This ensures Bulla Burra has grain hauling at a critical time of the year.
Bigger not always better
When it comes to optimization, Robin is passionate and experienced. He uses the example at Bulla Burra when they decided to go from 20,000 to 23,000 acres in the name of efficiency. What he found instead was that efficiency dropped because of the need for one-third of a tractor and combine and a parttime non-engaged helper. The optimal efficiency in terms of human resource and equipment was back at 20,000 acres and so the farm returned to that level. At that point, the current two combines, tractors and staff are at optimal use. He reminds us that it may be misleading to get bigger for the sake of size without measuring optimal performance and production. Another area that he says might mislead you is the idea of diversification. With perfect weather year round Robin decided that a variety of fruits and fresh flowers may be a nice addition to income and further utilize manpower. When the Australian dollar skyrocketed input costs followed and export interest wavered. Robin said it was an expensive exercise and showed diversi-
fication away from what you are really good at may or may not work. More importantly he said he was working all the time with little time for family. The balance for Robin is between an optimized business that encourages personal and professional growth and great family time. He talked about the importance of “head space.” “You need to have downtime to clear your head for innovative thinking and to address the needs of your family.” For continuous learning Bulla Burra finds that often comes from outside of agriculture. Just the process of being open to new information is growth in itself. The fact that Robin is away this year for 16 weeks on two world tours speaks volumes to the balance he has achieved in family and collaborative business. Both his family and his business partners are supportive of his studies and anxious to learn from the information and experiences he brings home to the fields and kitchen tables of Bulla Burra. Brenda Schoepp is a Nuffield Scholar who travels exploring agriculture and meeting the people, who feed, clothe and educate our world. A motivating speaker and mentor she works with young entrepreneurs across Canada and is the founder of Women in Search of Excellence. Contact www.brendaschoepp.com
AAFC researcher receives AFAC award
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Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein of Agriculture and AgriFood Canada (AAFC) in Lethbridge received the Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) Award of Distinction from Greg Bowie, vice-chair of Alberta Beef Producers, at the recent Livestock Care Conference in Calgary. Schwartzkopf-Genswein’s work has included a strong focus on animal welfare standards and reducing transport stress in farm animals. Schwartzkopf-Genswein says a key to innovation is finding improved approaches that support animal welfare and are also practical and economically viable. “We need to put the animals first. At the same time, producers have a job to do and they have to make a living.” Photo: AFAC
ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
Bull sale pulls in buyers from all over North America Angus, Hereford, other breeds shown off for bidders BY VICTORIA PATERSON AF STAFF/CALGARY
idders were ready for action at the 113th Calgary Bull Sale. Angus bulls were the first on the block March 7 at the pavilion on the Calgary Stampede Grounds. Grant Hirsche, of Hirsche Here-fords & Angus Ltd., said in general prices on Angus bulls had dropped over previous years. “Prices are down a little bit from a year ago,” he said, estimating they were down an average of $1,000 a bull. He said he was expecting a bit of a price drop with the weather, adding he thinks the whole Angus market is down a little bit. Lorraine Henderson of Little Poplar Grove Herefords sold her grand champion bull for $35,000. She said it’s the highest price she’s ever brought in. “You get excited,” she said. Henderson said she was “numb” after a round of bidding ended with Crone Herefords winning. She said people were concerned because it seemed there wasn’t as much of a crowd as in previous years, but said it’d be hard to tell how Hereford prices were doing until the end of the day. Doug Finseth, president of the Alberta Cattle Breeders, said during the sale so far it appeared prices were sitting similar to 2012. “It’s been great,” he said of the sale. “The support from the contributors and the buyers (has been) phenomenal.” Buyers came from the West Coast and Central Canada, with some Americans arriving from as far away as Arkansas. “It’s as good a crowd as last year,” he said. He was happy to see the tradition of the Calgary Bull Sale continue, noting the annual sale is a benchmark for the industry.
Lorraine Henderson of Little Poplar Grove Herefords shows off her grand champion bull during the sale.
Kali Schierman shows off an Angus bull for potential bidders during the bull sale at the Stampede Grounds March 7.
Angus bulls wait in a holding area to be auctioned off March 7.
Angus sale auction was underway at the Calgary Bull Sale March 7. PHOTOS: VICTORIA PATERSON
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
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ate winter and early spring mark an interesting conundrum on the equine calendar. Prolonged winter weather conditions, declining nutritional values in feed, and lack of movement within confining snow boundaries and winter paddocks challenge the health of even the hardiest of horses. So it is not uncommon that particular illnesses occur and are aggravated as winter advances. Dentally challenged horses will generally show their struggle during this time of the year as sudden ‘unexplained’ weight
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loss and ill-thrift. They are unable to maintain their body condition as winter progresses due to ineffective chewing of dry-stem forages. Younger horses between the ages of two and four and the elderly horses are particularly afflicted. When youngsters are teething, newly shed baby teeth give way to erupting adult teeth. As a result it may be months before adult teeth come into full occlusion and during this time young horses lose grinding efficiency. This is most noticeable in three-year-olds who present with weight loss and lack of lustre as spring arrives. Fortunately body condition improves dramatically as the adult teeth come into full wear.
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Aged horses who repeatedly have difficulty maintaining body weight during late winter often have a dental challenge. It is of benefit to have the teeth of these horses thoroughly examined. Dental intervention and special dietary management may be necessary to support their health. Supervision of a horse’s body condition is of utmost importance as winter progresses. A body condition score of five is generally ideal. At this body condition the ribs are felt, body fleshing is moderate and the back is level. Straying too far from this ideal is cause for concern. Too fat is equally disruptive as is too thin to the horse’s health. Reasonable weight loss is never too troubling in horses during the winter. It is in fact part of a horse’s natural cycle to lose weight over the winter. Horses that continually oppose seasonal flux in body weight, steadily carrying more weight over the years, become prone to endocrine and metabolic illnesses. Winter can be the opportune moment to effectively reduce the extra weight a horse may be carrying. Feeding a horse 1.5 per cent of its ideal body weight in hay or allowing them to paw on well-stocked winter pastures are two available options. Combination of these two options will also produce favourable results. Moderate body condition benefits all horses, especially those with arthritis more so. Weight carried beyond which is healthy taxes inflamed joints. Reduced movement, frozen terrain, and reduced intake of green grasses amplify the discomfort of arthritic horses during winter. Encouraging moderate exercise, supervision of weight, and addition of flaxseed to their diet brings welcome relief. Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, a natural anti-inflammatory. The only other source of omega-3 essential fatty acids in a horse’s diet is green grass. Greater attention to your horse’s health at this time of the year is extremely important and may determine your horse’s lustre and attitude come spring. Carol Shwetz is a veterinarian specializing in equine practice at Westlock, Alberta.
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Greater attention to your horse’s health at this time of the year is extremely important and may determine your horse’s lustre and attitude come spring. PHOTO: THINKSTOCK
ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
What’s in a catchy phrase? Plenty if the term is ‘pink slime’ Lawyers for Beef Products Inc. say ABC’s characterization of lean finely textured beef made it sound vile, but network says it’s an accurate term for a thick slippery substance By P.J. Huffstutter and Martha Graybow dakota dunes, south dakota / reuters
year ago, Beef Products Inc. had four state-ofthe art plants, more than 1,300 employees and was expanding aggressively. The meat company was the leading maker of “lean finely textured beef,” a low-fat product made from chunks of beef, including trimmings, and exposed to tiny bursts of ammonium hydroxide to kill E. coli and other contaminants. Few realized it was a mainstay of fast-food burgers, school lunch tacos and homemade meat loaf. Today, the South Dakota company’s revenues have plummeted from more than $650 million to about $130 million a year, and three of its plants are shuttered. Company officials blame the abrupt falloff on a series of ABC News broadcasts a year ago that repeatedly called its product “pink slime.” BPI is now suing the network, and star anchor Diane Sawyer, for $1.2 billion in one of the most highstakes defamation court battles in U.S. history.
The case also underscores an intensifying war between the farm sector and its critics over how food is made. Although the media furor over “lean finely textured beef” has waned in the U.S., the nation’s meat packers and ground beef manufacturers — pinched by a dwindling cattle supply and rising meat prices — are only now slowly reintroducing similar products to the marketplace.
Tough case to win
Libel cases are extremely difficult to win in the U.S. because of strong press protections, and ABC has compelling legal arguments. However inter views with BPI’s founders, agriculture industry officials and legal experts, as well as a review of federal documents and court records, suggest that ABC’s reports had certain flaws that could resonate with a jury: ABC’s lead reporter on the story mischaracterized BPI’s product on Twitter; the network failed to clearly describe on-air how the company’s beef wound up in the nation’s food supply; and ABC did not reveal in an interview with a former BPI employee that he had lost a wrongful ter-
mination lawsuit against the company. The case also could shine an unflattering light on BPI. Many consumers find the notion of processed beef unsavory, and the lawsuit could open the door to the company having to reveal closely guarded information about its processes that could be used in other litigation. At the crux of the debate are two little words: pink slime — a term believed to have been coined by a USDA scientist after touring a BPI plant. BPI
lawyers contend the common dictionary definition for slime is a “vile or disgusting matter” and using the term made consumers believe the company’s beef was something foul. ABC’s lawyers, in their motion to dismiss the case, argued that slime is a fitting description of the company’s product, arguing a “more neutral” definition is a “thick, sticky, slippery substance.” “It’s hard to imagine ‘slime’ being a positive term, but at the same time, was it used with malice?” said Gene Policinski of the
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(Counterclockwise from bottom left) Eldon Roth, founder and CEO of Beef Products Inc. (BPI) and his wife Regina pose for a photograph with their son, Nick Roth, son-in-law Craig Letch and daughter Jennifer Letch at their company headquarters in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota November 19, 2012. photo: REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom
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“Lean finely textured beef,” a low-fat product made from chunks of beef, including trimmings, and exposed to tiny bursts of ammonium hydroxide to kill E. coli and other dangerous contaminants at the root of a $1.2-billion lawsuit. photo: REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom
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APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Freeze concerns for U.S. wheat
Fast corn-planting pace in U.S. South
Last week’s late blast of cold and snowy conditions could harm parts of the U.S. winter wheat-growing area, with widespread freeze damage feared. “I think we’ll certainly have some (freeze damage),” Travis Miller, an agronomist at Texas A&M University said Mar. 25. “We did not dodge a bullet. It is a mess out there, both from freeze and drought.” Wheat fields in key growing areas of Texas had been two to three weeks ahead of normal maturity due to recent beneficial moisture and warm conditions before the freeze that descended on the Plains over the weekend of Mar. 23-24. — Reuters
Farmers in southern areas of the U.S. were ahead of the typical corn-planting schedule as dry weather allowed them to access their fields earlier than usual, government reports showed Mar. 25. In Louisiana, farmers had already planted 86 per cent of their corn crop, up from 56 per cent the previous week and well ahead of the five-year average of 58 per cent. Farmers in Mississippi had finished 37 per cent of corn planting as of March 24 compared to the five-year average of 21 per cent. In Texas, corn planting was 48 per cent complete, ahead of the five-year average of 43 per cent. — Reuters
Predicting the direction of a thunderstorm
The wind is probably not a good indication of which way the storm is moving by daniel bezte
s summer works its way back into our region it’s time to pick up where we left off in our discussion of severe summer weather. In this article we’ll look at how we can predict which direction a thunderstorm might be moving. Trying to figure out just how intense and which direction a thunderstorm is moving can be pretty tough if you have to base it on observation only. But with some background knowledge you can make some pretty good assumptions.
