Youth Ag-Summit kicks off in Brussels

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Brussels, October 9, 2017 – Today marks the kick-off of the 3rd edition of the Youth Ag-Summit, with 100 bright young talents from around the world arriving in Brussels, Belgium, to tackle one of humanity’s biggest challenges: how to feed a growing population in a more sustainable manner. Organized by Bayer, together with the two Belgian young farmers associations Groene Kring (GK) and Fédération des Jeunes Agriculteurs (FJA), the summit aims to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger, achieve food security, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Over the next four days, the delegates from 49 countries – who range from age 18 to 25 – will work together to generate innovative, sustainable and actionable solutions to global food security challenges. Their mission is to come up with concrete new ideas which can drive agricultural progress across the globe and be put into practice back home. (Canadian delegates.)

“For the UN SDGs to be reached, everyone needs to do their part. By inspiring our youth to advocate for science and sustainable agriculture, we hope to tap into the creativity of great young minds to help solve a major societal challenge,” said Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and president of the Crop Science Division. “The Youth Ag-Summit is always a hotbed of enthusiasm, creative thinking, and innovation – I look forward to seeing what projects will emerge this year.”

This year, Youth Ag-Summit delegates will hear from expert and inspirational speakers including Professor Louise O. Fresco, President of Wageningen University & Research, Caleb Harper, Director of Open Agriculture (OpenAG) initiative, MIT Media Lab, Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen and many more.

As well as talks designed to spark their creativity, delegates will have the opportunity to tour the EU institutions and meet with European policymakers, visit one of Bayer’s innovative sustainable farming sites, and gain real-world insights into sustainability in action from companies and organisations such as Rabobank, CropTrust, Thought for Food, BioBest, International Society for Horticultural Science, VIB – Flemish Institute for Biotech, Inagro, University Ghent and Ahold Delhaize Group.

Speaking about the partnership with Bayer, national chairman of Groene Kring, Giel Boey, said: “We are very pleased to co-host this event, which gives young people the chance to collaborate and act on solutions for sustainable agriculture – rather than just thinking, they will be DOING.”

“We need to restore the connection between those who produce our food and those who consume it. We’re proud to be this year’s co-host and are certain that the delegates’ work will have a positive impact in their communities and beyond,” added Guillaume Van Binst, secretary general of the Fédération des Jeunes Agriculteurs.

Throughout the week, delegates will work to develop “Thrive for Change Projects”; concrete ideas to help achieve the UN SDGs in their communities and countries. Following a pitch process, the strongest ideas will be selected for future funding and development by Bayer.

Visit www.youthagsummit.com to meet the delegates and to learn more about the Summit. Follow the latest news on @YouthAgSummit or https://www.facebook.com/YouthAgSummit/.

Alberta Barley hires Tom Steve as Interim General Manager

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Alberta Wheat and Barley undergo trial period operating with a shared management structure.

Alberta Barley announces the appointment of Tom Steve as interim general manager effective immediately. Steve currently serves as general manager of the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and will continue in this role as well.

With Steve now leading both commissions, the boards of AWC and Alberta Barley have approved a project to assess the feasibility of amalgamating their management teams over a four-month trial period. The move is aimed at streamlining the commissions’ collaborative relationship, and increasing efficiencies that will better serve Alberta’s wheat and barley farmers.

“Our board saw this as an excellent opportunity to leverage the strong working relationship we have with the Alberta Wheat Commission,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley chair. “By exploring the idea of a single management team, we hope to identify ways to provide greater value to the province’s wheat and barley farmers.”

Alberta Barley and AWC already share office space as well as accounting and administrative staff, making this move a logical next step in further building the working relationship between the two commissions.

“Since our inception in 2012 we have collaborated with Alberta Barley on projects that serve both crops,” said Kevin Auch, AWC chair. “With a shared management structure, we believe we can operate with maximum efficiency and provide the best possible return on investment to farmers.”

