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Lakeland announces bachelor of ag tech degree

January 16, 2021 - 6:18am
This week, Lakeland College staff announcedthe new bachelor of agriculture technology degree starting fall 2021 at the Vermilion campus. “It's designed for students who currently have a diploma, a degree, another degree from another institution, or other ag schools, as well as diploma students in agriculture. So, they would funnel into the degree, take two additional years of schooling, and exit with a degree in agriculture technology. It's the first of its kind in Canada,” said Josie Van Lent, the dean of agriculture technology and applied research at Lakeland College. The development of this new program came from consultations with the industry as well as requests from students wanting to stay and learn more at the college, said Van Lent. “This degree is really built in response to industry feedback. Then we progressed with developing the outline of the program in terms of what courses should be offered and the learning outcomes. Then we went back to industry and asked if these were the right outcomes, if they wanted to tweak them, or if they had any more feedback for us. It was a pretty robust process involving industry, which is so important to us,” she told The ag industry is looking for graduates with a skill set that includes the ability to deal with the new technology that’s in ag right now and this new program provides that, said Van Lent. This program “is a reflection of where the industry is going. We're seeing more and more technology being embedded in our equipment and the use of technology on farms. Whether it's artificial intelligence, sensors or data management programs, we're certainly seeing a great deal more technology on farms. So (there is a) need to have individuals that are trained to deal with that technology,” she said. This new program will also have an advisory committee that guides it and helps fine tune it moving forward, said Van Lent. Anyone interested in the program or interested in the advisory committee can contact Van Lent or Lakeland College.

Sask. gov’t releases clubroot distribution map

January 16, 2021 - 6:18am
Farmers can now view the 2020 version of the clubroot distribution map for Saskatchewan. The Government of Saskatchewan and Sask Canola recently releasedthe map that shows which rural municipalities (RM) have fields with visible clubroot symptoms or the clubroot pathogen detected with no visible symptoms. “We see an increase in the number of fields that are infected by either the DNA and/or have physical symptoms,” said Alireza Akhavan. “The total number of fields that have physical symptoms of clubroot now is 75 across the province. The total number of fields that have DNA of the pathogen, but they don't have the physical symptoms, (is) 29.” Akhavan is the provincial specialist in plant disease with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture based in Regina. Clubroot is slowly spreading in the province, but we still have a low number of fields infected compared to Alberta, said Akhavan. “What is scary is if we look at the situation of clubroot in our neighbouring province of Alberta, which has now more than 3,000 already known infected clubroot fields. Compared to them, we have a very low number of fields,” Akhavan told “Saskatchewan is in a very good position to manage the disease.” The ministry puts out this map each year to help producers be aware of the risk in their area and manage accordingly as their RM may change on the map, said Akhavan. “If a producer sees that the RM is now changed to be coloured blue, yellow or orange, then that means they need to think proactively on their own fields to have these practices of clubroot management in effect,” he said. Since clubroot can spread exponentially without proper management, producers can use practices such as crop rotation, using a clubroot resistant variety of canola and good sanitization practices of equipment, shoes and anything else that may enter an infected field, said Akhavan. In 2020, the ministry and Sask Canola offered producers the opportunity to test their soil for clubroot. Sask Canola covered the cost and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) assisted in distribution of the soil bags. Last year, Discovery Seed Labs tested 231 soil bags for the clubroot pathogen and 11 returned positive results. “It’s important that farmers test their soils and send the soil bags to the lab to be tested, then they know if the pathogen is there,” said Akhavan. “Finding the DNA of the pathogen in a field has no regulatory consequences. So, it's good information for the producer. The producer can implement management to keep the pathogen low and avoid the actual disease from happening and avoid associated yield loss.” If a producer wants to know more information about club