Easterly winds are extremely rare, so the chances of seeing a thunderstorm coming from the east are very small indeed.
First of all, let’s look at how thunderstorms tend to move. We live in the part of the world that has predominantly westerly winds, especially at high altitudes. This is an important point when it comes to thunderstorms. When we look at a thunderstorm it usually covers a relatively small area of land, at least compared to general areas of low pressure and winter storms. That said, thunderstorms cover a very large area when we look at them from a vertical perspective. A typical area of low pressure or winter storm will usually have clouds that extend from around 3,000 feet upwards to around 15,000 feet (usually much lower than this). In a thunderstorm we can see clouds starting around the same height, but they can extend upwards as high as 50,000 feet. We rarely see thunderstorms that tower this high in Alberta, but it isn’t uncommon to have thunderstorms that are pushing between 30,000 and 40,000 feet. So now that we know that thunderstorms can reach high altitudes, what does this have to do with the direction of a thunderstorm’s movement? What can really bother me when a thunderstorm is developing nearby is when someone says “Don’t worry, it’s going to miss us, the wind is from ‘x’ direction.” Surface winds may or may not have any impact on a storm’s direction. In fact, if I had to put money on it, I would probably bet against it almost every time. We need to remember that thunderstorms are regions of rapidly rising air. Think of it like a vacuum — the storm is pulling air upwards, which means air all around the storm will be pulled in towards it.
Winds aloft in control
Within a 10- to 20-minute period a thunderstorm can grow from a few square kilometres to hundreds or even thousands of square kilometres. PHOTo: thinkstock
Every thunderstorm is different and there can be many things that will affect how air moves into a storm, but I think it is fairly safe to say that direction of the surface winds, especially when the
This issue’s map shows the total precipitation across the Prairies during the two-week period ending March 21. This was a fairly wet period for a large part of the agricultural area, as the main storm path ran from north-central Alberta southeastward to southwestern Manitoba. With cold air in place, most if not all of this precipitation fell as snow, with amounts in some areas pushing 50 cm. storm is fairly close to us, will have little effect on the storm’s direction. It is the wind higher up in the atmosphere that largely controls storm direction. Remember, these storms go way up into the atmosphere, often reaching the top of the troposphere or weather-creating regions. This means that the airflow high up tends to control the movement of the storm and these winds are usually westerly. Unfortunately, it isn’t always as easy as this since we have all probably experienced thunderstorms coming from directions other than westerly. Due to the long wave patterns in the westerly flow of the upper levels of the atmosphere, these westerly winds can be bent so that they are blowing pretty much any direction. If we were to go with the statistics of wind direction in the upper atmosphere, we would find that most of the time, the wind
is blowing from somewhere between southwest and northwest. Occasionally we will see these winds blow from the north or south, and even less often from the southeast or northeast. Easterly winds are extremely rare, so the chances of seeing a thunderstorm coming from the east are very small indeed. But wait, you have seen a thunderstorm that came from the east? Well, it might have happened, but more than likely the storm didn’t come from the east, but rather, the storm grew from the east. The growth of thunderstorms can be explosive to say the least. Within a 10- to 20-minute period a thunderstorm can grow from a few square kilometres to hundreds or even thousands of square kilometres. If a developing storm is not moving very fast from west to east, and you were close to it — say, 25 km to your east — that storm could grow
rapidly spreading out in all directions. This would make it appear that it was coming from the east even though it is slowly moving away from you. So how does all of this help you determine which direction a storm is coming from? If the storm is in a general westerly direction from you, then you should be concerned. Otherwise you need to be observant and see which direction the higher clouds are or have been moving, and be aware that the growth of a storm can mask the overall movement of the storm. You can also watch the top of the storm or nearby storms to see which direction the anvil or wispy clouds are being blown off of the top of the storm. This will give you some insight into the direction of the upperlevel winds. Next issue we’ll look at how you can determine the intensity of a storm through observation.
ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
Ontario Medical Association calls for curbs on farm use of antibiotics The association wants an end of antibiotics in livestock ‘simply to promote growth’ and more surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria BY ALEX BINKLEY
AF CONTRIBUTOR / OTTAWA
he Ontario Medical Association is calling on government to impose sweeping restrictions on non-essential farm and other uses of medicines before bacterial resistance to life-saving antibiotics threatens human health. Growing resistance to antibiotics endangers “one of the most fundamental and life-saving tools in medicine,” the association warns in a report entitled ‘When Antibiotics Stop Working.’ Infections “with antibioticresistant bacteria are becoming more frequent and difficult to treat, resulting in serious illness and even death,” the report states. The report was released hours before livestock groups and veterinarians met with Health Canada to discuss a plan to prevent farmers from importing antibiotics. The government wants farmers to have permits for the products, which would have to be used under the supervision of a vet. The USDA is also moving to restrict the use of antibiotics in American farm production.
This change would meet one of the association’s recommendations, but it also wants the Ontario government to impose drastic limits on farm use of antibiotic medicines.
In the past, the Canadian Medical Association has urged Health Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to develop a comprehensive national strategy to combat antimicrobial resistance. It also has urged severe limits for the use of medically important antibiotics on farm livestock. And last month, the British Medical Journal warned antibiotic resistance “has the potential to undermine modern health systems.” Experts fear an increase in resistant organisms coupled with a big fall in the number of new antimicrobial drugs “suggests an apocalyptic scenario may be looming,” the journal stated. But critics paint antibiotic use in the livestock industry with too broad a brush, said Rob McNabb, general manager of operations with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
The industry has worked hard to wean itself off medicines that are important to human health, he said. “Farmers understand the need for prudent use of antibiotics,” he said. “We would support a better surveillance system to ensure unauthorized use of medicines.” Other groups, including the Chicken Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Pork Council, take a similar stance. “Hog producers take antimicrobial use and antimicrobial
The Ontario Medical Association also wants Ottawa to fund more research and educational campaigns focused on antibiotic resistance, and also strengthen surveillance of resistance patterns. Existing antibiotics “are not as effective as they once were because bacteria are adapting to them,” the association’s report states. Government needs to close “the loophole that allows farmers to feed these medications to their livestock without prescriptions simply to promote growth,” it states. As well, the Ontario government should “develop a system for farm industry surveillance to keep track of the identities and quantities of antibiotics being purchased, and those being moved into or out of Ontario.”
Doctors and scientists warn that the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is growing faster than their ability to develop new medicines. PHOTO: REUTERS/SUZANNE PLUNKETT resistance very seriously,” the pork council said in a statement. “Producers follow CQA, an onfarm food safety program, which requires proper use of medications on farm. The CQA program requires producers to establish medication treatment plans with the assistance of the farm’s veterinarian, maintain treatment records, and consult with veterinarians regarding product selection and the proper use when it is necessary to treat an animal.”
Veterinarians support ending
the uncontrolled import and use of sub-therapeutical medicines as growth promoters in livestock production, said Dr. Warren Skippon, manager of national issues and animal welfare with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. “We need to keep these important medicines for treating humans,” he said. “We need to preserve them for the future.” The issue is complicated by the use of some antibiotics that are effective in treating similar diseases in animals and humans, he said.
The association also wants the province to require a veterinary prescription and/or supervision of the use of all antibiotics on farms. The current practice allows for unsupervised, unscientific, and ultimately dangerous application of important medications, it says. It also says amendments to Ontario’s Livestock Medicines Act must be made to close the “own use” loophole created by the Food and Drugs Act and its regulations, to ensure that large volumes of antibiotics cannot be freely imported into the province and be applied to animals en masse without surveillance or regulation.
Saskatchewan farm areas may see aboveaverage spring flooding Spring flooding is expected to affect most of the province’s farming areas REUTERS
Saskatchewan could see aboveaverage spring flooding across most of its farming areas, the provincial government said March 11. Flooding occurs to some extent every spring as snow melts on the flat Canadian Prairies. Soils in Saskatchewan were generally dry in autumn, prior to freezing weather, but the province saw between 150 per cent and 200 per cent of normal snowfall in many areas over winter, based on its water equivalent, said Ken Cheveldayoff, the minister responsible for the province’s Water Security Agency.
Cheveldayoff said the rate at which snow melts and the level of precipitation in coming weeks will determine the risk of spring flooding. Nearly all of Saskatchewan’s agriculture areas are likely to see above-normal to very-high spring flooding, according to the province’s forecast. Two large pockets around the provincial capital of Regina and the largest city of Saskatoon are at especially high risk. Only minor to moderate flooding is likely for Manitoba, the provincial government said in its first official forecast last month. But that forecast was issued before heavy snow fell over most of the province in early March.
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APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
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ALBERTA PEST MONITORING NETWORK Bug season will be here sooner or later, and Alberta Agriculture has prepared a video with pest specialist Scott Meers demonstrating how to assemble a diamondback moth trap. Visit agriculture.alberta.ca/bugspest. The page also has insect forecasts and several other links to pestmanagement information, including where to find scouting materials such as a sweep net or a hand-held magnifier.
