Canadian Seed Trade Association Releases Coexistence Plan for Alfalfa Hay

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Following extensive consultation with stakeholders along the alfalfa hay production chain in Western Canada, a Coexistence Plan for Alfalfa Hay in Western Canada is now available.

Recognizing that GM development of alfalfa and other crop kinds will continue, the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) agreed to facilitate a value chain process to develop a coexistence plan for conventional, organic and GM alfalfa production, first in Eastern Canada in 2013, and now in Western Canada.

Many experts contributed to the development of the Western coexistence plan and voluntary Best Management Practices (BMP’s), including forage specialists, alfalfa producers, seed companies and honey producers. The group reviewed the biology of alfalfa in Canada and alfalfa hay production systems, and tailored the BMP’s to the specific needs of Western Canada. The plan does not advocate for or against the commercialization of GM alfalfa, or favor any one system. The result is a science-based document designed to help farmers understand and incorporate the voluntary BMP’s into their crop management system, whether conventional, organic or GM.

“CSTA is happy to have facilitated this meaningful stakeholder process,” said Scott Horner, CSTA president. “With stakeholder cooperation, solutions to help producers be successful with the system that best fits their needs can be found. We encourage everyone to view the Plan as an important component of successful alfalfa hay production in Western Canada.”

The Coexistence Plan for Alfalfa Hay in Western Canada, containing background on alfalfa production systems in Western Canada, the principles of coexistence, and Best Management Practices can be found at cdnseed.org.

Grading Tables for New Wheat Classes Take Effect Aug. 1

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The Canadian Grain Commission will adopt primary and export grade determinant tables for the new Canada Northern Hard Red and Canada Western Special Purpose wheat classes on August 1, 2016 as recommended by the Western Standards Committee.

At their April meetings, both the western and eastern standards committees recommended adding “poor colour” to the definition for degree of soundness for:

  • Oats, No. 4 Canada Eastern
  • Oats, No. 4 Canada Western

This change takes effect on July 1, 2016 in eastern Canada and on August 1, 2016 in western Canada.

Quick facts

  • The western and eastern standards committees meet twice a year to recommend specifications for grades of grain, and to select and recommend standard and guide samples to the Canadian Grain Commission. Members represent all stakeholders in the grain industry and include producers, grain processors, grain handlers and exporters.
  • The Western Standards Committee met on April 5 in Winnipeg and the Eastern Standards Committee met on April 6 in Montreal.
  • The Canadian Grain Commission is in its second year of study to determine if mildew standards and guides for western wheat are set at appropriate levels. At this time, testing is not complete. The Canadian Grain Commission will report back to the eastern and western standards committees in the fall.
  • The Canadian Grain Commission is analyzing samples of Canada Western Red Spring and Canada Western Soft White Spring to determine the relationship between the percentage of Fusarium-damaged kernels and the level of deoxynivalenol (DON), a toxin associated with Fusarium head blight and how this relationship is affected by changing growing conditions and chemotypes. This study is part of the Canadian Grain Commission’s ongoing research to ensure food safety and functionality.
  • The Canadian Grain Commission is studying whether a tolerance for ergot should be added to the grade determinant tables for fababeans and chickpeas. Although ergot is a disease of cereal crops, other pulse crops do have a grading tolerance for it. The Canadian Grain Commission will report back to the Western Standards Committee in the fall.
  • On August 1, 2016, these wheat classes will be eliminated: Canada Western Interim Wheat, Canada Western General Purpose and Canada Western Feed. Varieties in the Canada Western Interim Wheat class will move to the Canada Northern Hard Red class and varieties in the Canada Western General Purpose and Canada Western Feed classes will move to the Canada Western Special Purpose class.

WGRF Invests $800,000 in U of A Wheat Breeding

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The Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Agricultural, life & Environmental Sciences (ALES) announced that they have renewed their partnership in wheat breeding. WGRF will invest $811,587 into the wheat breeding program at the University of Alberta over the next five years.

“The wheat breeding program at the U of A’s Faculty of ALES is an important piece of the western Canadian wheat breeding network,” said Dave Sefton, WGRF Board Chair. “WGRF has been investing in wheat research at the U of A since 2005 and, over this time we have seen the program take some significant strides towards the development of new wheat varieties and germplasm for the parkland zone.”

“WGRF’s support has been integral to the success we’ve enjoyed,” said Dean Spaner, wheat breeder and professor. “This continued long-term investment demonstrates the value the wheat producers of western Canada place on our work, and is the base that attracts other investors. This announcement is a tremendous boost in confidence and responsibility, for which we are deeply grateful.”

“This investment over the next five years more than doubles the previous five year commitment by WGRF,” says Garth Patterson, WGRF Executive Director. “Over the last five years alone, the U of A Wheat Breeding Program has registered five improved CWRS varieties, released one germplasm line, and graduated five PhD and four MSc students. This exemplifies the great work being done at the U of A.”

