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CANADA'S AG SECTOR CONTINUES TO SEE ECONOMIC GROWTH

11/10/17

From a news release

The Canadian agricultural sector continues to show economic growth, contributing to Canada's strong economic performance as described in the Fall Economic Statement 2017.

The agriculture and agri-food sector provides one in eight jobs and accounts for more than six percent of Canada's gross domestic product (GDP).

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has released An Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System, an annual report that provides a summary of the economic performance of the sector, including key changes in the Canadian agricultural landscape.

The report concludes that in 2016 the sector maintained its position as a key driver of the Canadian economy, generating $111.9 billion of GDP, employing 2.3 million people and achieving values of $62.6 billion for agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports. The sector is well positioned to reach the ambitious goal set in Budget 2017 to grow Canada's agri-food exports to $75 billion by 2025.

To mark Canada's 150th anniversary, the report includes a special feature on Trends in Canadian Agriculture. The report also includes a special feature on Bioproduct Production and Development in Canada, which is a growing part of the country's bioeconomy.

The report can be viewed online at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada website.


USDA RAISES CORN YIELD ESTIMATE

11/10/17

The corn crop in the United States is poised to set a new record for average yield. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting an average yield of 175.4 bushels per acre. The estimate is up 3.6 bushels from the October forecast and up 0.8 bushel from last year.

Following the bearish report, released on Nov. 9, old and new crop corn prices dropped more than six cents on the futures market. Also of note in the report, U.S. corn production is forecast at 14.6 billion bushels, down four per cent from last year but up two per cent from the October forecast.

Soybean production is forecast at a record 4.43 billion bushels, down less than one per cent from October but up three per cent from last year. Based on November 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 49.5 bushels per acre, unchanged from last month but down 2.5 bushels from last year.

In addition to the crop production report, the USDA released the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report on Nov. 9. Of note, world corn ending stocks for 2017-18 are estimated at 203.86 million tonnes, up 2.9 million from October.

World soybean ending stocks are estimated at 97.9 million tonnes, up 1.85 million from October.

World ending stocks for wheat are estimated at 267.53 million tonnes, down slightly from October’s estimate of 268.13 million tonnes.



CANADIAN YOUNG SPEAKERS FOR AGRICULTURE COMPETITION WINNERS

11/10/17

From a news release

The Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture (CYSA) Competition is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 competition which took place Saturday, November 4, at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

Senior Champion: Lois Schultz, Wetaskiwin, AB; First Runner-up: Maria Clemotte, Nanaimo, BC; Second Runner-up: Jennifer Betzner, Lynden, ON.

Junior Champion: Rosemund Ragetli, Winnipeg, MB; First Runner-up: Quentin Albrecht, Holden, AB; Second Runner-up: William Orr, Howick, QC.

The 33rd edition of CYSA welcomed 27 competitors, aged 11 to 24, from across Canada who offered their insights and solutions regarding the following topics:

  • Working in agriculture is more than just farming.
  • Does digital farming have a place in the future of Canadian agriculture?
  • Farm gate to dinner plate: The importance of food traceability for Canadian consumers.
  • How will we feed 9 billion people by 2050?
  • Food waste: What is the global impact and who is responsible for making a change?

  • As announced after the Seniors final round the topics for 2018 will be:

  • 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?

  • Each year the renowned public speaking competition is held at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 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.

    Watch the social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube) in the coming weeks for event photos and presentation videos.

    For information about CYSA, visit the website.



    DRAFT SOIL HEALTH STRATEGY OPEN FOR COMMENT

    11/10/17

    Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
    By Don McCabe, OFA Director

    A new provincial soil health strategy has been announced to maintain soil health and sustainability in Ontario. A draft form of New Horizons: Ontario’s Draft Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation, document focuses on improving soil health for the long term, and is now open for public comment and review until the end of the year.

    The soil strategy builds on the extensive soil health work of many Ontario farmers, farm agricultural organizations, ongoing research and OMAFRA initiatives. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) was actively involved in the development of this strategy and we’re pleased to see that feedback from Ontario farmers, the Indigenous community and other interested groups was considered in this new soil health strategy.