Following the trial period in early 2018, the two boards will determine whether they will formalize an integrated management structure operating under one general manager and reporting to both boards. Alberta Barley and AWC look forward to reporting on the results of the trial period and sharing next steps with farmers.

The general manager position at Alberta Barley has been vacant since Rob Davies left the commission on Sept. 6, 2017.

The tale of two neonicotinoid bumblebee studies

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Two studies on the health of bumblebees and links to neonicotinoid health were published simultaneously last month in sister publications of the prestigious science journal empire, Nature.

Both examined closely similar scientific questions, with somewhat different experimental methodologies. But the study that found that neonics caused no serious issues was ignored by the media while the one suggesting a bee-apocalypse was widely played up as “definitive.”

The studies were not identical in focus, although they had one author in common — entomologist Nigel Raine of the University of Guelph in Ontario. They looked at different stages in the life cycle of bumblebees and their queens. So, on that basis alone, the findings about the differences in bee health could have been different. But the issue here is not only the conclusions, but the reporting on the studies.

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National Report Identifies Priorities for the Profitability of Canada’s Wheat Industry

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Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Cereals Canada today released the 2017 Canadian Wheat Research Priorities report.

Wheat research priorities were developed through a national collaboration of farmers, federal and provincial governments, private development companies, public research institutions, exporters and processors to identify the priority areas of research that public, private and producer groups should focus on for the next five years in order to ensure the strength and growth of the wheat industry in Canada.

The research priorities focus on improving wheat yield and reliability, increasing sustainability and improving food safety such as reducing mycotoxins. Research will also increase the ability to respond to consumer needs by developing a way to capture consumer preferences, and provide this information directly to researchers and purchasers.

Canada produces an average of 30M tonnes of wheat each year and is the worlds’ largest producer of high-protein milling wheat.

AgGrowth Coalition Poised for Next Steps in BRM Review

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In response to the Federal Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Agricultural Ministers’ commitment to a comprehensive review of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs over the coming year, several agricultural organizations have formalized their structure and plans as the AgGrowth Coalition. The Coalition has committed to advocacy efforts and policy research to position industry as a trusted, authoritative partner in this critical review process.

At a recent meeting in Toronto the Coalition discussed and agreed to a strategy for the path forward in ensuring meaningful participation of industry in the BRM review. Members committed time and resources to guarantee that agriculture has a significant voice in shaping the next generation of farming policy and programs.

To that end, the AgGrowth Coalition is pleased to announce the coalition’s Chair, Mark Brock and Vice Chair, Jeff Nielsen. Mark Brock is Chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario and an active corn, soybean, and wheat farmer. Jeff Nielsen is President of Grain Growers of Canada and grows canola, wheat and barley in central Alberta.

Additionally, the AgGrowth Coalition is undertaking an independent research and policy process – it is the expectation that this will be done in partnership with FPT governments.

“Modern farming is a smart global business supporting strong communities across the country with sustainable practices. It’s time to modernize our agriculture programs, reflect the risks that are part of this reality and support the opportunities in front of us,” says Mark Brock, Chair of AgGrowth. “This is a rare opportunity to improve agriculture policy and programs to enhance the economic, environmental, and social contributions of farming in Canada.”

In cooperation with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Canadian Pork Council, AgGrowth is committed to undertake research and policy development to actively support the BRM review process.

“The AgGrowth coalition has created an industry business risk management committee to conduct research and analysis, develop policy positions and ultimately present options for improvement from a farmer perspective,” said vice-Chair Jeff Nielsen. “We would like to do this in partnership with government.”

New Partnership Provides Alberta Farmers with Tools to Fight Climate Change

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Farmers in Alberta are being given the tools to take charge against climate change by adopting on-farm best management practices that are scientifically proven to limit the impacts of agriculture on natural resources like air, water and soil.