“We are very proud of our wheat breeding program that helps western Canadian wheat growers grow healthier, higher-yielding crops,” said Dr. Stanford F. Blade, Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences. “We’re also very grateful for the confidence shown by WGRF, whose support plays a pivotal role in the success we’ve had with our program.”

The U of A breeding program focuses on Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS), Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPS-R) and the Canada Western General Purpose (CWGP) class. The goal of the program is to develop and select germplasm that will result in higher yielding varieties that are earlier maturing, have increased straw strength and protect the quality characteristics of the CPS and CWRS wheat.

Listen Now: Stripe Rust Already Spotted

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Stripe rust symptoms have already been identified in some winter wheat fields in southern Alberta. In this podcast, Mike Harding, research scientist at Alberta Agriculture, says that it’s crucial growers continue to monitor their fields for the fungus.

Audio file here: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$Department/newslett.nsf/all/cotl25044/$FILE/16_112_Mike_Harding.mp3

Licence Exemptions Examined in Grain Sector Consultation

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Last week, the Canadian Grain Commission began consultations on its proposals to license producer railway car loading facilities, agents, and feed mills. These operations are currently exempted from licensing.

The Canadian Grain Commission is seeking input from producer railway car loading facilities, agents, feed mills, grain producers, producer groups, current licensees, and industry stakeholders on its proposals.

Relevant information, including descriptions of the issues and full descriptions of the proposals, are available on the Canadian Grain Commission website. Information is also provided on the website on how stakeholders can comment on the proposals. Stakeholders have until June 3, 2016 to submit input.

Quick facts

  • Licensing supports producer protection and the grain quality assurance system. The Canadian Grain Commission issues licences for primary, terminal and process elevators, as well as grain dealers.
  • Producer railway car loading facilities, agents, and feed mills are currently exempted from licensing by annual Commission order or in the Canada Grain Regulations.
  • A producer railway car loading facility is an operation where producers can load their own grain, or have that grain loaded on their behalf into railway cars allocated by the Canadian Grain Commission. These railway cars are forwarded by the railway to a terminal elevator, process elevator, or consignee of the producers’ choice.
  • Producer railway car loading facilities would be licensed as a new subclass of a primary elevator licence. These facilities would not have to post security with the Canadian Grain Commission.
  • An agent is a company that acts on behalf of a licensed company.
  • Agents who have elevator facilities would be licensed as either a primary elevator or a process elevator, depending on their business. They would be required to provide security as a condition of licensing.
  • A feed mill is an operation where a process or a combination of processes is used to produce or manufacture feed for livestock or poultry consumption.
  • It is proposed that feed mills purchasing more than 5,000 tonnes of grain annually would be licensed.
  • Feed mills would be subject to some of the same requirements as process elevators. They would be required to provide security as a condition of licensing.

Alberta Crop Commissions Praise Bill C-30 Extension

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Alberta’s crop commissions say they’re pleased to learn that the federal government has signaled its intension to extend measures within the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act that have helped improve railway accountability and competition. The postponement of the Aug. 1, 2016 repeal of these measures aligns with recommendations made by Team Alberta during its outreach mission to Ottawa last week, they note.

The year-long extension of provisions within the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) includes maintaining current interswitching limits of 160kms which has promoted railway competition and flexibility for shippers. Additionally, the Government of Canada will retain its ability to prescribe minimum grain movement by rail, an important mechanism of railway accountability.

“This welcomed news from the Federal Government demonstrates that Transportation Minister Garneau and Agriculture Minister MacAulay have listened to the concerns of western Canada’s grain producers and understand the importance of a reliable and predictable transportation system to move our commodities into the marketplace,” said Kevin Auch, Alberta Wheat Commission Chairman.

“While the Minister of Transport considers the recommendations presented in the CTA review report, we will continue to advocate for measures that promote long-term railway accountability and adequate rail service,” added Mike Ammeter, Chair of Alberta Barley.

The federal government’s news closely follows the Team Alberta Outreach Mission, a week on Parliament Hill where representatives from the crop commissions including Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley, Alberta Canola Producers and Alberta Pulse Growers, along with our colleagues at Grain Growers of Canada, met with top decision makers from Canada’s major political parties to discuss priorities for Alberta grain producers. Long-term transportation provisions and the extension of Bill C-30, the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, were top priorities during the meetings.

“We made it a priority to develop relationships with key federal policy makers during the Team Alberta outreach mission. In doing so, we encouraged decision makers to take steps forward to foster long-term improvements to the reliability and predictability of our grain and oilseed transportation system,” said Terry Young, Alberta Canola Producers Commission director.

“The movement of our crops continues to be a priority for farmers,” said Allison Ammeter, Chair of Alberta Pulse Growers. “The global demand for our products and our export capabilities rely on farmers and shippers getting product to port. Rail use is a huge part of the chain. The signaled intent from government to keep these tools available for farmers and shippers is very positive.”