    OFA is encouraging its members to share their thoughts and feedback on the draft strategy. Your input will help guide the development of a final Soil Health and Conservation Strategy for Ontario, which will be released in spring 2018. Visit www.ontario.ca/soil for more information on open house meetings and how to provide your comments on New Horizons: Ontario’s Draft Agricultural Soil Health and Conservation document. The consultation period is open until December 30, 2017.

    The new soil strategy was developed in collaboration with Ontario’s agricultural sector and is designed to guide provincial efforts and investments to ensure we are meeting necessary objectives to improve and maintain healthy soils. The strategy is designed to reinvigorate collective efforts to have healthy, productive soil for generations, while supporting long-term profitability for farmers. The strategy is also intended to foster a shift in the way we think about soil, and the approach we take in caring for the soil.

    Healthy soils are always a priority for Ontario farmers. OFA believes soil health and resilience, soil conservation and sustainability, cover crops and organic matter are all critical factors in the sustainability of our agricultural system.

    The draft soil health strategy is part of a larger process to develop a final soil strategy – a long-term framework for 2018 to 2030 that will guide soil health action, research, investments and activities for decades.

    Soil is critical to our farm productivity, our biodiversity and our success in producing food for the future. We all have a role to play in maintaining and improving soil health. OFA encourages all Ontario farmers to review the draft soil strategy and provide your feedback on this essential resource.


    MANAGING WATER IN ONTARIO: CONSERVATION AUTHORITIES

    11/10/17

    Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
    By Suzanne Armstrong, CFFO Director of Research and Policy

    On November 1st, CFFO held its third and final Provincial Council meeting of the year. We had two speaker presentations, both focused on water management. This week’s commentary focuses on proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act as presented by John Dungavell and Julia Holder, both from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). Next week’s commentary will discuss Brent Taylor’s presentation on water-focused collaboration in Australia.

    Dungavell and Holder began their presentation with a review of key historical changes to the Conservation Authorities Act, which was first established in 1946 in response to issues of deforestation and soil erosion around the province. Holder reminded us that since then we have come a long way in improving soil health and tree cover, but also that the same issues are still with us.

    The CFFO has been actively involved in the ongoing recent consultations on changes to the Conservation Authorities Act. Currently Bill 139, Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act is at committee, having passed second reading in September. CFFO members around the table were particularly interested in clarification from the ministry staff on the role of Conservation Authorities (CAs) in dealing with private land owners. Part of the proposed changes focus on these very questions.

    Over time, CAs have taken on increasing responsibilities on behalf of both provincial and municipal governments, and their roles have become “murky.” This review seeks to bring greater clarity to CAs’ roles and responsibilities, and more transparency.

    Dungavell and Holder clarified that CAs play a key role in natural hazard management—including flooding, ice and erosion issues—on behalf of the province. This is why they have permitting authority relating to risk zones for hazard management such as wetlands, shorelines and watercourses, including on private land. As part of permitting, they are also allowed to charge fees for cost recovery.

    Dungavell and Holder stressed that the focus of CAs on wetland areas, for example, should be on this natural hazard management role. In consultations, the province heard concerns about conflicts between the CAs’ roles in hazard management and their advisory role regarding other environmental concerns, such as biodiversity. Dungavell and Holder pointed out that wetland contributions to biodiversity or endangered species protection is not part of natural hazard protection, and are only part of the advising, not the permitting, role of CAs.

    Ministry staff were also able to clarify questions from CFFO members about another Conservation Authority-related bill which raised concerns for farmers. Private members Bill 86 asks that at least half of the members of a Conservation Authority board have significant background or training in an environmental or natural resource field. This would prevent otherwise qualified farmers without this training or experience from serving on CA boards. This is separate from Bill 139 outlined above, and as a private member’s bill, faces more challenges to being passed.

    The CFFO will continue to engage with government on regulatory changes that follow legislative changes to the Act. The CFFO wants to see appropriate balance between hazard management and farmers’ need to make a living from their land.