World markets growing for Western Canada’s CPS wheat class Recent regulatory changes will make it easier for American wheats to be registered in the Canada Prairie Spring class BY ALLAN DAWSON STAFF / SASKATOON
he only problem processors are having with Canada Prairie Spring red wheat these days is not being able to buy enough of it, industry officials told the recent Prairie Grain Development Committee’s annual meeting. “I think if we can maintain our focus on quality, we have the potential to beat out pretty much every other wheat class out of any exporting nation,” Nancy Edwards, the Canadian Grain Commission program manager for bread wheat research said at the Prairie Grain Development Committee’s recent annual meeting. “They would have a hard time touching us. And we have the advantage that we have a very strong brand for quality and I’d like to see us maintain that.” Edwards readily admits to being a big fan of the Canada Prairie Spring (Red) wheat class because of how it performs and its market potential. There’s a big world market for good-quality breadmaking wheat with slightly lower protein than found in Canada’s Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) class, she said. Dough made from CPS wheat has a faster mixing time, said Erik Ordonez, a marketer with Richardson International. It also yields more flour than competing wheats, he said. Its main short-
coming is an inconsistent supply, he added. CPS can compete with American hard red winter wheat, offering similar protein content, equal water absorption, and good or better on dough strength with exceptional baking performance. And because of Western Canada’s registration system, the CPS class performs consistently. “When you calculate the volume per unit protein those CPSs (such as 5700) are better than the CWRS,” Edwards said. “They are really excellent blending wheats and we have a really good-quality class here. And I think there is room to grow it.” Western Canadian farmers are interested in CPS wheats because of potentially higher yields than CWRS wheats — although the yield gap has declined over the last 15 years, said Julian Thomas, a scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada based in Winnipeg. In Manitoba, it’s just six per cent more — not enough to offset the higher return earned from CRWS wheats, he said. But the CPS class could soon get a yield boost. The quality evaluation team of the Prairie Recommending Committee for Wheat, Rye and Triticale recently voted to broaden the quality parameters for the class, making it easier to register higher-yielding, Dark Northern Spring (DNS) milling wheats from the U.S., many of which are lower in protein than CWRS wheats. DNS wheats tend to be harder
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Nancy Edwards, a bread wheat expert with the Canadian Grain Commission’s Grain Research Laboratory, sees lots of potential for the Canada Prairie Spring wheat class. PHOTO: ALLAN DAWSON so the CPS class will have to be adjusted to allow higher ash content and higher starch damage, Edwards said. They also tend to produce stronger doughs, and the recommending committee will have to be careful when approving new American varieties because the milling and baking properties of the CPS class are a selling feature, Edwards said. The idea for broadening the CPS class came out of an industry meeting held last April. The consensus was to maintain the integrity of Western Canada’s
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two premier classes, CWRS and Canada Western Amber durum. “There is good potential for increased farmer uptake of such a widened class,” quality evaluation team chair, Graham Worden of Paterson GlobalFoods, wrote in an email. “This approach would also provide a homegrown solution against the pressure to allow seed developed elsewhere easy access to acres in Canada.” Domestic millers have not typically purchased CPS wheat, said Sheilagh Arney, director of technology at ADM Milling and a member of the quality evaluation team. Making the class a little stronger by adding DNS varieties could result in more sales at home, she said. Different millers are looking for different quality attributes, but common to all is flour extraction and consistency, Arney said. “We want to make money,” she said, referring to the importance of how much flour can be produced from a tonne of wheat. “Consistency is what we’re looking for. Customers will say it’s fine if the strength is high or low so long as it’s consistent because we can then manage because we know it’s always going to be the same. The issue is when those parameters jump around from variety to variety.” Domestic millers seldom identity preserve wheat varieties “because of the expense,” Arney said. firstname.lastname@example.org
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APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
It isn’t a business plan until it’s written down on paper Do your homework and ensure that everyone in the operation knows the plan BY ALEXIS KIENLEN AF STAFF/MILLET
f you’re starting a journey, you need to start with a plan. Starting a business is no different, says Kathy Bosse, new venture coach with Alberta Agriculture. “Don’t make it a chore, don’t make it a job. Use it as a guide,” she told a recent Explore Horticulture session here. “Nobody plans to fail, they fail to plan.” Bosse said the business plan can’t just be in your head. It needs to be put down on paper so everyone living on the farm understands it — even those who aren’t involved in the business. Business plans should be flexible and should be reviewed two or three times a year. “Your business plan is not just for tomorrow. It can be for three or 10 years down the road,” said Bosse. Good business plans are based on research, which helps
business owners make good decisions. Business plans need to include a description of the product or service. This portion of the plan should be precise and highly specific. “Pick out the thing that you’ll be known for, and then explain what happens around it,” Bosse said. Banks will always ask about the management or business team. The financial portion is crucial and should be completed near the end of the business plan process. “As you grow, you may need to hire out some part of the business, so you need to know and understand your numbers,” she said. The executive summary should be completed last, and should be about a page. “This is your selling point. It’s for both you and the bank. The bank is looking to see how you tell your story and if you know your industry,” she said. Bosse said growers need to understand their industry and
potential risks. She recommends people interested in fruit and vegetable production spend time exploring the industry as a whole in Alberta and Canada to discover what will work best in their area. One way to do this is to talk to other growers and visit their operations and farmers’ markets, Bosse said. Knowing the regulations is important, as they can make or break a business. She recommends that anyone planning a fruit or vegetable operation should consult with their county first. Bosse said growers need to understand who their competition is. “The neighbour down the road is not your competition. Your competition is the imports that are coming into this province. If you’re growing tomatoes, there are tomatoes coming in from B.C. That’s your competition.” Bosse is one of four Alberta Agriculture venture coaches available to meet and review their business plans.
Farmers harvest watermelons on a field near the village of Sofiyivka, some 80 km (50 miles) south of Odessa. PHOTO: REUTERS/ANATOLII STEPANOV
Ukraine seeks to restore irrigated agriculture The former Soviet republic aims to increase its grain harvest to 50 million tonnes KIEV / REUTERS
kraine plans to restore irrigation systems on an area of one million hectares in the southern part of the country in a bid to increase agricultural output in arid regions, the Agriculture Ministry said March 6. Ukrainian farmers used to cultivate about 2.5 million hectares of irrigated land in the Soviet era, mostly in the southern regions of Kherson and Crimea, but after 22 years of independence the irrigated area fell to 400,000 hectares.
“The overall irrigated area is expected to rise to 1.4 million hectares in two years,” the ministry said in a statement. Ukraine uses irrigated areas to produce grains and vegetables. The ministry said the government planned to issue $2 billion in state guarantees for future investments to implement the project. The former Soviet republic, one of the world’s leading agricultural producers and exporters, plans to increase its grain harvest to at least 50 million tonnes this year from 46.2 million tonnes in 2012. 19456-04 DAS_Simplicity 13.167X9.indd 1
Kathy Bosse is one of four Alberta Agriculture venture coaches available to meet and review business plans.
ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
U.S. corn plantings seen at highest since 1936 One private forecaster is forecasting record corn, while another is forecasting record soybeans CHICAGO / REUTERS
.S. farmers may plant 97.43 million acres of corn this year, up 0.3 per cent from last year, which would be the largest corn area since 1936, according to a Farm Futures Magazine survey. The survey of 1,750 U.S. growers also showed farmers intend to plant a record 79.09 million acres of soybeans, up 2.5 per cent from last year. That estimate is lower than the forecast also released March 21 from crop forecaster Lanworth, which expects U.S. farmers to plant a record 81.3 million acres of soybeans this spring. Lanworth, which is owned by Reuters News Agency, cited crop rotation practices, flat corn profitability and a return to normal spring weather as the reasons for the increased soybean acreage. Lanworth also said it expects U.S. corn acreage of 96.5 million acres, down one per cent from a year earlier. However, forecasters also warned acreage allocations could change significantly before seeding is over. “With stocks of both corn and
soybeans projected near historic lows, strong acreage this spring is a must to rebuild inventories,” Farm Futures senior editor Bryce Knorr, who conducted the research, said in a statement. “Spring weather could still change these numbers significantly and prices will be important, too,” he said. “Some 18 per cent of those surveyed said they could still shift 50 per cent or more of their acres,” he said. Some of the increased corn and soybean area could be on land that had previously been sown to wheat, Farm Futures said. The Farm Futures survey found growers may plant 11.91 million acres of spring wheat, down three per cent from 2012 and durum 2.06 million, down 2.8 per cent. The survey also suggests abandonment of hard red winter wheat acres could be as much as 1.35 million more than usual due to poor conditions last fall. The survey showed total wheat seedings at 56.12 million, down one million from earlier surveys. All winter wheat seedings were pegged in the survey at 42.15 million, up two per cent from last year; white winter wheat at 3.54
Some forecasters are predicting record U.S. corn acreage for the coming growing season, while others say the balance is tipping in favour of soybeans. PHOTO: REUTERS/DARREN HAUCK million, up 5.8 per cent; hard red winter wheat at 29.1 million, down 2.5 per cent; and soft red winter wheat at 9.51 million, up 17.2 per cent. For South America, Lanworth raised its estimate of Argentine corn production to 25.5 million
tonnes from 24.9 million and upped its Argentine soybean production view to 50.5 million tonnes from 49.4 million. Lanworth boosted its forecast for Brazil soybean production to 81.1 million tonnes from 80.8 million but trimmed its corn har-
vest estimate from that country to 76.4 million tonnes from 76.9 million. Lanworth left its forecast for Russian and Ukrainian wheat production unchanged at 49.8 million tonnes and 23.3 million tonnes, respectively.
AAFC sees more wheat, less canola planted Farmers are giving canola a badly needed break in their crop rotation cycle WINNIPEG / REUTERS
anadian farmers will plant more wheat and a bit less canola in 2013, Canada’s Agriculture Department said in its latest planting forecast, which offered a slightly reduced wheatplanting estimate from the previous month. Attractive prices and a modest shift away from canola and other crops should entice farmers into planting more wheat, according to the forecast for the 2013-14 cropmarketing year from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, issued March 19. The more closely watched Statistics Canada will issue its first planting estimates based on a farmer survey on April 24. Canola plantings are expected to slip on concerns about growing the oilseed too frequently on the same land and attractive returns for other crops.
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Canada is the world’s biggest producer of canola, or rapeseed, and the sixth-largest wheat grower. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada uses analysis and not a farmer survey to calculate estimates. The department trimmed its estimate for all-wheat-seeded area by 0.4 per cent to 25.229 million acres from its February estimate, but left it up 5.8 per cent from last year. Ag Canada pegged the canola seeded acreage at 21.251 million acres, unchanged from its last estimate and down about one per cent from last year. Ag Canada’s estimate for durum plantings is 4.72 million acres, up a tad from 4.7 million acres last year but down slightly from the previous estimate of 4.819 million acres. The department left its barleyand oat-seeded area estimates unchanged at 7.784 million acres and 2.595 million acres respectively.
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
U.S. sharpening tools to dig out of impending sugar mountain Sugar processors are set to forfeit tens of thousands of tons of sugar used as collateral on price-guarantee loans By Charles Abbott washington / reuters
he U.S. government is readying a tool created during last decade’s biofuels craze — a never-used program to sell sugar at a loss to ethanol makers — as a way to whittle a looming sugar surplus down to an affordable size. The sugar-for-ethanol program could be a lower-cost way for the Agriculture Department to meet its obligation, by law, to assure a minimum price for U.S.-grown sugar. Due to large crops worldwide, New York futures prices are below the federal guarantee of 20.94 cents per lb.
“One way or another, the government is going to spend some money.” Tom Earley Sugar policy analyst at Agralytica
A sweet mess is brewing in the U.S. Photo: thinkstock If markets remain weak, sugar processors could forfeit to USDA tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of tons of sugar used as collateral on USDA price-guarantee loans. In the last major glut, forfeitures cost USDA $465 million in fiscal 2000 on a program that is supposed to run at no net cost.
Other options to handle the surplus are on the table, including a buyback from foreign nations of the right to ship sugar to the United States, payments to ship sugar to other nations and rules changes to curb the flow of “re-export” sugar that is processed in the United States, analysts said. Some $864 million in loans was
in danger of forfeiture by one estimate. The sugar supply at the end of this marketing year is forecast for 2.4 million tons by USDA. At 20 per cent of annual use, it would be the largest carry-over since 2001. “One way or another, the government is going to spend some money,” said Tom Earley, a sugar policy analyst at Agralytica.
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The government has yet to settle on a course of action. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this week it was inappropriate to talk about specific steps, such as taking surplus sugar off the market, “until we get the plan out.” “We will be in a position soon to put the structure for the Feedstock Flexibility Plan in place. The fact it’s in place doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to get triggered,” Vilsack told reporters at a luncheon March 19, using the formal name of the sugar-for-ethanol plan.