Sask. research projects receive funding

January 16, 2021 - 6:18am
Representatives from the Government of Saskatchewan and commodity groups in the province recently announced$9.8 million in funding for 39 crop-related projects. Provincial commodity groups and Saskatchewan’s Agricultural Development Fund (ADF), which is supported through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, are funding these projects. Of the 39 projects, nine are pulse-specific research projects funded by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers and ADF. “It was a great collaboration between crop associations and the Saskatchewan government and we're really proud of the fact that we were able to invest $1.2 million towards these nine different projects,” said Brad Blackwell, director and former chair of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG). With the funding from ADF and SPG, the nine projects total $4.8 million in funding. The research projects involve crops such as chickpeas, peas and dry beans, said the SPG release. “These projects are all focused on things that are really important to pulse crop growers. We're looking at investing in chickpea breeding, looking at new chickpea cultivars and investing in dry bean breeding. We also have some investments in pea breeding for peas with root rot resistance,” Blackwell told Additional funders of the nine projects include Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission, Alberta Wheat Commission, Manitoba Crop Alliance and Western Grains Research Foundation.

Optimize your farm by using ALL the data

January 15, 2021 - 6:16am
As technology and precision ag practices continue to advance agriculture, the modern farmer not only has to juggle growing crops and/or raising livestock on their operation, they now must also add farming the data to their repertoire. Agriculture has come a long way when it comes to the amount of data collected but managing this data can still prove to be a daunting task for farmers, explained Krista Klompstra to attendees of the Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase. “The struggle we run into is how do we make use of all [the data],” explains Klompstra. “Can it help us run our operation better? Smoother? More profitable? I think that’s what excites me about Granular Business – it helps us simplify the way we plan and communicate, allows us to make real-time decisions and make use of all the data that is available to us.” Klompstra is the Digital Business Manager at Granular, a leading farm management software owned by Corteva Agriscience. Granular Business’ software enables farmers to get better control over their operations by performing several tasks throughout the season and in real-time including: analyzing profits, identifying efficiencies and cost-savings, measuring yield variability, as well as forecasting revenues and profits, to name a few. “Granular Business is big and has many ways that it can help growers,” says Klompstra. “There are four [areas] where we usually find the biggest impact for farmers.” To be more efficient and communicate better; To track your input and crop inventory levels in real-time; To know your cost of production, down to a specific field; To make use of all the data on the farm. Communication is key on any farming operation, especially during planting and harvesting. “In the heat of the season when it’s all chaotic and everyone is running around, how can we really communicate well? Not only what has to be done, but what has been done by hour and by equipment so that we have a real-time view of what’s happening,” states Klompstra. As an operation manager within Granular Business, farmers can assign workers to specific tasks, at specific times, on specific fields, and with specific equipment. Another major benefit of using the software is knowing your cost of production, right down to the field. Using the Profit Analyzer, farmers can review year-over-year revenue, costs, and overall profitability of specific fields. Granular Business also helps farmers track their inputs and crop inventory levels in real-time, allowing farmers

Using satellite data on the farm

January 14, 2021 - 6:16am
EOS Data Analytics is developing crop simulation technologies to be used at the field level for farmers By Ryan Ridley The goal of yield forecasting is to make reasonable management and financial decisions and to minimize risks. Attendees of the Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase tuned in to Lina Yarysh’s presentation on ‘Yield Forecasting as a Key to Sustainable Use of Fertilizers’. Yarysh is a Satellite Solution Consultant for Agriculture and Forestry at EOS Data Analytics, an automated cloud-based geographic information system (GIS) analysis service. “Companies nowadays have been working on putting yield prediction into action, in a practical way,” says Yarysh. Yield prediction can answer the following questions for growers and seed producers: What crops are more efficient to produce considering climate shift? Especially applicable for multi-year crops. What is the reasonable amount of fertilizers to use to gain the highest productivity? How to predict the performances of new hybrids in various environments to breed for better varieties? “Currently, we are trying to apply crop simulation technologies for building various scenarios to make it possible for farmers to use this technology at the field level,” she explains. EOS Data Analytics (EOS) can easily forecast yield in a province or region with over 80 percent accuracy, the more difficult challenge is meeting that same accuracy at the farm and field level. The accuracy of forecasting is lower at the field level due to lack of historical data and low spatial variability of weather data. Another major goal for the company is to provide fertilizer recommendations for 2021, reaching the highest possible yield using yield modeling. While creating field forecasts for Canada, the team discovered that some fields include lakes and woodlots, which created a challenge for EOS. “It’s not very easy to understand the vegetation of crops from space when you have a lot of other objects there in the field,” adds Yarysh. So, how is EOS tackling these challenges? Using the EOS Crop Engine, which includes analysis of soil type, weather and crop phenology, the company can predict yield scenarios by adding satellite data at every stage of crop development. This allows EOS to narrow down the possible crop scenarios to the one that is most likely. To get a better idea of the different vegetation on a specific field, EOS divides the fields into several productivity zones, allowing the company to capture all the vegetation in a field rather than the average. By understanding the heterogeneity of vegetation in a field, EOS can include it into the modelling to increase yield forecast accuracy. The company found that accuracy and variability increased with LAI assimilation. “We include the values for the different zones in the field into prediction

