Alberta farm produces two
commission chairs » PG 3
That computer in your pocket can
revolutionize your farm » PG 41
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By Alexis Kienlen and
Jill Burkhardt
Small farm ‘toys’
pack a mighty punch
Drones are getting off the ground in Alberta, in no small part thanks
to their practical applications on livestock and grain farms
af staff / contributor edmonton
on’t know if your local
elevator is offering a good
price or not? There’s an
app for that. Or at least there will
be once is fully up
and running.
The new website, created by the
Alberta Wheat Commission with
$743,000 in federal funding, aims
to give farmers timely and accurate pricing data for grains and
see GRAIN WEBSITE } page 7
Ventus Geospatial uses different types of UAVs for different purposes, including this Aeryon Scout that costs around $80,000. For agriculture,
the company typically uses a fixed-wing SenseFly eBee, which runs in the range of $30,000. Photo: Ventus Geospatial
By Jennifer Blair
af staff / edmonton
rones may seem like a fun toy — but
on the farm, these fancy fliers mean
“At the end of the day, you want better information to make better decisions,
and that’s what they give you,” said Steve
Myshak, owner of Ventus Geospatial in
“That’s the bottom line on why you want
to use a service like this. It’s going to save
you money on inputs, it’s going to increase
your yields, and it’s going to help you detect
diseases earlier.”
Drones — or unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs) — are starting to take off (no pun
intended) in Alberta as farmers start to see
how they might boost their bottom lines,
said Myshak.
“You can increase your efficiency between
10 to 30 per cent over your whole farm,” he
said. “That’s a direct cost saving right into
your pocket.”
Most of that efficiency comes in time savings, he said.
“If you don’t want to walk your field, you
can throw a UAV up and get live video feedback and see what’s going on in your field.
Scouting your fields takes minutes, instead
of hours or days. You can throw a UAV up
in the morning and have data information
in the afternoon.”
But there are other uses as well, including calculating field area or grain volumes;
livestock counts; crop insurance claims;
early disease or pest detection; and water
Always read and follow label directions. EVEREST and the EVEREST 2.0 logo are registered trademarks of Arysta LifeScience North
America, LLC. “Flush after flush” is a trademark of Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. Arysta LifeScience and the Arysta LifeScience
logo are registered trademarks of Arysta LifeScience Corporation. ©2015 Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. ESTC-268
V o l u m e 1 2 , n u m b e r 4 f e b r u a r y 1 6 , 2 0 1 5
Website to
shine a light
on grain prices
see DRONES } page 6
news » inside this week
inside »
Lethbridge aims high
with expansion plan
livestock crops THE ‘NEW REALITY’
Laura Rance
Time to put old
battles to rest
brenda schoepp
Foreign workers:
Let’s do the right thing
Details matter when
putting down nutrients
Improving animal welfare
the cost of doing business
Farmers key to fighting
herbicide resistance
Viral disease a
travel concern
The 10th Chase Duffy book is about to hit the shelves
and continue his adventures in learning about canola
Cherylynn and Patrick Bos with Patrick’s parents Bill and Nellie
and children (from left to right) Connor, Jocelyn, Adelle, and Amelia. By Jill Burkhardt
af contributor
Photo: Courtesy Bos family
Ponoka dairy goat
producers newest
Young Farmers
Cherylynn and Patrick Bos have
become the dominant Alberta supplier
of goat milk products
onoka dairy goat producers Cherylynn and Patrick
Bos are this year’s Outstanding Young Farmers from
“It was just really great to
meet a group of people that was
so optimistic and upbeat about
farming,” said Cherylynn Bos.
“We just really hope to build
some lifelong relationships and
friendships with those people.”
Meeting the other candidates
and past winners was a “refreshing” experience, added Patrick
“Their attitude rubs off and
keeps you stimulated in what
you’re doing,” he said. “Sometimes when you work so hard
you feel all alone in the world.
Then when you meet other people who are just like you, (it’s
like), ‘Great I have a group of
peers that can mentor us or be
friends with.’”
The couple began farming 17
years ago, purchasing their first
milking goats in 1999 and began
milking for a Ponoka-based pro-
Carol Shwetz
Canola the star
in graphic novels
for schoolkids
cessing company. In 2004 the
plant closed, which led to the
couple building a goat milkand cheese-processing facility
on the farm. Rock Ridge Dairy is
now the dominant Alberta supplier of goat milk products and
works with a B.C. dairy company
to produce goat milk and cheese
products from their own herd
and that of four other area farms.
Products from Rock Ridge
Dairy are sold to major grocery
chains across Western Canada
under various labels such as
Oak Island and Happy Days
Brands. The dairy also produces
organic cow’s milk and creams.
(A feature profile of the couple
will be in the next edition of
Alberta Farmer.)
The other candidates for this
year’s OYF title were grain producers Randy and Tasha Alexander of Grimshaw and Kurt and
Becky Pederson, who produce
purebred Black Angus cattle and
grain near Edgerton.
The national Outstanding
Young Farmer event will be held
in Edmonton in November.
— with files from Dianne Finstad
armers at the recent
Alberta Canola Producers Commission meeting were welcomed by an
entourage of cartoon characters on the stage.
These characters are from
the Chase Duffy book series,
which was launched in 2010
and is aimed at elementary
students aged eight to 11.
The main character in the
books is Chase ‘Superman’
Duffy, a Grade 6 student who
lives in central Alberta, loves
to write stories and run track,
and often practises while
running around his grandfather’s canola fields.
