SGS Purchase of BioVision a ‘Next-Level’ Move

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A Canadian seed testing company’s purchase by a global food safety giant is a win-win for both parties.

SGS’s recent acquisition of BioVision Seed Research means an improved offering for the newly formed company’s clients, yes. But the purchase of BioVision by SGS is bigger than that.

“From a seed industry standpoint, this takes things to the next level,” says Trevor Nysetvold, the new company’s director of seed and crop in Canada.

SGS BioVision came into existence on Nov. 3, with the announced acquisition of BioVision by SGS, a major global inspection, verification, testing and certification company.

“For BioVision and for SGS, this was a natural pairing,” says Nysetvold, the former BioVision’s president and CEO.

“SGS’ Canadian and global footprint in agriculture and food is tremendous. In fact, our company’s beginnings originate in this industry,” adds Fulvio Martinez, corporate communications manager for SGS North America.

Established in 1878, SGS helped transform grain trading in Europe by offering innovative agricultural inspection services. From its early days as a grain inspection house, the company has steadily grown into the industry leader, Martinez says. This has been done through continual improvement and innovation and through supporting its customers’ operations by reducing risk and improving productivity.

Founded in 1996 and privately owned, BioVision Seed Research Ltd. employed 20 staff and generated revenues in excess of CAN$3.4 million in the last financial year. SGS today operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world, with more than 90,000 employees.

Going forward, SGS BioVision seed and crop services will offer comprehensive seed testing to assess the quality and health of seeds. The new company offers agricultural experience and expertise, innovative technologies, experienced staff and a unique global network.

Fulvio Martinez

“We hope the transfer of knowledge between us will enrich what we do at both the BioVision and SGS level,” adds Martinez. “It’s a fantastic win-win and chance for both of us to grow. We’re not this big fish swallowing BioVision; we’re excited about what BioVision brings to the network. We’re going to learn from them and tap into their experience and talent.”

BioVision came to the table with three accredited seed, grain and soil testing laboratories in Winnipeg, Man., as well as Edmonton and Grande Prairie, Alta., and offered testing across a broad variety of crops, supported by its fully accredited experts and laboratories (CFIA, CSI, ISO 9001:2008). “These services won’t suffer,” says Nysetvold. “Rather, they will be enhanced.”

“We also welcome a team of skilled and accredited staff, including certified seed analysts and licensed inspectors.”

The expanded offerings by SGS BioVision include a broad range of services, including seed testing for viability, vigour, germination and health; genetic and physical seed purity testing; GMO event testing; grain quality analysis; mycotoxin identification and quantification; herbicide trait testing; soil pathogen detection; and pedigreed seed crop inspection.

According to Nysetvold, existing BioVision clients will not see any difference in level of service, except the ability to provide more services.

Nysetvold says he expects further consolidation within the seed testing sector, and for others to follow the lead of SGS BioVision.

“There’s succession planning with all organizations, and there are different drivers. I do see this happening down the road with others,” he says. “For us, our reasons were very specific, very much focused on strengthening our offerings. We did this in order to broaden the scope of services we can offer to our clients.

“When we could see the strategies aligned, we realized this makes a lot of sense for us. And I think it will benefit the industry greatly.”

Nysetvold adds the global presence of SGS means the relationship between the two entities goes well beyond Canada.

“We’ve worked in the seed and soil matrices for years. Now we can go into tissue and residue testing, food and product safety testing — things that are so important to our clients that they can now get under one banner.”

— Janet Kanters and Marc Zienkiewicz

Alberta Youths Win Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture Competition awards

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Lois Schultz from Wetaskiwin, Alta. is the senior champion of the Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture (CYSA) Competition, and Quentin Albrecht from Holden, Alta., placed first runner-up in the junior division.

Senior Champion Lois Schultz

The 2017 competition took place Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto.

The 33rd edition of CYSA welcomed 27 competitors, aged 11 to 24, from across Canada who offered their insights and solutions regarding the following topics:

  • Working in agriculture is more than just farming.
  • Does digital farming have a place in the future of Canadian agriculture?
  • Farm gate to dinner plate: The importance of food traceability for Canadian consumers.
  • How will we feed 9 billion people by 2050?
  • Food waste: What is the global impact and who is responsible for making a change?

Other winners included senior first runner-up Maria Clemotte from Nanaimo, B.C. and second runner-up Jennifer Betzner of Lynden, Ont. Junior champion was Rosemund Ragetli from Winnipeg, Man. while second runner-up in the junior division was William Orr from Howick, Que.

Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture is a national, bilingual competition that provides a platform for participants to share their opinions, ideas and concerns about the Canadian agri-food industry in a five- to seven-minute prepared speech.