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USDA will need approval from the White House budget office to operate the sugar-for-ethanol scheme, which has not yet been transformed from statutory language into federal regulation. White House review of proposed regulations can sometimes take months. A sugar-for-ethanol program could buy 247,300 tons of surplus sweetener at a net cost of $66 million under a scenario outlined by USDA economist Steve Haley. He estimated ethanol makers, who mainly use corn as a feedstock, would pay six or seven cents per lb. for sugar acquired by USDA for 20.9 cents. At a projected yield of 135 gallons per ton, the sugar would produce 33 million gallons of ethanol, a small amount of the biofuel that would be added to a market facing its own glut. Bumper crops in the United States, traditionally a large importer, and Mexico, which is guaranteed free access to the U.S. market, are combining to create this year’s huge surplus. Production in both countries is up by 20 per cent in two years, and against that background U.S. sugar prices are down 50 per cent from its high in 2011. On March 20, U.S. sugar futures prices in New York closed at 20.8 cents. If USDA wants to minimize forfeitures, it will have to begin work by June to reduce the sugar supply by as much as 500,000 or 600,000 tons and bolster prices, said two analysts. The sugar-for-ethanol program was written into the 2008 farm law in part to encourage new biofuel feedstocks and in part as a safety valve with the opening of free trade in sweeteners with Mexico. When Congress created the sugar-for-ethanol program, skeptics warned it could be a costly and impractical program because U.S. price supports made sugar too expensive. A 2006 USDA study said sugar ethanol would cost three times as much to make as corn ethanol.
ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
Export opportunities for forage producers are growing but every market is different China’s bid to double milk production will mean a huge increase in forage imports, and opportunities abound in the Middle East By Alexis Kienlen af staff / ponoka
t’s a good time for forage producers to get into exporting — but there are pitfalls, too, says the chair of the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association’s forage export committee. “One of the things we’re realizing is that good data is hard to find, especially when you are talking about exports to the U.S.,” said Marc Lavoie, who operates Macay Enterprises in the Peace River area. “There are a lot of people who are sending product and it’s not being documented properly, so we don’t have very good numbers on what goes to the U.S.” More than 95 per cent of Canadian hay is used domestically, with most of the rest going to the U.S., the biggest customer, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Lavoie told attendees at a recent meeting of the Alberta Forage Industry Network.
But China’s imports of Canadian forage are increasing, and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are developing markets in the Middle East, he said. Niche European markets, like the racehorse industry, are also looking to import quality Canadian hay. The horse industry wants highend timothy, while lower- quality mixed hays are used by feed stores in the U.S. The dairy industry in South Korea and Japan want high-fibre, rather than high-protein, hays, while the Middle East buys alfalfa or mixed hays with high protein for their dairy herds. Alfalfa, mixed hay, timothy hay and straw are attractive forages for the Japanese beef market, while Middle Easterners want pure alfalfa hays for camels, goats and sheep. Many global markets are also looking for small quantities of hay for rabbits raised as pets or for food. It’s also important to keep an eye on demographics, said Lavoie, noting the population of
“Our freight costs are still higher than the U.S. but we’re still able to be competitive in certain areas. In some countries, we’re not.” Marc Lavoie
Japan peaked last year and is now edging downward. “We know that eventually their usage will decline, therefore their forage imports will decline over the next 10 to 15 years,” he said. Eight years ago, half of Japan’s imports of forage came from Canada, but last year that had shrunk to six or seven per cent because of hay shortages here,
the rising Canadian dollar and increased freight costs, as well as increased competition. However, Canada’s ample supplies of fresh water is an advantage, said Lavoie. “Our freight costs are still higher than the U.S. but we’re still able to be competitive in certain areas. In some countries, we’re not,” Lavoie said. Shipping to the Middle East is difficult, especially for producers from Western Canada, and access to containers is also an issue for Saskatchewan and Manitoba growers. Those wanting to export to that region also have to understand what quality is wanted and that Middle East importers want large bales, he said. “These kinds of things are really important, if you’re looking at doing some export,” Lavoie said. The Canadian Forage and Grassland Association has undertaken several fact-finding missions. On a trip to China last year, they learned about the country’s plan to double milk production.
“You don’t double your milk production without using double the forage,” noted Lavoie. “China is not able to grow double the forage, so where does it come from?” On a trip to the Middle East three years ago, they looked at how the United Arab Emirates will adapt to a decision to stop using water to irrigate their forages. UAE forage imports hit 1.5 million tonnes last year and are expected to reach 1.8 million tonnes this year. “Saudi Arabia has seven times the population of the United Arab Emirates,” said Lavoie. “If they are looking at importing all their forages, that leaves you with a big number that needs to be filled.” India is also starting to import more forages. “The poorer countries are starting to eat more like the richer countries, which means they are eating more milk and meat, which means you need more forages,” he said.
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APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Biofuels will continue to be a game changer, says renowned economist Leading world economist speaks to 46th annual Canola Council of Canada convention By Lorraine Stevenson staff / vancouver
or good or ill, oilseed and grain growers now have their fortunes tied to the energy market, says a renowned international trend watcher. The rise of biofuels has fundamentally altered the business of agriculture and not just by pushing up market prices, economist James Fry, chair of LMC International, a leading international consulting firm, told attendees at last week’s Canola Council of Canada convention. Fry said the world was able to feed itself without cultivating more land until 2002, but since then has been adding nine million to 10 million hectares annually to its production base. “There was a tipping point around 2002,” said Fry. “Suddenly the world, which had been in a kind of equilibrium, became a world of more demand for land.”
So far, it’s all been good for oilseed and grain farmers. But watch out, warned Fry. “The biodiesel tail is wagging the dog of vegetable oil prices,” he said, adding “biofuel demand can be… switched off and on at very short notice.” And being tied to the energy market also increases volatility. “If petroleum prices go up, I guarantee the entire complex, oilseeds and grains, will see their prices rise,” Fry said. “The converse is true as well. If the price of crude oil falls, then the price of these crops will come down. It’s because biofuels are now big enough as an end-user to create this price link.” The link is particularly strong for canola as more than 35 per cent of the canola and rapeseed oil produced last year was used as biodiesel, he said. “Of all the major agricultural commodities, your product is the one that is most heavily going into fuel uses on a global basis,” he said.
However, biodiesel may have a brighter future than ethanol, Fry suggested. Ethanol has run into what’s known as “the blend wall” as car manufacturers refuse to provide warranties for engines using more than a 10 per cent blend, he said. “To meet the mandates, you’re going to see some switching of demand out of ethanol — where it’s difficult to use much more because of the blend wall — to biodiesel, ” Fry said. Canola and sunflower oil are well positioned to take advantage of any surge in biodiesel demand because competitors such as palm oil require years to rev up production. “There are only two oils which can balance the market in the short term,” Fry said. “If there’s a sudden price spike and people need oil, canola and sunflower are the only annual crops which are primarily driven by oil values.” firstname.lastname@example.org
Canola is an ideally suited crop for the production of biodiesel, said James Fry, chairman of LCM International, who spoke at the Canola Council of Canada’s convention in Vancouver last week. PHOTo: lorraine stevenson
Horsemeat scandal buoys U.K. organic sales after 2012 dip Consumers are turning to organic products as a guarantee of integrity london / reuters
ales of organic products in Britain continued to decline last year in contrast to continental Europe but the horsemeat scandal has sparked a revival, the country’s main organic certification body, the Soil Association, said March 20. “In the worst economic downturn in living memory, it’s not surprising to find subdued sales of a wide variety of goods and services — and the U.K. organic sector is not immune to these,” business development director Jim Twine said. Sales dipped 1.5 per cent in 2012 to 1.64 billion pounds ($2.48 billion), continuing a downward trend linked to Britain’s prolonged economic downturn. Sales fell 3.7 per cent in 2011. The Soil Association, in its annual report, said European sales of organic products had, in contrast, risen 25 per cent since the start of the global economic downturn in 2008. “Our government has much to learn from its European counterparts who back the organic sector strongly through a combination of environmentally based producer support, firm targets for public-sector procurement of organic and investment in promoting organic products,” the report said. The Soil Association said, however, the horsemeat scan-
dal had a positive impact with recent figures from market research firm Kantar Worldpanel showing total supermarket organic sales rose 8.4 per cent in February versus January. “Total supermarket organic sales increased to their highest level in nine months indicating consumers choosing to buy organic as a guarantee of integrity,” the association said. Europe’s horsemeat scandal erupted in January, when testing in Ireland revealed that some beef products also contained equine DNA. It has since spread across the continent, ensnaring numerous well-known brands, prompting product withdrawals, consumer concerns and government investigations into the region’s complex food-processing chains. The report said U.K. organic farmers had a challenging year, in common with their nonorganic counterparts, with high feed and fuel prices compounding the impact of the worse weather conditions for many years. In July 2012, the U.K.’s organic land was reported to be 656,000 hectares, down 8.7 per cent from a year earlier and now representing 3.8 per cent of the country’s agricultural area. “There is a real risk that if retailers do not work with U.K. o r g a n i c f a r m e r s a n d g r o wers, the market could become restricted due to supply shortages,” Twine said.