Fertilizer Canada is proud to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Agricultural Research & Extension Council of Alberta (ARECA) that includes integration of 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place®) into the province’s Environmental Farm Plan (EFP). This agreement marks a significant milestone on Fertilizer Canada’s journey to create truly sustainable and climate-smart agriculture in Canada.

“We are pleased that ARECA has officially recognized 4R Nutrient Stewardship as a best practice for nutrient management on Alberta farms,” said Garth Whyte, president and CEO of Fertilizer Canada. “By encouraging farmers across the province to use fertilizer effectively, Alberta is joining the front lines in the fight against climate change and ensuring their place among the world’s leaders in sustainable agriculture.”

“ARECA is a long-time supporter and promoter of 4R Nutrient Stewardship,” said Janette McDonald, executive director. “There is no doubt this formalized partnership with Fertilizer Canada will aid us in expanding awareness of the program as a best practice for nutrient management planning.”

4R Nutrient Stewardship is a science-based nutrient management system that is universally applicable yet locally focused. By applying the right source of fertilizer at the right rate, the right time and the right place, farmers can ensure nutrients are efficiently taken up by their crops and are not lost to air, water or soil. This increases crop productivity and reduces unwanted environmental impacts.

Managed by ARECA, the province’s EFP self-assessment process encourages producers to assess and identify environmental risks on their farms and take action to improve their practices.

“While Alberta’s EFPs already include a section on nutrient risks, adding information about the positive long-term benefits of 4R Nutrient Stewardship will expand awareness among the province’s farmers,” said Paul Watson, EFP director at ARECA.

As growers in Alberta adopt 4R Nutrient Stewardship under the Alberta EFP, the acres they manage will be counted under Fertilizer Canada’s 4R Designation program, which tracks the amount of Canadian farmland using 4R Nutrient Stewardship to boost productivity and conserve resources. Fertilizer Canada aims to capture 20 million 4R acres by 2020 – representing 25 per cent of Canadian farmland – to demonstrate to the world the commitment Canada’s agriculture sector has made to adopt climate-smart and sustainable farm practices.

DowDuPont Merger Successfully Completed

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DowDuPont today announced the successful completion of the merger of equals between The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) and E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (“DuPont”), effective Aug. 31, 2017. The combined entity is operating as a holding company under the name “DowDuPont™” with three divisions – Agriculture, Materials Science and Specialty Products.
Shares of DuPont and Dow ceased trading at the close of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Aug. 31, 2017. Beginning today, DowDuPont will start trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock ticker symbol “DWDP.” Pursuant to the merger agreement, Dow shareholders received a fixed exchange ratio of 1.00 share of DowDuPont for each Dow share, and DuPont shareholders received a fixed exchange ratio of 1.282 shares of DowDuPont for each DuPont share.
“Today marks a significant milestone in the storied histories of our two companies,” said Andrew Liveris, executive chairman of DowDuPont. “We are extremely excited to complete this transformational merger and move forward to create three intended industry-leading, independent, publicly traded companies. While our collective heritage and strength are impressive, the true value of this merger lies in the intended creation of three industry powerhouses that will define their markets and drive growth for the benefit of all stakeholders. Our teams have been working for more than a year on integration planning, and — as of today — we will hit the ground running on executing those plans with an intention to complete the separations as quickly as possible.”
“For shareholders, customers and employees, closing this transaction is a definitive step toward unlocking higher value and greater opportunities through a future built on sustainable growth and innovation,” said Ed Breen, chief executive officer of DowDuPont. “DowDuPont is a launching pad for three intended strong companies that will be better positioned to reinvest in science and innovation, solve our customers’ ever-evolving challenges, and generate long-term returns for our shareholders. With the merger now complete, our focus is on finalizing the organizational structures that will be the foundations of these three intended strong companies and capturing the synergies to unlock value. With clear focus, market visibility and more productive R&D, each intended company will be equipped to compete successfully as an industry leader.”
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Resistance to Major Fungal Disease in Oilseed Crops Now Possible

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In a world first, researchers from the University of Western Australia in collaboration with Punjab Agricultural University in India have found the key to resistance to sclerotinia stem rot, a major fungal disease in Brassica oilseed crops globally.

