Agri-info Newsletter – July 2017

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Canadian Agricultural Partnership

Innovate. Grow. Prosper.

Last week was a busy one for Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Agriculture as they met in St. John’s, Newfoundland for their annual meeting. Ministers reached an agreement on the key elements of a new federal, provincial, territorial (FPT) agricultural policy framework, the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

Beginning on April 1, 2018, this five-year, $3 billion investment will strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector, ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity. Producers will also continue to have access to a comprehensive suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership will focus on six priority areas: Science, Research, and Innovation; Markets and Trade; Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change; Value-added Agriculture and Agri-food Processing; Public Trust; and Risk Management.

Under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, BRM programs will continue to help producers manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage. Governments responded to industry concerns regarding eligible coverage under AgriStability, ensuring a more equitable level of support for all producers. Governments further committed to engaging in a review that explores options to improve BRM programming. Highlights of upcoming BRM changes are available at: Canadian Agricultural Partnership - Business Risk Management Programs.

Extensive consultations with industry and Canadians informed the development of the new agreement. The Canadian Agricultural Partnership builds on the success of previous FPT agricultural frameworks, ensuring a balance between existing and emerging priorities to meet the dynamic, changing needs of the sector.

The agreement sets the stage for FPT governments to conclude bilateral agreements by April 1, 2018, when the current framework expires. Governments will continue to work closely with the sector as Canadian Agricultural Partnership programs are developed and implemented.

A summary of items discussed at the meeting is available at: Summary of items from the 2017 Annual Meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Agriculture.

The next annual FPT Ministers' meeting will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in July 2018.

A Food Policy for Canada – Let's build it together

On May 29, 2017, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, announced the launch of public consultations to support the development of A Food Policy for Canada.

A food policy will set a long-term vision for the Government of Canada's health, environmental, social, and economic goals related to food, while identifying actions we can take in the short-term.

An online survey is open now and the completion deadline has been extended until August 31, 2017. Canadians are encouraged to provide input to help shape a food policy that will cover the entire food system, from farm to fork. By participating in the survey, Canadians can share their views on four major themes:

  • increasing access to affordable food,
  • improving health and food safety,
  • conserving our soil, water, and air, and
  • growing more high-quality food. 

Learn more about A Food Policy for Canada and complete the survey.

Have a question? Contact:

Join the conversation: #FoodPolicy4Canada

Hiring seasonal workers? Plan ahead!

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) would like to remind employers who hire seasonal agricultural workers to plan for the coming season by submitting their work permit applications as early as possible. This will help avoid delays.

Please share this important reminder with your employees, industry partners and other networks.

Find out how to hire a temporary worker.

Wanted: New members for the National Program Advisory

The Government of Canada is seeking experienced, engaged and enthusiastic farmers to serve as committee members on the National Program Advisory Committee (NPAC).

The NPAC was created to provide advice and guidance on the appropriate roles and responsibilities of producers/governments in managing risks; the operations of the suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs, which include AgriInsurance, AgriStability, AgriInvest, AgriRecovery and AgriRisk; and the potential for insurance and other private sector tools in managing risk. The committee is made up of farmers and federal-provincial-territorial officials who work together to ensure programs meet the needs of the agriculture industry across Canada.

In selecting committee members, the Government of Canada uses an appointment process that is transparent, merit-based, strives for gender parity, and ensures that Indigenous Canadians and minority groups are properly represented in positions of leadership. The NPAC selection process will focus on identifying high-quality candidates who demonstrate Canada's diversity.

To be eligible for appointment to the NPAC, candidates must have experience owning and/or operating a farming enterprise and must directly or indirectly (through a business entity) participate in both the AgriStability and AgriInvest programs. Candidates should also have a solid understanding of the mechanics of BRM programs, the role innovation plays in advancing the agriculture industry, as well as the capacity of producers to manage risks.

NPAC members are required to attend up to two face-to-face meetings per year and will be compensated for their time and travel.

Eleven positions will be filled using this selection process. The appointments are for a maximum of three years. The closing date for applications is September 1, 2017.

To apply for this Ministerial appointment, visit the Notice of Appointment Opportunity.

Canadian Potato Genetic Resources

Description of this image follows.
Plant Gene Resources Technician, Teresa Molen, holds potato plantlets.

