Agri-info Newsletter – March 2018

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Canadian Agricultural Partnership open for business

Innovate. Grow. Prosper.

The Partnership is a progressive federal-provincial-territorial agreement that will help chart the course for government investments in the sector over the next five years, strengthening it to deliver the greatest benefits for farmers, food processors, and Canadian families.

On February 13th, Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, officially launched the six federal programs under the Partnership. Developed with input from provincial and territorial partners, as well as industry, federal programs and activities under the Partnership represent a $1-billion investment focusing on three key areas – growing trade and expanding markets; innovative and sustainable growth of the sector; and supporting diversity and a dynamic, evolving sector.

The Partnership also includes an investment of $2 billion in cost-shared programs and activities delivered by provinces and territories to ensure programs are tailored to meet regional needs, as well as a robust suite of business risk management programs that help farmers manage severe risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage.

In his announcement, Minister MacAulay highlighted that these investments under the Partnership will help ensure Canada’s agricultural sector remains a leader in job creation and innovation, and that it achieves the Government’s objective of expanding agricultural exports to $75 billion by 2025.

Additional information about the Canadian Agricultural Partnership can be found online.

AgriStability Changes for 2018 Program Year

Are you covered?

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments that will strengthen the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector ensuring continued innovation, growth and prosperity. In addition to these investments, under the Partnership, producers continue to have access to a robust suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs to assist in managing significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage.

AgriStability is a core program within the BRM suite, and provides support when producers experience a large margin decline. A number of important changes have been agreed to for AgriStability which take effect for the 2018 program year, including:

  • A cap to the Reference Margin Limit will ensure producers from all sectors have improved access to support under the program. With the cap, all producers are guaranteed at least 70% of their historical reference margin.
  • A late participation mechanism that provincial and territorial governments can trigger to allow producers to join the program late when there is a significant down-turn in the industry and a gap in participation. The mechanism will only be triggered in response to significant events, and benefits for producers who enter the program late will be reduced by 20% to continue to encourage regular annual enrolment.
  • Recognizing that small payments are unlikely to have a meaningful impact on producers' risk management, a minimum payment of $250 will now apply. The same minimum payment is also being applied to AgriInvest.

If you haven't already registered, consider enrolling in My AAFC Account, which is an easy-to-use, secure way to view and ask questions about your AgriStability and AgriInvest program information. Go to My AAFC Account.

AgriStability is delivered in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Yukon by the federal government. In British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island AgriStability is delivered provincially. Please visit your respective provincial administration using the links: British Columbia Agriculture Income Protection, Saskatchewan AgriStability, Alberta Agriculture Financial Services Corporation, Ontario AgriStability, Quebec AgriStability, or Prince Edward Island AgriStability.

The Partnership includes federal programs and activities focused on trade, innovation and on strengthening a diverse sector. Information on the Canadian Agricultural Partnership: Federal activities and programs is now available.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments are also continuing to work towards bilateral agreements for the $2 billion in strategic initiatives under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. This investment will be cost-shared on a 60:40 basis and delivered by provinces and territories to ensure programs are tailored to meet regional needs. Watch for these important announcements over the next few weeks.

Canola: Canadian, eh?

A healthy vegetable oil that most of us use every week in everything from stir-fries to salads—canola oil—is a result of the ingenuity of Canadian plant researchers who took on the challenge of creating a healthy oil from an unfamiliar plant that was known to thrive on the Prairies. After decades of collaboration and hard work, they succeeded in developing what has become one of Canada's most important and recognizable crops.

Canadians can now learn about the potential of the bright yellow flower and the creativity of our farmers, through the "Canola! Seeds of Innovation" exhibit, which was launched in June 2017. It has a traveling component that will go across the country during the next five years. The multimedia exhibit will explain the history of canola, how it differs from other plants and oils, and how it is used.

The Ottawa exhibit is on display at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, and is a successful educational forum that continues to draw visitors. Many have passed through the bright yellow displays and felt proud about this Canadian wonder.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is committed to exploring opportunities to partner with organizations—like the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum—that want to help tell the story of Canadian agricultural accomplishments with the aim of instilling pride and increasing knowledge among Canadians. This partnership is an example of our ongoing commitment to Canadians to connect with the amazing imagination that lives within us and to take pride in the accomplishments that inspire us.

Interested in hosting the travelling exhibit? Contact the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. If you happen to be in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, check out the exhibit that is there now until April 15, 2018.

There are plans for additional stops elsewhere in Canada. Read more about the traveling exhibition and travel Schedule.

Here's to many more years of success for this truly "made in Canada" crop!

Solving milk-production issues at hog farms

At many modern hog operations, producers breed pigs whose genetic lines may cause them to give birth to more piglets than they have teats. When this happens, sows can't make enough milk to ensure that all of their piglets grow properly. Compounding the situation, a number of sows who have not yet given birth (known as "gilts") may have a weight problem that affects how their mammary glands develop, and, in turn, how much milk they will make—and this can also have an adverse effect on piglet growth.

