Alberta Barley says BCC’s New Strategic Alignment Will Improve Value Chain Efficiency and Benefit Farmers

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Alberta Barley welcomes the strategic realignment of the Barley Council of Canada (BCC) which paves the way for greater collaboration throughout the barley value chain resulting in better service for farmers.

Changes will involve collaboration on delivery of service and sharing of resources with Cereals Canada, the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre (CMBTC) and the Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute (BMBRI). These synergies will maximize financial contributions from the barley value chain, including provincial barley commissions.

BCC’s new strategic direction is the result of the national barley roundtable which brought stakeholders together to determine a plan for the value chain to maximize the use of its financial resources while eliminating overlap. The roundtable was formed following the development of Getting to Growth: a western Canadian barley action plan, which was spearheaded by Alberta Barley. The action plan is aimed at encouraging industry wide collaboration and serves as a guide for strategic direction and initiatives to promote growth in the barley sector over the next 10 years.

The Barley Roundtable was initiated by the prairie barley commissions – Alberta Barley, Saskatchewan Barley Development Commission and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association.

“The roundtable process resulted in a number of recommendations to make better use of resources while ensuring all stakeholders are working toward a common strategy,” says Dave Bishop, Alberta Barley chair. “BCC’s new strategic direction will support the value chain’s efforts to work toward the actions laid out in Getting to Growth.”

BCC also announced yesterday that Phil de Kemp will be retiring from BCC following four years of service as executive director and president. Following de Kemp’s retirement, Erin Armstrong will be assuming the interim executive director role. Armstrong brings to the role more than 30 years of service in the agriculture industry including 14 years in the malting and brewing sector.

“I would like to thank Phil de Kemp for his leadership and service to the barley sector,” says Brian Sewell, Alberta Barley vice-chair. “Phil has been involved with BCC since it began. We appreciate his on-going dedication to the role and wish him well in his retirement. Looking ahead, we are pleased to welcome Erin Armstrong as interim executive director as she transitions into the role this summer.”

Source: Alberta Barley 

How To Determine A Level Of Spendable Income

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One of the least understood and measured cost in a farm operation’s cash flow is the amount the owners withdraw from net farm income for family living. “Many people remember a time when farm operations penciled in $30,000 to $40,000 annually,” says Dyck. “Today, farm families enjoy the same standard of living as their urban counterparts. Higher withdrawals for family living use ‘after tax’ dollars can impact the farm operation’s ability to grow, pay down debt and invest outside the farm.”

Statistics Canada data from 2017 shows the total expenditures for an average Alberta household of $100,587 with total current consumption of $72,957 before income taxes.

“Statistics Canada does not break down urban versus rural expenditures,” he explains. “Generally, household expenses in rural Alberta are approximately 80% of the Alberta household data. It works out to $58,365 per year, which may seem high for the average farm family. However, some expenditures such as shelter, household operation, and transportation blur between farm expenses and personal expenses.”

“Since family living expenses are paid with ‘after tax’ dollars,” he says, “It is necessary to calculate the amount of additional taxable income the farm must generate to pay for living. Using a combined federal and provincial tax rate of 25%, an average farm must generate approximately $73,000 over and above income used to pay for farm expenses per year.”

Can an average farm in Alberta generate enough income to pay for these expenditures? Says Dyck, “In 2017, the average Alberta net farm income was about $54,000. The deficit of approximately $19,000 shows a high reliance of farm families on off-farm income to provide a higher standard of living, to manage volatility in farm income, and to provide funds for investment back into the farm. In fact, a 2017 study found that off-farm jobs in Alberta contributed to 79% of household incomes.”

Dyck adds that in a practical world, family living expenses vary widely from the so-called average. “A strategy for success is to use these numbers as a benchmark and develop a cash flow for personal and family expenses. There are many templates on the internet to help with the process.”

“One tip is to add 25% to your family budget for unexpected expenditures. Also, give some thought to adding an expense line for off-farm investments for retirement. Farmers tend to view their equity in the farm operation as their source of retirement income. With people living longer, diversification to non-farm investments will provide flexibility with future income flows and flexibility in succession planning of the farm business.”