APAS releases updated numbers on carbon tax

January 13, 2021 - 6:16am
Producers are going to continue to see an increase to their production costs coming from the carbon tax, said a recent releasefrom the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS). APAS reps released updated numbers that show the cost of producing wheat could go up to more than $12.50 per acre in 2030 because of the carbon tax. “The costs are very significant on an average wheat crop,” said Todd Lewis, president of APAS. “That's hundreds of millions of dollars out of the western Canadian economy every year, and really there's no way for farmers to recoup those costs because we can't pass them along.” This estimate used the new numbers announced by the Government of Canada in December 2020 stating the carbon tax will increase to $170 per tonne by 2030. It also used key indirect costs that are not exempt from the carbon taxation such as electricity and grain drying, said the release. APAS reps plan to continue to fight for exemptions for producers and give them the recognition they deserve, said Lewis. “In a lot of cases (farmers are) world leaders in carbon management, and that's really what agriculture is all about is in a lot of ways is managing carbon, and we've done a pretty good job of and continue to,” Lewis told APAS reps are working on developing cost estimates for other crop and livestock commodities. The most recent estimates and calculations can be found here.

Alta. ag minister denounces incident at U.S. Capitol

January 13, 2021 - 6:16am
Alberta’s minister of agriculture and forestry has publicly denounced what transpired at the U.S. Capitol last week. “Minister (Devin) Dreeshen denounces all forms of political violence, including what took place in Washington, D.C. (on Jan. 6),” Justin Laurence, Dreeshen’s press secretary, told in an email. “Voters are the ultimate deciders and that must be respected by all. Minister Dreeshen is focused on the lives and livelihoods of all Albertans.” Calls for the provincial ag minister to address the incident at the Capitol, where some of the president’s supporters breached security while a joint session of Congress worked to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the November presidential election, come as a result of Dreeshen’s involvement with the Trump campaign. Dreeshen volunteered with the president’s campaign for eight months in 2016, traveling to 28 states and shadowing Ivanka Trump while she worked with volunteers and visited polling stations. Working with the Trump campaign provided insight into the U.S. political process, he said. “I couldn’t vote for (Trump), right, so to me it was, couldn’t vote for Hillary (Clinton) or for him, as a Canadian I just went down and participated in their election process,” Dreeshen told StarMetro Edmonton in July 2018. Dreeshen also documented his time with the Trump campaign in 2016 in “Inside the Trump Campaign,” which he wrote for The Hill Times. Devin Dreeshen at a Donald Trump election night event in New York City on November 8, 2016. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Gov’t announces MASC office closures, changes

