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CHARTWELL’S SUPPORTING RIDGETOWN SOD BUSTER WALK/RUN WITH YOGURT PARFAIT BAR

06/18/18

From a news release

Yes, this is just one of the great reasons to come on out and support agriculture and the proposed new crop research facilities at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus. Join us on Sunday, July 8, 2018 for tons of fun! Campus caterer, Chartwell’s, is sponsoring the food and refreshments for the event including a make your own yogurt parfait bar with lots of healthy options to create something tasty.

This year’s event also features:

• Almost 30 corporate sponsors
• Great technical T-shirts
• Fabulous volunteers
• Friendly radio emcee Corey North from 99.1 FM
• Noisy blue cowbell medals for crossing the finish line

And don’t forget:

• Walkers welcome – come stroll through the campus and the crops!
• Day of event registrations are welcome – registration opens at 8:00 a.m. with free Tim’s coffee
• Event starts at 9:00 a.m.

Make it a first-time event, or a wonderful repeat activity! Get active. Come learn about us. Have fun. Register online today at raceroster.com. All proceeds to support proposed new crop research facilities at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus.


FCC ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP TO PROMOTE MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT NETWORK

06/18/18

From a news release

Farm Credit Canada (FCC) has entered into a partnership with the Do More Agriculture (DMA) Foundation to create a network of mental health first aiders who can identify and support producers coping with difficult or unfortunate circumstances.

Under the one-year pilot project, FCC is contributing $50,000 to the not-for-profit foundation, focused on promoting mental health awareness and well-being in Canadian agriculture.

The funding will be used to facilitate mental health first aid training for producers and agriculture industry professionals in select communities across Canada. The training is aimed at raising mental health awareness and equipping participants with basic skills to provide assistance when help is not immediately available.

The training sessions will be delivered by accredited organizations and experts and offered at no cost.

“We are seeing the need for increased mental health support in agriculture and rural Canada, where people sometimes feel isolated and don’t always know who or where to turn to for help,” said Michael Hoffort, FCC president and CEO.

“That’s why it’s important that we begin developing a network of people in rural Canada who have received training in identifying and supporting people suffering from a variety of mental illnesses and are able to connect them with mental health professionals.”

DMA was established in January 2018 to promote mental health awareness, well-being, and research, as well as to empower Canadian producers to take care of their mental well-being through education, training and public awareness. The foundation is also dedicated to creating a community of belonging, support and resources on mental health issues.

“Producers are among the most vulnerable when it comes to mental health issues,” said Kim Keller, executive director for DMA. “By collaborating with FCC and other industry partners, we are raising awareness of mental health and increasing the number of people certified to provide support in rural communities across Canada.”

FCC will also be promoting mental health awareness at this year’s Farm Progress Show in Regina by offering information and services through an FCC wellness centre and an afternoon of mental health awareness speakers on June 21.


UNAPPROVED GENETICALLY MODIFIED WHEAT FOUND IN CANADA

06/15/18

From a news release

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has announced the discovery of unapproved genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) wheat near a farm in Alberta, but says the contamination is an isolated event.(1)

"We're relieved this is an isolated contamination case but we're concerned that the government couldn't determine how it happened. Without knowing the cause, contamination could happen again," said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), in a news release on June 15.

Monsanto's glyphosate-tolerant GM trait was found in several wheat plants on a road in southern Alberta in 2017. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency was unable to identify the cause.

"A less isolated GM wheat contamination incident could be devastating to Canadian farmers and the future of our wheat exports," Thibault Rehn of the Quebec network Vigilance OGM, "We can't afford to be careless with GM crops because it's difficult or impossible to reverse contamination once it occurs."

Canada is a major wheat-producing nation. Wheat crops contribute $11 billion annually to Canada's economy.

Genetically modified wheat is not approved by any government and is therefore illegal. No GM wheat has ever been commercially grown or sold in any country in the world. Monsanto last grew test plots of wheat with this GM trait in 2004 in Canada.