“It is important to know your personal needs and how you will generate enough income to fill those needs,” he adds. “This knowledge will also manage your wants. Often, those wants get farm families into trouble. A family farm creates self-employment, so managing the income to meet the needs of the farm and the needs of the family is hard to separate. It is always important to consider and a challenge to manage.”

For more information, see Statistics Canada’s Survey of Household Spending

Source: Alberta Ag

Canada’s Ag Sector Loses $2.9 Billion Due to Labour Shortages

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With the strong demand for Canadian food products around the world, agriculture is poised for growth. However, workforce challenges affect the sector’s ability to meet production goals, as well as their contribution to the national economy.

The Labour Market Forecast to 2029 for the agricultural sector was released June 25 by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC). The data indicated that farmers across Canada’s agriculture sector reported $2.9 billion in lost sales because of unfilled vacancies – an increase from $1.5 billion in 2014. Forty-six per cent of farmers who reported vacancies delayed or cancelled expansion plans and many reported extreme stress for themselves and their workers. Nearly 90% of producers with unfilled jobs identified excessive stress and hours as a result of not being able to find the workers they required.

However, there are signs of improvement over the last four years. Most noteworthy is that total job vacancies in agriculture have declined to 16,500 from 26,400, largely as a result of the adoption of technology, and an increase in the number of international workers who fill jobs where no Canadians can be found. Yet, vacancy rates in agriculture are among the highest of any sector in Canada at 5.4% (compared to the national average of just under 2.9%), they have decreased from the 2014 rate of 7%.

“Labour shortages in Canadian agriculture can only be addressed by taking decisive action,” states Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director of CAHRC. “By working together, we can find meaningful, creative solutions to increase the supply of labour and improve the skills of the sector’s workforce for the continued success and growth of agriculture across Canada.”

To address the labour issues identified in the research, CAHRC has developed agriculture-specific human resource (HR) tools designed to support modern farm operations to manage their workforce. CAHRC also offers Agri Skills, online and in-person training programs, and the Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business. For agricultural organizations there are customized labour issues briefings that apply the new research to specific commodities and provinces, to explore the labour implications within their specific area. For more information on these and other CAHRC offerings visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.

The research provides clarity for agricultural employees, employers, educators and policymakers about the state of the labour market and ways to minimize shortages. A series of 22 reports with labour market forecasts for each province and major agricultural commodity will be released in the coming weeks. The agricultural labour market research was validated through industry consultations conducted Canada-wide involving 1,900 farm business owners, employees and stakeholder organizations.

The labour market forecast research was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.

Source: The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council

Labour Productivity and Alberta’s Primary Agriculture Industry

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The province’s labour productivity in primary agriculture – crop and animal production – has increased significantly over the last decade.

“Labour productivity measures how efficiently an economy transforms inputs into outputs,” explains Jean Marie Uwizeyimana, agri-food statistician with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF). “An economy is considered to be more productive when it produces the same amount or more outputs with fewer hours. It is measured as gross domestic product (GDP) per hour worked.”

Between 2009 and 2018, the province’s labour productivity in primary agriculture increased from $32.1 per hour worked to $53.8 per hour worked. Alberta’s primary agriculture had the third highest labour productivity in Canada, behind Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Uwizeyimana says that the crop production sub-sector is the key driver of primary agriculture labour productivity. “For example, Alberta’s labour productivity in crop production reached $127.7 per hour in 2018 and has more than doubled over the last decade. “The province’s crop production had the second highest labour productivity in Canada in 2018, behind Saskatchewan with labour productivity of $137.8 per hour. Manitoba’s crop production ranked third in labour productivity at $109.6 per hour.”

He adds that Alberta’s crop production GDP increased by almost 40% during that same time. “As well, the total number of hours used in crop production declined by more than 42%. Therefore, crop production in the province has been more efficient and effective over the past 10 years.”