Canada’s youth are already preparing for the 2018 competition. Topics were announced following the seniors final round, and they are:

  • My view on diversity in Canadian agriculture.
  • Canadian agriculture needs more people – and this is how we’re going to get them.
  • What is sustainability and why does it matter to Canadian agriculture?
  • The next big thing in Canadian agriculture is: _______
  • How can we educate urban populations about where our food comes from and the industry standards involved?

Each year, the renowned public speaking competition is held at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. The competition is open to youth ages 11 to 24 with a passion for agriculture, whether raised on a farm, in the country or in the city.

Since the first competition held at the Royal Winter Fair in honour of the International Year of the Youth in 1985, it has gone on to become the premier public speaking event in Canada for young people interested in agriculture, with more than 950 participants over the years.

Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Licenses Distribution of Pulse Varieties Outside Saskatchewan

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Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) has licensed the distribution rights for select Crop Development Centre (CDC) pulse varieties in provinces outside of Saskatchewan to SeCan and SeedNet for a 10-year period.

“Saskatchewan pulse producers contribute significant upfront funding towards the development of CDC varieties,” says Carl Potts, executive director of SPG. “These contributions are made through SPG’s investment of pulse levy towards the CDC pulse breeding program. In exchange for this investment, SPG ensures that Saskatchewan growers are provided with royalty-free access to CDC developed varieties.”

By licensing the distribution of these varieties for sale in provinces outside of Saskatchewan, SPG is ensuring that growers in other provinces are paying for access to varieties developed by the CDC. Licensing the distribution rights will not impact Saskatchewan growers’ ability to access these varieties royalty-free.

“By working together with SeCan and SeedNet, we are creating a mechanism for growers in Alberta and Manitoba, or other regions of Canada, to pay for access to CDC varieties through a seed-royalty system,” says Potts.

SeCan and SeedNet are both looking forward to marketing CDC varieties to growers in provinces outside Saskatchewan beginning in the 2018-growing season.

“SeCan members have grown CDC varieties in the past and we felt it was critical to ensure that our members continued to have access to the varieties,” says Todd Hyra, Business Manager for Western Canada with SeCan. “With more than 500 independent member companies in Western Canada, SeCan is ideally suited to ensure that the CDC varieties are broadly available across all areas of adaptation.”

“SeedNet wants to provide growers with the best genetics to satisfy the increasing demand for pulse crops in Alberta, Manitoba, and the BC Peace,” says Elizabeth Tokariuk, General Manager for SeedNet. “Each farm is unique, so SeedNet means to provide a range of varieties from the many excellent Canadian breeders, which certainly include those at CDC in Saskatoon.”

For more information, visit http://saskpulse.com/growing/varieties/.

 

Canadian Wheat Research Coalition formed

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The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat) and the Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA) have announced the formation of the Canadian Wheat Research Coalition (CWRC), a federal not-for-profit corporation that will facilitate long-term investments aimed at improving profitability and competitiveness for western Canadian wheat farmers.

The CWRC will facilitate a collaborative approach to producer funding of regional and national research projects in variety development and agronomy including the next Canadian National Wheat Cluster and core wheat breeding agreements with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and universities. Additional regional projects that align with variety development and agronomic priorities will also be considered for funding through the CWRC.

“Most of the best performing wheat varieties available to farmers are the result of producer-funded wheat breeding efforts,” said Kevin Auch, AWC chair and CWRC director. “I look forward to working with my provincial counterparts to continue this work with the goal of seeing new, high performing varieties that result in better returns and increased competitiveness for farmers.”

The three wheat commissions will serve as founding members on the farmer-led board of directors. The structure allows for additional producer or private sector groups that share an interest in advancing wheat research in Canada to join as organizational members. This inclusive arrangement provides a platform for the CWRC to pursue new public, private, producer partnerships (4Ps).

“Producer collaboration and funding has been important to sustaining Canada’s wheat research and variety development programs,” said Bill Gehl, Sask Wheat chair. “The commissions working together under the CWRC will enhance the role of producers in supporting the research community.”

The formation of the CWRC directly follows the commissions’ increased responsibility in funding core wheat breeding agreements and the national wheat cluster, coinciding with the end of the Western Canadian Deduction (WCD) on July 31, 2017. Under the previous structure, the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) led these research initiatives through WCD funding. In preparation for the end of the WCD, the commissions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining their agreement to partner in setting variety development priorities and funding commitments that meet the needs of wheat farmers in Western Canada. As a result of the MOU, the commissions will ensure continuity in new spring wheat variety development is maintained through the CWRC, and will continue to engage WGRF as a key player through this transition. Project funding will be shared on a proportionate basis by commissions based on check-off revenue.

