Agri-info Newsletter – January 2015

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AgriInvest: A Smart Investment for Managing Farm Risk

AgriInvest logo

AgriInvest is a self-managed producer–government savings account that allows you to set aside money that you can use later to recover from small income shortfalls or make investments to reduce on-farm risks.

Get Online Access to Your AgriInvest Account

My AAFC Account provides convenient and secure online access to your AgriInvest account information. With online access, you can track the status of your application, check your account transactions, view current and prior-year statements, and communicate securely one-on-one with the AgriInvest administrators.

For more information and to sign up for My AAFC Account, go to www.agr.gc.ca/myaccount.

Changes under Growing Forward 2

A number of changes came into effect with the new Growing Forward 2 framework agreement. You can now contribute up to 100% of your allowable net sales annually and receive matching government contributions on the first 1%, up to a maximum of $15,000. The account balance limit has also increased, allowing you to hold up to 400% of your average allowable net sales in your account so that you can more effectively use AgriInvest as a risk-management tool.

To benefit from AgriInvest,

  • Submit an AgriInvest form.*
  • Make a deposit to your AgriInvest account at a participating financial institution by the deadline shown on your deposit notice.

*Note: Forms for the 2014 program year will be available online in mid-February 2015. Submit your 2014 form by the September 30, 2015 penalty-free deadline to receive maximum benefits.

With matching government contributions and the flexibility to withdraw funds at any time, AgriInvest is just smart business as part of your farm's risk-management strategy.

AgriInvest is cost-shared on a 60/40 basis between the federal government and provincial or territorial governments.

To learn more, visit AgriInvest at www.agr.gc.ca/agriinvest.

Farm Debt Mediation Service: We Can Work It Out

The Farm Debt Mediation Service (FDMS) helps Canadian farmers overcome financial difficulties by offering financial counselling and mediation so that farmers can get their debt repayment back on track. Qualified financial advisors and mediators help farmers and their creditors find a mutually acceptable repayment arrangement.

Why Use the FDMS?

  • It is free and confidential.
  • It is fast and economical compared to the court system.
  • It can temporarily suspend the collection action of your creditor(s) while options are being considered.
  • It encourages ongoing dialogue between you and your creditor(s).
  • A qualified, independent financial expert meets with you, prepares the financial information received from both you and your creditor(s) to show a clear picture of your financial situation, explores options, and helps you develop a recovery plan.
  • A mediator works with you to help you and your creditor(s) find mutually acceptable solutions.

When requesting help from the FDMS, you can opt for a financial review and mediation with or without a stay of proceedings which temporarily suspends the collection actions of your creditor(s). Officials can help you determine which process will best suit your needs.

In 2013-2014, 78% of the farmers who applied to the FDMS for advice were able to successfully negotiate an arrangement with their creditors.

For more information on how the FDMS can help you, visit Farm Debt Mediation Service at www.agr.gc.ca/fdms or call 1-866-452-5556.

The Canadian Agricultural Loans Act makes loans more accessible

The Canadian Agricultural Loans Act (CALA) Program is a loan-guarantee program designed to increase the availability of loans to farmers and agricultural co-operatives. With low interest rates, longer repayment periods, and lower down payments, CALA loans can be obtained by farmers to establish, improve and develop their farms, and by agricultural co-operatives to process, distribute or market the products of farming.

Thanks to CALA loans, investments in farm improvements loans help farmers increase their competitiveness and profitability, meet consumer demands for food safety and environmental performance, and manage risk proactively.

CALA loans are open to:

  • existing farmers;
  • beginning farmers (those who have been farming for less than six years);
  • start-up farmers;
  • farmers taking over the family farm;
  • part-time farmers; and
  • agriculture co-operatives as long as at least 50% + 1 of their members are farmers.

CALA-guaranteed loans are available through lenders, such as banks, credit unions or Caisses Populaires, as part of their normal lending practices. A loan can be issued to an existing farmer for 80% of the value of the asset purchased or to a beginning farmer for 90% of the value of the asset purchased.