The labour productivity between crop production and animal production is quite different, he explains. “While labour productivity in crop production in Alberta was $127.7 per hour in 2018, it was only $7.9 per hour in animal production. This difference is not unique to Alberta, as similar patterns are observed across all Canadian provinces. To understand the difference, one needs to look at the definition of labour productivity.”

“Labour productivity is calculated by dividing GDP by the total number of hours used. For example, Alberta’s crop production used 34.6 million hours to generate $4.5 billion in GDP in 2018. Animal production used 65% more hours, or 57.1 million hours, to generate only a GDP of $453.3 million. We can conclude that the animal production sub-sector is more labour intensive than the crop production subsector. This seems to be the trend across all provinces.”

He says there are many factors that contribute to labour productivity growth. “Those include adding more machines and equipment for workers to use, more skilled workers, increasing plant size, changing organizational structure, and adoption of new technologies.”

Source: Alberta Agriculture

CCGA Partners With Nuffield Canada

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Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA) has joined Nuffield Canada as an investor, expanding the program through its support of a 2020 Nuffield Canada scholarship.

Nuffield Canada Agricultural Scholarships allow innovative Canadians the chance to explore issues and opportunities across all aspects of modern agriculture and food production. Scholars gain access to the best production, management and marketing systems in the world, and to a growing international Nuffield network that spans the globe. With partner support, scholarship recipients receive $15,000 to complete their two-year international study.

“On behalf of Nuffield Canada, we would like to extend our gratitude to CCGA for their financial partnership,” said Nuffield Canada Chairman E. Blake Vince. “We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship, which will yield future Canadian Agricultural Leadership.”

The Canadian Canola Growers Association scholarship will be available to scholars directly involved in the field crop sector and looking to pursue research that supports advancement of the sector.

“Innovation is a cornerstone of Canadian agriculture, and investing in people with curiosity and vision helps agriculture cultivate new ideas and new leaders,” says Bernie McClean, President of CCGA. “Our partnership with Nuffield Canada is one way we can support the growth of our industry while keeping connected to our vision of Helping Farmers Succeed.”

Canadian Canola Growers Association joins three other scholarship investors including Alberta Wheat Commission, Grain Farmers of Ontario, and Western Grains Research Foundation.

Since 1950, Nuffield Scholars have become sought-after speakers, board members, advisors, mentors, and employees. Their pioneering efforts have no doubt changed the way we farm today and will farm tomorrow.

​Application deadline for 2020 scholarships is June 30, 2019.
Learn more about Nuffield Canada and how to apply.

Source: Alberta Canola

Grain Growers of Canada calls on government to provide meaningful support amidst trade disruptions

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Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) on May 14 called on the federal government to develop a strategy to address an increasingly unpredictable trade environment affecting the incomes of grain farmers across Canada. The strategy should recognize that China’s blocking of Canadian canola is politically motivated, which was acknowledged last week by Prime Minister Trudeau.

Yesterday, the United States Government announced $15 billion in aid to help farmers whose products may be targeted with Chinese tariffs amid the deepening trade war. This marks the second round of assistance after the $12 billion plan last August to compensate American farmers for lost sales and low prices as a result of trade disputes with China and other countries. President Trump has also indicated that the government will not hesitate to purchase grains from US farmers for distribution as food aid, further distorting markets.

The escalating trade war between the United States and China is having a significant impact on grain farmers across Canada. In addition to the recent suspension of canola imports from Canada over unproven phytosanitary concerns, soybean prices are dropping and imports to China have slowed to a trickle, reaching levels not seen in a decade. Industry and government officials have confirmed that Chinese importers are reluctant to sign contracts for other Canadian agricultural products given the uncertainty in the market.

“The time has come for the Canadian Government to aggressively defend the interests of Canada’s agriculture sector in China and around the world,” said GGC Chair, Jeff Nielsen from his farm in Olds, AB. “This is a non-partisan issue and Canadian farmers need government support to ensure that we are well positioned to weather this storm.”

