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From a news release

AGRIS Co-operative board President John Nooyen announced at the co-operative’s annual meeting, that AGRIS has pledged $100,000 towards the construction of a new Ontario Sustainable Crop Research and Innovation Centre to be built at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus.

The proposed new research centre will focus on sustainable cropping priorities for Ontario producers and will feature state of the art research suites, laboratories, seed storage units and research offices. When complete, it will also be a learning centre for agricultural students in diploma, master’s or Ph.D. programs.

“AGRIS Co-operative has a long association with the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus and we are proud to help support the construction of this new Ontario Sustainable Crop Research and Innovation Centre,” says Nooyen. “This will continue AGRIS Co-operatives rich heritage of leadership in supporting local agricultural initiatives,” added Nooyen. AGRIS Co-operative also assists in supporting other agricultural events at the Ridgetown campus such as the Southwest Agricultural Conference and Crop Diagnostic Days.

“This new Crop Research and Innovation Centre will not only be of tremendous benefit to the students and faculty of the Ridgetown Campus, but also producers in southwest Ontario and across Canada, providing them with valuable agronomic information,” says Jim Campbell, AGRIS Co-operative general manager.

The new Ontario Sustainable Crop Research and Innovation Centre will work to keep Ontario agriculture globally competitive. It will address issues in production systems, best management practices, crop evaluation, agronomic strategies, trait development, nutrient management, land usage, resource and energy application, variety development and evaluation and plant breeding.

AGRIS Co-operative Ltd. is a 100 per-cent farmer-owned grain marketing and farm-input supply company that serves more than 1,000 farmer owners in 14 locations in Essex, Kent, Elgin, Middlesex and Lambton Counties.



A Nova Scotia MP is taking on a new role in the federal cabinet as the Minister of Rural Economic Development. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Bernadette Jordan to the post on Monday.

According to a news release, Jordan will oversee the the creation of a rural development strategy to "spur economic growth and create good, middle class jobs in rural Canada." She will also take action to bring high-speed internet to more rural households and businesses, and work with municipalities, provinces, territories, and Indigenous partners to meet the unique and diverse infrastructure needs of rural communities.

Jordan, the MP for South Shore-St. Margarets, was first elected in 2015. Prior to being elected, she was a Development Officer for the Health Services Foundation in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture applauded the move to create this new position in the federal cabinet.

"We look forward to working with Minister Jordan and discussing the CFA's key rural priorities which include introducing long-term, predictable infrastructure funding with provisions to address the full breadth of rural and agricultural infrastructure needs, including transportation bottlenecks, access to clean water and wastewater treatment, infrastructure that leverages on-farm renewable energy production and enables access to natural gas, and access to modern, affordable high-speed internet," said Ron Bonnett, CFA President.

The new position was created as part of a cabinet shuffle that was caused by the resignation of Scott Brison, who was president of the Treasury Board.

Jane Philpott, currently Minister of Indigenous Services and Vice-Chair of the Treasury Board, becomes President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government.

Seamus O’Regan, currently Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, becomes Minister of Indigenous Services.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, currently Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, becomes Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.

David Lametti, currently Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, becomes Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.



From Grain Farmers of Ontario

The Ontario Soybean and Canola Committee (OSACC) conducts annual soybean variety trials to determine the performance, genetic potential and adaptation of soybean varieties in the province of Ontario. Results of the 2018 Ontario Soybean Variety Trials have been available at www.gosoy.ca since December 1, 2018, however, the oil, protein and seed weight data was incomplete at the time of the initial release.

At this time, all of the oil and protein data has been added to the report. Head-to-head comparisons are also available on the OSVT Publication Tables. Additionally, the five-year averages for each maturity group and the oil and protein tables are now updated. All results can be found at the Go Soy website.

OSACC is made up of representatives of Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, the University of Guelph, Ontario Seed Growers Association, Canadian Seed Trade Association, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and various agricultural organizations.



Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Marie Versteeg, CFFO Manager of Executive Board & Committees

Last week, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ernie Hardeman, convened a stakeholder’s roundtable on mental health challenges facing the agriculture industry.

Research conducted in 2016 by University of Guelph professor Andria Jones-Bitton demonstrates that Canadian farmers experience much higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression than the general population.