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More farmers say they suspect resistant weeds are in their fields New survey says 43 per cent of farmers now believe they have herbicide-resistant weeds, but the number who report using more than one mode of action is falling BY DANIEL WINTERS STAFF
University of Illinois Extension staff display giant ragweed plants that grew nearly 11 feet tall at the Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center near DeKalb, Illinois. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS/LYLE PAUL
ore Canadian farmers are reporting herbicide-resistant weeds, according to a
new poll. Nearly two-thirds of the 500 farmers surveyed in a poll conducted for BASF Canada said weeds in their fields are getting tougher to control, and 43 per cent said they suspect they have weeds resistant to herbicides. In a similar poll conducted a year ago, the number of farmers who figured they had resistant weeds was 37 per cent. “The needle is moving,” says Joel Johnson, BASF Canada’s herbicide brand manager. “Resistance is an issue and it is not going away. More and more growers are becoming aware and their perceptions are changing.” Most surprisingly, the survey also found fewer growers said they were using multiple modes of action to combat the problem — 67 per cent said they use herbicides from more than one group to manage their weeds. That’s 10 percentage points lower than in the poll done in March 2012. Many farmers who rely on just one mode of action may be putting too much faith in the herbicide industry’s ability to come up with new products to keep resistant weeds at bay, said Nasir Shaikh, Manitoba’s provincial weed specialist. “Good farmers are more cautious about using herbicides in a way that is sustainable,” he said. “But there are those who are not very sharp on rotating herbicides and the crops themselves.” Using the same herbicides again and again is just asking for trouble because even the biggest industry players don’t have many new chemistries in the pipeline. Those that are coming out are generally pre-mixes or new twists on old chemistries, mainly because the cost of research and new registrations has soared to as high as $150 million just to have a single new product approved, he added. But the poll’s finding may actually be good news, said Johnson. He said he believes it’s a sign that more farmers are taking the issue of herbicide resistance more seriously. “It’s people going back into their chemical records and saying, ‘You know, those are both Group 1s. I thought they were different groups because they had different herbicide names,’” he said. This year, 47 per cent said glypho-
sate alone is no longer effective for controlling weeds. That’s a sevenpercentage-point rise from a year ago. Among the glyphosate-resistant weeds to appear in recent years are kochia in the Prairies, and Canada fleabane and giant and common ragweed in Ontario. Shaikh said field edges are one overlooked risk factor. Common ragweed in such spots may get hit with only one-quarter of the recommended rate, survive, and then set seed later that summer. Between 2010 and 2015, BASF Canada plans to introduce eight new active ingredients and 25 new products to aid in the fight against tough weeds. But that doesn’t mean farmers should be counting on new chemistries alone to solve the problem. Johnson said a game changer like glyphosate hasn’t been found — and may never materialize. “Realistically, we don’t have anything like that and farmers need to be more proactive about resistance,” he added. But Gary Martens, a professor at the University of Manitoba, said he fears that’s not happening. “It’s human nature to not change the way we do things until the way we do things doesn’t work anymore — that’s just the way we are,” said Martens. “(Glyphosate) is too cheap and it’s still working.” There’s a history of farmers overusing “silver bullets” until their effectiveness is lost, said Martens, pointing to a 2002 book by Clint Evans called The War on Weeds in the Prairie West. It notes, for example, that in the 1930s, summerfallow was hailed as the saviour of farming until its negative aspects became impossible to ignore. Then in 1945, 2,4-D saved the day just as farmers were ready to walk away from fields choked with weeds. “Then we wanted to reduce tillage due to soil erosion and along came glyphosate,” said Martens. Technological saviours come along when almost all hope is lost, and Martin said he suspects that the chemical industry will deliver yet another reprieve. “Actually, I wish it wouldn’t because then we would have to use more knowledge-based farming,” said Martens, adding that in some parts of Australia, farmers have already been forced by glyphosateresistant ryegrass to adopt a “wheatsheep-wheat” rotation. email@example.com
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Send agriculture-related meeting and event announcements to: firstname.lastname@example.org April 2: Alberta Milk Producers Spring Meeting, Neighbourhood Inn 9:30 am, Barrhead. Call: Karlee 780-577-3305 April 3: Alberta Milk Producers Spring Meeting, Executive Royal Inn 9:30 am, Leduc. Call: Karlee 780-577-3305 April 4: Alberta Milk Producers Spring Meeting, Coast Hotel 9:30 am, Lethbridge. Call: Karlee 780577-3305
April 8/10: Rural Tourism Conference, Regional Exhibition Grounds, Camrose. Call: Jennifer 800-296-8112 April 13/14: Aggie Days 2013, Stampede Park BMO Centre, Calgary. Call: Lori 403-261-0162 April 16/17: Water, Agriculture, Environment Conference, Lethbridge Lodge, Lethbridge. Call: Shelley 403-381-5839 April 23: Horses 101, Airdrie Agriculture Building 6:00 pm, Airdrie. Call: Robyn 403-420-5949
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Russia’s role as a cheap wheat supplier may be hurt by post-drought restocking efforts Russia’s prices need to fall by 24 per cent to match new crop prices By Polina Devitt moscow / reuters
ussia’s role as one of the cheapest wheat suppliers to the Middle East and North Africa may be jeopardized in 2013 as it looks to rebuild depleted stocks after last year’s drought. The damage to Russia’s 2012 crop generated a huge premium for old wheat crop supplies versus new crop, attracting attention from exporters and the government. Exporters expect domestic wheat prices to fall sharply in the coming months as the new harvest arrives in June or July, while the government plans to release stocks now and buy them back after the new crop. “Usually Russia sells its wheat cheaper than others at the start of the season, but this year its potential would be limited and would
make it harder to compete due to the modest exportable surplus and a need to replenish stocks,” a trader said. Russia’s domestic wheat prices, which were rising from August until early February, need to decline by about 24 per cent to match prices for the new harvest and by about 14 per cent to make the origin competitive for the country’s traditional markets such as Egypt. Russia has in recent years been one of the cheapest suppliers on the world market, typically attracting interest from price-sensitive buyers in north Africa and the Middle East. Global wheat prices were trading at multi-month lows the first week in March after a U.S. government report raised wheat supply by more than expected with rising expectations for a strong harvest in Australia as well as the U.S. Plains limited the gains.
A tractor sows spring wheat on a farm near the village of Konstantinovskoye in Russia’s southern Stavropol region Feb. 27. Favourable weather is likely to help the Black Sea region’s three top grain producers — Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan — restore grain output this year after a shattering fall in 2012, analysts and officials say. Photo: REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko
Antibiotic resistance could be ‘apocalyptic scenario’ Post-operative infections and deaths could increase, say scientists
ntibiotic resistance “has the potential to undermine modern health systems,” and an “apocalyptic scenario may be looming if we don’t act now,” say scientists writing in the British Medical Journal. Current estimates suggest that antibiotic resistance is a relatively cheap problem, they write, but such estimates do not take account of the fact that antimicrobial medicines are integral to modern health care. For example, antibiotics are given as standard to patients undergoing surgery, to women delivering by caesarean section, and to those having cancer treatment. “From cradle to grave, antimicrobials have become pivotal in safeguarding the overall health of human societies,” they write. A release from the BMJ says that current infection rates for patients undergoing hip replacement are 0.5 to two per cent, so most patients recover without infection, and those who have an infection have it successfully treated. But the authors estimate that, without antibiotics, the rate of post-operative infection could be 40-50 per cent and about 30 per cent of those with an infection could die. While they recognize that this is a simplistic analysis, they say “we use it as an example to illustrate and provoke, to emphasize the point that infection rates and their consequences in terms of health service costs and human health may be unimaginable.”
The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty
Celebrating Agriculture week with the more than 132,000 Albertans em Feeding the stock at Writing on Stone near Milk River, Alberta
CASHFLOW І FINANCING І CLOSE TO HOME І AG KNOW HOW ™ Trademarks of Alberta Treasury Branches.
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Albertafarmexpress.ca • april 1, 2013
U.S. food retailer to require GMO disclosure labels on all its food by 2018 The prevalence of GMOs in the United States, coupled with a lack of labelling requirements, has made it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options By Lisa Baertlein los angeles / reuters
hole Foods Market Inc. will require all products sold in its U.S. and Canadian stores to carry a label by 2018 saying whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the organic and natural grocery seller said March 8. The United States is the world’s largest market for foods made with genetically altered ingredients. Many popular processed foods — including soy milk, soup and breakfast cereal — are made with soybeans, corn and other biotech crops whose genetic traits have been manipulated, often to make them resistant to insects and pesticides.
Whole Foods said the prevalence of GMOs in the United States, coupled with a lack of labelling requirements, has made it very difficult for retailers to source non-GMO options and for consumers to identify them. “We are stepping up our support of certified organic agriculture, where GMOs are not allowed, and we are working together with our supplier partners to grow our nonGMO supply chain,” Walter Robb, co-chief executive of Whole Foods, said in a statement. The United States does not require safety testing for genetically modified ingredients before they go to market. The food industry says the products are safe, but critics say there is a not enough independent research to make that determination.
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The United States is the world’s largest market for foods made with genetically altered ingredients.
“We’re responding to our customers, who have consistently asked us for GMO labeling and we are doing so by focusing on where we have control: in our own stores,” Robb said. The announcement from Whole Foods comes as the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration appears to be on the path to approving genetically engineered salmon. At the same time, consumer groups are working at the state and federal level to require labels on products that contain GMOs. Dozens of countries already have genetically modified food labelling requirements, with the European Union imposing mandatory labeling in 1997. Since then, genetically modified products and crops have virtually disappeared from those markets. Whole Foods in 2009 began putting its 365 Everyday Value product line through non-GMO verification. The chain currently sells 3,300 nonGMO Project verified products, such as its organic tofu, and plans to increase that number.
Whole Foods Market Inc.’s co-chief executive Walter Robb. The company will require labelling of products that contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
‘Catch-22’ for toxicity of algae Long Love This Land Four simple words that somehow capture the enduring spirit and determination of those who–without fanfare or ceremony–rise every single day to the relentless task of growing, raising and producing the rich bounty that the rest of us call “groceries”. We often speak about agriculture and the agri-business as if they are somehow separate from who we are as Albertans. This initiative has been created to help change the perception of agriculture, and set the stage for a celebration of those who harvest the bounty of our province. 72% of consumers know little or nothing about farming or ranching, yet… 70% say purchase decisions are affected by how food is grown or raised. The future of agriculture is ours to make, and these initiatives will engage consumers, existing customers and future customers who truly do love this land, and whose stories are part of what connects us all together. Giddy up! atb.com Long Love This Land.
Too much phosphorus produces them, too little makes them toxic
oxic algae in the Gulf of Mexico multiply because of excess phosphorus, but when supplies are limited, they become more toxic, according to a new study by scientists from North Carolina State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Writing in the online journal PLOS ONE, they say their study shows that harmful and ubiquitous Karenia brevis algae, which cause red tide blooms across the Gulf of Mexico, become two to seven times more toxic when levels of phosphorus are low. Red tide blooms in the Gulf are linked to fish kills and other ecological and economic damage in the region, and are also linked to respiratory ailments in humans. These blooms occur annually in the Gulf, but it’s hard to predict where or when they’ll occur or how long they’ll last. The irony of the inverse relationship between phosphorus and algal toxicity is not lost on the researchers, says a PLOS ONE release. In a modern-day ‘catch-22,’ excess nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen play key roles in fuelling algal growth and harmful algal bloom development. As bloom density increases, cells use up the available nutrients such as phosphorus. This slows the growth of K. brevis cells causing them to become more toxic. Previous research showed similar effects when nitrogen was the limiting nutrient.
Red tides occur regularly in the Gulf of Mexico. 13-03-20 11:12 AM
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Deputy minister eyes challenges ahead for canola industry The regulatory environment needs improvement By Lorraine Stevenson staff /vancouver
anada needs “a more business-friendly” regulatory environment that spurs innovative research and rewards commercialization, a federal representative told canola industry delegates earlier this month. “That doesn’t mean getting rid of regulations because as soon as you do that markets all over the world are going to close,” said Greg Meredith, assistant deputy minister for strategic policy with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada while taking questions after his address to about 300 delegates at the CCC convention. “You’ve got to have strong regulations. But they have to be transparent and they have to be fast,” he said. “The regulatory climate has simply got to be more business friendly.” A big challenge facing government right now is its capacity to simply keep up with the pace of technological development, he said. “For countries where the regulatory environment is fast and efficient and transparent that’s where the research and development is going to take place and that’s where the commercialization of these new inputs is going to take place. “We’re going to lose out if we don’t have that part of the equation right.” Meredith also said he believes Canada can vastly improve its intellectual property protection. “It has to be transparent how value extraction is going to take place,” he said. “The producer has to benefit, companies have to benefit. This is an industry that knows that very well. There’s got to be synergy throughout the supply chain.“ Government’s role is ensuring there’s a policy, regulatory and legal environment in place that leads to that, he said. Meredith said the successful partnership between government and the industry’s life-science cluster will continue and the industry can expect ongoing funding for it. “It takes a lot of input to develop new crops and new genetics these days, it’s certainly cross-disciplinary,” he said. “We’re going to continue that, both from a funding point of view and from the point of view of providing specialized resources to the cluster.
Meredith also spoke to what he sees as the significant challenges facing the canola sector. The industry “can’t rest on its laurels” and needs to stay vigilant for those “sideswipes that come out of nowhere,” he said. There are certainly tremendous growth opportunities in the countries the industry is targeting for market expansion, such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, he said. But these are also going to prove to be tough markets “fraught with risks and challenges” to serve. Punishing tariffs and restrictive port access notwithstanding, just physically moving product into the marketplace is going to present its own set of challenges, the deputy minister said. “India’s consumption of edible oils looks like an enormous opportunity, because at a billion people,
they’re going to surpass China soon, in terms of its middle class,” he said. But this is also a country lacking retail infrastructure, and it cannot be presumed that the predominant open or ‘wet’ markets will be changed easily or quickly there, he said. “In order to get our product to those consumers there will have to be an enormous development of infrastructure in these countries,” he said.