In 2004, Monsanto withdrew its request for approval of its GM herbicide-tolerant (glyphosate-tolerant) "Roundup Ready" wheat in Canada and the U.S. due to pressure from farmers and consumers along with international market rejection.

There have been three contamination incidents in the U.S. with Monsanto's GM wheat – in 2016, 2014 and 2013. In 2013, several countries suspended wheat imports from the U.S. after GM wheat plants were discovered in a farmer's field. The U.S. government was unable to determine the cause of that contamination. (2)

"Farmers should be consulted before GM crops are tested outside the lab. We need to determine if the economic risk is too high to field-test certain GM crops," said Sharratt.

The exact locations of experimental GM crop field trials in Canada are not disclosed.

"We need to protect our bread basket from rogue GM traits," said Sharratt.

NOTES:
(1) The detection report and related documents from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are posted at http://inspection.gc.ca/wheatdetection
(2) Media background on GM wheat is posted at www.cban.ca/wheat

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) brings together 16 groups to research, monitor and raise awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN members include farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations, and regional coalitions of grassroots groups. CBAN is a project on the shared platform of Tides Canada.

Vigilance OGM is a network of diverse groups and individuals in Quebec including farmers, environmentalists, consumers, and citizens who are concerned with what we eat every day and the health and environmental impacts of using genetically modified crops.


BFO ENCOURAGED BY INTRODUCTION OF BILL C-79

06/15/18

From a news release

Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) is extremely encouraged by International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne's introduction of Bill C-79, the implementing legislation for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which was announced June 14 in the House of Commons.

Implementation of the CPTPP would provide considerable benefits for the Ontario beef industry, particularly for Ontario's flagship beef brand, Ontario Corn Fed Beef, which has existing high-value partnerships with several Japanese food service providers. The opportunity for growth for Ontario Corn Fed Beef and for other Ontario beef products in the growing Asia-Pacific region is significant.

"The potential to increase both the volume and value of Ontario beef products exported to CPTPP member nations is extremely important to our sector," says BFO President, Joe Hill. "The introduction of the Bill C-79 represents an important step toward the establishment of meaningful access to valuable markets within the global economy. BFO strongly urges all MPs to support a swift ratification process."

BFO would like to thank Minister Champagne and Minister MacAulay for supporting this historic agreement.


REDEFINING “SUPER FOOD”: CORN-BASED WATER ADDITIVE FIGHTS FIRES

06/13/18

By Lisa McLean for AgInnovation Ontario

Firefighters commonly use petroleum-based foams and gels to get fires under control, but the lasting effects of those products – on soil, waterways and the firefighters themselves – has recently been called into question.

Now, a new competitor is on the market, and it’s proving as effective as traditional foams – made entirely from edible products, including Ontario corn.

Napanee-based company FireRein is the brainchild of veteran firefighter Quincy Emmons and Napanee entrepreneur Steven Montgomery. In spring 2018 the company announced a deal with U.S.-based technology holding company Ethonus to develop applications for Eco-Gel™ within the U.S. military.

“Eco-Gel is a proprietary water additive that is instantly transformed into a firefighting hydrogel when introduced into a water stream at the required concentrations,” says Rui Resendes, president and CEO of FireRein. “In fighting class A and B fires, Eco-Gel is proven to extinguish fires in half the time of traditional foams and gels.”

Class A fires involve solid materials like wood, paper or textiles and Class B fires are those with flammable liquids such as petrol, diesel or oils.

Resendes says the product behaves as water when it is sprayed, but resembles a thick slime when it lands. That means it has the ability to stick to any surface – including floors, walls and furniture. The product suppresses fire, and by coating surfaces, it prevents them from igniting or re-igniting.

“We’ve been able to achieve all of this with a material that is derived from food, that is safe enough to eat, that draws on raw materials that are grown in farmers’ fields across the country,” says Resendes.

Depending on the class of fire, Eco-Gel is introduced into a water stream at concentrations ranging from two to five per cent by volume. And, once a fire is extinguished, the residual gel can be easily washed away with water.

Resendes notes the company has seen success working with fire stations and industrial clients across Canada that are drawn by Eco-Gel’s environmental and human safety aspects of the technology. The product is the world’s first and only hydrogel of its kind, certified through the USDA’s BioPreferred Program and made from food grade material.

