Seed Synergy Project Could Culminate in 5 Groups Merging

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The Canadian seed industry could possibly see five of its six associations merge into one as the Seed Synergy Collaboration Project ramps up.

At a Seed Synergy update session and workshop hosted jointly on July 11 by the Canadian Seed Trade Association and Canadian Seed Growers’ Association in Montreal, conversation focused heavily on the need for the industry to speak with a single voice. The boards of the five dedicated seed associations – Canadian Seed Trade Association, Canadian Seed Growers’ Association, Canadian Seed Institute, Commercial Seed Analysts’ Association of Canada and the Canadian Plant Technology Agency – have given preliminary direction to explore a possible merger of those organizations, in addition to a formal alignment with CropLife Canada modelled on the existing CropLife Canada-CSTA Memorandum of Understanding.

The intent is to create a streamlined model for information management, advocacy, service provision and provide greater value for the industry’s collective members, and – most importantly – to amplify the impact of the various complementary functions within the Synergy organizations.

No official board decision has been made, and many questions remain unresolved, it was noted. A Seed Synergy white paper is expected to be released this coming fall which will lay out an ultimate vision for a revamped Canadian seed system.

Also discussed were four key mandated areas that the project is focusing on to improve and streamline the Canadian seed system:

  • Client/Member Experience
  • Enabling Plant Breeding Innovation
  • Stimulating Innovation and Value Creation
  • Next-Generation Traceability/Seed Certification Framework

For further documentation visit https://www.seedsynergy.net/whatsnew/.

Farm Families Honoured in Camrose

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Alberta families who have farmed the same land for 100 years or more are being recognized with Century Farm and Ranch awards.

Recipients of the award receive a bronze plaque to commemorate this significant milestone. A total of 96 families are being recognized across the province, including 27 families who will be honoured in Camrose on July 5.

“Agriculture is at the core of who we are as Albertans.” said Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. “It’s an integral part of the foundation of our province’s cultural heritage, our strong economy and our vibrant rural communities. It is an honour to recognize these founding families and their legacy. Our government continues to support the sustainable growth of our local food industry and the hard-working entrepreneurs in this sector.”

Gladys Mowat, of Galahad, Century Farm and Ranch Award recipient said: “My grandpa and grandma farmed for over 30 years, followed by my dad. We now have four sons and they still come up for coffee and discuss what we’re going to accomplish on the farm. Receiving the Century Farm and Ranch Award is a real gift for our family. We all work hard and work together to keep the farm in the family. We are just so proud; my mom and dad would be so honoured for this recognition of all their hard work.”

Since 1993, more than 1,750 families have received the Government of Alberta’s Century Farm and Ranch awards.

Agriculture is the province’s largest renewable industry, with exports valued at more than $10 billion annually. There are more than 40,000 farms in Alberta, totalling more than 50 million acres.

Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award recipients being recognized in Camrose:

  • The Anderson Family of Erskine
  • The Baird Family of Gadsby
  • The Berkholtz Family of Hay Lakes
  • The Bowie Family of Rosalind
  • The Etty Family of Galahad
  • The Giedemann Family of Heisler
  • The Gilbertson Family of Brownfield
  • The Hillman Family of Forestburg
  • The Kroetsch Family of Heisler
  • The Larson Family of Donalda
  • The Martin Family of Sedgewick
  • The McNabb Family of Forestburg
  • The Melin Family of Czar
  • The Mowat Family of Galahad
  • The Nelson Family of Metiskow
  • The Ness Family of Sedgewick
  • The Persson Family of Millet
  • The Prichard Family of Killam
  • The Rix Family of Wetaskiwin
  • The Roth Family (Doug) of Heisler
  • The Roth Family (Randal and Barbara) of Forestburg
  • The Schetzsle Family of Veteran
  • The Schilling Family of Halkirk
  • The Stevenson Family of Galahad
  • The Toth Family of Bashaw
  • The Vincett Family of Galahad
  • The Wakefield Family of Coronation

Source: Government of Alberta

Statistics Canada Releases Crop Acreage Estimates

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Ending off the month of June, Statistics Canada revised its 2018 Canadian crop acreage estimates. The grain trade generally expected and received updates reflecting an increase in canola area and a trimming of wheat acres relative to its report released in April.