GGC is calling for the Government of Canada to develop a strategy to address the increasingly complex and unpredictable trade environment in which Canadian farmers find themselves. As they work towards this goal, GGC is asking the Government to consider ways in which it can support Canadian farmers starting by the immediate implementation of meaningful changes to the AgriStability Program to ensure it is a bankable, predictable, simple and scalable program. This includes coverage for margin losses below 85 per cent and removal of the reference margin limit. These changes can be made under the current Business Risk Management program framework.

While changes to the Advanced Payment Program (APP) may only help farmers manage cash flow issues in the near-term, the increase in the interest-free portion from $100,000 to $500,000 should not be limited to canola. Several commodities are being negatively impacted by the current situation either directly or indirectly and the government needs to open the interest free portion up to all commodities.

“The issues we are seeing with trade into China can no longer be said to be commodity specific,” said GGC Vice Chair Markus Haerle from St. Isidore, ON. “As a soybean farmer I’ve seen my prices plummet and markets close due to the flooding of the market by US product.”

For too long, grain farmers have seen market after market close because of non-tariff barriers to trade. In addition to Chinese disruption, the loss of the Indian pulse market and Italian durum market has added to the long list of risks that farmers are expected to manage – risks that are well beyond their control. Canada’s grain producers appreciate it when the Government stands behind our world-class products – now it is time for them to do everything in their power to keep markets open so the sector can reach its full growth potential.

Source: Grain Growers of Canada

The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity Announces New President & CEO

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John Jamieson

The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the hiring of John Jamieson as its new President & CEO. With more than 25 years of senior leadership within Canada’s agri-food sector, John is well suited to lead CCFI as a well-respected leader with a passion for advancing public trust. Jamieson succeeds outgoing President Crystal Mackay, who provided valuable leadership as the inaugural President.

“We are delighted to have a respected leader like John join the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) as our President & CEO to further advance our mandate as we strive to build public trust within Canada’s food system,” says Kim McConnell, Chair of the CCFI Board of Directors. “We are confident in John’s ability to guide CCFI with his esteemed experience, his many contacts in the food, agriculture and aquaculture industries, and his personal passion to advance public trust.”

Jamieson comes to CCFI after serving as the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development in Prince Edward Island. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture and has a wealth of knowledge working with various commodity organizations. Jamieson is also a Professional Agrologist and Certified Nutrient Management Planner and sits on both the Farm and Food Care Foundation Board of Directors and the Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture Advisory Committee.

“I am thoroughly excited to take on this new role and to work with the CCFI Board of Directors and industry members to advance trust in Canada’s top-quality food system,” says Jamieson.

Jamieson’s senior management experience, strengths in working within government and his thorough understanding of Canada’s agri-food sector will be leveraged to continue to build CCFI as the recognized leader in public trust in Canada’s food system. John will be starting with CCFI and reporting to the Guelph office on June 17th.

Wheat Growers Oppose Carbon Tax Ruling

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The Western Canadian Wheat Growers is disappointed by the May 3 ruling that the federal government may impose a carbon tax onto the provinces.

“Today’s ruling denies the premise that provinces are best able to deal with the issues that impact them. Agriculture environmental policy and its implementation is best managed by the provincial government and producers,” said Levi Wood, Past President.

Farmers are best able to manage their local environment. The land that they farm is their heritage and they want to ensure that future generations are able to continue the farming tradition.

The Saskatchewan government has a ‘Made in Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy’ that the Wheat Growers support, taking into account modern agriculture techniques and carbon sequestering.

The imposition of a federal carbon tax deeply impacts farmers’ bottom line. The federal carbon tax will force the cost of the carbon tax on equipment, supplies and inputs on to the farmer. In turn, these costs cannot be passed along to the end user, as grain is sold at world commodity prices. Unfortunately, the federal carbon tax plan does not make farming any more environmentally friendly.

We wish that the federal government dealt with the agriculture trade crisis in China, Italy, India, Peru and Vietnam as forcefully as they are pushing a carbon tax upon farmers. A carbon tax makes Canadian agriculture products uncompetitive because other farmers do not have a carbon tax.