Another reality is that Canada will be competing for this market access alongside other emerging world commodity producers. The government is keeping an eye on expanding productivity elsewhere in the world, Meredith
said, noting that on other commodities such as wheat, countries such as Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia are expected to double production by 2021. They presently lack the technology of North American farmers but perhaps not for long, he said. “The issue there is they have the same kind of soil as us. They don’t have the same kind of institutional infrastructure and don’t have the agronomic tools that we have, but they’re gaining on us,” he said. “As a country, we don’t have a sense of urgency about how quickly they could be gaining.” Moreover, some of the same countries Canada sees as potential markets are also investing very heavily in competing biotechnologies and other technologies for agronomic improvements, he said.
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Greg Meredith, assistant deputy minister for strategic policy with AAFC speaks to canola industry delegates. PHOTo: lorraine stevenson
China, India and Brazil already exceed the rest of the middleincome world in those types of investments, he said. “These countries are investing very, very heavily in competing technologies.” Meredith later told reporters the challenge for Canada is not so much that investment in research and development is flattening out, but that competitors around the world “are being very aggressive.” “We have got to look out and say who are we going to be competing with in the world?” he said, adding that he wants to see the maximize possible return on current partnerships between universities, governments and the private sector.
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Albertafarmexpress.ca • april 1, 2013
MLA renews efforts to get farm worker safety legislation
UFA 2013 board of directors
David Swann contrasts Alberta’s animal care legislation with lack of similar legislation for farm workers
UFA has elected Jim Laverick for a fourth consecutive term as chairman, and four new board members have been elected for a three-year term — Kevin Hoppins, Trochu; Doug Thompson, Medicine Hat; Rick Hansen, Blackie and Harvey Hagman, Mayerthorpe. Back row (l-r) Harvey Hagman, Rick Hansen, Doug Thompson, Cornie Teichroeb, Bill Dobson, Bob Chisholm. Front row (l-r) Bill Lee, Kevin Hoppins, Jim Laverick, Lori Ell, Tim Bancroft. Photo: Supplied
David Swann says he’ll continue his push for better health and safety regulations for farm workers.
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algary MLA and Liberal Agriculture Critic David Swann used the occasion of the annual Agriculture Safety Week to repeat his calls for health and safety regulations for farm workers. During a private members’ address to the legislature on March 11, Swann reminded the MLAs that Premier Alison Redford promised during her leadership campaign to address what Swann called “unjust and unsafe working conditions for paid farm workers, including children.” Swann noted Alberta was celebrating 30 years of legislation maintaining health and safety standards for farm animals. “For example, it’s illegal to carry farm animals in an open pickup truck in Alberta, but farm workers? Not a problem,” he said in his speech. He called the WCB, OHS and child labour law exemptions for industrial farming operations “politically motivated” and said those exemptions are “appalling to conscious Albertans.” “Agricultural workers, including children, deserve the same rights as every other worker,” Swann said. In an interview after his speech, Swann said reaction in the legislature was quiet. “Ag safety week allowed me to show the tremendous contradiction between their commitment to health and safety for animals and their total abdication of responsibility for farm workers,” he said. Swann said he’ll continue to push the government, particularly the Ministry of Human Services, to enact legislation to protect farm workers. Opponents to such legislation often cite government interference and increased costs for farmers, Swann said. But “I think all Albertans want to be proud of the food we produce… we cannot be proud of the food we produce in this province when we do it on the backs of and at the risk of our paid farm workers.” Swann said he hopes the government will start moving to put in legislation to protect farm workers. Inquiries about a response to Swann’s comments were directed by an Alberta Agriculture spokesperson to the Ministry of Human Services. There was no response before deadline. T:10”
af staff /calgary
By Victoria Paterson
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Analysis: Are we near peak biofuels? It is now clear, depending on where the boundary is set in life-cycle estimates of carbon emissions, that some biofuels offer limited or no benefits compared with conventional gasoline BY GERARD WYNN LONDON / REUTERS
stalled biofuel industry will need to produce far more efficient fuels to avoid setting off another bout of arguments over its contribution to boosting energy security and cutting carbon emissions. Biofuels had a difficult 2012. In the United States, Energy Information Administration data show production through November fell compared with the same period the previous year, putting the industry on track for the first annual drop since 1996. That followed a crippling drought which raised corn feedstock prices. In the European Union, the executive European Commission proposed effectively to freeze crop-based biofuel consumption at around present levels, halving a previous 2020 target. Biofuel demand critically hinges on government targets. In setting targets, policymakers have so far weighed the possible benefit of biofuels towards carbon emissions cuts and energy security against an impact on food prices. Regarding emissions cuts, it is now clear, depending on where the boundary is set in life-cycle estimates of carbon emissions, that some biofuels offer limited or no benefits compared with conventional gasoline. Regarding energy security, one issue which is not formally accounted for by policy is energy return. If biofuels yield little more than the energy used to make them then they will ultimately fail to replace conventional fossil fuels, especially given growing indigenous U.S. production of oil and gas from shale deposits.
U.S. Air Force (USAF) analyst Captain T.A. Kiefer examined biofuels through their contribution to energy security in a paper
A process operator shows a handful of corn at the GreenField Ethanol plant in Chatham, Ont. Turning low-value materials like switchgrass and corn husks into ethanol to fuel cars is something of a holy grail. But scientists on the front lines of this search are finding that making the process viable is proving much harder than the hype would suggest. PHOTO: REUTERS/MARK BLINCH published recently in the USAF Research Institute’s Strategic Studies Quarterly. Kiefer presents a strong opinion, as indicated by the headline of his expanded, full report, “Twenty-First Century Snake Oil: Why the United States Should Reject Biofuels as Part of a Rational National Security Energy Strategy,” published as a discussion paper at the Canada-based Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation.
The paper is a deeply researched and referenced discussion of the net energy of biofuels. Energy return on investment (EROI) is one measure of the total energy available in a fuel as a proportion of the energy used to produce it. A value of one, or unity, implies a hand-to-mouth existence. Diesel and gasoline have an EROI of 10 times or more, according to Kiefer, reflect-
ing low crude oil extraction and refining costs, while corn ethanol is around 1.3, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Corn ethanol is a poor performer partly because of the energy intensity of corn cultivation, where farmers use fertilizer manufactured from natural gas to boost yields. The EROI concept should be handled with care, to compare like with like.
The Department of Defence’s deputy director for technology Strategy Adam Rosenberg issued a formal rebuttal of Kiefer’s article in the same USAF journal. Rosenberg pointed out that coal-fired power was also very inefficient, but the point perhaps is that coal is cheap to extract compared with its energy content, unlike a fuel which
CONTINUED on page 37
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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
CONTINUED from page 36 consumed lots of natural gas in its manufacture and was then burned in place of coal.
The present U.S. biofuels program was expanded under the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 through a renewable fuel standard which mandates blend volumes of biofuel. The standard is formally introduced in the act as “Energy Security Through Increased Production of Biofuels,” nailing its purpose to boost energy security by supplying an indigenous alternative to imported crude oil. From an energy security perspective, it might be argued that a corn ethanol EROI close to one is enough, provided the high energy input is domestic natural gas, since that would still see ethanol displace imported crude. Such a country would inflict self harm, however, by draining its indigenous natural gas rather than produce less energy-intensive gasoline from imported crude. It is an obvious but important idea that a country must get sig-
nificantly more energy from its fuel compared with the effort in making it, if it wishes to run all the energy-hungry processes of an industrialized society. Kiefer cited studies that an EROI below six is consistent with recession, in other words a minimum threshold for a modern, energy-intensive quality of life. The bare minimum is three, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Energies by researchers at the State University of New York, called “What is the minimum EROI that a sustainable society must have?” “Of course the 3:1 minimum ‘extended EROI’ that we calculate here is only a bare minimum for civilization. It would allow only for energy to run transportation or related systems, but would leave little discretionary surplus for all the things we value about civilization: art, medicine, education and so on,” the authors said. EU and U.S. policy-makers see second-generation biofuels made from waste and woody cellulose, rather than intensively cultivated food crops, as the future of the biofuel industry, while Brazilian sugar cane is also less energy-intensive.
Net Energy Cliff However, there are at least three problems with cellulosic biofuels. First, U.S. production levels show that it is still uneconomic. The Environmental Protection Agency downgraded last year’s blending requirement to just 10.45 million ethanol-equivalent gallons, nearly 490 million gallons short of the 500 million mandated volume. Second, these biofuels may
have the same problems regarding greenhouse gas emissions as regular biofuels, if the boundary in life-cycle carbon emissions includes land-use change. Third, given the lack of actual production, there are no data yet to reliably estimate its energy return.
Biofuels seemed to make sense when the United States intro-
duced its renewable fuel standard in 2007, and when the EU approved its biofuel target the following year. So far the European Commission has proposed effectively to halt industry growth pending better understanding of its wider impacts. It has proposed limiting the contribution of crop-based biofuels to five per cent in 2020. In the latest data available from the European Environment Agency, crop-based biofuels already accounted for 4.3 per cent of transport energy consumption in 2010, at 14 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) compared with a sector total of 322 mtoe. Meanwhile, the United States is already nearing a plateau in its mandate for first-generation biofuels (including corn, excluding sugar cane ethanol), at 15 billion gallons annually every year from 2015, compared with 13.9 billion in 2011. A halt in expansion of the global industry makes sense while policy-makers assess performance, where energy return should be a part of the discussion.
BRIEFS IGC forecasts small rise in wheat stocks in 2013-14 LONDON / REUTERS The International Grains Council forecast March 21 that world wheat harvested area would climb to a four-year high for the 2013-14 season but global stocks would only rise modestly. The IGC, in a monthly update, forecast a rise in global wheat stocks of three million tonnes by the end of the 2013-14 season, which would only partially offset a decline of 20 million tonnes in 2012-13. A sharp rebound in U.S. maize production was anticipated in 2013-14 with the IGC forecasting the world’s top grower could boost production by as much as 30 per cent, year on year, from a drought-affected 2012-13 harvest.
World Bank lends money to Smithfield-led pork initiative in Mexico WASHINGTON / REUTERS The World Bank’s private-sector lender is loaning $40 million to Norson, a joint venture in Mexico of local investors and the world’s largest pork processor Smithfield Foods, to expand production and cut greenhouse gas emissions at its plants. The International Finance Corp. (IFC) said the loan will help Norson Holdings increase production, processing and cold storage over the next four years. The company will also install plastic liners at its waste facilities and look at ways to turn methane into electricity. “This partnership supports food security by promoting agriculture productivity, rural employment, and environmental and social standards,” said Jin-Yong Cai, IFC executive vice-president and chief executive.
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APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
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Organic tomatoes accumulate more vitamin C, sugars than conventionally grown fruit
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PLOS ONE RELEASE omatoes grown on organic farms accumulate higher concentrations of sugars, vitamin C and compounds associated with oxidative stress compared to those grown on conventional farms, according to research published Feb. 20 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Maria Raquel Alcantara Miranda and colleagues from the Federal University of Ceara, Brazil. In their study, the researchers compared the weights and biochemical properties of tomatoes from organic and conventional farms. They found that tomatoes grown on organic farms were approximately 40 per cent smaller than those grown by conventional techniques, and they also accumulated more compounds linked to stress resistance. According to the authors, organic farming exposes plants to greater stress than conventional farming. They suggest that this increased stress may be the reason organic tomatoes had higher levels of sugars, vitamin C and pigment molecules like lycopene, an antioxidant compound — all of which are associated with the biological response to stress. Based on these observations, the authors suggest that growing strategies for fruits and vegetables should aim to balance plant stress with efforts to maximize yield and fruit size, rather than trying to eliminate stress to increase yields.
