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Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Keith Currie, OFA President

As Ontario’s fall harvest continues, corn quality and the threat of moulds and mycotoxins have become a serious concern across the province. Elevated levels of vomitoxin (DON) in this year’s corn crop has growers concerned about finding a market for their grain, and in some cases, figuring out how to safely dispose of crops that cannot be marketed.

Mycotoxins and DON can cause serious health threats to livestock when ingested at concentrated levels. DON can also pose a serious health threat to farmers working with the infected grain if the mould is inhaled. Early field reports across the province are indicating higher than expected levels of DON and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) reminds all farmers to work safely during the busy harvest season, especially when dealing with DON-infected corn.

With higher levels of DON reported, this is the year to scout fields and sample grain. If you are concerned about a field, collect a sample and have it tested for mycotoxins before harvesting, storing or feeding to livestock. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) also recommends harvesting and drying corn as quickly as possible, especially susceptible hybrids. Leaving diseased corn in the field allows the fungi to keep growing, increasing the risk of mouldy kernels and mycotoxin contamination throughout the field. Mould and mycotoxin development stop when corn moisture is less than 15%.

Be safe when handling DON-infected corn because inhaling the fungi-derived poison can have serious health implications, restricting airways and proper lung function. Prevent exposure by using protective gloves and eye protection, wear a mask and only work in well-ventilated areas. The greatest risks of exposure can occur in semi-enclosed places like grain bins and the areas around operating combines and loading wagons.

Finding a market for corn with higher levels of DON is a problem. There are few options for disposal, but research and on-farm trials continue across the province. For more information, visit the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website.

Any farmer who discovers DON in their crop is encouraged to call Agricorp as soon as possible at 1-888-247-4999. Agricorp can discuss the best practices for handling, sorting, and if necessary, destroying high DON corn, and review the coverage available to farmers experiencing losses due to DON. OFA will continue to work closely with Agricorp and the Grain Farmers of Ontario to assist farmers suffering losses from DON in any way we can.



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

Ontario farmers are concerned about this year’s corn harvest. Thanks to consistently wet conditions and a delayed harvest, many farmers are seeing record-high levels of the mould known as Deoxynivalenol (DON), a type of vomitoxin. The problem has also been identified in the US, where even areas that do not typically see problems with vomitoxin, such as Iowa and Nebraska, are reporting cases.

Higher levels of DON this year have several implications for Ontario’s grain farmers. Grain elevator companies are warning farmers that their loads may be rejected, which hurts both the farmer and the elevators.

While corn with levels of vomitoxin over 8ppm are typically considered unmarketable, some Ontario co-ops are offering discounts for 8-10ppm levels. Even that concession won’t be enough for some, as grain elevators have reported loads with 20 to 30ppm levels.

According to the OMAFRA Field Crop Team, farmers may have to look high and low to find a solution to the problem of unmarketable grain. In a recent report, they offered several suggestions for off-loading lower quality grain, but each idea comes with a caveat. Ethanol plants are reluctant to purchase affected corn because they can’t sell the byproducts, which contain even higher concentrations of the mould. The grain could potentially go to biodigesters, but there aren’t too many in Ontario that are capable of handling corn. Similarly, the corn could be sold as heating fuel, but that also requires specialized boilers or furnaces, so options are limited. Using the grain for animal feed would require considerable blending.

The OMAFRA Field Crop Team suggests that storing grain until the harvest is completed might allow enough time to look about for marketing opportunities for lower-quality grain.

But for many, the only solution will be crop insurance. Due to the unusually high number of producers who are affected by DON this year, Agricorp has released a factsheet offering specific information on potential insurance coverage. The information can be found the Agricorp website.

There are certain criteria that need to be met, so Agricorp is urging farmers to report damage immediately in order that adjusters can walk them through the assessment process.

According to a CBC report, Grain Farmers of Ontario has warned GFO members to contact Agricorp to begin an assessment even if they haven’t found DON in their crops yet. This warning reflects the anticipated large influx of claims and the need for producers to get their names in the queue.

The severity of the DON issue in Ontario means that this year, Ontario’s farmers, processors, and insurers aren’t seeing many positives, although yields generally have been good and not all crops are affected by DON. The net effect on farmer revenues are up in the air but, as GFO’s CEO Barry Senft comments, Ontario producers have good crop insurance to depend on. The important thing now for many Ontario farmers will be their ability to play the waiting game.



The latest crop reports from the United States Department of Agriculture brought both bullish and bearish news to the markets on Nov. 8. In its crop production report, the USDA trimmed its estimates for the U.S. soybean crop. Soybean production is forecast at a record 4.6 billion bushels, down 2 per cent from the October forecast but up four per cent from last year.

Meanwhile, trade watchers were paying close attention to the export numbers in the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report(WASDE). U.S. soybean exports are reduced by 160 million bushels to 1.9 billion with lower imports projected for China. Although sales to China are minimal, the USDA says strong sales to other markets are expected to continue, which is likely to result in a larger share of U.S. exports in the second half of the marketing year. With lower exports and slightly higher crush, soybean ending stocks are projected at 955 million bushels, up 70 million.