Inside Canada's centre of excellence for potato research at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists maintain a living library of nearly 180 potentially high-value potato gene resources. Canada's potato gene bank- known as Canadian Potato Genetic Resources- is part of an international commitment to global food security.

If disease or a natural disaster strikes and potato crops are devastated, researchers from anywhere in the world can turn to the gene bank to rebuild stocks. Researchers can also call on the gene bank for help to develop varieties that are stronger, more disease-resistant and more environmentally resilient.

“We preserve some potato varieties that have unique value to northern latitude climates- varieties that are adapted to shorter seasons with longer daylight hours,” says Dr. Benoit Bizimungu, Gene Resources Curator at AAFC. “The potato industry only grows certain star varieties, so in the interest of preserving genetic diversity, an important part of our role is to ‘back up' our genetic resources.”

Unlike other gene banks that preserve seed-propagated crops (like grains), the potato gene bank contains live tissue cultures (or tubers) that are perishable and need constant maintenance. Plantlets are grown in aseptic conditions in test tubes stored in temperature-controlled growth chambers for six to eight weeks at a time.

The collection is then refreshed, continuously monitored and periodically tested for contamination. Microtubers- tiny potatoes about the size of a raisin- are also produced in test tubes and preserved for up to a year as a back-up.

Key facts about Canadian Potato Gene Resources

  • The potato gene bank is a living library composed of test tube plantlets, greenhouse and field-grown tubers and microtubers.
  • Its focus is to preserve genetic resources that have unique value in northern Canada.
  • The gene bank is part of an international commitment to preserve, document and distribute genetic resources for research, conservation and education.

Find out more

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 they can get their debt repayment back on track. Qualified financial advisors and mediators help farmers and their creditors find mutually acceptable repayment arrangements.

Why use the Farm Debt Mediation Service?

  • It's free and confidential.
  • It's fast and economical, especially when compared with the court system.
  • It can suspend creditors' collection actions for a while as you consider your options.
  • It encourages ongoing dialogue between you and your creditor(s).

How does it work?

The FDMS will arrange for a qualified, independent financial consultant to meet with you and assess the financial information that you and your creditor(s) provide. The consultant will come up with a clear picture of your financial situation, help you explore your options, and work with you to develop a recovery plan.

After that, a mediator can work with you to help you and your creditor(s) find mutually acceptable solutions.

When you ask for help from the FDMS, you can opt for a financial review and mediation with or without a stay of proceedings to temporarily suspend creditors' collection actions. FDMS consultants can help you determine which process would best suit your needs.
In 2013–14, 70% of farmers who sought advice from the FDMS were able to successfully negotiate an arrangement with their creditors.

Find out more

Read about Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Farm Debt Mediation Service or call 1-866-452-5556.

New bioherbicide targets weeds, not crops

A team of Canadian scientists is behind a new product that kills weeds without harming grasses or cereals. Dr. Karen Bailey and her team at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) have successfully isolated and purified a fungus called Phoma macrostoma that naturally infects dandelions, Canada thistle, clover and other broad-leaf weeds while leaving grass unscathed.

Developed so it can be applied to plants in a manner similar to granular fertilizers, the fungus is absorbed into weed roots, causing the weeds to lose their ability to feed themselves. The targeted plants turn white from lack of chlorophyll, then die. Even better, if Phoma macrostoma is applied before weeds emerge, they will come up white and die before becoming established.

“We are excited that this product will soon be available for home-owners and gardeners,” said Dr. Russell Hynes, a microbiologist at AAFC's Saskatoon Research and Development Centre. “But there is even more potential for this product in agriculture. That's why I'm picking up the reins (from Dr. Bailey) and continuing the research.”

Dr. Bailey has retired, but Dr. Hynes hopes to expand Phoma's application to include edible crops, such as wheat, barley and corn.

AAFC researchers have long been interested in developing pest controls derived from natural organisms that have little or no impact beyond the target, as they tend to pose less risk to people and the environment. They don't compete with other soil organisms, and tend to stay within five centimeters of where they were applied, so are not a risk to animals or other plants. As well, their concentration in the soil declines over time and eventually is no longer detectible.

Just recently, Premier Tech, a leading producer in pest control products, signed a licensing agreement with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada to commercialize this product. The Phoma bioherbicide is currently registered for domestic use to control dandelion and other broadleaved weeds in non-edible plants like turf grass.