Seeded acreage of the major pulse crops were dialed back slightly, the result of tariffs imposed by India continuing to weigh down the price outlook. Barley acres increased from the April estimate as about expected.

Canola

Canadian farmers reported the intention of seeding 22.7 million acres of canola in 2018, an upward revision of 1.4 million from their previous report, but still down 1.1 per cent from the record 23 million acres seeded in 2017. PFCanada was looking for a number equal to last year, but this was close.

Ultimately, the higher canola number does not change the price outlook as market attention now shifts back to summer weather and emerging global oilseed trade patterns highlighted by United States and China conflict.

Wheat

Canadian farmers reported all wheat seeded area at 24.7 million acres, a 2.2 per cent revision lower from what StatsCan projected in April, but still up 10.4 per cent from last year. Durum wheat though saw an unexpected jump up to 6.19 million acres.

Spring wheat lost about one million acres from the spring report, but the yield and quality outcome from this 2018 crop carries more weight to determining supply and influencing grower returns.

A weak Canadian dollar and an eventual less aggressive export tone from Russia and the European Union should ensure ample wheat export opportunities from Canada.

The durum number comes in higher than the marketplace needs, suggesting a price outlook that continues to grind along at a sideways trend for now. It will likely take some work and time for a price uptrend to assert, but first durum has to find a bottom.

Soybeans

In 2018, the area sown to soybeans is down 13.2 per cent from 2017 to 6.3 million acres. That’s in line with StatsCan’s April estimate, but perhaps at the lower end of trade expectations. The four largest producing provinces in the country – Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and Saskatchewan – all planted fewer acres.

Barley and oats

Total area seeded to barley rose 12.7 per cent from last year to 6.5 million acres in 2018. Strong winter and spring prices for feed barley likely attracted additional acres.

Canadian farmers reported seeding 3.1 million acres of oats, down 4.8 per cent from 2017. A weak and flat price environment drew away oat acres to other cereal choices. If yield and quality verifies for 2018, I think we can expect the same going nowhere market trend extending for at least six months or more.

Lentils and peas

Canadian farmers reported that areas seeded to lentils decreased 14.5 per cent in 2018 to 3.8 million acres. Acreage seeded to dry peas fell 12 per cent to 3.6 million acres. Both commodities were down 200,000 to 300,000 acres from the April report and coming in closer to what trade ideas were coming into the spring season.

Fundamentally, the price outlook for edible peas is poised to be the first pulse market to reinvigorate, but not until after competitively priced exportable surpluses from the Former Soviet Union states are eroded. My best guess is that lentils still have another year of grind before pricing can shift back up to higher levels.

Bottom line

Canadian crop acreage, according to Statistics Canada for 2018 sees some shifting back to canola and away from spring wheat and pulses.

Source: Farm Credit Canada

Olds College Embraces the Future with Launch of Smart Farm

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Olds College has officially launched the Olds College Smart Farm, an exciting new initiative that will see the College transform their existing farm operation into a farm of the future by incorporating the latest technologies aimed at improving productivity while efficiently and sustainably using resources.

“Working with industry partners from the agriculture and technology sectors, the Olds College Smart Farm will provide a cutting edge learning environment for our students and lifelong learners by providing a hands-on venue for industry to develop, integrate and test new agriculture technology and practices,” comments Stuart Cullum, President, Olds College.

Stuart Cullum, President of Olds College and Catalina Oitzl, current Olds College Student plant a soil and crop evaluation sensor into the Olds College Smart Farm (CNW Group/Olds College)

A multi-million dollar initiative, the Olds College Smart Farm will be implemented in phases. The College is collaborating with partners from the private and public sectors, and government to build and fund this initiative. The plan is to grow partnerships along with the Smart Farm in the coming months and years to enhance student learning and applied research opportunities.