Brassica oilseed crops include canola and mustard. Sclerotinia stem rot poses a major yield limiting threat to these crops worldwide, and currently, no commercial varieties with high level resistance to this disease are available.

The research, published in the international journal Scientific Reports, showed that resistance to sclerotinia stem rot disease found in Indian mustard is influenced by at least 10 genes. Professor Martin Barbetti from UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment and Institute of Agriculture said the findings are exciting because they offer highly significant oilseed breeding applications and benefits.

“Developing highly resistant varieties offers the only real prospect for long-term, cost-effective management of this devastating disease,” Prof Barbetti said.

“The findings offer mustard and subsequently canola breeders a powerful tool to optimize use of the genetic variation available within wild Brassica species.”

Currently farmers rely mainly on fungicide sprays to manage the disease, but these often provide poor or inconsistent control. As forecasting this disease has proven unreliable, fungicides are often wasted in cases where little disease would have eventuated anyway, adding to the already high production costs for low-input farming systems such as in Australia and India.

“Initially for mustard crops and later for canola, such novel engineering to develop new oilseed Brassica varieties that express these critical resistances to sclerotinia stem rot will enable much more effective management of this devastating pathogen worldwide,” Prof Barbetti said.

The findings were published in the paper Mapping resistance responses to Sclerotinia infestation in introgression lines of Brassica juncea carrying genomic segments from wild Brassicaceae B. fruticulosa in Scientific Reports. The research was supported by the Government of India and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

Source: European Seed

New Public Trust Research Tackles Transparency in 2017

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Find out what consumers are looking for from restaurants, grocery stores, food companies, governments and farmers at the CCFI Summit

Public trust and transparency continue to evolve as priority agenda items for many stakeholders and governments across the agri-food sector from coast to coast.  If transparency is no longer optional – what does that mean and what actions are needed by those who work in food or farming.

The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) 2017 public trust research will focus on transparency, trust and millennials, as a key driver in their efforts to help Canada’s food system earn trust.

“As discussions evolve from identifying public trust as a priority to establishing strategy and action plans for the future, it’s essential for our agri-food sector leaders to understand the values and expectations of the Canadian public,” stated Kim McConnell, CCFI Chair.

Building on the benchmark work established in 2016, this year’s CCFI research will take a deeper dive into transparency to help establish what consumers are looking for and from whom. The US Center for Food Integrity 2015 research established seven key elements of transparency and found that consumers clearly hold food companies responsible for delivering, followed by farmers, restaurants and grocery stores.  The Canadian research will duplicate this work for valuable North American comparisons, and also added in governments as a new category to find out more.

This research will be released at the CCFI Public Trust Summit in Calgary September 18-20th, along with a new transparency index tool for companies and associations to use to measure their efforts on transparency with some best management practices.

Join thought leaders from across the country and across sectors to help build the momentum for earning trust in Calgary this September.  Register and book hotels for the CCFI Public Trust Summit today at www.foodintegrity.ca

 

Western farmers worry they’ll pay the price of saving supply management under NAFTA

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Wheat, canola and other crops get far less attention than the dairy industry, which is protected by supply management policies.

Kevin Auch has been putting in long hours on his southern Alberta farm harvesting durum wheat — and also fretting about distant trade negotiations that may affect the price.

He wasn’t pleased, earlier this week, when Canada’s foreign affairs minister vowed to defend supply management on Canadian farms in the NAFTA negotiations just getting underway.

The system of controlled production and price protection doesn’t directly affect wheat farmers. But Auch, who is also chairman of the Alberta Wheat Commission, wonders who will pay the price of shielding supply management from competition.

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