“The idea came from a
totally different way of getting the canola message
across along with some of the
issues,” said Simone Demers
Collins, education, marketing and promotion co-ordinator with Alberta Canola
Producers Commission.
“The very first book we did
as a way of explaining the difference between canola and
rapeseed, and where canola
comes from. That would be
a real Canadian story and
(a way to) start dispelling
some of the myths that we
only changed the name of
The books use a graphicnovel format, which is preferred by today’s students,
and the series was expanded
thanks to funding from the
Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund (ACIDF).
“As a commission we
could possibly do one book
a year, but we wanted to do
more,” said Demers Collins.
“I wrote a grand proposal to
the ACIDF board and said
this is really what I would
like to do. It came back and
gave us money for another
nine books.”
Currently there are nine
Chase Duffy books, with No.
10 — entitled Cloud 9 — due
out next month. Created by
a pair of Albertans, author
Dawn Ius and illustrator
James Grasdal, each book has
three to four key messages.
One book has Chase learning
about growing canola seeds
in space, another features
a jet car powered by canola
biodiesel, and there’s even
one that is “part mystery
adventure, part cookbook.”
The books, which sell for
$4.95 (GST included), are
available online at www. School and
public libraries can obtain
free copies by emailing
Demers Collins at [email protected]
“The very first book
we did as a way
of explaining the
difference between
canola and rapeseed,
and where canola
comes from. That
would be a real
Canadian story and
(a way to) start
dispelling some of the
myths that we only
changed the name
of rapeseed.”
Chase ‘Superman’ Duffy is the star of a series of books aimed at children aged eight to 11.
It’s a family affair
Two commission chairs in one household
Allison Ammeter is the new chair of Alberta Pulse Growers and her husband Mike
fills the same role for the Alberta Barley Commission
By Glenn Cheater
af staff
hey don’t keep records on
these sorts of things, but
Allison and Mike Ammeter
are likely the first Canadian farm
couple to each chair a provincial
crop commission. Allison became
chair of Alberta Pulse Growers at
the organization’s annual general
meeting at FarmTech, six weeks
after Mike became chair of the
Alberta Barley Commission. The
couple, who has three grown
children aged 20 to 25, crop 2,200
acres near Sylvan Lake. They
spoke with Alberta Farmer about
public service, their cropping
choices, and use of social media.
Has there ever been a husband
and wife who were both chairs of
farm organizations?
Allison: “I know of commissions
where both the husband and wife
are involved on the board, but I
don’t know of a couple who is
both chairs. My board told me
they don’t know of another board
that has a female chair, so I may
be setting a record there, too.”
What sort of commitment does
it take to be a chair?
Mike: “I’ve heard some say it
can be up to 100 days a year. I
don’t know if I can take that many
days away from the farm. Allison
drives the combine in the fall, but
I do all the seeding, spraying and
grain hauling, for the most part.
So I don’t know if I can pull 100
days out, but I anticipate 40 or
Allison: “Michael and I both
believe in making sure our entire
boards are involved and get
opportunities. Both of us have
the goal that if there are things
other members of our board can
do equally well, we’d like to share
that experience.”
Why are you doing it?
Allison: “I think it’s about serving
the industry, serving what we are
part of.”
Mike: “I think I attended the
first AGM of the barley commission (more than 20 years ago). I’ve
always gone to regional meetings,
I was a delegate for years, and
became a director four years ago.
Part of it is that the kids are out of
the house, so that’s no longer an
issue — and a tip of the hat to anyone who serves on a board and still
has a family at home. That’s a huge,
huge commitment.”
Allison: “I didn’t even step up
onto a board until our last child
got a driver’s licence. When the
kids were at home, I was chauffeuring all the time, I home-schooled
some — there were just other
priorities. Now is the time of our
life we can give back to this. And
we’ve met wonderful people and
had cool opportunities. You always
get back more than you give. Yes,
we’re investing time, but neither
of us feel it’s a huge hardship. It’s
a huge opportunity.”
What’s your recommendation for
someone trying to decide whether to
grow more pulses or barley this year?
Allison: “We have a four-year
rotation and aim for a quarter of
each: barley-wheat-canola-pulses.
Rotation is the key to healthy crops.
And I don’t mean canola-snowcanola.”
Mike: “It can vary a little. Last year
we grew 600 to 700 acres of barley
and 400 acres of pulses. So that
rotation isn’t a hard-and-fast rule,
but it’s pretty close to that.”
True or false? The better you are
on social media, the better a leader
you are.
Mike: “There’s probably an element of truth to that. My wife is the
social media representative of the
family. I creep into it a little bit, but
I don’t really engage.”
12:22 PM
Page 1
Allison and Mike Ammeter, pictured on their Sylvan Lake farm, are likely the first Canadian farm couple to each
chair a provincial crop commission. Photo: Courtesy of Ammeter Family
How many times have you
tweeted and when was your last
Mike (@mikeammeter):
“Maybe two. And I couldn’t tell
you when.”
Could it have been one tweet —
“Coffee in banff” — at the barley
commission’s AGM three years
Mike (laughing): “That’s probably it.”
Allison (@AAmmeter; more
than 8,000 tweets): “Now that
I’ve had time to think about it,
can I answer that question? No
— I do not believe social media
makes you a better leader. Leadership is a combination of a lot
of traits, some you’re born with
and some you learn. But I think
social media helps us get our
message out so much better.”
Are you prepared, Mike, to
make a commitment to double
your number of tweets?
Mike: “I’ve been challenged on
that already. Let’s see, I had one
three years ago. I think I could do
another in the next three years.”