Phase one focuses on crops, with 110 acres being transformed into a smart farm by:

  • installing stationary soil monitors
  • installing digital weather stations
  • evaluating soil and crops using spectroscopy and multispectral imaging along with artificial intelligence neural nets to help determine the differences in healthy and unhealthy plants, and the causes for health deterioration
  • installing wireless grain bin sensors
  • installing a wireless mesh network that will provide wi-fi to the entire farm
  • equipment monitoring and control for best practice precision agriculture, including the use of monitors and controls on contractor equipment to gather data
  • the use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)
  • installing rural narrowband connectivity to ensure high quality internet connectivity
  • incorporating farm management software platforms that gather, store, and visualize production and management data
  • utilizing data analytics, machine learning, and AI to turn data into information, and information into knowledge
  • partnering with expert agronomists who will serve as agronomic coaches to help analyze the data

“At Olds College we believe that agriculture is a key industry to our province and country’s success,” comments Cullum. “The Olds College Smart Farm creates an open environment for collaboration and research among industry and other post-secondary institutions to work together to advance the agriculture industry. Olds College has a great opportunity with our Smart Farm to facilitate engagement that address the challenges facing agriculture, in order for our ag sector to produce more while using less.”

The College also announced today that they are working to develop new programming in agriculture technology, and have partnered with Agri-Trade to host a Smart Ag Expo next summer. The Smart Ag Expo scheduled for August 13 & 14, 2019, will be a combination of an outdoor farm show, with hands-on technology demos, and a series of conference style workshops and courses that the public can register for.

Fusarium Head Blight: Appropriate Fungicide Timing

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Dryer weather conditions across most of the Prairies limited fusarium head blight (FHB) disease in cereal crops in 2017. However, cereals grown in shortened crop rotations will continue to be vulnerable during the current crop season due to more severe FHB incidence in many areas in 2016.

“A one year break away from a host crop is not enough time to permit this serious fungal disease to adequately decompose,” says Neil Whatley, crop specialist at the Alberta Ag-Info Centre. “Infected crop residue from 2016 continues to pose a serious threat to cereals in 2018 if favourable weather conditions occur.”

Cereal crops are most vulnerable to infection at flowering time when the disease spores, dispersed primarily by wind, infect the cereal plant. Disease severity is greater under weather conditions of high humidity and warmer temperatures, 15 to 25 C, in June and July that favour spore development.

“While complete control of FHB is unattainable, producers can suppress the disease in cereal crops by applying a fungicide,” says Whatley. “Although several fungicides are registered to suppress FHB, strobilurin (Group 11) fungicides are not recommended.”

“Observable FHB symptoms don’t appear until the late heading stage when it is too late to apply protective fungicide. Therefore, a decision to apply a fungicide must be made prior to this, at the flowering stage, to protect emerging heads,” adds Whatley.

If disease risk level is assessed as moderate to high and yield return justifies fungicide application cost, a foliar fungicide should be applied at the flowering stage to protect emerging heads. Disease risk level increases when more of the following factors exist:

    • Field is located in a region where FHB is established.
    • Cereal variety being grown is susceptible to FHB.
    • Durum or corn is in the crop rotation or in adjacent fields.
    • Cereal crops are frequently grown in the same field or in nearby fields.
    • Weather conditions are damp and warm at crop flowering stage.
    • Irrigation is used in the farm operation.
    • Yield potential is good.
    • Cereal grain prices are high.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Alberta Climate Information Service (ACIS) has developed the weather-based FHB risk forecast webpage to assist growers with making a spraying decision and for more accurate timing of a fungicide application. This forecasting tool provides local and hourly FHB risk levels using near-real-time weather data that growers can correspond with the correct heading stage for appropriate fungicide application timing. Mobile friendly www.weatherdata.ca/malso features the FHB webpage and can be added to a smart phone’s home screen.

The period of time that a cereal plant is susceptible to infection is short. Therefore, the spray window is also short, approximately seven days. Warmer weather conditions narrow the spray window while cooler conditions widen the spray window. FHB fungal spores infect the cereal plant by entering openings created where tiny flowers – referred to as anthers – form on the cereal head. Wheat flowers after the head is fully emerged from the boot while barley begins flowering as the head emerges from the boot. Tiny yellow anthers initially form in the middle of a head, ultimately developing over the full length of the head, and finally turning from yellow to white as they age and dry out before blowing away.