January 12, 2021 - 6:15am
Blaine Pedersen, minister of Agriculture and Resource Development in Manitoba, recently announced a new rural service delivery modelfor Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) offices in the province. In the new model, 21 offices are closing staring April 1 in: Altona; Ashern; Birtle; Deloraine; Fisher Branch; Gladstone; Glenboro; Grandview; Hamiota; Lundar; Morris; Pilot Mound; Russell; Shoal Lake; Somerset; Souris; St–Pierre–Jolys; Ste. Rose du Lac; Teulon; Vita; and Waskada. Seventeen offices will remain open across the province to continue to offer services. Of the 17 offices, 10 agricultural services centres will provide services such as insurance and lending, five will focus on resource management and two will focus on mineral or petroleum services. “MASC had various services at different offices. So, this is consolidating them into one office, which will make it much more customer and client friendly,” said Pedersen during a media call. “In addition, we're creating nine non-public facing offices. These deal mainly with water, Crownland, our research, our research technologies, particularly happening in agriculture and our other resources.” This new delivery process was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic forced offices to close March 2020. Many offices were averaging two people per day coming into the office pre-COVID, some even averaging two people a week, said Pederson. “There was definitely need for modernization here,” he said. “I was talking to a farmer yesterday about this after the announcement, he said, ‘Well, I haven't been in MASC office for years.’ So, we're trying to catch up to the farm sector where they are right now.” With this change, no employees are losing their jobs, in fact some new jobs are being created out of this, said Pedersen. “The people will continue to live in these communities where the offices are closing,” he said. “We want to make this as seamless as possible and support those communities that the people are living in now and will continue to work with the communities with the municipalities.”

KAP offers mental health training

January 9, 2021 - 6:15am
Manitoba farmers and those working in the ag industry can now take virtual mental health literacy training through the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP). This training program is called In The Know and researchers at the University of Guelph developed it, said Thea Green, program manager with KAP. The Guelph team “did a lot of research to understand Canadian farmers’ mental health challenges and developed this program specifically for Canadian farmers, and people who work directly with Canadian farmers, to provide them with background information so that they have more confidence and more knowledge with recognizing and responding to mental health struggles in both themselves, and the people they love and work with,” Green told The program was piloted in Ontario and Manitoba is the first province to start offering it outside the research realm, said Green. KAP staff wanted to offer this training because they want to help farmers in the province be successful, sustainable and profitable. “If farmers are struggling with their mental health, it's really hard to achieve success in those other areas,” said Green. “We would like to provide this training for 500 or more farmers and people who work directly with farmers to create an informed and caring network of people within the ag community that we can lean on for support and start to recognize and respond to any mental health struggles that they see.” The 34 sessions run from Jan. 18 until March 31 and are free. KAP hired a mental health professional with lived farm experience to facilitate all the sessions, said Green. “It’s very important that the person understands agriculture, the stresses that farmers face, and the entire industry and how it functions, so that they aren't suggesting things that work in other industries that aren't appropriate for agriculture, because agriculture is so unique,” she said. The four-hour sessions have limited space, but the hope is to offer more of this type of training if the first round of sessions fill up, said Green. “We're hoping that all 34 of our sessions are completely full, which really gives that indication that this is needed. Then we can look at how we could continue to support farmers’ mental health going forward,” she said. Those interested in the training can register and find out more information here. This program funding is provided through KAP and the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