Dr. Chantal Farmer, a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Research and Development Centre in Sherbrooke, Quebec, recently led a research project to study mammary gland development among sows. Carried out under the pork science cluster, "Swine Innovation Porc", in collaboration with Hypor (an international swine genetics company) and the Centre d'insémination porcine du Québec, her project led to an important discovery for hog producers.

Dr. Farmer discovered that among gilts, the thickness of the fat on their backs influences how their mammary glands develop. Too little or too much fat toward the end of a pregnancy can lead to under-developed mammary glands—and insufficient milk for the litter.

The optimal fat thickness depends on the type of pig. For example, gilts that are Yorkshire crossed with Landrace should have a backfat thickness of 17 millimetre to 26 millimetre late in their pregnancies for maximum mammary development and milk production.

This discovery will benefit farms that specialize in breeding sows. Producers will be able to use this information to figure out which sows need help. Ultimately, the goal is to increase piglets' growth rate.

This is just one example of how scientific research carried out by AAFC is helping to boost profits at Canadian hog farms.

More information on Dr. Farmer’s research can be found in Chapter 4 of The Gestating and Lactating Sow.

Exploring the impact of public trust

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) completed two surveys this year: one among just over 2,000 food producers and another among 400 food processors. The results provide interesting insights into the opinions, issues and challenges faced by producers and food processors in Canada.

Among other areas, the surveys explored producers' and processors' views on the level of trust the public places in the sector with regards to their operations and decision-making. According to the results:

  • over two-thirds of producers and processors (67% and 72%, respectively) believe that public perceptions about agriculture have at least a moderate impact on their operations and decision-making
  • when asked to name their top three considerations in terms of building or maintaining public trust:
    • producers said environmental management (60%), food safety (59%) and animal welfare (53%) were top of mind
    • processors said food safety (93%), affordability (53%) and environmental management (52%) were central
  • both producers and processors have implemented a variety of programs and practices in response to external public pressures
    • producers have reduced their pesticide use (67%) and implemented environmental stewardship programs (62%), nutrient management plans (60%), enhanced food safety measures (59%), and humane animal welfare practices (58%)
    • processors most frequently cited improved food safety codes or standards (90%) and food safety measures (88%)

Want to know more? AAFC's Strategic Issues Survey final reports are available at Library and Archives Canada.

Budget 2018

Budget 2018

Budget 2018 takes the next steps towards building an equal, competitive, sustainable and fair Canada – where science and innovation spur economic growth.

The Budget proposes strategic investments that will support the growth and prosperity of the agriculture and agri-food sector, including:

  • nearly $4 billion to support the work of Canada’s researchers and to provide them access to the state-of-the art tools facilities they need
  • $47 million over three years to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to support activities that help address food safety risks
  • $29 million over five years to the CFIA to support the negotiations of export conditions for agricultural, fishery and forestry products and certification of Canadian exports against other countries' import requirements
  • $75 million over five years, with $11.8 million per year beyond that, for Global Affairs Canada to build a stronger diplomatic presence and trade promotion in China and Asia
  • $49.4 million over six years, starting in 2018-19, to Statistics Canada to conduct the 2021 Census of Agriculture
  • modernizing Canada's regulatory framework, with an initial focus that includes agri-food

The Budget also stressed gender equality as a key theme. To support women entrepreneurs in agriculture, a new lending product will be created and launched in 2018-19 designed specifically for women entrepreneurs through Farm Credit Canada (FCC). In addition, FCC will continue to offer advisory services, learning events and knowledge initiatives aimed at women entrepreneurs in the agriculture and agri-food sectors.

Additional information about Budget 2018 can be found online.

Cash flow solutions for farmers

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Advance Payments Program (APP) helps agricultural producers access low-interest financing throughout the year to improve their cash flow.

Cash advances can help farmers make decisions about selling their products based on market conditions (rather than on the need for cash flow) by helping them meet their short term financial obligations, such as farm input or product marketing costs.

Applicants can receive up to $400,000, with the interest on the first $100,000 paid by the federal government, and repayment terms of 12 to 24 months.

To be eligible for a spring pre-harvest advance, farmers must be participating in a Business Risk Management (BRM) program like AgriStability or AgriInsurance.

Producers can receive advances related to a wide variety of agricultural products, from grains and oilseeds, to tree fruit and horticulture, to livestock and breeding operations. They repay their advances as they sell their products.

Mixed farms can apply for advances on multiple commodities. For example, if you are a honey producer, you would access an advance based on your expected harvest. Here is a sample calculation based on the expectation of 300,000 pounds of honey:

  • 300,000 pounds at $0.80 per pound would mean a $240,000 cash advance
  • $100,000 of that amount is interest-free (paid by the Government of Canada)
  • the remaining $140,000 is interest-bearing at a rate of 3.2%, resulting in $4,480 payable in interest
  • the annualized interest rate for the cash advance is 1.87%

Initially, 60% of the advance ($180,000) is paid based on anticipated production. The remaining 40% of the advance ($120,000) is paid when production is confirmed.