Eco-Gel is manufactured in Belleville Ontario. It can be applied with standard proportioning equipment.


LET’S GET TO WORK ON AG AND RURAL

06/15/18

Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Steve Brackenridge, OFA Director

Queen’s Park will have an interesting array of veteran and new politicians when the PC party takes the reins under Premier-designate Doug Ford and his new majority government. There are a number of returning MPPs but most of the 124 politicians are first-timers, including representatives of new, mostly urban, ridings. That provides a great opportunity for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and our 38,000 members.

We are an advocacy organization with a mandate to represent the interests of more than 38,000 Ontario farmers, and we see tremendous opportunities to inform, discuss and educate all MPPs about the importance and promise of our agricultural sector and rural communities.

The new faces in Queen’s Park are a great audience for OFA to talk about the economic contributions of the agriculture industry, and the infrastructure investments that will ensure our industry continues to help drive the provincial economy. We reached out to all candidates during the election about distributing economic development throughout the province as part of our Producing Prosperity in Ontario platform. We’ll continue to reinforce the key messages with all MPPs as they settle into the new government – the need for expanded access to affordable natural gas, improved roads, bridges and drainage, and reliable internet.

OFA has always valued a positive and productive relationship with the provincial government. As the seat of government shifts to the PC party, we thank outgoing Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal for his attention and dedication to our sector during his tenure at Queen’s Park.

OFA congratulates the new government and Premier-designate Ford. We have a lot of important work ahead with the new and returning MPPs to ensure the voices, ideas and concerns of Ontario’s agricultural industry and rural communities are heard loud and clear. Working with Ontario politicians and policymakers on prudent investment we will, indeed Produce Prosperity in Ontario.


ONTARIO PUTS A NEW GOVERNMENT TO WORK

06/15/18

Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Paul Bootsma, CFFO Field Services Manager

Ontarians voted for change on June 7th, with a strong outcome. The province has given the reins to the PC party to steer the ship for the next four years. The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) offers congratulations to newly elected Premier Doug Ford and to the Progressive Conservative Party that will form Ontario’s government.

In a notice released earlier this week, the CFFO extended its thanks to outgoing elected representatives, particularly the Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. CFFO President Clarence Nywening commented that “Minister Leal has been a keen listener and a strong advocate for the agricultural sector.”

Following the 2014 provincial election, there was concern from rural Ontario that it would be left out because there was little representation in the government from rural ridings. With the June 7 results, Rural Ontario should have a strong voice at Queens Park, bringing some of the concerns to the forefront on the government’s agenda.

For the last number of years, the CFFO has encouraged the provincial government to keep its financial house in order, sharing common concerns about how much debt our province has taken on. Tackling the problem of provincial debt will be an important task for the new government to accomplish. Ontario needs its credit rating to be at the highest level possible. Ontario should be the “economic engine” of the Canadian economy.

The CFFO is encouraged by the PC Party’s promise of expanding economic supports for agriculture, including re-examining business risk management programs and expanding high-speed internet services in rural areas.

The cost of food production on the farm has increased, and many farmers, as well as other business owners, will be anticipating some relief from the complications of sudden wage hikes, spiking energy costs, and unnecessary red tape. Most farmers would prefer to focus on their day-to-day work, something they enjoy and are proud of.

At the same time, the CFFO will continue to encourage elected officials to recognize and support farmers’ stewardship efforts as an important contributor to the long-term economic and environmental health of the province.

The CFFO has consistently spoken up on environmental issues, and we encourage the government to continue the soil and water stewardship efforts that the province has accomplished over the years. Farmland preservation is a long-term challenge that the PC government will need to continue to uphold. The CFFO wants to see stronger protections for productive farmland facing significant growth pressure across the province. A consistent regulatory system would ease some of the frustrations that farmers have when we watch good food land taken out of production.

The CFFO looks forward to working with the new agriculture minister in developing policy that continues to encourage the production of healthy and environmentally safe food for Ontario consumers and the world.