Allison: “I just want to say,
Michael, that I didn’t know he
was going to ask that. I did not
set you up.”
[email protected]
AC Stettler
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Date Produced: January 2015
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# CWRS in Alberta.
If you’re not growing it,
what are you waiting for?
Genes that fit your farm.
Developed by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Swift Current.
*2014 Yield Alberta
‘AC’ is an official mark used under license from Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada.
Genes that fit your farm® is a registered trademark of SeCan.
Glenn Cheater
Phone: 780-919-2320
Email: [email protected]
twitter: @glenncheater
Alexis Kienlen, Edmonton
Email: [email protected]
Let’s move on and keep the
grain-policy debate out of the gutter
Jennifer Blair, Red Deer
Email: [email protected]
Shawna Gibson
Email: [email protected]
Reviving old rivalries from the wheat board era does no one
any good as the cereals industry plans for its new future
Director of Sales & Circulation
Lynda Tityk
Email: [email protected]
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By Laura Rance
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Manitoba Co-operator editor
f you’ve ever seen “smackdown” wrestling on TV, you have to admit, watching those muscle-bound burly sorts
strutting around pounding their chests
like apes and shouting insults is entertaining, in a perverse sort of way.
Even when they are throwing punches
or tossing each other out of the ring, it’s
pretty obvious that it’s all a well-orchestrated act.
However, it’s not so much fun watching the ongoing verbal slugfest between
grain industry leaders over the future of
the cereals industry in Canada. Scratch
the surface of some of these exchanges
and the bitter feuds that erupted during the Canadian Wheat Board debate
quickly rise up.
There is no question some of the
farmers who fought long and hard to
preserve the single-desk monopoly still
feel the sting of defeat. It colours their
view of efforts to move the industry forward.
But likewise, we note that the victors
— the ones who got what they were asking for — are remarkably thin skinned
and ready to scrap with anyone who
questions their view of the world.
Neither side is above questioning the
intelligence and integrity of those with
whom they disagree, making it next to
impossible to keep debate over some
fundamentally important issues out of
the gutter.
Most recently, this has shown itself
in the spat over Saskatchewan Wheat
Development Commission’s decision
not to join Cereals Canada.
The commission’s board of directors
have said their reasons include a difference in spending priorities. Last fall
chair Bill Gehl expressed the view that
farmers wouldn’t have a large enough
voice at the director’s table of Cereals
Canada, of which the board of directors
also includes grain-marketing and life
science companies.
At the time, some took exception to
his remarks. There were mutterings
about the Saskatchewan commission
being run by NFU and “the former CWB
director pool of labour.”
Even if that is true, so what?
There is a pervasive view in some
quarters that unless you come from the
correct side, your views on just about
anything don’t count.
Now the gloves have come off again.
This time, it’s over a press release issued
by Saskatchewan farmer Kyle Korneychuk, under the Canadian Wheat Board
Alliance letterhead, after Saskatchewan’s minister of agriculture suggested
the commission join the national body.
“The minister has shown that he does
not understand Cereals Canada is an
industry-captured group and cannot
reflect the interests of farmers,” said
Korneychuk, adding its 15-member
board has only three western farmers
on it. (It turns out there are five from
the West, plus one from Ontario.)
Korneychuk said farmers voting in the
Saskatchewan commission elections
expressed a need for continued public
interest plant breeding and research.
That’s not a bad thing. For example,
would midge-resistant wheat have been
developed if an agro-chemical company
was directing research?
“Diluting that interest by joining
industry-captured groups and giving
research money to the private trade
does nothing for either the competitiveness of farmers or the development of
the most agronomically useful wheat
and barley varieties,” Korneychuk said.
OK, so he got his numbers wrong. And
suggesting that Cereals Canada is an
“industry-captured” group is provocative. But whether you agree or disagree
with him, the point that farmers and
agribusiness may have different priorities is a legitimate one.
However, the response from Cereals
Canada president Cam Dahl was caustic
and personal, suggesting Korneychuk
was “either not capable of basic fact
checking, or simply does not care that
the facts are in conflict with his story.”
This falls far short of the organization’s platitudes about working together
for a common goal.
We suppose it will take a generation
or two for the hard feelings that dominated the CWB debate to dissipate, but
perhaps now is a good time to stop creating more.
There is common ground here. For
example, the Saskatchewan commission
has produced some of the best analysis
to date on the reasons for and the issues
raised by last year’s grain transportation
disaster. And like it or not, the Saskatchewan directors are there because farmers voted for them.
By the same token, the CWB monopoly is gone. Let’s stop fighting about it.
This isn’t the only example of our
declining ability to disagree in a civil
and respectful manner in policy
debates, only the most recent. As far as
smackdowns go, the ones on television
are about as productive — and far more
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Improve farming practices
with behavioural science
Farmers don’t always make rational decisions
By Chris Arsenault
rome / thomson reuters foundation
raditional economics
— assuming people
are rational actors who
respond to prices and subsidies
to maximize their own interests
— could use a rethink, a senior
World Bank official says.
Anne Fruttero, a senior World
Bank economist, relayed a story
about small farmers in Kenya’s
highlands, where low fertilizer
use has been holding back crop
Some farmers expressed the
desire to buy more fertilizer, but
had not been doing so after selling their crops at harvest time,
despite being able to afford it.
When growers needed the fer-
tilizer later in the year, they had
less money immediately available, so many of them did not
bother to make the purchase.