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ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
AFSC reviews AgriStability changes for 2013 The margin trigger has been lowered from 85 per cent to 70 per cent AFSC RELEASE
e remind farmers that all it takes is one catastrophic event — such as a livestock disease like BSE or a sudden economic downturn — and the profitability many are now enjoying can turn on a dime,” says Vicki Chapman, with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC). AFSC field analysts have been holding AgriStability information sessions. “It’s their job to ensure farmers understand the new program changes and the risk level it still covers on their farms — so they can make informed decisions before the April 30 enrolment deadline passes,” explains Chapman. Coverage has been reduced in some areas and expanded in others. “Beginning in 2013, producers must experience a larger drop in farm income before triggering payments under AgriStability,” Chapman
Ottawa plots next move as Washington ducks COOL changes Ritz is hesitant to penalize allies in the U.S livestock and meat-processing sector BY ALEX BINKLEY
AF CONTRIBUTOR / OTTAWA
anada is still considering what U.S. exports it might target for retaliatory tariffs if Washington fails to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling against its country-of-origin labelling law, says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “We’re looking at all our options, but we don’t want to penalize our allies in the U.S. livestock and meatprocessing sectors by imposing tariffs on their products,” Ritz said. The WTO gave the U.S. until May 23 to amend its so-called COOL law to end discrimination against Canadian and Mexican beef and pork. To buy time, the U.S. has responded by proposing obscure rule changes on consumer labelling that critics say would only worsen the situation. Ritz has previously said he was confident the U.S. would comply with the WTO ruling. Ottawa can, in theory, impose a $1-billion-ayear’s worth of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports to this country – but that would be tricky at a time when the federal government is hoping Washington will give a thumbs up to the XL pipeline. However, the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association favour retaliatory action, saying the law has cost Canadian farmers $5 billion and counting in lost sales and lower prices since it was imposed in 2008. Both are aware that U.S. processors and many farm groups oppose COOL and have been asking them for suggestions on how to make retaliatory tariffs more effective.
explains, noting the changes will not affect 2012 AgriStability claims. “Payouts under the new rules will now trigger when a producer’s margin — their allowable income minus allowable expenses — drops below 70 per cent of either their ‘Olympic’ margin over the last five years or their average allowable expenses during that time
“Beginning in 2013, producers must experience a larger drop in farm income before triggering payments under AgriStability.” VICKI CHAPMAN AFSC
frame, whichever is lower,” says Chapman. “The trigger point for payments was previously at 85 per cent,” says Chapman. “Limiting coverage to a producer’s average allowable expenses when it’s lower than their Olympic margin is also new.” Once payments trigger, producers will be paid 70 cents for every dollar of loss. They were previously paid up to 80 cents on losses above a zero margin, and only 60 cents on losses below a zero margin — known as a negative margin, says Chapman. “Now if farmers suffer a big hit and drop into a negative margin — where they typically can no longer cover their input costs — they’ll receive a bigger payment at that 70-cent level. The changes provide more money where losses are deepest and transfer some of what’s considered ‘normal’ business risk back to producers.” The upcoming changes realign AgriStability coverage to provide disaster assistance
Vicki Chapman, with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation announces changes to AgriStability. when producers need it most, rather than compensating reduced profits, says Chapman. AgriStability fees are also being lowered to $315 per $100,000 of coverage to reflect program changes, adds Chapman. “It’s relatively cheap protection for
the coverage it offers.” Producers with questions about AgriStability should contact a field analyst at their AFSC District Office, visit www.afsc.ca, or phone the AFSC call centre at 1-877-899-AFSC (2372) before the April 30 deadline.
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Card No. __/__/__/__/ __/__/__/__/ __/__/__/__/ __/__/__/__/
Add $2.50 if being billed / Minus 10% if prepaying
Add 5% GST
Expiry Date __/__/ __/__/
ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
FARM MACHINERY Grain Handling
Tired of shovelling out your bins, unhealthy dust and awkward augers? Walinga manufactures a complete line of grain vacs to suit your every need. With no filters to plug and less damage done to your product than an auger, you’re sure to find the right system to suit you. Call now for a free demonstration or trade in your old vac towards a new WALINGA AGRI-VACS
40’ X 60’ X 16’ RIGID FRAME STEEL BUILDING
$28,418 When you go with steel you get the right deals!
Fergus, ON: (519) 787-8227 Carman, MB: (204) 745-2951 Davidson, SK: (306) 567-3031
SEED/FEED MISCELLANEOUS Grain Wanted BUYING HEATED/DAMAGED PEAS, FLAX & GRAIN “On Farm Pickup” Westcan Feed & Grain 1-877-250-5252 BUYING SPRING THRASHED CANOLA & GRAIN “On Farm Pickup” Westcan Feed & Grain 1-877-250-5252
HEATED & GREEN CANOLA • Competitive Prices • Prompt Movement • Spring Thrashed “ON FARM PICK UP”
Pioneer One Steel Buildings
Call toll free 1 (877) 525-2004 or see us online at www.pioneeronesteel.com BUSINESS SERVICES Crop Consulting
1996 GLEANER R72, 2160/SEP. hrs, 2724 eng. hrs. Sunnybrook rotor, new feeder chains, $45,000 (403)818-6443
FARM CHEMICAL SEED COMPLAINTS
FARM MACHINERY Combine – Various
We also specialize in: Crop Insurance appeals; Chemical drift; Residual herbicide; Custom operator issues; Equipment malfunction; Yield comparisons, Plus Private Investigations of any nature. With our assistance the majority of our clients have received compensation previously denied. Back-Track Investigations investigates, documents your loss and assists in settling your claim. Licensed Agrologist on Staff. For more information Please call 1-866-882-4779
BOW VALLEY TRADING LTD.
WE BUY DAMAGED GRAIN Wheat, Barley, Oats, Peas, etc. Green or Heated Canola/Flax
AUTO & TRANSPORT AUTO & TRANSPORT Auto & Truck Parts
ENGINES ASSORTED DEUTZ AND OTHER diesel engines. KMK Sales, (800)565-0500, Humboldt, SK. ENGINE REBUILD KITS FOR most makes and models of tractors, great selection, thousands of parts! Service manuals, super savings, Our 39th year, www.diamondfarmtractorparts.com. 1-800-481-1353
FARM MACHINERY Haying & Harvesting – Baling WANTED: JD 7810 c/w fel & 3pth; sp or pto bale wagon; JD or IHC end wheel drills. Small square baler. (877)330-4477
1995 R72 Gleaner, 2522/sep hours, 3245 engine, Sunnybrook rotor, new feeder chains, $40,000 (403)818-6443
AUCTION SALES Auctions Various
AUCTION SALES Auctions Various
FARM, RANCH, REAL ESTATE & COMMERCIAL
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Phone: 403-464-0202
8100 Wilmar Sprayer JD 4710, 4720, 4730, 4830, 4920, 4930 SP sprayers JD 9770 & 9870 w/CM & duals CIH 3185, 3230, 3330, 4430, 4420 sprayers
GOOD SELECTION OF CASE QUAD TRACKS 500-550 & 600’’S
Many Other 4WD’s Available!
“LIKE MANY BEFORE, WE’LL HAVE YOU SAYING THERE’S NO DEAL LIKE A KEN DEAL” •Phone: (403)526-9644 •Cell: (403)504-4929 •Greg Dorsett (403)952-6622 •Email: email@example.com
Tillage & Seeding FARM MACHINERY Tillage & Seeding – Air Drills 28 FT SEED-O-VATOR, NEW noble model 9000, 192 air tank, Good Conditon, (403)934-0940, Gleichen, Ab.
FARM MACHINERY Tractors – Various NEW TRACTOR PARTS AND specializing in engine rebuild kits, great selection, super savings! Not all parts online, service manuals and decals, Our 39th year, www.diamondfarmtractorparts.com 1-800-481-1353 Looking for a hand around the farm? Place a help wanted ad in the classifieds. Call 1-888-413-3325.
JD 3140, 3pth loader Jd 4020, loader available JD 4440, loader available JD 4450, FWA, c/w loader JD 4560 FWA, 280 loader JD 6410 3pth, FWA, loader available JD 746 loader, new Cat Skidsteer 256C, 1000hrs Mustang 2044 Skidsteer, 1300hrs Kello 10ft model 210 disc Clamp on duals, 20.8x38-18.4x38 158 & 148, 265, 740, 280, JD loaders
for troublesome gauge wheels COMBINE WORLD located 20 min. E of Saskatoon, SK on Hwy. #16. 1 year warranty on all new, used, and rebuilt parts. Canada’s largest inventory of late model combines & swathers. 1-800-667-4515 www.combineworld.com
FINANCE, TRADES WELCOME 780-696-3527, BRETON, AB
FARM MACHINERY Combine – Accessories
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.
FARM MACHINERY Parts & Accessories
Dugald MB 204-866-3558
E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: RidgelandManufacturing.ca
FARM MACHINERY Tractors – John Deere 1988 4250 JD EXCELLENT condition, always shedded, 5400 original hours, 20.8x38 tires, all tires good, asking $39,000 OBO (780)967-2789, Onoway, Ab.
NEW WOBBLE BOXES for JD, NH, IH, MacDon headers. Made in Europe, factory quality. Get it direct from Western Canada’s sole distributor starting at $1,095. 1-800-667-4515. www.combineworld.com
Big Tractor Parts, Inc. Geared For The Future
AUCTION SERVICE LTD. General Auction Services since 1960
JD 9430, 9530, 9630. JD 9410R, 9460R, 9560R JD 9400, 9420, 9520, 8970 JD 7810 & 7210, FWA JD 9860, 9760, 9750, 9650, 9600 JD 9430, 9530, 9630 CIH 8010 w/RWD, lateral tilt, duals 900 hrs. Case STX 375, 425, 430, 450, 480, 500, 530 CIH 8010-2388, 2188 combine CIH 435Q, 535Q, 450Q, 550Q, 600Q pto avail. 535 Quad track w/PTO 920 Fendt 3500Hrs, Excellent Condition
FARM MACHINERY Sprayers
FARM MACHINERY Tillage & Seeding – Tillage
FARM MACHINERY Combine – Gleaner
NEW TRUCK ENGINE REBUILD kits, high quality Cummins, B&C series engines 3.9, 5.9, and 8.3, also IH trucks, great savings, our 39th year! 1-800-481-1353 www.diamondfarmtractorparts.com
FARM MACHINERY Sprayers
2009 7430 PREMIUM 741 loader, grapple, mint condition, all options, 1410hrs, $117,500. check pictures at Kijiji ad #455508131 Call Rob @(403)933-5448 or (403)608-1116
STEIGER TRACTOR SPECIALIST
RED OR GREEN 1. 10-25% savings on new replacement parts for your Steiger drive train. 2. We rebuild axles, transmissions and dropboxes with ONE YEAR WARRANTY. 3. 50% savings on used parts.
