Agri-info Newsletter – November 2016

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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada offers funding to hire agriculture grads

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Career Focus Program will help fund approximately 65 agricultural internships for Canadian graduates. The program will give successful employers up to $20,000 to pay recent graduates for positions in agriculture, agri-food, agri-food science and veterinary medicine. Internships can range from four to 12 months.

Applications from employers will be accepted starting November 1, 2016, on a first come, first served basis.

To learn more, visit Career Focus Program or call 1-866-452-5558.

Extracting vibrant colours in eco-friendly fashion

Phytonutrients are found in over 25,000 plant foods, and used in countless consumer products. They give plants their vibrant colours and do the same in cosmetics like eyeshadow and blush. They help maintain the health of plants, and recent research has shown they may do the same in humans—that's why they are included in various health foods and supplements.

There is high demand for phytonutrients—the market is expected to grow to $4.6 billion by 2020. Until recently, harsh industrial solvents were the main way to extract the nutrients from plants and a major disadvantage was that these solvents could not always be disposed of in an environmentally safe way.

Harnessing the power of water

Mazza Innovation, a British Columbia-based company, is changing this. With research funding from the Growing Forward 2, AgriInnovation Program, Mazza Innovation developed a method of extracting phytonutrients from various plants using the most natural solvent possible: water.

Mazza Innovation's patented method, known as PhytoClean™, produces highly purified plant extracts without using solvents or chemicals. This innovation has not only led to higher-quality end products—it is more environmentally friendly than the conventional method.

Designing for sustainability

The Mazza Innovation system was designed with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind. It reuses as much energy as possible, and purifies and reuses water at the end of the extraction process. In addition, the waste products it generates are entirely compostable. By emphasizing sustainability in its design, Mazza Innovation succeeded in creating not only a more cost-effective extraction process, but a greener one.

Mazza Innovation has developed 15 extracts over the last year from plants such as blueberries, cranberries, flaxseed and algae. The company continues to apply its process to a large range of other botanicals. Looking ahead, its innovative, earth-friendly, water-based extraction process has the potential to make the old solvent-based process obsolete.

Find out more

Learn more about the Growing Forward 2, AgriInnovation Program.

Building public trust in agriculture

Canadians are more interested than ever in how the food they eat gets from the farm gate to their dinner plate. They are increasingly interested in issues such as the environmental impacts of our food systems, as well as the implications for animal welfare and the health and safety of food products.

Fortunately, Canada has one of the world's most respected agriculture sectors. Farmers and food processors earn the confidence and trust of Canadians and consumers around the world by producing food in ways that are known to be safe, responsible and sustainable.

Why is public trust important?

In order to respond to growing consumer concerns about the food they eat and how it's produced, the agriculture and agri-food sector must work together to earn and maintain the public's trust, which it needs to stay competitive. By communicating proactively the sector can build on its reputation for doing the right thing.

Years ago, people had closer ties to agriculture. For example, many chatted with the farmers in their communities about where their food came from and how it was made. Population, economic growth, and urbanization, have made it harder for consumers to connect with producers. It's more important than ever for the agriculture and agri-food industry to find innovative ways to build a trusting relationship with their customers

What is the government's role?

The Government of Canada helps the agriculture industry adapt to consumers' evolving demands by:

  • Maintaining a strong regulatory system to ensure Canada has one of the world's safest food supplies,
  • Supporting Value Chain Roundtables to ensure government and industry cooperate to improve processes and practices,
  • Helping industry develop and update animal care codes of practice,
  • Researching and supporting innovation and new technologies,
  • Supporting the development of new tools to measure the sustainability performance of Canadian agriculture.

The Government also supports initiatives that help Canadians better understand agriculture, such as: Discover Agriculture, Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan, Agriculture More Than Ever and Agriculture in the Classroom.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments have also committed to working together to ensure the Next Agricultural Policy Framework helps industry adapt and respond to changing needs and manage emerging risks in order to continue earning and maintaining the public's trust.

Farmers set to benefit from expanded markets for beef and canola

China mission

As the world's second-largest economy—and Canada's second-largest single-country trading partner—China offers significant opportunities for exports. In 2015, Canadian agricultural exports to China were valued at $5.6 billion.

