Agri-info Newsletter – May 2017

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Business Risk Management programs

Unpredictable weather, crop or animal disease, market volatility, high input costs: risks like these can significantly impact your farm's bottom line, and future success. The right programs and tools can minimize the impact of losses.

Business Risk Management (BRM) programs help farmers manage risks that threaten the viability of the farm. They provide protection against different types of income and production losses:

  • AgriStability provides support when you experience a large margin decline.
  • AgriInvest provides cash flow to help you manage income declines.
  • AgriInsurance provides cost-shared insurance against natural hazards to reduce the financial impact of production or asset losses.

How Business Risk Management programs can help you

Read case studies of farms that have faced different disaster situations to learn about how BRM programs helped.

What's abuzz in your field boundaries?

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is working on two projects to help understand how field boundaries affect their surrounding environments and farmers' bottom lines.

Field boundaries are the non-cropped areas surrounding or adjacent to cropped land, like ditches, fence lines, shelterbelts and road allowances. When farmland is consolidated into bigger fields, field boundaries are often removed. But not enough is known about the consequences.

Quantifying the value of field boundaries

To find out more, AAFC staff in the eastern Prairies is researching the economic and ecological value of these field boundaries. Farmers know field boundaries filter nutrient runoff and are home to beneficial insects and microbes. But the benefits have never been quantified, so they can't be measured against the financial gain that comes from removing field boundaries to increase field size. Is the trade-off worth it?

This project's goal is to answer that question by studying the diversity, structure and role of non-cropped field boundaries and how they interact with adjacent crops. Results are expected in late 2018.

Studying what bees need

Meanwhile, a related study is going on in Manitoba, where AAFC staff is studying native bees and their habitat requirements. The 970 or so species of bees native to Canada provide major pollination benefits to Canadian export crops, like canola and blueberries. Most live in underground burrows or other natural cavities in non-cultivated land, and fly less than a kilometre from their homes. The need for pollinators, like bees, to live alongside the crops that depend on them is clear. Bees need 3 things: food from spring to fall, a place to nest year-round, and protection from tillage and pesticides.

Staff will sample bee populations near canola fields and conduct habitat assessments, identifying types of vegetation, farm management practices, and the size and distribution of food and nesting locations within a one-kilometre radius of each trapping site. They will then identify ways to improve and recreate habitat for native bees in Manitoba.

Both projects aim to help farmers and landowners assess, improve and recreate field boundary habitats that are good for bees and will sustain or improve crop production.

For more information, see Native pollinators and agriculture in Canada.

The Agricultural Youth Green Jobs Initiative is back!

The great success of the Agricultural Youth Green Jobs Initiative, launched in 2016, has led to its renewal this year with an additional $5.2 million available over the next two years. The program gives farms or farm groups access to funding so they can hire Canadian youth to complete environmental projects.

The initiative is part of the Government of Canada's Youth Employment Strategy to help young people gain the skills, work experience and abilities they need to succeed in the labour market. It helps farmers, non-profits and other organizations in the agricultural sector create jobs for Canadians who are 30 years or younger and want to work in agriculture.

In the program's first year, 45 green farm jobs and 102 green internships were created across the country. Projects included composting, permaculture, land preparation for certified organic production, and the construction of a root cellar for alternative storage for a family operation.

Agricultural companies, conservation area organizations and associations completed more than 100 green internships. Some of these involved sustainable crop analysis, environmental instrumentation and monitoring, and projects to support consumer education for local food baskets.

If you are looking to make environmental improvements to your farm, or if your organization provides environmental benefits to the agriculture sector, you may be eligible to apply. There are two streams:

  • The Green Farms stream offers farmers funding for up to 50 per cent of the cost of hiring young interns, to a maximum of $10,000 per worker.
  • The Green Internships stream offers organizations up to 50 per cent of the cost of hiring young workers (up to $16,000 per intern) for environmental activities, services or research that will benefit the agriculture sector. Non-profits with five or fewer employees may be eligible for funding of up to 80 per cent.

For both streams, projects must be no longer than 12 months in length and interns must be between the ages of 15 and 30 inclusive.The internship stream requires that the interns be post-secondary graduates.