Find out more

Learn about Premier Tech, the company commercializing Phoma macrostoma with AAFC.

Tracing Canada's livestock

The Canadian government is considering changes to the Health of Animals Regulations that will require all farmers with livestock to have a premises identification number (PID). A PID is a unique national number assigned to a piece of land by a provincial or territorial government. Under the proposed amendments, anyone who sends or receives livestock will need a PID—including producers, auction marts, assembly yards, abattoirs and deadstock collectors.

How it works

PIDs make it possible to trace an animal's movements from one point to another throughout the supply chain, making it easier in turn to control the spread of disease and minimize any impact on the industry. The proposed amendments are expected to strengthen Canada's ability to respond quickly to health threats and other emergencies.

“As farmers, we use traceability as a farm management tool. It helps us manage our animals better and bring more value to the market,” said Pascal Lemire, a Québec dairy farmer. “Traceability is key to the future of Canadian agriculture.”

But not every Canadian livestock operator has a PID number yet. Although all jurisdictions can issue PIDs, only Québec, Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan have laws requiring them.

A free safety net

Livestock PIDs are free to Canadian farmers looking to protect their livestock should a safety issue occur, such as a flood, fire or disease outbreak.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is encouraging producers and stakeholders across the supply chain to raise this issue with their peers and register as soon as possible.

Getting involved now will help stakeholders be compliant by the time the proposed amendments are compulsory, and will prevent a surge of requests from premises yet to be identified.

Canada's reputation for producing safe and healthy food is world-class. A robust traceability system will help uphold this reputation at home and around the world.

Please visit our Premises Identification page to learn more about premises identification and how to participate.

Find out more

From desktop to field: Software helps farmers protect crops

The Computer Centre for Agricultural Pest Forecasting (CIPRA) is a user-friendly software that can predict the development of pests, crops and some post-harvest disorders based on hourly weather data and forecasts. It lets farmers plan and calculate- in real time- the best time to use pest controls to protect crops.

The software gathers weather observations from several automatic stations across Quebec and relies on weather forecasts as well. It combines these data to develop bioclimatic models and calculate the likelihood of pest development.

The CIPRA system includes 130 bioclimatic models that can be applied to 25 different crops. This constantly evolving system is Canada's largest database of bioclimatic models for real-time forecasting. Its approach is a major step forward for farmers looking to reduce pesticides in the environment and promote sustainable crop production systems.

Organized in modules (by crop), CIPRA's bioclimatic models can be shared quickly and easily with other domestic and international stakeholders. The AgWeather Quebec and AgWeather Atlantic platforms include a number of models that receive weather data from more than 300 sites across eastern Canada (Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario). CIPRA is used directly by more than 250 clients and information is relayed through them to hundreds of farmers. The software is currently distributed mainly in Quebec but is used in several other Canadian provinces.

To get a copy of the CIPRA software, please contact Bioclimatology and Modelling at

Highlights from the 2016 Census of Agriculture

In May 2017, Statistics Canada released data from the 2016 Census of Agriculture.

Statistics Canada conducts the census every five years. The information collected offers a statistical portrait of Canada's farms, and its farm operators. The census gathers detailed data on farms, including crop area, number of livestock, employees, quantity and value of farm machinery, farm expenses and receipts, land management practices, and use of technology.

Census data help provincial and federal governments and farming organizations make informed decisions about business management strategies and agricultural policies, programs and services that affect farmers and rural communities.

Key findings from the 2016 census

  • There were 193,492 farms in Canada on Census Day, May 10, 2016. Although the number of farms in Canada has been decreasing over the last 75 years, the rate of decline from 2011 to 2016 was the lowest it has been in the last 20 years, at 5.9%.
  • The average size of farms has increased—to an average of 820 acres in 2016 from 779 acres in 2011.
  • Canadian farmers are getting older. The average age of a farm operator is 55. There was an increase in the number of farmers under 35.
  • The proportion of female farm operators continues to increase. Female farm operators increased from 27.4% in 2011 to 28.7% in 2016.
  • The value of land and buildings used by agricultural operations increased by 37.5% from 2011 to 2016—from $311.2 billion to $427.9 billion.
  • Gross farm receipts totaled $69.4 billion in 2015, while operating expenses reached $57.5 billion.

Find out more

Visit Statistics Canada's 2016 Census of Agriculture page.

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