Tara Sawyer named new chair of Alberta Barley

January 7, 2021 - 6:13am
An Acme, Alta. farmer is the new chair of Alberta Barley. Tara Sawyer, who farms about 4,200 acres of barley, wheat and canola with her husband Matt and the couple’s three children, was named chair during the organization’s Dec. 9 annual general meeting. “I was pleasantly surprised,” she told “To have the board’s confidence meant a lot and is a big deal for me.” Her election as chair also means she’ll represent Alberta Barley on the Grain Growers of Canada board. Sawyer, who’s in her second year as a director-at-large on Alberta Barley’s board, replaces David Bishop as chair after he served for two years. Her husband is also a past chair. She’s also the first woman to chair the organization. “I don’t take that lightly,” she said. “There’s a lot of really impressive women in the ag industry.” Sawyer hopes to bring a different perspective and utilize her strengths around the board table. “Within our farm operation I’m in the office, not running equipment,” she said. “I have very strong opinions and I’m not afraid to voice them. I’m also perfectly comfortable asking questions when I don’t know the answers.” One item on the board’s agenda moving forward is rail transport. Farmers have experienced backlogs over the past few years, leading to shipping delays, Sawyer said. “That creates huge issues as an exporting nation,” she said. “We’re keeping an eye on the railways and we’re already starting to see a bit of a backup. We need to get our grain where it needs to go and to keep the rail companies accountable because we lose a lot of business when we have boats sitting in ports waiting for grain.” Another issue of focus for the organization will be international trade. China is Canada’s largest customer for feed and malt barley. China imported about 1.7 million tonnes of Canadian barley in 2018. Chinese and Canadian reps were scheduled to meet in person in summer of 2020, but COVID forced those meetings to be held virtually, Sawyer said.

Online farm auctions raise profits

January 7, 2021 - 6:13am
A recent online farm auction through Mack Auction Company based in Estevan, Sask. sold six quarters of land for $1.75 million. The land is found in the rural municipality of Benson and sold under two different consigners, said Brian Mack. He is the co-owner of Mack Auction Company. “The one consigner had four quarters and the family did offer it to some neighbours about a year ago for I think $230,000 a quarter and they had no offers or no buyers at that point. So, they contacted us, and we took over the management of the sale and advertised it,” Mack told Those four quarters ended up selling for $294,000, $302,000, $307,000 and $321,000. The remaining two quarters sold for $526,000. This auction saw 175 registered bidders from across Canada, but the buyers of the land ended up being local, said Mack. The staff at Mack Auction Company were happy with the result of this auction and were glad to help the families selling the land get a higher price for the land, said Mack. The “auction method creates enthusiasm, creates demand and competition, and a sense of urgency to buy land,” he said.

Connecting agriculture in a brand new way

January 6, 2021 - 6:13am
AGvisorPRO seamlessly connects farmers with specialized ag experts in real time By Ryan Ridley In today’s digital age of farming, it’s more important than ever for farmers to be able to access the information and resources they need to increase farm productivity and sustainability, in real-time and in a practically effortless manner. This concept may seem far-fetched, but as technology continues to advance precision agriculture practices, the need for farmers to connect with ag experts has also grown. That was a key message Rob Saik delivered to Virtual Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase attendees. Saik is CEO and Founder of a new connectivity platform called AGvisorPRO, which was a Gold Sponsor of the Conference. The AGvisorPRO platform provides farmers, ranchers, and agri-businesses with a way to connect with fellow agriculturalists and industry experts in real-time, and remotely. “Until we have Star Trek transporters, we’re going to have to find a new way to shrink time and space, to stretch brains and not bodies, and to be on the farm without being on the farm,” explains Saik. “AGvisorPRO connects agriculture in a brand new way.” AGvisorPRO’s connectivity matrix pairs information seekers – say a farmer wondering how to upload maps into a monitor – with advice providers, whether they are a farmer, agronomist or industry expert. “Every one of these intersection points on this connectivity matrix [above] is a value proposition connecting the seeker to the advisor,” said Saik. So, how does AGvisorPRO work? It all starts with a question. After creating a free account, a farmer seeking information inputs a question/topic into the system. A matching algorithm provides the number of experts that are available to answer the question. When an expert is selected, AGvisorPRO connects the seeker with the provider via audio. Once connected, users can toggle between audio and video, as well as share high resolution pictures. A key feature of this platform is that the entire session is archived. Farmers can go back into the system to review the video or share with others within the operation. If advice given is being monetized, a transaction will take place within the application. After each session, the information seeker will rate the advice provider, much like how you would rate an Uber driver. To learn the ins and outs of the AGvisorPRO platform, watch Saik walk through the application in the video below.