Traditional economics had led
researchers to believe that farmers would follow their own selfinterest, and thus save money
from the harvest to buy fertilizers
later in the year.
The emerging field of behavioural economics, outlined in
a recently released World Bank
report Mind, Society and Behavior shows that individuals do not
always behave rationally. Emotions, social norms, and taking the
path of least resistance play a key
part in everyday decision-making.
The solution for Kenyan farmers: organizations offered to sell
them fertilizer immediately after
the harvest. Uptakes increased.
“This policy of changing the
timing was as effective as a
50 per cent subsidy (for fertilizer),” Fruttero said. “This is
another way of understanding better why people do what
they do.”
These new trends emerging
in economics have major repercussions for international agencies working with farmers, said
John McIntire, associate vicepresident of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural
“How do you get people to
spend less on alcohol and more
on their farms?” McIntire asked.
“How do you try to induce people to stop doing things that are
not in their interests?”
Behavioural economics can
have tangible effects when try-
ing to provide credit to small
farmers who don’t have assets
or collateral for traditional
Group lending, where a cluster of small farmers takes turns
receiving credit and shares
the responsibility for repaying
loans, could benefit from the
new economics. An individual
who defaults will lose social
c a p i t a l w i t h i n h i s c o m m unity, McIntire said, potentially
reducing defaults.
Environmental services could
also benefit from the new
research, for example by giving farmers who plant trees to
protect an upstream watershed
from erosion priority access to
hydroelectricity generated by
the river they are helping to
A rip in the rural fabric
Thousands of hard-working and dedicated people have been cut adrift
because of changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers program
By brenda schoepp
af columnist
n Alberta, the shortage of
workers is so critical that
experts estimate the province will be 96,000 persons
short by 2023.
With unemployment at 4.7
per cent (and well under four
per cent in some regions), the
situation warrants attention.
At that rate Alberta dips into a
demographic that should not
be working and we need immigrant workers.
That being said, the change
to the Temporary Foreign
Workers (TFW) program midstream by the federal government has cast out many of
our trained, enthusiastic, and
much-needed foreign workers.
Their hopes are, of course, to
become Canadian citizens. Ric
McIver, the provincial minister of jobs, skills, training and
labour, has long advocated for
an increase of Alberta’s yearly
immigrant quota (by last fall
thousands had already been
delayed because of the processing time, and the wait time is
now up to two years). The quota
of 5,500 for Alberta’s Immigrant
Nominee Program was full
last November and the 10,000
applications for persons nominated by employers for permanent residency are sitting on the
desk. That puts the squeeze on
temporary workers nominated
by their employers.
For a consolation prize, Jason
Kenney, the federal minister of
employment and social development, is sending along $1
million to train Albertans via
the new Canada Job Grant initiative.
My question is — who is there
to train?
There are 100,000 persons
working in Alberta from other
provinces, a statistically brutal unemployment rate and
a major loss of potential new
Canadians. Alberta accounts
for 26 per cent of the nation’s
full-time employment growth.
Under the new regulations,
TFW employers now must cut
their total foreign worker staff
hours to 10 per cent. In Alberta,
there are thousands of shocked
employers and employees who
had the game change on them
in mid-stream. The result is the
loss of terrific, committed workers and closed businesses. What
it did was set 15,000 persons
afloat to deportation after a
committed employment record.
If you are “highly skilled” then
of course that is different. A per-
son in food service for example
is considered by Kenney as
unskilled, although foreign
workers account for less than
two per cent of the national
food-service workforce.
Alberta has published a list of
trades that they are desperately
short in and right along with
engineers and crane operators
is food-service chefs. Take the
true example of a small eatery in rural Alberta. The entire
cooking staff who were trained
and highly skilled chefs from
overseas were forced to leave
with their families because
the employer could no longer
meet the requirements under
the new federal changes. They
made application through the
Express Immigration Program
announced by federal Immigration Minister Chris Alexander (a
program that came with a price
tag of $14 million over the next
two years) and were denied.
The backlog in the Alberta system meant that even though
the foreign workers and their
employer had fulfilled all the
requirements, they were forced
to leave Canada. The one-year
bridging program recently
reported is for “some” temporary foreign workers, and the
indications are that this will be
for professionals only. Getting back to the little restaurant which is now closed,
the economic spinoff to the
rural community of that business was $336,000. The apartments these families rented are
empty and every business in
town is short the sale of food,
clothing, gas, school supplies,
toiletries, insurance and so on
that were a result of the families being here. If that is mirrored in other communities
the economic loss of the 15,000
persons who will be denied
immigration may be $89 million to rural Canada and Canadian businesses.
The social-economic cost is
huge for the stress borne by
both employee and employer.
It is degrading for both parties. The Globe and Mail aptly
called the changes a solution
waiting for a problem. And a
problem it is as both employer
and employee report that they
cannot get the answers they
need. Conform or be charged,
threatens Kenney. Employers
who do not play by the rules
face a $100,000 fine.
The shortage of workers and
the treatment of our potential new Canadians is not just
an economic issue. This is a
human rights issue. By changing the rules we upset both
business and life. Our potential new Canadians came here
because employers needed
them and were willing to foot
the bill. They came here as victims of government and they
have sadly, become victims
of government again. All the
patchwork programs in the
world won’t make the fabric
new again. It is torn, along with
the hope of many families who
were happy to take the risk to
start anew, many in rural communities.