Up to $500,000 in combined loans can be borrowed per farm operation for purchasing land and constructing or improving buildings, and up to $350,000 can be borrowed for all other loan purposes, including consolidation and refinancing. The loan limit for agricultural co-operatives is $3 million. The repayment terms are 15 years for land purchases and 10 years for all other purposes.

Talk to your lender about a CALA loan today. For more information, visit The Canadian Agricultural Loans Act program at www.agr.gc.ca/cala or call us toll-free at 1-888-346-2511.

CALA Loan Limit: A farmer who gets a CALA loan for $300,000 to purchase a tractor can still access up to $200,000 to purchase land or repair buildings, or up to $50,000 to purchase another implement and $150,000 to purchase land or repair buildings.

Canada–EU Trade Agreement Opens New Era of Opportunity for Canadian Farmers, Processors and Exporters

The Canada–European Union Trade Agreement is the most important trade deal that Canada has concluded since the North American Free Trade Agreement and is estimated by industry to increase Canadian agriculture and food exports to the European Union (EU) by $1.5 billion.

The Canada–EU Trade Agreement is poised to create new opportunities for the agriculture sectors on both sides of the Atlantic and generate thousands of jobs here in Canada. With its 28 member states, 500 million people and annual economic activity of almost $17 trillion, the EU is the world's largest economy. The agreement will be the foundation of our trading relationship going forward and will give Canadian farmers, processors and exporters a competitive edge in this sought-after high-value market.

Canada's agricultural exports to the EU averaged $2.6 billion a year between 2011 and 2013. The EU currently maintains significant tariff rates in agriculture, averaging 13.9%. Once fully implemented, the Canada–EU trade agreement will eliminate 95% of those EU tariffs, making our agricultural products more competitive and creating conditions for increased sales in the European Union.

The Canada–EU Trade Agreement will benefit you and your business by:

  • providing new market opportunities for key Canadian agricultural exports through the elimination of tariffs;
  • establishing duty-free tariff rate quotas for specific products and giving Canadian farmers yearly duty-free access, including up to 80,549 tonnes of pork, 50,000 tonnes of beef, and 3,000 tonnes of bison;
  • helping generate more jobs, higher wages and greater long-term prosperity;
  • providing opportunities for Canadian and EU officials and regulators to exchange information and mutually assist importers and exporters in addressing issues that may arise; and
  • providing a new set of rules that govern trade between Canada and the EU.

The Canada–EU Trade Agreement is a huge opportunity for Canadian farmers and businesses. Whether they are producing BC cherries, harvesting grains in Western Canada, manufacturing processed foods in Central Canada or producing potatoes in PEI, farmers, processors and exporters from coast to coast will benefit from new markets in Europe, creating a stronger future for Canada's agriculture sector.

Find out more here: Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA): Increasing Exports of Agriculture and Agri-Food Products

Getting the Full Benefits of Extensive Winter Feeding

The practice of feeding cattle in the field during winter months, known as extensive winter feeding, has been steadily increasing across the Prairies, mostly because it reduces yardage, and feeding and manure-handling costs.

Careful site selection and good site management are essential to getting the full benefits of extensive winter feeding while addressing potential environmental concerns.

The Wintering Site Assessment and Design Tool (WSADT) helps livestock producers select and manage a wintering site that will meet cattle requirement for nutrients, water, bedding and shelter, while addressing any potential environmental risks. The tool was developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta, and the Alberta Beef Producers.

"We're already seeing a lot of interest from producers," says Dennis Lastuka, AAFC's technical lead on WSADT. "The tool is available at our provincial and industry partners' websites, and we're looking forward to offering it through producers' meetings and special events as well."

How It Works

When evaluating a potential wintering site, WSADT uses the traffic light format of red, yellow and green to rate the level of environmental risk for each site based on the following factors:

  • site characteristics;
  • feeding strategies;
  • bedding and shelter management;
  • water-source management; and
  • post-wintering site management.

Based on that assessment, the tool provides specific recommendations about beneficial management practices (BMPs) that will reduce the level of risk and help protect the environment.