APP advances are available through more than 40 producer organizations across Canada. For more information, visit the Advance Payments Program page.

Advancing Canada's trade and market access agenda

Gaining access to global markets and expanding trading relationships with some of the world's largest economies are top priorities for the federal government. To ensure Canada continues to be a major player in the global marketplace, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister Lawrence MacAulay led high-profile trade missions to the European Union (EU), China, Mexico and the United States.

European Union

With the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) having provisionally come into force in September 2017, Minister MacAulay visited Germany, Italy and Belgium, promoting Canadian agriculture in meetings with key European buyers and distributors. He attended ANUGA (the world's largest food and beverage trade show) in Cologne, Germany, in early October and met with senior European Union (EU) officials. The EU represents a market of more than half a billion consumers, and CETA will allow Canada to export an additional $1.5 billion worth of agricultural products.

China

As the world's second-largest economy—and Canada's second-largest single-country trading partner—China offers significant opportunities for exports. During his visit in November, Minister MacAulay participated in a number of promotional events and meetings, and took the opportunity to showcase Canada's safe, high-quality food products to one of the world's most sought-after markets for agriculture.

Mexico

Mexico continues to be an important market for Canadian agriculture: we exported $1.7 billion worth of agri-food products there in 2016. In December 2017, Minister MacAulay met with his counterpart, Mexican Secretary of Agriculture José Calzada. They visited Alimentaria, an important Mexican food and beverage trade show, where the Minister promoted Canadian agri-food and learned of new trade opportunities. He also participated in a roundtable discussion with key Canadian and Mexican officials.

United States

In January 2018, Minister MacAulay attended the 99th Annual Convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Nashville, Tennessee, where he spoke to a crowd of more than 6,000 people and reiterated the importance of a modernized North America Free Trade Agreement that will benefit all three nations.

Other market access news

  • Canada and 10 other countries have agreed to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). It will give the Canadian agricultural industry preferential access to all CPTPP countries and will provide new market access opportunities for a wide range of Canadian products. More details to come in the next issue.
  • Canadian pork exports to Argentina were restored—an annual estimated export value up to $16 million.
  • Tariff rate quotas on unroasted malt, unhulled/naked barley and soybeans to South Korea increased to 16,600, 2,500 and 12,500 metric tonnes respectively, with duty-free tariffs as of January 1, 2018. Canada's first free trade agreement (FTA) in Asia-Pacific, the Canada-South Korea FTA, offers strategic access to the region as well as global value chains. Pork offal, wheat flour, whisky, prepared and frozen shrimp and prawn, sea cucumbers and other molluscs will be tariff-free in 2019.
  • Following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mission to China in December 2017, the federal government announced expanded access to the Chinese market for Canadian chilled pork and beef through a pilot project. The project is estimated to be worth up to $100 million for pork and $125 million for beef over the next five years.

Weather maps that make a difference

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's (AAFC) Agroclimate Risk Team is hard at work creating new maps and improving existing ones to help farmers during the growing season. These maps easily illustrate soil moisture trends, drought, livestock feed shortages, and the impacts of flooding on farms across the country.

During the growing season, our scientists pore over satellite images, study weather data, talk with provincial and local government agencies, and listen to farmers' personal accounts to analyze and develop these maps. In the winter, they are busy planning for the upcoming year, tweaking their products and recruiting agroclimate impact reporters (AIRs) from across the country.

"We really rely on farmers being able to tell us what's happening on their farms and how the weather is affecting them over the growing season," says Patrick Cherneski, national agroclimate information service manager for AAFC. "The data are pooled so we can get an overall understanding for the regions and the country."

Becoming an AIR is quick, easy, and done online at www.agr.gc.ca/air. Consider signing up. By adding your information and knowledge to our expertise, we can create maps and tools that make a difference.

To get an overview of all the climate-related tools and maps available online at AAFC, visit www.agr.gc.ca/drought.

Farm innovation in Prince Edward Island just got a big boost

The Charlottetown Research and Development Centre (RDC), which supports innovative research, development, and technology and knowledge transfer activities relevant to the agriculture sector, has just undergone a $6.8-million transformation and has hired five new researchers.

Upgrades to the RDC include doubling the greenhouse growing space, renovating and building ten new laboratories, plus purchasing a $1.3-million nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer to allow scientists to study farm soil at the molecular level, which will ultimately help farmers improve soil health and the productivity of their land.

As for the new scientists the RDC will have on hand, they include a microbial ecologist; an agro-ecosystem modeller and data scientist; a weed specialist; an environmental chemist; and a cereals and oilseeds biologist, all of whom will be working with regional industry to improve farming practices in Prince Edward Island and across Canada.

The additional research capability, coupled with new equipment, laboratories and greenhouse space, will help improve sustainability, increase yields, and find better ways to control pests, especially for potatoes, cereals, and grain crops.

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