These are people’s lives we
are talking about. Let us be fair
in the process and give them
a chance to immigrate as we
reflect that we are a country built on just that. We are
the second nation. It was our
ancestors who came as both
skilled and unskilled workers
to urban and rural Canada and
west to Alberta, collectively
building one of the most desirable countries in the world in
which to live. Let us stand by
Brenda Schoepp is a farmer
from Alberta who works as
an international mentor and
motivational speaker. She can
be contacted through her website All rights
reserved. Brenda Schoepp 2014
The theory is good,
but finding help
Why I don’t support
Alberta Beef Producers remains a challenge
read with interest the article titled
Alberta producers want checkoff
raised (Feb. 2), which stated attendees at Alberta Beef Producers meetings
favoured a higher mandatory checkoff.
I would suggest that this endorsement
is similar to one that would be received if
you asked the workers of a fast-food restaurant if they would support an increase
in the minimum wage. I am sure the
response would be a resounding “yes,”
but how many people does this actually
As a cow-calf producer I do not feel
that ABP represents my interests and if
attendance at fall producer meetings is
an indication, many producers share my
ABP has some hard-working delegates
that do good work in promoting environmental stewardship, animal health
and welfare, marketing, research, and
addressing issues such as wildlife problems. But in my view, the No. 1 priority
should be lobbying government for policy that benefits our industry. In recent
years it appears the extent of this lobby
has been to find out what our provincial government proposes, suggest a
few minor changes, and then endorse
it. I cite mandatory age verification, the
creation of the Alberta Livestock & Meat
Agency, and the passing of the land bills
as some examples of ABP’s ineffective
lobby. I suggest that ABP’s loss of the
mandatory checkoff in the first place
had a lot to do with an ineffective lobby.
Through ABP’s actions, or more often
inaction, it appears that ABP has bought
in to the notion that government can run
our industry better than producers.
I am guessing that government will
likely approve ABP’s request to reinstate a mandatory checkoff. This would
reduce ABP’s reliance on ALMA funding
to run some of its projects. During these
times of reduced government revenues
I would think government would favour
I make no secret that I have been getting my checkoff refunded. As a producer, I need to see ABP demonstrate
some leadership and courage in its relations with government before I can support it again.
Gene Brown
found the article Oilpatch’s pain
could be agriculture’s gain as
layoffs mount (Feb. 2) interesting.
It gives the illusion that the layoffs in the oilfield sector will all
be available for farmers. Here are
some things I come across dealing
with ag employment:
• N inety per cent of my jobs are
year-round full time. Farmers
need help all year round, not just
when the oil sector is slow.
• I t will be tough going from a
$35-an-hour job to have any interest in an $18- to $20-an-hour job. • Oilfield workers are used to camp
jobs. I find farmers are getting
away from providing housing,
but an oilfield worker who has to
move in order to secure a job has
to find housing in the area. • Farmers are leery of hiring someone who is going to jump ship as
soon as they can get back in the
oilfield. It takes a full year to train
someone on the farm because of
all the seasons and variety of jobs.
• I think most laid-off workers
will take advantage of EI for the
first while. The money coming in would probably be better
than working for the farmer even
though it is only a percentage of
what they made.
• The oilfield will probably start laying off from the bottom up. This
sounds unfair to say but probably
the less skilled employees will get
laid off first. Farmers have to deal
directly with employees and their
families, and need to be careful
who they hire because of this.
Employees have to work within
the family and sometimes interact with family members. It’s not
a camp job for sure.
The article sounds good in theory,
but there are many other aspects
to look at when dealing with farm
help. Just my two cents.
Tony Kok
Agricultural Employment Ltd.
Picture Butte
Off the front
February 16, 2015 •
DRONES } from page 1
Eyeballing the herd
Livestock operations across
Alberta have already found plenty
of uses for UAVs.
One feedlot in central Alberta
uses them in a way that’s “very
simple but very powerful,” getting
a bird’s-eye view of its assets, said
“To walk through there and do
all that, it would take hours. You
throw a drone up, you can get that
data in minutes,” he said.
Another feedlot in southern
Alberta uses UAVs to help with
year-end inventory audits.
“Before they would have five or
six accountants out there, plus five
to 10 farm hands, to run the cattle
down the shoot and measure all
the bales,” he said. “Now we have
one accountant on site and no help
from the farmer, and we do everything in about a 10th of the time.”
Using UAVs, producers and feedlot operators are able to count cattle
in the field — saving time while
reducing stress for the animal.
“Now there’s no more need to
run them down an alley,” said
Myshak. “It’s very stressful for
them, and they usually lose about
a pound or two when you’re running them down the alley. This
way, they don’t get disturbed.
They don’t even know the UAV is
there. We’re able to take the imagery back to the lab and do all the
counts electronically.
“If you calculate one pound of
loss per animal at a 10,000-head
feedlot, you just saved yourself
Field flybys
But the benefit to grain farms may
be even greater. For the past three
years, Myshak has been working
with Chris and Harold Perry of CKP
Farms near Lethbridge.
All looks well in this shot (on left) of a potato field in southern Alberta, where Ventus Geospatial used a UAV to scout the field. But a trained eye can
detect blotches in the lower-right section of an infrared image (centre) of the same field. Areas infected by potato blight can clearly be seen in the
photo on the right, which has been calibrated to show what is called the “normalized difference vegetation index” — which is used to assess the amount
of live vegetation. Photos: Ventus Geospatial
The Perrys are “big into datadriven agriculture,” said Myshak,
and were looking for ways to use
data from drones “to make better decisions — to fertilize less,
to save water, to detect diseases,
to reduce inputs, and to increase
All of their potato fields are flown
weekly, and they use the imagery
from the UAVs to develop a prescription for their irrigation pivot,
which has variable-rate control on
every nozzle.
