Cover Story

Cover Story: The Graying of Ontario Agriculture

With five times as many farmers over 55 as under 35, there’s an urgent need to recruit and train the next generation of farmers. Several programs cater to the organic sector, but when it comes to conventional farming, offerings are piecemeal

by Mary Baxter

Yehuda Nestel jokes that his only family connection to agriculture is a story his parents tell of moving to Israel to live on a kibbutz and farm watermelons. They left within months.

Cover Story: The New Ethanol

Grain-based ethanol is under fire for contributing to world food shortages. Many now hail cellulosic as the answer to the world’s mounting fuel crisis. But is this ‘next generation’ biofuel an ideal solution or a troubling compromise?

by Mary Baxter

It is a Thursday night in early April and Tom Cox is talking about ethanol. In particular, he is discussing a largely farmer-owned ethanol production venture, which goes by the name of Integrated Grain Producers Co-operative (IGPC) and which could begin operation in Aylmer as early as this month.

Cover Story: Six farm families and six solutions to handing down the family farm

Succession can be one of the biggest hurdles a farm family faces. And with today’s larger, more complex and investment-heavy operations, more people are usually involved than in the past. Here Better Farming looks at how six Ontario families coped


It’s no secret that Canada’s farm population is aging. By 2006, the average age of the Canadian farmer had crept up to 52 from 2001’s average of 49.9. And with advancing years comes the challenge of transferring the farm to the next generation.

Cover Story Sidebar 4: Coming soon: an industrial safety standard for farming

This month, the Canadian Standards will unveil the first draft of a comprehensive industrial occupational health and safety management system for agriculture


For products such as baby seats and bicycle helmets, it’s fairly common knowledge that a Canadian Standards Association (CSA) designation means that they were built with safety in mind. What may be less apparent is the CSA’s involvement in the agriculture sector. Since 1990, it has published 45 standards that tackle the safe design and use of farm machinery.

This month (April), the association will unveil Canada’s first stab at outlining an occupational health and safety management system for agriculture.

Cover Story Sidebar 3: Should equipment training become mandatory for farmers?

In many industrial sectors, equipment training is mandatory and, in some instances, licensing may even be required. Not so for farmers. Nor is there an age restriction on who can operate the equipment.

In contrast, there are laws prohibiting children from being on a construction site and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires that farmers ensure their employees are trained on the equipment they operate.

Cover Story Sidebar 2: Lack of machine guards leads to accidents

Wayne De L’Orme, co-ordinator of the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s industrial program, says that two trends are emerging from statistics concerning on-farm health and safety violations.

Farms with employees have been required to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act since June 30, 2006. De L’Orme says that statistics collected during the first 14 months since the Act has been in effect show that most accidents are taking place in southwestern Ontario, where most farms are and involve either people coming into contact with machines or falls.

It’s what he expected from previous surveys and statistics about the most common injuries.

Cover Story Sidebar 1: So you think an accident won’t happen to you?

If you are an owner operator, think again, because you are the most vulnerable member of the agricultural community


You know your equipment; you’ve used it day in and day out for years. So have your son and daughter. An accident is the last thing on your mind. Then, one day, one of you gets too close. And it happens.

Many of those who own and operate their own farms without the assistance of others may think an accident won’t ever happen to them.

Cover Story: When one bale too many caused tragedy

When a bale slipped off a loader and fell onto the hapless operator, it left him partly paralyzed. It’s the type of accident that happens all too often, says the local fire chief


The accident merited a terse report in a policeman’s notebook and three paragraphs in the local newspaper. It left a young man’s life changed forever, and a deputy fire chief shaking his head in wonderment.

The police report describes how officers responded to a report of a farm accident on the 8th Line of Mapleton Township in Wellington County on Feb. 1, at 12:40 p.m. A 32-year old farmer, Doug Webber, had been found by his wife paralyzed on his loader-tractor seat nearly two hours after a large square bale of straw fell on him.


A new business opportunity for farmers, or more aggravation for the neighbours?

by Mary Baxter

Storing municipal waste or other biosolids on farms is not new to Ontario – provided what was being stored would be spread on the property. But now some farmers are looking to store waste that will be spread elsewhere, and local residents are up in arms

In 2006, Nick and Colleen Wiendels experienced the unthinkable. The couple, who farm near Poplar Hill just north of London, saw their hog barn burn to the ground – for the second time.

Losses were devastating. All 1,000 animals in the barn were destroyed.

Cover Story: Will a Voluntary ‘Grown in Canada’ Label Help Farmers?

Federations of agriculture are pushing for a label that identifies homegrown food. But the concept is proving surprisingly controversial


Pork producer Louis Roesch takes food, and where it comes from, seriously. He thinks that the time is ripe for a “Grown in Canada” label for local food and support for the idea has grown sharply. The concept is not without its wrinkles, though, and not everyone is onside.

Roesch has been pushing for a true “Grown in Canada” label for food for a couple of years with relatively little success. He and his wife Clara have carved out a business selling locally produced food from their farm-based store at Kent Bridge, near Chatham, in southwestern Ontario.