“Under ideal growing conditions, the length of time from when the wheat head is just emerging from the boot to the beginning of flowering is three days, so begin scouting closely when the head begins to emerge from the boot,” says Whatley. “The spray window begins when most of the heads on the main stems are fully emerged from the boot and continues through the time when yellow anthers form on the heads. As mentioned, barley begins to flower in the boot, however, wait until most of the barley heads have emerged from the boot before spraying. Ultimately, good head coverage prior to infection is critical for improving fungicide efficacy for both wheat and barley. Recent research suggests that fungicides continue to provide suitable suppression of FHB when applied 4 to 6 days after the start of flowering, or approximately 7 to 10 days following full head emergence. If considering a later application, follow the pre-harvest interval specified for each fungicide product.”

Dr. Tom Wolf’s (AgriMetrix Research & Training) fungicide spray recommendations for FHB are:

    • Angle nozzles forward or use a double nozzle (forward and back).
    • Greater angles are better.
    • Use coarse sprays.
    • Maintain low boom height.
    • Fast travel speeds are fine for vertical targets (cereal heads).
    • Water: recommend 15+ gallons per acre (70+ litres per acre).

      Source: AAFC

Local Food Council to Support Growth in Sector

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Minister Carlier and Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne announce Local Food Council recruitment with industry partners at a Calgary urban farm. (Photo: Government of Alberta)

Applications are now open for Alberta’s first ever Local Food Council. The aim of the council will be to provide recommendations on provincial policies, programs, pilot projects or initiatives to support the continued growth and sustainability of Alberta’s local food sector.

Recruiting a Local Food Council is the first step in implementing the Supporting Alberta’s Local Food Sector Act that was passed on May 30.

“Our government is stepping up to show support for this industry and the people who put food on our table,” said Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. “The Supporting Alberta’s Local Food Sector Act and our new Local Food Council will give a voice to this growing industry by helping it find new markets, create new jobs and further diversify the provincial economy.”

The council will have broad representation from Alberta’s local food sector across the province, including small producers and processors and those with specialized and academic knowledge, and would report to the minister within one year.

“Urban farming is one way to reconnect people with their food and how it’s grown,” said Dennis Scanland, Calgary urban farmer, Dirt Boys, president of YYC Growers and Distributors, co-founder of SunnyCider. “Local food is about accessibility and being invested in the land, your food and your community. We need to start conversations about local food production, break down some of the perceived barriers for people to get involved and engage citizens.”

Members will be selected from a public recruitment process, which is now open on the Alberta public agency board opportunities website. Stakeholders with an interest or knowledge of the local food sector are encouraged to apply. Applications close July 12.

The legislation requires the council to examine:

  • Potential barriers and challenges for local food producers and local food processors, including specific challenges faced by small producers and processors.
  • Local food aggregation and distribution.
  • Risk-management tools for local food producers and processors.
  • Increasing access to local food.
  • Consumer awareness of local food.
  • Certification opportunities for local food producers and local food processors.

Source: Government of Alberta

Recognizing a Century of Alberta Farming and Ranching Dedication

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(Photo: Government of Alberta)

The Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award has honoured over 1,750 farm families in Alberta since its inception in 1993. An Alberta Agriculture and Forestry program, the award salutes those families who have continuously owned and actively operated the same land for a minimum of 100 years.

Applications for the award, including eligibility criteria, are available on the Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award webpage. Eligible families are provided with a bronze plaque, many of which are proudly displayed throughout rural Alberta. Families often have special celebrations and reunions to mark the occasion of receiving their award.

Since 2013, the department has held summer recognition events throughout rural Alberta to bring recipients together. This year, 96 families have been invited to recognition events taking place in unique rural venues across Alberta:

    • Nisku, June 21
    • Olds, June 28
    • Camrose, July 5
    • Medicine Hat, July 26
    • Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, August 2
    • Grande Prairie, August 12

View all the Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award recipients.