KAP disappointed with federal carbon tax

December 25, 2020 - 6:06am
Representatives from the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) are callingon the Government of Canada to consider what farmers already do to help mitigate climate change when making changes to the carbon tax. “Agriculture is one of the unique industries that has the ability to take carbon dioxide from the air, turn it into carbon in the soils, either short term in the products or long term in soil, and release oxygen. Those things have not been recognized by the federal government,” said Bill Campbell, president of KAP. Recently, the federal government announced the carbon tax in provinces without their own emission reduction plan will continue to rise after 2022. It would hit $170 per tonne by 2030 under the new climate change plan. The plan fails to consider how farmers are already contributing to reducing carbon with their farming practices and this hurts farmers when it comes to the carbon tax, said Campbell. “The federal government has made this announcement with concrete financial implications with a carbon tax of $170 in 2030. Their suggestions of adaptation are based on philosophies and whimsical ideas and words, and those are not concrete plans that a producer can venture into and ensure that he will be around to maintain their farm and their farming practices,” Campbell told KAP staff worked at taking steps in 2020 to have farmers more included in the federal consultations, and will continue to do so, but more needs to be done to support farmers, said Campbell. “If we continue to have these type of government policies, be it the carbon tax or the clean fuel strategy, without proper consultation and awareness of what agriculture brings to the economy, we have great concerns about how we will adapt and how we will change and how Canada will thrive in the new world,” he said.

New Man. ag program supports industry

December 25, 2020 - 6:06am
Representatives from the Government of Manitoba recently announceda new program to support the ag and food industry in the province. The Alexander Cherban Agriculture Industry Development Program was created from some of the proceeds of Cherban’s estate given to Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development. The program provides up to $50,000 per year for projects of local non-profit organizations, governments and academic institutions for innovative provincewide programs, said the release. “The purpose of it is to provide support to Manitoba non-profit organizations, and to give awareness to agriculture and hopefully help Manitoba's economy,” said Candace Tolton. She is the president of Manitoba 4-H Council, who will administer the program. Staff from “Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development approached us and asked if we would be interested in being part of this program. We are honored that the government trusts us and chose us to implement this program,” Tolton told Intake for the 2021 program is open and applicants have until Feb. 28, 2021 to apply. “It's a really great opportunity for non-profit organizations in our province. The purpose is to support agriculture development opportunities, such as skills development, promotion of career opportunities in the ag industry,” said Tolton. “I think it will really benefit lots of our rural communities once people are aware of this.” People can find more information on the program and apply here.

Wheat commissions set record straight

December 25, 2020 - 6:06am
Representatives from the Saskatchewan Wheat Commission (Sask Wheat), Manitoba Crop Alliance and the Alberta Wheat Commission recently raised concern over an article that incorrectly states that the price of wheat is causing food prices to rise in Canada. The article looked at the projections in . This report showed that bakery products are likely to rise 3.5 to 5.5 per cent in 2021. The article stated that the cost of wheat rose 50 per cent in the last 18 months and this was a main driver of food cost increases, said the release. “We thought that just didn't sound totally right and did a little background work on it,” said Brett Halstead, chair of Sask Wheat. The representatives found the article used the Chicago Board of Trade futures, said Halstead. What the article referred to was “a feed wheat or an ethanol wheat, and it has gone up on the futures trade, which is just the trade, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the cash price,” he said. The price that farmers get for their wheat has not increased significantly in the last year and half and the commissions wanted to give consumers correct information, said Halstead. “We didn't think it was proper to give consumers the impression that grain prices have gone up on farmers’ end,” Halstead told The Prairie wheat commission representatives wanted to set the record straight with their release, give more information about wheat prices and support their farmers, said Halstead. “We saw some comments on it, on Twitter (and other social media) from farmers. (The commissions) represent those same farmers that are making those comments, and we wanted to back up what they were saying because we agreed that it just doesn't set the right tone to what's really happening out there,” said Halstead.