To ensure that figure continues to grow, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, along with approximately 100 Canadian industry representatives, are in China from October 31 to November 9 to meet with government officials and agriculture and agri-food businesses and exporters.

In 2015, top Canadian exports to China were canola seed, soybeans, canola oil, non-durum wheat, and dried peas.

Watch the video Market Opportunity – China, to learn more about what it takes to get into the Chinese market.

$2 billion canola agreement

In September, Canada and China signed a memorandum of understanding that outlines stable and predictable trade for Canadian exports of canola to China, while collaborative work continues. This means that Canadian canola exports can continue on an uninterrupted basis, under existing terms of trade, through to early 2020 while discussions continue. Canola is Canada's top agricultural export to China. In 2015, Canadian exports of canola for oilseed crushing were valued at $2 billion.

At the same time, the two countries signed a protocol to expand market access to include exports of Canadian frozen bone-in beef, worth $255 million in 2015. Industry experts estimate that new access for bone-in beef will generate a $10-million annual increase in Canadian beef exports.

Learn more about how Agriculture and Food Trade Commissioner Service helps Canadian businesses succeed in markets around the world, including China.

Youth Engagement

We know that youth play an important role in the future of agriculture. That's why we recently launched a new Youth in Agriculture web page to provide a one-stop-shop for information on agricultural programs, services and upcoming events for youth in agriculture. We'll be updating the page regularly so continue to check back for new content and events.

If you're a young farmer aged 18-39 and interested in agriculture, be sure to participate in our upcoming Facebook live event. Minister MacAulay, along with a panel of youth in agriculture, will be hosting his first Facebook live later this fall. The event will give you an opportunity to ask your questions directly to the Minister and the panel. We encourage you to submit questions both in advance and during the live feed.

Have ideas for the future of agriculture? We encourage you to share your input and ideas on Developing the Next Agricultural Policy Framework via the online questionnaire until November 30, 2016. Comments can also be sent at any time to aafc.npf-pcs.aac@canada.ca or you can connect with us through social media by using #AgNPF.

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter (@AAFC_Canada) and Facebook (@CanadianAgriculture).

Putting the cherry on top

Dr. Suzanne Blatt holding the branch of a cherry tree

Smaller trees could mean more fruit and bigger profits for Canada's sweet cherry industry, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.

The researchers are using dwarf trees and innovative growing techniques to produce trees that yield just as much fruit—but are shorter and easier to pick—than the taller ones currently grown.

Dr. Suzanne Blatt of the Kentville Research and Development Centre (RDC) in Nova Scotia and Dr. Denise Neilsen of the Summerland RDC in British Columbia are part of a team of researchers who are growing cherry trees that are less than three metres tall. They're grafting new, high-yielding cherry varieties from the sweet cherry breeding program in Summerland, BC, onto three different types of dwarf rootstock, and combining this work with three different growing methods that use pruning techniques and trellises.

"The purpose of the trials is to find out which rootstock and training system combination works best", says Dr. Suzanne Blatt. The three main systems are:

  • The upright fruiting offshoot system–The tree's main stem is angled to grow along the ground, with the branches growing straight up a trellis.
  • The Kym Green bush system–The main stem is cut off close to the ground and the branches are encouraged to grow like a bush.
  • The tall spindle axe system–The tree is pruned like a traditional cherry tree, but grows on a dwarf rootstock.

The first trees in the trials were planted in 2010, and by 2012 they were producing cherries. The project will continue until 2020. Researchers are gathering data on the hardiness, health, and disease and pest resistance of the tree combinations, as well as on their ability to be trained. Meanwhile, in the lab, the sweet cherries are being graded for size, sweetness and acidity.

"The apple industry has already switched to dwarf trees," said Blatt. "We'll have to wait and see if the scientific evidence supports the same for cherries."

Help shape Canada's next agricultural policy framework

It's not too late to provide your feedback on the Calgary Statement and help shape the direction of the next agricultural policy framework. The second phase of our online consultations will be open until November 30, 2016. Share your experiences and ideas for the Next Agricultural Policy Framework today—your input and ideas will help ensure our investments support a strong, innovative sector that meets tomorrow's needs.

You can read the Results of Consultations on the Development of the Next Agricultural Policy Framework report to learn more about the feedback we've received through the first phase of consultations on our current agricultural framework, Growing Forward 2.

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