For more information on applying for a Century Farm and Ranch Award or the summer recognition events please contact Susan Lacombe at 780-968-6557.

Source: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Farm Income Estimates for Alberta

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Statistics Canada has released its 2017 farm income estimates for Canada and the provinces, as well as the first quarter 2018 farm cash receipts (FCR) estimates. Roy Larsen, senior statistician with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry examines the Alberta numbers.

In 2017, Alberta had a healthy farm income situation with several records set, says Larsen. “Total FCR for the province surpassed $14 billion for the first time to $14.1 billion, a 4.5 per cent increase from 2016. Fuelling the gain were higher crop and livestock market receipts plus program payments to producers.” Total FCR is the sum of crop and livestock market receipts plus program payments to producers.

Crop market receipts set a new record, up 3.9 per cent to $6.9 billion. “The growth in receipts was largely driven by higher marketing and prices, notably wheat and canola,” explains Larsen. “Some of the other crops posting gains were oats and flax, with chickpeas, dry beans and corn setting new highs. Receipts for barley, dry peas, potatoes and lentils decreased.”

Livestock market receipts were up 4.6 per cent to $6.4 billion, the second highest on record, says Larsen. “It is mainly due to increased marketing, notably cattle. Market receipts for cattle and calves rose 4.8 per cent to $4.8 billion, the third highest on record. Hogs were up for the first time since 2014. Posting record receipts were dairy, poultry and eggs.”

Total program payments to producers increased 9.7 per cent to $764.1 million, “That was largely due to higher payments under Crop Insurance, AgriStability, AgriRecovery and Compensation for Animal Losses,” adds Larsen.

Total farm operating expenses rose 3.8 per cent to a record $10.5 billion. Says Larsen, “Notable increases included livestock/poultry purchases and machinery fuel/repairs, while commercial feed and fertilizer/lime fell.”

Alberta’s net cash income (NCI) – the difference between FCR and farm operating expenses – increased 6.8 per cent from 2016, to a record $3.6 billion. “Likewise,” says Larsen, “Realized net income (RNI), which is NCI adjusted for depreciation and is a non-cash cost, grew 10.3 per cent to a record $1.8 billion. Overall, total net income (TNI) was practically unchanged, just down marginally 0.3 per cent, at $2.2 billion.”

Alberta’s total FCR in the first quarter 2018 was $3.9 billion, down 5.7 per cent from the first quarter of 2017, says Larsen. “The decline was due to lower crop market receipts, down 9.4 per cent, and program payments to producers, down 31.8 per cent, more than offsetting higher livestock market receipts, which was up 3.7 per cent.”

Nationally in 2017, Alberta ranked first among provinces in total FCR and cattle and calf receipts. Alberta ranked second to Saskatchewan in NCI, RNI and TNI. Alberta accounted for 22.9 per cent of the national total FCR of $61.6 billion.

For the first quarter of 2018, Alberta was second to Saskatchewan in total FCR. Nationally, receipts fell 5.3 per cent from the same period in 2017 to $15.4 billion. “The decline was not unique to Alberta, as receipts fell for most provinces,” adds Larsen.

Data from the release is available via the Statistics Canada website. The tables are as follows: annual farm cash receipts (Table 32-10-0045-01), net farm income (Table 32-10-0052-01), and quarterly farm cash receipts (Table 32-10-0046-01).

For more information about these farm income estimates for Alberta, contact Roy Larsen at 780-644-1308.

Source: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

South Korea, Japan Halt Wheat and Flour Sales from Canada Over GMO Plants Found in Alberta

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South Korea has joined Japan in suspending trade in Canadian wheat following the discovery of a small number of genetically modified plants in southern Alberta.

It’s standard protocol in both countries to temporarily close markets in such cases, Global Affairs spokesman Jesse Wilson said Monday.

“The Government of Canada is working with foreign trading partners to ensure they have all the necessary information to make informed decisions and limit market disruption,” he said in an emailed statement.