“With the end of the WCD, we look forward to working with our fellow wheat commissions in taking on increased responsibility related to variety development,” said Cale Jeffries, MWBGA director and CWRC board member.

The CWRC will be administered by a host commission, which will rotate every three years starting with Sask Wheat. The CWRC’s first board will consist of eight farmers including Kevin Auch, Jason Saunders and Terry Young representing AWC; Ken Rosaasen, Glenn Tait and Laura Reiter representing Sask Wheat; and Cale Jeffries and Dylan Wiebe representing MWBGA.

CSGA Unveils Strategic Plan

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Strategic Plan 2017–2023 confirms our core responsibility to work closely with our partners in government and industry and to build on our longstanding commitment to deliver and promote a flexible, responsive, and cost-effective seed regulatory certification system for Canada and Canadians.

This plan is of vital importance to our members and our association, but also to the seed industry and the broad Canadian agricultural sector whose success we enable. An integral part of the agricultural and agri-food value chain, the seed industry in Canada employs more than 57,000 people and contributes $5.6 billion in economic impact – both directly and indirectly – to our economy.

In developing this Strategic Plan, we have begun to lay out a roadmap that not only addresses the immediate question of “what can we do to fine tune our seed certification and regulatory system and make it more effective and user friendly now“ but also considers the larger questions of “whether our current seed system is sustainable and what will a next generation seed system need to look like for seed growers, the seed industry and the agriculture sector to thrive in the future, particularly in the face of the wave of technological and structural change that is already upon us”. More than ever before, the seed sector is a key enabler of innovation and growth for the entire Canadian agriculture industry.

Recognizing that seed growers are the heart of the sector, this Strategic Plan confirms that CSGA is a science-based organization that supports a competitive Canadian agriculture sector and maintains Canada’s reputation as a respected global leader in seed quality assurance and genetic traceability.

We wish to thank each and every person who shared their thoughts and ideas, and helped make this Plan what it is. And we look forward to working together with you to implement the ambitious agenda embodied within it.

Download the Strategic Plan

Reminder: Grading Changes for Western Canada

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The Canadian Grain Commission reminds farmers of the following grain grading changes for the 2017 to 2018 crop year in Western Canada, which take effect August 1, 2017:

  • Adding an ergot tolerance of 0.05 per cent in all grades of fababeans and chickpeas
  • Changing the tolerance for grasshopper and army worm damage from eight per cent to six per cent in No. 3 Canada Western Red Spring, No. 3 Canada Western Hard White Spring and No. 3 Canada Northern Hard Red wheat

he tolerance for grasshopper and army worm damage was tightened after research showed that 8% grasshopper and army worm damage can impact end-use functionality

Official Grain Grading Guide 2017

 

Dave Carey New CSTA Executive Director

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Dave Carey is the new CSTA executive director.

Dave Carey has been selected as the new executive director for the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA). Carey will assume his official duties effective July 7, 2017.

Carey, the outgoing director of government affairs and policy, joined CSTA in 2012 and has worked in roles of increasing management responsibility. Most recently, Carey acted as the lead staff member following the departure of Crosby Devitt, the former executive director.

Prior to Carey’s career with CSTA, he worked as a legislative assistant for members of parliament from Calgary, Alta. and Oakville, Ont. He is an experienced government relations leader, with an in-depth understanding of government and regulatory affairs, policy development and international trade priorities.

“Dave Carey is widely recognized for his ability to build strong relationships with all government parties, stakeholders and industry partners, and brings a strong collaborative approach and leadership style to the association, which will no doubt benefit all those involved with the organization,” said Brent Derkatch, president of CSTA.

“I am honoured to have the opportunity to lead such a dynamic and trusted organization.” Carey said. “I look forward to working closely with the staff, board of directors and our value chain partners to ensure that CSTA’s members can continue to innovate, trade and deliver value to their farmer customers.”

CSTA Recruiting for Executive Director Position

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Crosby Devitt, the current executive director, will be leaving to pursue a new position as vice-president, Strategic Development with the Grain Farmers of Ontario. (GFO). The executive board members will be leading the recruitment activities for the CSTA executive director position and have engaged Scott Wolfe Management Inc. to assist with this important recruitment.

Link for more information: http://cdnseed.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/CSTA-Executive-Director.pdf

Health Canada approves glyphosate

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Health Canada has published the final re-evaluation decision on glyphosate. Following a rigorous science-based assessment, Health Canada has determined that when used according to the label, products containing glyphosate are not a concern to human health and the environment.