Applications are being accepted now, and will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds have been allocated.

For more information, visit Agricultural Youth Green Jobs Initiative or call 1-866-452-5558.

New alfalfa variety will offer farmers a tougher forage

It's been grown under water for six weeks at a time, buried under snow for months, and grown in drought conditions in Ontario and Nova Scotia. Designed for use across the northern latitudes of North America and Europe, the Rhizomatous Alfalfa variety still known by its experimental name, CRS-1001, has surpassed all expectations in evaluation trials in eastern Canada. It has even shown good seed yield in the Prairie Provinces.

CRS-1001 is the product of a long-term alfalfa study that began in 1988 when Dr. Yousef Papadopoulos and his team assessed its persistence and tolerance to prolonged flooding periods in the spring and fall on the dykelands of the Nappan Research Farm in Nova Scotia.

Fifty plants were identified as being persistent under those conditions, and became the experimental variety now known as CRS-1001. Since then, CRS-1001 has been used in several research trials for grazing and forage production.

"What makes this alfalfa variety unique is its ability to grow underground stems—called rhizomes—from the main plant, creating new plants alongside the parent," says Papadopoulos. "This accounts for some of its long-term persistence, and allows it to refill holes in the forage stand."

Dr. Papadopoulos says field testing has not only proven that CRS-1001 can tolerate extreme Canadian climates, but has the potential to become an industry leader as a grazing and forage crop.

"This new variety has really superior forage qualities that will benefit all Canadian farmers," says Papadopoulos. "In short, CRS-1001 is a late-flowering, winter-hardy alfalfa variety that is tolerant to mid-summer drought, spring and fall water-logging, and grazing."

Seeds of this new variety are expected to be available through seed dealers in 2018.

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Advance Payments Program

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Advance Payments Program (APP) is a federal loan guarantee program that helps agricultural producers access low interest financing in order to improve cash flow throughout the year.

An advance can help farmers meet financial obligations—such as farm input or product marketing costs—and allows them to make decisions about selling their products based on market conditions rather than on the need for cash flow.

The APP works by giving producers access to low interest financing by means of federally guaranteed loans worth up to 50 percent of the expected average market price of their agricultural product. Applicants can receive up to $400,000, with the interest on the first $100,000 paid by the federal government and repayment terms of 18 to 24 months.

Producers can receive advances on a wide variety of agricultural products, from grains and oilseeds to tree fruit and horticulture to livestock and breeding operations while mixed farms can apply for advances on multiple commodities. Producers repay their advances as they sell their product.

APP advances are available through more than 40 producer organizations across Canada. For more information on how you can take advantage of the APP please visit the Advance Payments Program page.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada science takes over social media

Canadian growers, producers, processors, and transporters bring Canadians the food they want all year long. On April 11, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists took over the department's social media channels to share some of the science, innovations and technologies used by the agriculture sector to supply a seemingly endless variety of foods – even through the winter.

Highlights included: updates to canning and pickling technology, like AAFC's newest discovery, Lactofermtation for vegetables; the science behind making apple juice clear; and breakthroughs in fruit storage, including HarvestWatch and the SmartCrate™. On the greenhouse side, Canadians interacted with experts in greenhouse technology, during a tweet chat. The conversation covered everything from historical advancements in the industry, like the Harrow Fertigation Manager for hydroponics, to new ways to use bees to deliver bio-pesticides, and advancements in LED lighting.

AAFC's goal was to raise awareness about all the ways science helps to deliver the best possible product to Canadian grocery stores.

Stay tuned for AAFC's next science social media day to be held in May.

Trade shows give agri-food exporters a competitive edge in lucrative global markets

International trade shows play a crucial role in the ability of Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry to succeed in the global marketplace. Every year, the Government of Canada partners with exporters to secure space at the world's largest shows and enhance the profile of Canada's diverse and innovative products in the world's most dynamic markets. We can help you reach global success by bridging the gap between your products and buyers around the globe!