Roundtable participants, which included the CFFO, offered a number of recommendations to address the issue. Notably, almost everyone at the table had a story to tell—whether one of personal struggle or of loss in their community.

Both stigma and a “pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps” mentality in the farming community have historically made asking for help difficult. Fortunately, there are at least some signs that this attitude is changing, and this shift comes at an important moment for Ontario’s agriculture industry. The Minister’s roundtable is one sign that times are indeed changing for the better in this regard.

Premier Doug Ford’s July Speech from the Throne promised a record $3.8 billion toward mental health and addictions support. Given there are still very few details about how that money will be allocated, now is the time to argue the strong case for farmer-oriented services.

Dr. Jones-Bitton, who participated in the roundtable discussion, shared anecdotal evidence that the farming community has unique needs and therefore requires unique services. According to information from the Manitoba Farm, Rural & Northern Support Services, the two most common questions they get from people calling their support line are, “Is this confidential?” and “Are you a farmer?”

It’s hard to imagine many other professions that would specifically request support from someone in the same profession. Clearly, meaningful mental health support services for farmers are going to have to be different.

Minister Hardeman zeroed in on this difference for farmers during the stakeholder’s meeting: the key issue is not one of treatment, but of delivery. In other words, the type of medical and psychological support that farmers may need isn’t all that different from other people. What is different is (1) how to promote awareness successfully and (2) how to provide access to appropriate support in rural and remote areas.

Stakeholders offered a number of specific recommendations for the farm sector, while also stressing that delivering access to mental health support is a major problem for all Ontarians.

While general services do exist and resources are listed on websites such as Do More Agriculture, there was a general consensus that the Ontario ag sector needs a concentrated hub that will be able to incorporate both prevention and long-term follow-up for rural and farm communities. One proposed solution is the development of a centre focused on mental health in agriculture that would provide social work support, training and applied research specifically geared to the needs of this sector.

Notably, trends confirm that there are signs of hope for truly improving mental health outcomes. According to Jones-Bitton, stigma is breaking down, farming culture is changing, and access to supports is improving. Provincial funding for agriculture-specific mental health supports will be vital to increase the scale of these changes.



Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Rejean Pommainville, OFA Director

When the federal government presents its next budget, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) wants to be sure that real investment in the agri-food sector and rural communities is part of the plan.

The issues we are advocating for with both federal and provincial governments are based on the fact that the agri-food sector and our rural communities hold tremendous potential for continuing economic development and prosperity with strategic infrastructure investments. This message is the cornerstone of OFA’s ongoing Producing Prosperity in Ontario campaign, and we’ll be highlighting these issues with federal policymakers in advance of their next budget.

Our industry makes significant contributions to the bottom line of the entire country. To continue to grow and prosper, the agri-food sector and rural communities depend on real investments. We need the federal government to get money out the door and into Ontario to keep us competitive and able to efficiently and effectively continue to develop our sustainable food system.

When it comes to energy, Ontario has the highest energy rates in the country. We will continue to advocate for expanded natural gas infrastructure, with federal investment, throughout rural Ontario. Access to affordable energy will provide a competitive edge, help our sector save on energy costs and drive further growth. It is an investment that pays net economic dividends after the first year.

Reliable internet is a given in urban Canada. In rural and remote Ontario, access to consistent, reliable internet continues to challenge our businesses, schools and communities. It’s been more than two years since the CRTC declared broadband an essential service. This federal budget needs to show a real plan for implementation of the promised broadband strategy.

The goods and services produced by the agri-food sector depend on sound roads and bridges to transport to and from market. We need a continued commitment to improving rural infrastructure – at all levels of government – to keep our industry moving.

Budgets are about investments and about taxes. OFA continues to advocate for fair and practical tax treatment for farming businesses. Right now, if shares of a farming corporation are transferred from Canadian farmers to their children, the transfer is taxed as a dividend. But if the farm was sold to a third party, it would be a capital gains and much more favourable from a tax standpoint. It makes no sense. The federal government has indicated a willingness to look at this issue, and we’ll continue to push for this and other tax changes that contribute to succession and sustainability of farm businesses.

2019 is shaping up to be another interesting year, politically, with a federal budget and federal election. OFA will continue our push for strategic infrastructure investments at all levels of government to support our sector, our communities and our competitiveness.