Alberta Crop Commissions, Grain Growers Embark on Lobby Mission

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The Alberta crop commissions, along with their colleagues at the Grain Growers of Canada spent last week on Parliament Hill to meet with top decision makers from Canada’s major political parties and discuss priorities for Alberta grain producers.

Key priorities of the Team Alberta delegation included grain transportation reform, international trade, and public investment in research and sustainability.

“Agriculture in Alberta is a $13.3 billion dollar industry and a significant contributor to Canada’s economy so it is imperative that the crop commissions come together and get in front of elected officials to deliver our message and share our story and priorities,” said Terry Young, Director with the Alberta Canola Producers Commission.

The Team Alberta lobby trip included a delegation of Directors from the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, Alberta Barley, Alberta Wheat Commission and the Grain Growers of Canada. The delegation met with representatives from all political parties and shared a united message about how the government can support Canadian farmers.

With the recent release of the Emerson report on the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) review, transportation and the extension of Bill C-30, the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act were also top priorities during the meetings.

“Long-term solutions to Canada’s grain transportation system continue to be important for farmers,” said Henry Vos, Director with the Alberta Wheat Commission. “While the crop industry was pleased to be part of the consultations on the CTA review, the final report fails to provide specific recommendations that farmers feel will improve Canada’s transportation system.”

“Canadian grain producers need adequate rail service, balanced commercial accountability and the retention of competitive provisions to improve rail service,” added Mike Ammeter, Chair of Alberta Barley. “We are calling upon the government and Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport to extend the provisions within Bill C-30 while a long-term solution for improving our rail transportation system is developed. The provisions within the Bill include extending interswitching limits to 160 km to promote competition, and other features to keep railways more accountable for poor performance.”

“Another of the main priorities we discussed was how the government can support a competitive, predictable and open trade environment by ensuring that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) are both ratified immediately,” said Gary Stanford, President of the Grain Growers of Canada.

The TPP agreement would increase demand for Canada’s agricultural exports and ensure Canada can remain competitive in key markets, as two of our major competitors, Australia and the United States, would otherwise see preferential access to key Canadian markets within the TPP zone.

Other topics of discussion included the need for continued and stable research funding and capacity, as well as the need to consider the significant innovations and leadership role farmers have taken in protecting the environment and sequestering soil carbon when it comes to carbon tax discussions.

“Farmers work toward sustainability to help us save money, but also to sequester carbon and better the environment in the long-term,” added Fraser Robertson, Director with the Alberta Pulse Growers Commission. “A lot of people don’t realize what is happening on the farm, so it is good for us to have the opportunity to share our message with government representatives.”

#Plant16: Tweet Your Experience

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Farmers and other ag stakeholders across Alberta are tweeting pics of their activities under the hashtag #Plant16. Here’s some tweets from the past week we collected — don’t be shy to post your own!

Video: Stop Fusarium Before it Stops You

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Fusarium graminearum has cost Alberta producers between $3 and $8.7 million annually due to reduced yield and downgrading. Alberta Agriculture has created a new video, to help raise awareness of this pest.

Canola Council Welcomes Opportunity for Stable Trade with China

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The governments of China and Canada agreed to continue discussions on a permanent science-based solution to Chinese concerns about the disease blackleg. Canola trade will continue under current commercial terms until September 1, 2016 while further research and information sharing occurs. Dockage will continue to meet the terms of commercially negotiated contracts.

“The canola industry remains committed to a science-based resolution of Chinese concerns about blackleg,” says Patti Miller, president of the Canola Council of Canada. “The next five months will help to achieve a permanent risk-based solution that enables stable canola exports to China. We appreciate China’s ongoing commitment to collaboration and research.”

Discussions on science-based solutions to concerns about blackleg have been ongoing as part of the 2010 Memorandum of Understanding established between the governments of Canada and China.

As part of this Memorandum of Understanding, the canola industry and Government of Canada have invested significantly in research to understand more about the potential risk from the disease blackleg and ways to mitigate this risk. This research has involved thousands of hours from scientists, industry and government, and included all aspects of the canola supply chain from seed genetics and agronomic practices through to handling and processing. The last component of research investigated how dockage, or foreign material, impacts the risk of blackleg transmission. Under the terms agreed to in 2010, canola seed exports to China can only be shipped to crushing facilities approved by Chinese authorities that are in areas where Chinese rapeseed is not grown.

“We commend the government of Canada for their sustained and significant efforts to achieve today’s announcement,” says Miller. “Under the leadership of Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, negotiations by government officials over the past several months enabled today’s success.”

The Canola Council has worked closely on this issue with officials at the Market Access Secretariat of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Grain Commission, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Global Affairs Canada. Work will continue to answer any remaining scientific questions.