During one of those weekly
flights, Myshak noticed a dark
spot at one edge of the field using
an infrared sensor. Healthy plants
reflect more near-infrared energy,
he said, while stressed or dying
plants reflect less.
“You might not be able to see
it in the visual data, but there’s
something happening there,” said
Myshak. “You’re able to detect
things in the plant weeks before
you ever see it with the naked eye.”
Upon seeing the potential problem area in the field, Myshak sent
the GPS co-ordinates to the Perrys. The dark spot turned out to
be potato blight.
“The key to having potato blight
not ruin your whole field is early
detection,” said Myshak.
“He may have lost 10 per cent of
the field, but he’s basically saved
the rest of his field. That’s $200,000
or $300,000 he saved because of
drone imagery, which costs him a
few dollars an acre.
“That’s the value proposition.
It costs money — but it also saves
you money in the end.”
And that kind of data doesn’t
come cheap. For simple field
scouting, a top-of-the-line UAV
isn’t really necessary; a $1,500 DJI
Phantom will likely do the trick, he
said. But to capture the best data,
“you’re going to need an expensive sensor and an expensive platform,” said Myshak, adding that
prices can range up to $150,000.
“You really do get what you pay
[email protected]
Drones are already earning their keep on some Alberta farms, says Steve
Myshak, owner of Ventus Geospatial. Weather or Not
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7 • February 16, 2015
GRAIN WEBSITE } from page 1
“It will be an app on your
iPhone or Android or
whatever you have, and
if you’re looking for a
certain price, it will ping
you when the market
hits that price — that’s
the ultimate goal.”
table when marketing grain, he
“I think it keeps everybody more
realistic and more competitive,
and for farmers, any time you
can be more competitive and save
time marketing your product is
going to benefit you,” he said.
“We just want to give farmers will be critical to the success of
options and the ability to make the initiative.
better, quicker decisions.”
“The discussions have been
The pricing data will be sup- ongoing with a lot of them,”
plied voluntarily by a cross-sec- said Ritz. “Of course, the smaller
tion of buyers and sellers, said and mid-range players like this
Ritz, and both he and Erickson idea because it lets them show
said getting their participation they’re in the game. The bigger
ones will tell you, ‘We have our
own websites,’ and they do —
but it comes down to the accuracy and timeliness of those
— with files from Jennifer Blair
[email protected]
Meet Rhett Allison
Started farming: 1975
Crop rotation: durum, lentils, oilseed, peas
Favorite TV show: W5
Most hated weed: Narrow-leaved hawk’s-beard
Loves most about farming: Balance between work and play
Best vacation: Mazatlan
Guilty pleasure: Golf
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“We feel strongly that this project has the potential to change
the way farmers market their
crops through access to better
and more timely information,”
said Kent Erickson, chair of the
“Our ultimate goal is a more
transparent market, one that
enables producers to be able to
capture the marketing opportunities available to them.”
Currently it’s hard for grain
farmers to get a firm handle on
prices being offered for their
crops, said federal Agriculture
Minister Gerry Ritz, who flew to
Edmonton to announce the project at FarmTech.
“There are a number of websites
that are up there now, including
some of the grain companies,
that claim to be price transparent,” said Ritz. “The problem is a
lot of them are two or three weeks
out of date. So this will be very
timely (and) updated daily or on
our half-day basis.”
“There is a varying degree of
where farmers are looking for
price,” added Erickson, who
farms near Irma. “It is currently
very fragmented. The new website gives a good benchmark and
more accountability is going to
make the website better.”
The website — pdq stands for
“price & data quotes” — is currently in pilot mode and offers
just a single price for four crops:
Canada Western Red Spring,
Canada Western Amber durum,
Canada Prairie Spring, and
canola. The website covers eight
zones (three in Alberta, four in
Saskatchewan and one in Manitoba) and offers a price for each
zone. Additional crops and more
detailed pricing will be added in
the coming weeks and months,
said Erickson.
“The more companies that get
involved and contribute to the
background of the website, it
will make the website that much
more robust,” he said.
And there will be a mobile version, too, added Ritz.
“It will be an app on your iPhone
or Android or whatever you have,
and if you’re looking for a certain
price, it will ping you when the
market hits that price — that’s the
ultimate goal,” said Ritz.
Producers need to have a clear
idea of what the current “benchmark” price is before they start
calling their elevators, said Erickson.
And any substantial change
in that price will alert them that
something is moving the market.
“In the environment we’re in
right now, a lot of farmers really
could use a good benchmark to
find out what kind of prices are
out there,” he said, adding the
new site will “definitely be a time
saver” for farmers.
“We all have favourites and we
all have good relationships with
two or three different companies
in our areas,” said Erickson. “Now
(producers) really only need to
make a couple of phone calls to
find out where their prices are at.
“It just makes it a little more
transparent and open in where
the price is.”
In many cases, he said, farmers
are selling their grain on the fly
to solve cash flow issues — and
they don’t have time to call “six
or seven different places to find
out what kind of price is realistic.”
“When a guy’s looking to sell a
load, it’s going to make it a little
easier for them to understand
what prices are out there,” Erickson said. “They want to be able to
get up to speed as fast as possible,
and a tool like this will get them
up to speed quicker.”
The new site could also reduce
the risk of leaving money on the
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Cereals Canada comes under fire
But chair Greg Porozni says the group is focused on bringing
sustainable profitability for all players in the grain sector
By Alex Binkley
af contributor
laims that Cereals Canada
doesn’t reflect the interests of farmers don’t jibe
with the facts, says Cam Dahl, the
organization’s president.