Canada stands out in 2017

So far this year, over 150 Canadian industry groups have participated in key international trade shows, including:

  • Gulfood (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – February 26 to March 2
    The world's largest annual food and hospitality fair allowed Canadian exhibitors to secure nearly $300 million in sales over the next 12 months, with $41.3 million in on-site deals and 4,366 new qualified trade leads.
  • FoodEx Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – March 7 to 10
    Asia's largest food and beverage trade show serves as a springboard to many thriving markets, including Japan, China and Korea. Canadian exhibitors secured $18.7 million in new business over the next 12 months, with $2.77 million‎ in on-site sales and 1,020 new qualified trade leads.
  • AAHAR (New Delhi, India) – March 7 to 11
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Minister Lawrence MacAulay attended India's largest food and hospitality trade fair this year, opening the Canada Pavilion, which won the show's award for best international pavilion. Industry reported nearly 400 leads and nearly $3.5 million in anticipated sales over the coming year.
  • Salón de Gourmets (Madrid, Spain) – April 24 to 27
    Canada has been designated the Country of Honour this year, offering exhibitors a significant opportunity for exposure as we celebrate Canada's 150th.
  • Seafood Expo Global (Brussels, Belgium) – April 25 to 27
    The largest annual fish and seafood trade event in the world offers industry unparalleled opportunities to learn about emerging trends and reach a global seafood market consisting of some 25,000 buyers every year.

Canadian industry also participated in a number of other shows since the start of 2017, including:

  • Fruit Logistica in Berlin and Biofach in Nuremberg, both in Germany;
  • SIMA Paris International Agribusiness Show in Paris, France;
  • Expo ANTAD in Guadalajara, Mexico, and;
  • Seafood Expo North America in Boston, United States, where Minister MacAulay joined Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc in leading a delegation to promote Canada's high-quality, sustainably sourced fish and seafood products.

Upcoming tradeshow event

We can help you exhibit

Interested exhibitors are encouraged to apply to AAFC's AgriMarketing Program, which offers cost-sharing for a variety of international market promotion activities, including exhibiting at trade shows. You can also consult the list of international agriculture and food trade events for an index of global events supported by trade commissioners.

Budget 2017 supports Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector as an important driver of economic growth

The 2017 Federal Budget, tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017, recognizes Canada's agricultural sector as a trusted global leader in safe, nutritious, and sustainable food.

This budget will help farmers and food processors continue to grow their businesses, create jobs and foster long-term growth for the sector, strengthening its potential to be an even stronger economic engine for the Canadian economy.

To support Canada's farmers and food processors, Budget 2017 sets an ambitious target to grow Canada's agri-food exports to at least $75 billion annually by 2025, and launches several initiatives, from investments in science and innovation to value-added processing and infrastructure. It also reaffirmed the Government's commitment to the next federal-provincial-territorial agricultural policy framework.

Budget 2017 also proposes to:

  • Invest $70 million in agricultural science and innovation to address emerging priorities such as climate change and soil and water conservation;
  • Create a new $1.26 billion Strategic Innovation Fund to attract and support new high-quality business investments, including improving access to support for agri-food value-added processors;
  • Accelerate innovation by investing $950 million in superclusters that enhance Canada's global competitiveness by focusing on innovative industries, including agri-food;
  • Invest $200 million to support the expanded adoption of clean technology in the natural resources sectors, including by Canadian agricultural producers;
  • Invest $2 billion in rural infrastructure, including roads and bridges, as well as investing in gateways and ports to help get agri-food products to market;
  • Expand employment opportunities for young Canadians, including the creation of new green jobs;
  • Strengthen trade within Canada, and abroad, including through the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union;
  • Provide new investments of $2 billion for a new National Trade Corridors Fund to target congestion and inefficiencies at major ports to expand trade abroad;
  • Support modern federal science infrastructure by investing $80 million over five years to replace the Sidney Centre for Plant Health located in British Columbia;
  • Provide $149.3 million to renew core food safety inspection programming to support an effective and reliable food safety system, and;
  • Improve programs to help Canadian employers hire temporary foreign workers to fill jobs, where labour shortages have been proven.

Visit the Budget 2017 website for more information.

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