Viterra and Foodgrains Bank fight hunger

December 22, 2020 - 6:04am
Representatives from Viterra and Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) recently announced their fourth year of partnering to help fight hunger. The partnership saw local farmers in Alberta and Saskatchewan seed and farm 296 acres across six Viterra terminals. The proceeds from this went to help feed hungry people around the world, the releasesaid. “For us, this partnership is a natural fit – the land around our terminals at these growing projects is put to good use for a worthwhile cause, and our employees are eager to assist and do a great job of working with local farmers at each project,” said Jeff Cockwill in an emailed statement to He is the vice-president corporate affairs North America for Viterra. Each project across the two provinces was different depending on the location. One of them, for example, saw a family farm near Balgonie, Sask. tend the acres, said the release. “We’d also like to thank the farmers involved in each project for taking time out of their busy schedules for volunteering their time, equipment and labour in farming the land, as well as the CFGB for coordinating these efforts year in and year out,” said Cockwill. Viterra staff recognize the importance of fighting global hunger and are glad to partner with CFGB on this, said Cockwill. “As an industry leader, our focus is on connecting our farm customers to global markets. We’re pleased to help farmers assist those in need by providing land around our terminals for growing projects. The ability to access Viterra’s network allows the CFGB to tap into our large customer base and convey its important message,” he said.

Man. farmers input wanted on ag plastic recycling

December 19, 2020 - 6:02am
An organization is asking Manitoba farmers to provide feedback on a permanent, province-wide, industry-funded ag recycling program. CleanFARMS has been involved in ag plastics recycling initiatives in the province since about 2013 funded through Manitoba Conservation and Climate (MCC) and its predecessors. MCC has now asked CleanFARMS to present a plan that would move the program from government-funded to industry-funded. MCC will also have the final say on if the plan is approved. CleanFARMS submitted a first draft of its Manitoba Ag Plastic Plan on Nov. 30. Farmers and other stakeholders have until Jan. 21, 2021 to submit feedback. “It would be similar to how most other recycling programs in the province for things like tires, oil and electronics is run,” Kim Timmer, manager of stakeholder relations with CleanFARMS, told Electronic recycling in Manitoba, for example, is handled by the Electronic Products Recycling Association. Consumers pay an Environmental Handling Fee (EHF) on the sale of new electronics. That fee helps pay for the recycling program. The fees range from seven cents to $20 depending on the item. As part of the CleanFARMS plan, EHFs would be applied during the sale of grain bags and baler twine. These fees would be 25 cents per kilogram ($250 per tonne) of grain bags and 33 cents per kilogram ($330 per tonne) of baler-twine, the organization’s plan says. Another possible phase detailed in the plan outlines potential EHFs applied to silage film and bale wrap. Early conversations with producers indicate they are willing to support a program like this to help the environment, Timmer said. “Through conversations we’ve had, farmers are looking for ways to improve the sustainability of their farm,” she said. “Our challenge will be making it as convenient for them as possible.” CleanFARMS hopes to receive word from MCC by the end of March 2021 whether their plan is approved or not. If it is, EHFs will begin to be implemented in December 2021. Anyone who wishes to provide feedback about the plastics recycling program can contact Kim Timmer at

APAS task force shares interim report

December 12, 2020 - 5:59am
The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan’s Rural Connectivity Task Force representatives publisheda report on Dec. 10 sharing how their work is going and what they’ve learned so far. The task force, establishedin September, looks a look at rural Internet and cell phone service in Saskatchewan. “We had some really good discussions with a number of academics, people that have been studying the issue for a significant number of years,” said Jeremy Welter. “We had a meeting with SaskTel last week, which was very good. … Things are really ticking along. We're coming up with a lot of really good information to assist in our policy,” recommendations. Welter is the task force chair and farms near Kerrobert, Sask. The report details issues task force representatives are finding, including Internet problems. “We are consistently hearing stories about people whose children can't access online learning,” Welter told “It's just one of thousands of examples of evidence that shows rural residents are getting shortchanged and getting left behind and it's a very serious struggle.” One impact of the poor connectivity in rural areas of the province is economic loss, said Welter. “Preliminary research estimates that the value of connecting rural Saskatchewan (means) we increase our provincial GDP by up to $1.2 billion,” he said. Internet access is a concern for the farming community, as access to data to manage farms using precision agriculture and other advanced technologies is often hindered by poor Internet access. Improving the connectivity also can help increase population size in the province. “It's already happening where people who desire rural areas choose different jurisdictions. So, maybe someone that would happily set up shop or a business or bring their family into Saskatchewan, would choose a neighbouring province or somewhere else that has better rural connectivity,” said Welter. The task force representatives plan to continue to have meetings and eventually publish a final report in January 2021. “Our final report is going to see policy recommendations for both federal and provincial governments, some takeaways and things that they have the ability to change to encourage innovation and investment into the idea of connecting,” said Welter. Those interested can read a short version of the interim report