Kyle Korneychuk, spokesperson for the Canadian Wheat
Board Alliance, described Cereals
Canada as “an industry-captured
group and cannot reflect the
interests of farmers. It has only
three western farmers on a board
largely composed of representatives of multinational grain and
agro-chemical companies.”
Dahl countered the organization is intended to represent the
entire value chain of the cereals
industry and benefit both growers and processors — and it has
six producers on its board.
Greg Porozni photo: AWC
“We have farmer membership
from coast to coast,” said Dahl.
Among them are three directors from the Alberta Wheat
Commission: Greg Porozni,
who is Cereals Canada chair,
Kevin Bender, and Kent Erickson. There are also farmers from
Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and
Korneychuk issued a release
after Saskatchewan Agriculture
Minister Lyle Stewart urged the
province’s wheat commission to
join the Winnipeg-based organization.
But Korneychuk argued if the
commission did that, it would
“dilute farmers’ voices” when it
comes to topics such as research
and development of new varieties of wheat and barley.
“The public and our customers have already spoken very
loudly that they do not want our
essential food crops controlled
by multinational agro-chemical
companies whose only mandate is to provide profits to their
But Porozni said farmers will
gain from the efforts of Cereals
Canada, because it is focused on
bringing sustainable profitability
to grain growers, suppliers and
“Cereals Canada brings
together a broad and diverse collection of partners from all parts
of the cereals sector,” he said.
“Our goal is to ensure a profitable
and vibrant future for all links in
the value chain. The cereals sector is in a period of transition
that presents the industry with
a unique opportunity to create
the environment that will allow
Canada to realize its full potential in international and domestic
Markert new
chair of canola
Vulcan producer Lee
Markert is the new chairman of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. He succeeds Colin
Felstad. Greg Sears of
Sexsmith was elected to
serve as vice-chairman.
Also joining the board
are three directors
acclaimed in October.
Steve Marshman of
Strathmore will replace
Elaine Bellamy in
Region 8, Dale Uglem of
Bawlf will replace Jack
Moser in Region 11, and
John Guelly of Westlock
will replace Felstad in
Region 5.
— ACPC release
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9 • February 16, 2015
Supply management has to keep pressure
on Ottawa, says Dairy Farmers president
Politicians and consumers need reminding system is economically sound, says Wally Smith
By Alex Binkley
af contributor
hile Ottawa has promised to protect
supply management for dairy and
poultry producers in trade negotiations, farmers need to keep reminding politicians and consumers the system works to
Canada’s economic benefit, says the president
of Dairy Farmers of Canada.
One way to do that is for producers to
make people aware that dairy and poultry
farms boost rural prosperity by offering wellpaying jobs and supporting local suppliers,
Wally Smith told the organization’s annual
“We invest in Canada and the explosion of
local farmers’ markets in recent years shows
that consumers are interested in buying localproduced foods,” he noted. The average Canadian dairy farm milks 76 cows a day, which
is a much smaller number than many dairy
farms elsewhere.
“It’s all about our family farms,” he said.
“We need to convince the government to
become more aggressive in its defence of supply management. Processors should support
us as well.”
Reports that the Trans-Pacific Pact trade
negotiations could be wrapped up later this
year should have producers paying close
attention to what issues are in play, he said.
With the collapse of world oil prices in recent
weeks, many economies have gone into a tailspin, Smith noted. Dairy farmers in New Zealand are struggling because world dairy prices
have dropped as consumers in imported
countries have cut their purchases. Milk production in Europe will become completely
unregulated in the coming months and that
could throw European milk production into
an oversupply crisis. Canadian beef and pork
farmers have gone through the kind of agony
dairy farmers elsewhere are experiencing.
The Canadian system keeps dairy and
poultry farms healthy while retail prices are
on average close to what shoppers pay in
countries like the United States and Europe,
where up to half the farm income comes from
government payments.
Smith said some economists and business
columnists keep calling for the end of supply
management so Canada can export more
dairy products.
“We’re not against exports but it has to make
economic sense. We’re not in favour of giving away our product. We’re exporting some
cheese and fluid milk to Asia but we are producers in a northern climate.” He noted that
of all the milk produced on farms around the
world, only seven per cent is exported. Canada
is hardly alone in primarily serving its domestic market.
“We don’t want to see the government
trade away a system of sustainable agriculture so we can participate in a highly
subsidized world market,” he added.
Local foods
The demand for dairy products grew by
two per cent last year in Canada, he said.
Food companies and restaurants are
becoming increasingly interested in
serving products made with 100 per cent
Canadian milk. Tim Hortons will join the
ranks in the near future along with other
well-known companies.
While Dairy Farmers of Canada appreciates the federal support for supply
management, its members are becoming
frustrated by the government’s failure to
explain how it will compensate for the
increased access for European cheese
that will come from the Canada-Europe
trade deal.