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Parliament Must Pass the CPTPP: Cereals Canada

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Implementing legislation for the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is now in Parliament.  Canada has a chance to demonstrate much-needed leadership and cooperation on trade with like-minded global partners.  It is imperative for Parliament to pass this legislation before its summer recess. This agreement will unlock valuable trade opportunities all while enhancing prospects for the growth and diversification of Canadian agriculture.

The Government of Canada recognizes the important growth potential for agri-food exports and increased contributions to our economy.  The latest budget set an ambitious target to increase agri-food exports to $75 billion annually by 2025, up from $64 billion today.  The CPTPP offers a path towards this goal.

The case for trade diversification is stronger in today’s political climate.  The uncertainty and risk surrounding the ongoing renegotiation of NAFTA are troubling enough.  The acrimony after the G7 meeting in Charlevoix drives home the need to expand export horizons.  Implementing the CPTPP is a concrete opportunity for Canada to improve access and competitiveness in new markets.

Livelihoods across the country are tied to agricultural trade.  From our ports in Vancouver and Montreal, mills and manufacturing plants in Winnipeg and Toronto, to family farms and agri-businesses, international trade sustains jobs in every region, city and rural area of Canada.

Looking more closely at the CPTPP, we see that its benefits for Canadian agriculture revolve around three key areas.

First, lower tariffs achieved through this agreement have a direct impact on Canadian competitiveness. This is particularly important for value-added agri-food products, many of which have traditionally faced high tariffs in export markets.  But it is also critical for commodities like wheat and canola, where Canada will have preferential access to key markets such as Japan and Vietnam, thereby matching the gains achieved by Australia.  Somewhat ironically, the CPTPP will also give Canada a leg up against the U.S. in high value Asian markets.  Many agriculture groups in the U.S. are openly disappointed by their country’s withdrawal from the CPTPP for this reason.  But to lock-in these benefits, Canada must be among the first countries to ratify the agreement.

Second, through the CPTPP Canada and its partners are upgrading the rules of trade. Predictable, risk- and science-based trade rules play a key role in facilitating access to markets.  As a modern, ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement, the CPTPP sets higher standards for participating countries while creating a more predictable and transparent trade environment.  Stronger science-based and risk-based rules for agricultural trade will help limit the potential for protectionist barriers and encourage greater investment in innovation.  Adoption of new technologies leads to productivity enhancements and new commercial opportunities.

The improvements to the trading rules through the CPTPP are critical for Canadian farmers and exporters who are increasingly facing unjustified market barriers around the world. A strong and ambitious agreement between Canada and CPTPP partners sets common standards that reduce the likelihood of trade friction, while offering stronger dispute resolution mechanisms when issues arise.  It should be noted, however, that Canada also has an onus to enforce these rules when issues emerge – as is the case with Canada’s ongoing challenges for durum exports to Italy, under the Canada-European Union Free Trade Agreement (CETA).

The third benefit, and perhaps the most important, is that the CPTPP is viewed as an opportunity to provide leadership in promoting multilateral trade policy cooperation. In the wake of withdrawal and rising protectionism by traditional trading partners, the importance of achieving these outcomes is clearer than ever.  What’s more, as the global economic and political center of gravity shifts towards Asia, Canada will be well positioned to deepen its trading relationships and shape global business standards.  Once the agreement is in place, it is highly likely that new countries, perhaps even the U.S., will seek to join, further strengthening the agreement’s scale and benefits.  Canada must be at the table with the terms for new entrants are set.

The CPTPP is a tremendous opportunity to build and diversify markets.  The agreement will build jobs in both rural and urban Canada and it will help grow the Canadian economy.  With the implementing legislation for the CPTPP now in Parliament, Canada has a chance to play a leading role by joining the first six countries to ratify the agreement.  This will demonstrate Canada’s commitment to international trade while promoting continued cooperation, against the backdrop of rising protectionism and uncertainty.

The spotlight is now on Parliament to ratify the CPTPP.  Farmers can do their part by taking the time to write, call or meet with their Members of Parliament to encourage ratification before the expected June 22 recess of Parliament.  Farmers’ voices matter so take the time – it will be good for your business.

Source: Cereals Canada