MBP seeks producer input on predation

December 12, 2020 - 5:59am
Many livestock producers in Manitoba face issues with predation and the toll it takes on their operation. Staff at Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) want to help producers deal with this issue with a pilot program they’re currently running. “The intent of the project is to put in place some mitigation practices to try and reduce predator interactions between wolf, coyote, black bear and beef cattle and sheep,” said Ray Bittner. He is the predation lead for MBP and lead on the Livestock Predation Prevention Pilot Project (LPPPP). The LPPPP, a three-year industry-led project announced in February, is currently seeking information from producers across Manitoba on predation. “We're starting the project with a survey. The survey is going to ask what type of animals producers have, what type of predation issues they have and what predators are on their land. We're going to try and quantify where the biggest issues are and the things that we can have the most effect on,” Bittner told After data is collected from the survey, the project members will purchase mitigation items to try and reduce the number of predator interactions, said Bittner. “Everybody generally agrees that predation is a bad thing, but what we found is most municipalities have a medium number of interactions and problems. But some producers are extremely affected, and others are not at all. So, what we want to do is try and help out the extremely affected producers and reduce the losses,” he said. Producers can find the survey in the December issues of Cattle Country or it will be mailed to them. They can also request a survey by calling the MBP office at 800-772-0458. “We would like just about everybody who receives (a survey) to reply, even if they have minimal problems because the survey will help quantify what the people with minimal problems do to possibly avoid those problems,” said Bittner. Producers are asked to complete the survey by Dec. 21 and those who do complete it are entered to win one of two prizes: a Ridgetec Lookout, dual LTE game camera or a Pit Boss pellet stainless steel, hardwood pellet grill barbeque. Along with MBP, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, Manitoba Sheep Association and Manitoba Trapper’s Association are planning and delivering the project. Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development is providing $300,000 for the project.

PIC invests in pulse flours

December 11, 2020 - 5:58am
A new project aimed at developing applications for pulse flours may soon give producers in Western Canada another market for their crops. The project partners, Protein Industries Canada (PIC), Avena Foods, Big Mountain Foods, Daiya Foods, Bakenology and The Village Bakery announceda $6.3 million project Dec. 8. The project is “aimed at utilizing proprietary technology that Avena Foods has developed, where they develop tempered pulse flours from a number of different input crops,” said Bill Greuel, president of PIC. Daiya Foods and Big Mountain Foods from Canada and Bakenology and The Village Bakery, based out of the United Kingdom, can then use this tempered pulse flour in its food manufacturing. “Support from PIC is critical in transitioning Avena’s tempered flours from promising food ingredients to an innovative suite of clean-label, nutritious and functional ingredients for food manufacturers. This project will open up a new, important market for farmers and provide significant benefits to consumers,” said Gord Flaten, Avena Foods CEO, in the release. This partnership also helps diversify the markets available to producers in Western Canada and avoid issues with exporting whole seeds to other countries, said Greuel. Packaged goods are “harder for national governments to impose trade barriers on than it is for straight up commodities. I think this whole idea of market diversification and insulating us against trade disruptions is really critical for producers,” he told