For example, the tool recommends placing feeding areas on sites with less than 2% slope (a slight incline) if possible. The steeper the slope, the greater the risk of nutrient and sediment transport by runoff.

What's in it for Livestock Producers?

The Wintering Site Assessment and Design Tool will help producers:

  • reduce overall production costs by minimizing feeding and manure transportation costs;
  • reduce fertilizing costs and increase yields of subsequent crops, because the nutrients from cattle feed wastes and manure are transformed into fertilizer and deposited directly on the field; and
  • make production more sustainable by greatly reducing the risks of excessive nutrient accumulation and potential nutrient runoff.

"This tool provides producers with a wealth of valuable information regarding appropriate winter feeding site selection and appropriate best management practices to follow in order to mitigate potential environmental impacts from extended grazing practices," said Karin Schmid, Beef Production Specialist, Alberta Beef Producers.

Additional Resources:

The tool is also available in hard copy (Agdex #420/580-3) from Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

In addition, AAFC and the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba provincial agricultural departments have developed the Nutrient Loading Calculator (NLC), designed to help land managers plan detailed feed and cow management strategies in order to reach an acceptable or target number of animals per acre based on appropriate nutrient additions in the field.

Flax and Hemp Crop Residues: A Game Changer in the Making

Innovations in research and development (R&D) are giving farmers new options for managing crop residues left over after harvest. One such state-of-the-art option is being led by the Composites Innovation Centre (CIC), which, with support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has developed a way to turn crop residues into profitable game changers for Canadian farmers looking for new markets.

Based in Winnipeg, the CIC develops and transfers composite-related technologies to the manufacturing industry by building R&D product demonstrators. Sean McKay, the CIC's president and CEO, says that since its inception in 2003, the Centre has focused on supporting the commercialization of agricultural biomass for industrial applications.

Because of Canada's abundance of flax and hemp crop residues, which are stronger and stiffer than the residues of other crops, the CIC has focused on using these materials in composite panels. These natural fibres can replace conventional fibreglass as reinforcements and be moulded into tractor hoods, vehicle fenders and bus doors. The CIC is already using biomass for composite panels in small quantities and anticipates that full-scale commercialization is about two years away.

To date, the Centre has produced a full-scale electric-vehicle body and several vehicle fender and tractor hood panels using composite materials. Buhler Industries, a Winnipeg-based farm equipment manufacturer, has mounted composite parts on tractors and deployed them for in-field trials in Canada and the U.S. As well, the CIC has combined flax shive – the woody core of the plant's stem – with a bioplastic (a resin produced from corn crop residues) to produce the hub cap of a three-wheeled commercial vehicle.

The CIC has also invested significantly in developing a new technology focused on understanding the properties of natural fibres, in order to provide the automotive, ground-transportation and aerospace industries with the assurance that these fibres meet a specific quality standard for use in those industries' products. The new technology grades the fibres using a series of measurement techniques that monitor the chemical, physical and strength properties of crops such as flax, hemp, wheat straw and canola. The plan for the future is for this technology to be used by farmers in their fields to monitor the properties of their crops as they grow, so that the farmers can identify markets and other profitable opportunities for materials that were once only considered residues.

To find out more about the work being done by the Composites Innovation Centre, visit www.compositesinnovation.ca.

International Year of Soils

We're proud to join other organizations worldwide celebrating 2015 as the International Year of Soils. AAFC has long recognized the fundamental roles of soils in our daily lives, from food security and nutrition to essential eco-system functions. Learn more about our ongoing soil research activities.

Carrot Foliage Trimmer

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists in Charlottetown, PEI, have developed a mechanical device to trim a portion of the canopy of carrot tops in-between the growing rows. The carrot foliage trimmer helps control Sclerotinia rot and provides a simple way to reduce chemical pesticide use in carrot production, and increase the efficiency of disease control and the quality of products. The project is one of many funded through the Pesticide Risk Reduction Program of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Pest Management Centre.

Learn how to increase the efficiency of disease control by watching the Carrot Foliage Trimmer video.

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