83 JD 4650 JD 4650 MFWD, POWER SHIFT, 7,562HRS., 18.4-42 DUALS, 16.9-28 FRONT TIRES, 3 PT QUICK HITCH, CLEAN TRACTOR, $29,900. Phone (204)324-7781 or (204)324-5194.
FARM MACHINERY Sprayers
JD 8650 Tractor 4 hyd. outlets, 1000 PTO, rubber vg: Firestone 7000 radials 20.8x38 duals, new radiator, very good condition. Call Daniel (204)526-2746 home or (204)526-5257 cell email@example.com
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.
QF2002 BRANDT SPRAYER, 90ft. w/wind cones, new pump, 1250/gal tank. wash out tank, foam marker, big rubber, auto rate, vg. condition, shedded, $13,500 OBO (780)967-2789, Onoway, Ab.
JD TRACTORS, SPECIALIZING IN quality engine rebuild kits, great selection, thousands of parts, super savings, Our 39th year, 1-800-481-1353 www.diamondfarmtractorparts.com
Farming is enough of a gamble, advertise in the Alberta Farmer Express classified section. It’s a sure thing. 1-888-413-3325.
with Classifieds and
reach 42,000 Alberta farmers.
Looking to buy or sell?
Place your ad today by calling Maureen at
1-888-413-3325 * Ask about our Prairie-wide classified rate.
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
FARM MACHINERY Tractors – Various
FARM MACHINERY Tractors – Various
Double LL Industries 780.905.8565 Nisku, Alberta
1994 Case 580 Super K
1986 Case-Ih 585
1998 Massey Ferguson 4270
1998 New Holland 3010
LIVESTOCK Sheep For Sale
Orchard Special, 52 Pto Hp, 60 Eng HP, 3pth
100 HP Diesel, 3pth
55 Hp Diesel, 2048 Hours, 3pth
www.doublellindustries.com FARM MACHINERY Machinery Miscellaneous ACREAGE EQUIPMENT: CULTIVATORS, DISCS, Plows, Blades, Post pounders, Haying Equipment, Etc. (780)892-3092, Wabamun, Ab. RETIRED FROM FARMING: 1994 Case 9280 tractor, 12/spd. 20.8x42 duals, 4/hyd plus 1 aux. for air seeder, Outback w/E drive for auto steer, Approx. 3500/hrs; 1996 5000 Flexicoil air drill, 45ft. double chute, 9in. spacing, 4in. rubber packers; 2003 2340 air tank variable rate, AGSCO air seed treater attached; 2003 9650STS JD combine, 914 P header, 1448 engine hours, 1132 sep. hrs. will have green light done; 2003 2940 Premier (MacDon) swather w/2004 972 header, 25ft, 941 eng.hrs. 786 cutting hours; 2009 Flexicoil 100ft suspended boom sprayer, 68XL, 1600/Gal. fence line nozzle, raven power glide plus boom control, 4 boom shut offs, rinse tank, chemical rinse; 2007 Bourgault 6000 mid duty harrows, 70ft. 1998 MX 200 Case tractor MFD, duals 20.8Rx42, 3800/hrs. Outback auto steer; 47ft. 3 bar harrow, 2in. spikes; (403)556-2497, Wimborne, AB. RETIRED FROM FARMING, MOST machinery shedded, 1998 Peterbuilt, 460 Cummins, 18spd, w/36ft tandem Doepker grain trailer $75,000; (403)586-0978, Torrington, Ab.
FARM MACHINERY Machinery Wanted WANTED: NH BALE WAGONS & retrievers, any condition. Farm Equipment Finding Service, P.O. Box 1363, Polson, MT 59860. (406)883-2118
ROUND & SQUARE BALE feeders, heavy duty, built of drill stem pipe, 2 bale or 3 bale from $1000-$1500 each (403)635-2747, (403)223-0412 TRUCK MOUNTED AND PT manure spreaders, forage boxes, feeder boxes, farm trailers. 65/yrs manufacturing experience, call 403-580-6889, Bow Island, AB. Machinerydave@yahoo.ca Visit www.meyermfg.com Dealers Wanted.
WANTED: POST POUNDER, PREFER trailer type. (403)886-4285 WANTED: Small square balers and end Wheel Seed Drills, Rock Pickers, Rock Rakes, Tub grinders, also JD 1610 cultivators (403)308-1238
HEAT & AIR CONDITIONING
The Icynene Insulation System® • Sprayed foam insulation • Ideal for shops, barns or homes • Healthier, Quieter, More Energy Efficient®
LIVESTOCK LIVESTOCK Cattle – Angus
Barb Wire & Electric High Tensile Wire Spooler
PB RED & BLACK Angus yearling bulls for sale. Canadian pedigrees, semen tested. Phone (780)336-4009, Kinsella, AB.
Adapter available to unroll new barb wire off of wooden spool
LIVESTOCK Cattle – Red Angus
APRIL 4 - 6 AT THE EDMONTON FARM AND RANCH SHOW Save expensive freight costs, take one home from the show !!
anything you need through the 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, $486; 16.9-28 12 ply $558, 18.4-26 10 ply, $890. Factory direct. More sizes available new and used. 1-800-667-4515. www.combineworld.com
ORGANIC ORGANIC Organic – Grains
WANTED: POLE/HAY SHED, TO be moved, Stony Plain area; also wanted suitcase weights to fit MF 6170, (780)968-7750, Stony Plain, AB
See my Wire Roller Displayed in Hall C - Booth # 313 With Green Manure spreader in Dutch Bunning Dist booth on
Buy and Sell
LIVESTOCK Livestock Equipment
40 REGISTERED RED ANGUS bulls, (from 7 sires) quiet, easy calving, low to moderate birth weight, good growth, EPD’s, guaranteed breeders, exc. for heifers or cows. Cleveley Cattle Company (780)689-2754, Ellscott, AB.
LIVESTOCK Cattle – Charolais
2 HORNED PUREBRED HEREFORD 2/yr olds bulls, low birth weights, papers and testing available. (403)782-2493, (403)302-8599 Lacombe, Ab. HEREFORD BULLS, YEARLINGS AND two year olds, dehorned, and polled, excellent quality, check out our catalogue of bulls for sale by private treaty at Coulee Crest Herefords, couleecrest.ca (403)227-2259 or (403)588-6160, Bowden, Ab.
LIVESTOCK Cattle – Simmental SIMMENTAL BULLS FOR SALE, yearlings, full bloods and purebreds, horned & polled, strong Fleckvieh influence, Chalk Hill Simmentals, phone 403-638-4269
**ALL INCLUSIVE** 3 & 4 DAY CHARTERS
If interested, please send a 5lbs sample* to the following address: Attn: Sandy Jolicoeur Bioriginal Food & Science Corp. 102 Melville Street Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7J 0R1
778-983-2018 firstname.lastname@example.org www.salmoncharters.com
*Please state the Variety & Quantity for Sale
For more information, please contact Sandy at:
306-975-9251 306-975-1166 email@example.com
REAL ESTATE Land For Sale GRAZING LEASE FOR SALE, North Eaglesham area, 965AC, Cattle handling equipment, 200 Timothy straw bales. (780)359-2261
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
NOW BUYING OATS!
ALL GRADES Prompt Payment
REGISTERED RED FACTOR/WHITE BULLS yearling and 2/yr/olds, big butted, big nutted, quiet, semen tested, guaranteed, 50% down 50% upon free delivery. Call (403)933-5448, cell(403)608-1116. www.willowbrookcharolais.webs.com
LIVESTOCK Cattle – Hereford
Bioriginal Food & Science Corp., based in Saskatoon, is actively buying Organic Flax from the 2012 crop year.
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.levelwind.com
PLAN TO ATTEND THE 7th Annual Pound Maker Ram Sale, 110 yearling rams sell by auction, Thursday May 23, 2013 at Ford Macleod Alberta. Suffolk, Dorset, Hampshire, Rambouillet, North Country Cheviot, Charolais and Coloured. For more information call Warren 403-625-6519
5’X10’ PORTABLE CORRAL PANELS, 6 bar. New improved design. Storage Containers, 20’ & 40’ 1-866-517-8335, (403)540-4164, (403)226-1722 FWA 70 Hp Diesel, 7200 Hours, New Rear Tires, 3pth,
PRINCE RUPERT BRITISH COLUMBIA
Rural & Cultural Tours
Ireland ~ June 2013 International Plowing Match/ Canadian Rockies ~ July 2013 Alaska Land/Cruise ~ August 2013 Italy/Greek Isle Cruise ~ Oct 2013 Mississippi Cruise ~ Oct 2013 Smoky Mountains/ Nashville Tour ~ Oct 2013 Branson/Tennessee Tour ~ Oct 2013 Australia/New Zealand Grand Tour ~ Jan 2014 *Portion of tours may be tax Deductible
Select Holidays 1-800-661-4326 www.selectholidays.com
CAREERS CAREERS Employment Wanted Agricultural Collateral Inspection and Appraisals Ag background required. Training course available. visit www.amagappraisers.com or Call 800-488-7570 Hit our readers where it counts… in the classifieds. Place your ad in the Alberta Farmer Express classifed section. 1-888-413-3325. 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.
FARMING IS ENOUGH OF A GAMBLE...
LINDEN, ALBERTA CANADA SEED/FEED MISCELLANEOUS Hay & Straw 150 LARGE ROUND TIMOTHY/GRASS mix, $50/Bale, 75 no rain, 75 little rain. (403)888-9714 5000 SQUARE HAY bales, Horse quality, shedded, $4/per bale (780)967-2593, Calahoo, Ab.
TIRES FEDERATION TIRE: 1100X12, 2000X20, used aircraft. Toll free 1-888-452-3850
Advertise in the Alberta Farmer Express Classifieds,it’s a Sure Thing!
Watch your profits grow! Advertise with AFe Classifieds Place your ad today by calling Maureen at
ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA • APRIL 1, 2013
Get a broader view of agriculture. Gain a new perspective on your farm, your family and your future with this informative video series from Farm Credit Canada. Video topics include: A look ahead – Economic factors and your farm
Are you considering expanding to capture economies of scale, or bringing in more equipment? Customer, partners and your value chain
Your value chain is about meaningful relationships. To ensure your value chain is right for your farm… Vision and Goal Setting for Effective Farm Management
Videos include an interview with three time olympic gold medalist, Hayley Wickenheiser as she discusses the importance of following your passion and how to perform under pressure.
Goal setting tips from Michelle Painchaud to help you build an action plan for your farm’s… The Family Business – Part 1
Best-selling author and executive coach David Irvine discusses the challenges of running a family… The Family Business – Part 2
Best-selling author and executive coach David Irvine continues his discussion of the challenges of…
Plus many more! Don’t miss any of these informative videos – visit www.agcanada.com AGCanadaTV is sponsored by
The DuPont Oval Logo is a registered trademark of DuPont. ®, TM, SM Trademarks and service marks licensed to Pioneer Hi-Bred Limited. © 2013, PHL.
APRIL 1, 2013 • ALBERTAFARMEXPRESS.CA
Confidence, right from the start. Axial® provides superior control of even the toughest grass weeds in spring wheat and barley – the kind of reliability you can build an operation around. And that’s why Axial is the #1 graminicide in Western Canada.
Visit SyngentaFarm.ca or contact our Customer Resource Centre at 1-87-SYNGENTA (1-877-964-3682). Always read and follow label directions. Axial ®, the Alliance Frame, the Purpose Icon and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. © 2013 Syngenta.
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