Global soybean production is reduced by 2 million tons with lower production for the United States and Argentina partly offset by increases for China, India, and Ukraine

U.S. corn production is forecast at 14.6 billion bushels, down 1 per cent from the October forecast but up less than 1 per cent from last year. According to WASDE, feed and residual use are lowered 50 million bushels based on a smaller crop and higher prices. Exports are reduced 25 million bushels based on expectations of increased competition from Ukraine. With supply falling more than use, corn ending stocks are down 77 million bushels from last month.

Globally, coarse grain production for 2018/19 is forecast to be 29.9 million tons higher to 1.373 billion, with a greater corn production forecast for China accounting for a large portion of the increase. Aside from China, corn production is forecast higher for Ukraine, Argentina, Kenya, Moldova, and Russia. EU corn production is lowered, mostly reflecting reductions for Hungary, Poland, and Germany.

Supplies for the 2018/19 U.S. wheat crop are unchanged this month, and total use is raised 7 million bushels on higher seed use that reflects increased projected 2019/20 wheat planted area.

On the global side, wheat supplies are raised 6.7 million tons on both increased production and beginning stocks. The USDA notes that the vast majority of this change stems from the updated production data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which made significant production changes from 2007/08 through 2017/18. In addition, China’s 2018/19 production forecast is raised with both higher harvested area and yield, based on the NBS revisions.



From a news release

Last week, industry leaders representing the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) and the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) met with over 50 Parliamentarians and their staff in Ottawa to discuss key issues currently affecting the Canadian fresh fruit and vegetable sector.

This year’s meetings were focused on increasing the industry’s competitiveness. As such, industry leaders proposed innovative solutions to facilitate international trade, improve the health of Canadians, improve the administration of labour programs, and support the regulation of crop protection products. The fresh produce industry looks forward to continuing these conversations with members of Parliament and senators in the months and years ahead.

The fresh fruit and vegetable industry is a vibrant part of the Canadian economy and works tirelessly to improve the health of Canadians while growing the economy. Now is the time for practical solutions that will improve the industry’s competitiveness and ensure we can compete in the global marketplace.

“Close to 80% of Canadians do not consume enough fruits and vegetables as indicated by Canada’s Food Guide, resulting in an economic burden estimated at $4.4 billion,” said Les Mallard, CPMA Chair. “By taking into account our recommendations for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, our government and all Canadians can benefit from a greater quality of life and a decreased burden on our health care system.”

“The produce industry supply chain has an estimated economic impact of $14 billion in real GDP in Canada while supporting over 181,000 jobs in the Canadian economy,” added Brian Gilroy, CHC President. “Our sector is not only critical to the health of Canadians, but also to the economic well-being of families across the country, and Canada as a whole.”

As part of the advocacy effort, CPMA and CHC hosted a reception with Parliamentarians and their staff. The event featured three top local chefs running live cooking stations and attracted over 220 attendees, including The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, and Parliamentary Secretary Jean-Claude Poissant, representing the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. The evening provided all attendees with a more informal environment to network and build positive relationships.



From a news release

The Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture (CYSA) Competition is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 competition which took place Saturday, November 3, at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

The Senior Champion was Emmett Sawyer, Acme, AB; First Runner-up: Shaughnessy Riordan, Pokeshaw, NB; Second Runner-up: Casey Riddle, Elmira, ON.

The Junior Champion was Nate Caughill, Melancthon, ON; First Runner-up: Carmen White, Claresholm, AB; Second Runner-up: Hunter Reid, Hafford, SK.

The 34th edition of CYSA welcomed 29 competitors, aged 11 to 24, from across Canada who offered their insights and solutions regarding the following topics:

  • My view on diversity in Canadian agriculture.
  • Canadian agriculture needs more people - and this is how we're going to get them.
  • What is sustainability and why does it matter to Canadian agriculture?
  • The next big thing in Canadian agriculture is: _______.
  • How can we educate urban populations about where our food comes from and the industry standards involved?
  • Food Processing: Trends and Market Opportunities
  • Local Opportunities for Micro Food Processing

  • "One only has to listen to our participants to absorb the enthusiasm and motivation these young people have for agriculture and its future. It is infectious," said Ted Young, CYSA Board Chair. "This is one of the main reasons that motivates the CYSA team to host this event year after year. It is so rewarding to see these young people share their passion and their stories. They made all of us feel so proud."

    "We were very pleased to welcome a sampling of participants from across Canada, especially a record-breaking three from my home province of Quebec," said CYSA president April Stewart. "Each year, the CYSA board, judges, and audience members can't wait to see what these young people bring to the stage - and they never fail to impress!"

    Each year the renowned public speaking competition is held at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (a Platinum sponsor of CYSA) in Toronto. The competition is open to youth ages 11 to 24 with a passion for agriculture whether raised on a farm, in the country or in the city.

    Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture is a national, bilingual competition that provides a platform for participants to share their opinions, ideas and concerns about the Canadian agri-food industry in a five- to seven-minute prepared speech.

    Since the first competition held at the Royal Winter Fair in honour of the International Year of the Youth in 1985, it has gone on to become the premier public speaking event in Canada for young people interested in agriculture, with more than 980 participants over the years.

    For more information about CYSA, visit the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture website.