“I’m very disappointed with today’s ruling. Farmers have already taken many significant steps to protect our land and water through no-till planting, improved crop rotation and other actions. We would support the provincial government to appeal this decision in order for farmers to continue their environmentally friendly agriculture methods,” said Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel, Saskatchewan Director.

Source: Western Canadian Wheat Growers

BrettYoung, Maizex Announce Partnership

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Maizex Seeds Inc. and Brett-Young Seeds have announced a distribution partnership agreement.

Under the agreement, BrettYoung will become the exclusive distributor for the Elite Soybean Brand in Western Canada starting in the 2020 production year. As part of the agreement, all Maizex and Elite soybean varieties will be consolidated and marketed under the Elite brand. Maizex Seeds is also committing to additional variety research, testing and soybean support agronomy, focusing on the needs of farmers across Western Canada as soybean production expands, the company said.

“We see a tremendous long-term future for soybean production in Western Canada,” notes Stephen Denys, director of business management with Maizex Seeds. “This agreement supports our goal of testing, commercializing and making widely available soybean varieties that have been developed to meet the specific needs of farmers here. BrettYoung has a proven track record in their marketing of Elite soybeans, and we anticipate that this relationship will further support their focused efforts in providing growers the best soybean variety options available.”

In addition, under the agreement, Maizex Seeds will now be responsible for marketing seed corn. BrettYoung will continue to support existing Elite corn sales for the 2019 growing season. The Maizex and Elite corn brands will be consolidated under the Maizex brand for the 2020 growing season at which time Maizex will assume responsibility for distribution of the consolidated corn business in Western Canada. As part of this move, Maizex will be investing in additional agronomy and sales support.

“Like our direction in soybeans, our approach in corn will create focus on the needs of farmers in unique production areas across the Prairies,” adds Denys.

Harley Bell, National Sales Manager of BrettYoung said, “We are pleased to announce this deepened partnership with Maizex. The additional investment in breeding and testing will allow BrettYoung to continue to deliver Elite brand soybeans that meet the needs of our customers across the Prairies. We look forward to bringing improved Elite soybean varieties that provide farmers with unique genetics and superior agronomic advantages to help drive increased profitability on their farm.”

Wheat Growers React to Federal Canola Funding

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The Western Canadian Wheat Growers reacted to the announcement by the federal government May 1 that it will increase the amount that can be loaned to canola farmers under the cash advance program.

“The China decision to block canola has had a major impact on grain farmers with no end in sight. Farmers don’t want tax dollars in the form of interest free loans, we want to be able to grow our grains and export them without political interference,” said Gunter Jochum, President.

Farmers are used to managing risk associated with factors that are outside of their control such as weather. Factors such as trade markets and political interference should be within our government’s control.

This new program may help short-term cash flow for some farmers, but to be eligible for $1 million advance on canola where $500,000 is interest free, you have to produce approximately 200,000 bushels of canola. In order to qualify for the maximum, you need 5,263 acres at 38 bu per acre, which is roughly a 16,000 acre farm.

Simply put, this is a political problem and needs a political solution. Sadly, the Federal Government has mismanaged grain exports in many parts of the world:

  • Canola stopped by China
  • Durum wheat blocked by Italy
  • Pulse non-tariff barriers in India
  • Non-tariff trade barriers blocking wheat with Vietnam, Peru and Saudi Arabia

Furthermore, we have not had a Canadian Ambassador in China since January 25, 2019 – over four months of missed opportunity for diplomatic solutions. Meanwhile, Canadian citizens are detained in Chinese jails in inhumane conditions, with no representation and Canada is funding the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) over $250 million in the next 5 years.

“It’s time to stand strong. In 2017 Canada imported over $54 billion in goods. Perhaps it is time to play this situation in a different way – the old way certainly hasn’t been working,” stated Daryl Fransoo, Director.

Source: Western Canadian Wheat Growers