Glyphosate, marketed under brand names such as Roundup and Vision, is a common herbicide that is used to control weeds. It is registered for use in a wide variety of settings, including agriculture, forestry, and home gardens and patios. Glyphosate is used both commercially and by homeowners.

Based on this re-evaluation, Health Canada will continue the registration of products that contain glyphosate, but will require updates to the product labels to help provide additional protection to humans and the environment. By April 2019, manufacturers will be required to ensure that all commercial labels on pesticides containing glyphosate include the following:

  • A statement indicating that re-entry into the sprayed areas should be restricted to 12 hours after application in agricultural areas where glyphosate products were used.
  • A statement indicating that the product is to be applied only when the potential to spread to areas of human activity, such as houses, cottages, schools and recreational areas, is minimal.
  • Instructions for spray buffer zones to protect non-targeted areas and aquatic habitats from unintended exposure.
  • Precautionary statements to reduce the potential for runoff of glyphosate into aquatic areas.

Health Canada will continue to monitor research on potential impacts of glyphosate products to ensure the safety and security of Canadians and the environment.

Blackleg resistance labels added to canola cultivars

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Blackleg. (Photo: Gregory Sekulic)

New blackleg resistance labels will soon be added to cultivars, providing greater detail on a given variety’s resistance package for blackleg management.

The canola industry – encompassing life science companies, producer associations and researchers – took the step in the hopes of helping to manage and mitigate blackleg in Canadian canola fields. Similar models of labelling have been used successfully in other canola growing regions around the world to help ensure resistance effectiveness, and recommend cultivars to use in severely infected fields.

According to the Canola Council of Canada (CCC), the use of blackleg R-gene labels will be a voluntarily process for seed companies to include on their cultivars. While the industry is committed to providing the best genetics and advice to producers, it will take some time to effectively deploy and incorporate these labels.

Current labels for blackleg are based on field ratings of blackleg in comparison to a susceptible variety (Westar) for blackleg. Typically only Resistant “R” (0-29.9% of Westar) and Moderately Resistant “MR” (30-49.9% of Westar) are on the market. In recent years, some growers have noticed increased blackleg severity in their “R” and “MR” varieties. This is where the addition of more detailed labels will help to provide more accurate information.

Using the same disease resistance genetics over and over causes a shift in pathogen population, which can then overcome the resistance in our cultivars – similar to herbicide resistance in weeds. Knowing the resistance genetics used in previous years will allow growers to rotate to a different resistance gene and reduce the blackleg infection within a field. As many as 10 new blackleg resistance labels will be applied to varieties in the coming years. They will use these letters  A, B, C, D, E₁, E₂, F, G, H, X to identify major resistance genes present.

How to use the labels

Blackleg management starts with scouting and identifying the disease on the previous canola crop’s stubble. If a grower has a rotation break longer than two years without canola, and has been growing “R” rated cultivars, the risk of severe blackleg infection is minimal. But if a growers uses a tighter canola rotation and the disease is present and/or severe, the new additional label will come into play.

Picking an “R” rated cultivar with at least one different resistance gene group than what was used previously will help to provide protection from the aggressive, new virulent blackleg race(s) within the field. In those cases where the disease is not present /evident in the field, then changing resistance groups would not be necessary.

The most effective means for reducing blackleg disease is reducing inoculum or spore production in a field. This is accomplished by lengthening the break between canola crops in a field. But spores can also migrate from adjacent fields. Under these circumstances, using a canola cultivar with a different resistance gene can be very beneficial in protecting the field and reducing blackleg disease.

In conclusion, the most important step is to scout for disease. If you do not have blackleg, choose varieties with the highest probability of profitability and reduced production risk on your farm. If you do have blackleg disease that is increasing, use the tools available to manage and reduce the disease. Switching to cultivars with a different resistance gene(s) is one tool.

Here are some examples of how the new label will work:

1. Cultivar alpha: R (BC)
The traditional “R” rating means average field performance of blackleg resistance was below 30% of Westar, the susceptible check. The additional “(BC)” designation means the variety contains the resistance genes Rlm2 and Rlm3.

2. Cultivar beta: MR (A)
The traditional “MR” means average field performance of blackleg resistance was 30-49.9% of Westar check. The additional “(A)” means it contains the resistance gene LepR3 or Rlm1.

3. Cultivar Charlie: R (CX)
As an “R” rated variety, average field performance of blackleg resistance was below 30% of Westar check. “(CX)” means it ontains the resistance gene Rlm3 and an unidentified major resistance gene.

More information will available at www.blackleg.ca in May.