NEWS » Markets
CME to close open-outcry futures
Canada not on Saputo’s radar
The CME Group Inc., which runs the grain trading rooms in Chicago, plans to shut down most
of the open-outcry futures markets in July. Floor trading accounts for about one per cent
of all futures business at the world’s biggest futures exchange. But traders in Chicago’s
grain options pits said they’re confident their business will endure. Options offer buyers
the chance to bet on prices without the obligation to pick up the underlying asset. They
have grown in complexity as players seek more ways to hedge against commodity market
volatility. — Reuters
Supply management has forced Saputo to focus on growth elsewhere, says the company’s CEO. Lino Saputo Jr. said he is not lobbying Ottawa to either dismantle or preserve
the system, but said a liberalized system could allow Saputo to grow at home. “If a dairy
farmer would be able to be cost effective in Canada, and be able to have a huge pool
of milk for us, then, yes, it would make sense to increase our presence in the Canadian
platform,” he said. The Montreal-based company, is seeking to make an acquisition in the
$500-million to $2-billion range this year, he said. — Reuters
Attractive exchange rates
trump stocks data in canola
U.S. markets await this week’s USDA supply/demand report
By Terryn Shiells
he ICE Futures Canada canola
market moved higher during the
week ended Feb. 6, with a rally
in outside oilseed markets helping to
underpin the Canadian futures.
Malaysian palm oil values led the
global oilseed complex higher during
the week, reacting to news that Indonesia will raise subsidies on biodiesel production. This could, in turn, increase
demand for oilseeds such as palm oil
and soyoil.
The Canadian dollar was a mixed
bag during the week, moving higher
one day only to give up large losses the
next. Overall it held steady compared to
a week ago, though was still very weak,
below US80 cents.
Canola futures, however, moved to
the higher end of their range, meaning
downside could be possible in coming
sessions. March canola is expected to
top out at about C$465 per tonne, and
find support around $445.
The market is expected to hold fairly
steady within that $20 range, as a number of bearish and bullish factors influence the market.
On one side, global oilseed supplies
remain very large, especially with South
American soybeans now being harvested. Canadian canola supplies are
also big, with Dec. 31 stocks estimates
from Statistics Canada topping expectations.
On the other side, the Canadian dollar remains very weak, making canola
cheaper to buy for crushers, and for
exporters. Commercial demand for
canola also remains steady.
A lack of fresh demand news for the
Chicago soybean market during the
week didn’t stop the futures from ending higher overall. Much of the week’s
advances were linked to short-covering
and to spurts of buying on days when
crude oil values rose and the U.S. dollar dropped.
A similar story was seen in the corn
market, which finished with gains of
US15-16 cents per bushel.
Both corn and beans are still paying
attention to the South American crops,
but traders are sure to shift their focus
to the 2015-16 U.S. crops in coming
weeks as farmers firm up their planting intentions.
The annual fight for acres should
begin in the markets in the coming
weeks. The spread between the two
commodities will have to tighten up a
lot more to encourage farmers to switch
any intended soybean acres back to
As of Feb. 6, the price of new-crop
Photo: Thinkstock
soybeans was about 2.3 times higher
than that of new-crop corn. To encourage acreage switching, that factor
would have to narrow in to 2.1-2.2,
analysts say.
Wheat markets in the U.S. moved
higher during the week, seeing a
rebound off recent sharp declines.
Optimism that export demand for U.S.
wheat will pick up, as prices may have
fallen far enough, also underpinned
All three commodities will look to
the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
monthly report on Feb. 10 for direction,
as it will give an updated picture on
domestic and global supply/demand
situations for corn, wheat and beans.
For wheat, export demand for U.S.
supplies, where the U.S. dollar moves
and weather conditions in U.S. winter
wheat-growing regions will also be
watched in the coming weeks.
Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity
News Service Canada, a Winnipeg
company specializing in grain and
commodity market reporting.
For three-times-daily market reports from Resource News
International, visit “ICE Futures Canada updates”
Farmers key in effort to win
hearts and minds of consumers
American expert says the public tunes out scientists, so it’s up to producers to
convince consumers that they produce safe, wholesome food
af staff
Bringing high-yielding varieties
to developing nations and
promoting modern production
practices earned Norman Borlaug
the title of ‘father of the Green
Revolution.’ File photo
It’s not just that being defensive
and angry doesn’t work, it’s that so
many consumers aren’t persuaded
by experts in science — they’ve got
their own trusted sources, said Borlaug.
“Remember, we’re talking to
people who are far removed from
agriculture,” she said. “We’re
talking about moms who believe
everything their 20-year-old yoga
instructor tells them and everything
Facebook tells them.”
But farmers are welcome participants in the conversation about
Julie Borlaug, pictured at a
symposium in Washington last year,
says farmers need to reach out to
consumers. Photo: USDA
topics such as genetic modification,
use of chemicals, and food safety if
they are open, honest, and genuine,
she said.
However, they also have to be
savvy and meet consumers on their
own ground, which today is located
on the Internet.
“You have to make your conversations personal,” she said. “We
really have to ask farmers to step
up and join social media and start
conveying the message about what
they do. We have to say that farming is not easy and it is a business,
but we have to have farmers talking
about the role of technology. Scien-
citrus groves and her university is
working on a genetically modified
orange that could be that industry’s
only hope.
“I ask moms how many give
orange juice to their children
every morning and then ask, ‘Are
you ready not to have orange juice
or are you ready to pay triple the
price?’” she said. “I talk about tangible things that are important to
Borlaug offered several suggestions on how farmers can reach out
to consumers (see sidebar) but her
main plea was not to get angry and
refuse to engage.
“You have to take this ridiculousness seriously,” she said.
[email protected]
Enter to win the
Heat LQ Speed Experience.
Tips on reaching out to consumers
ere are some of Julie
Borlaug’s tips for
reaching out to consumers.
Many companies boast their
products don’t contain GM
wheat, but the marketing
deception doesn’t end there.
Borlaug said she’s also come
across non-GM beef and even
GMO-free salt.
The best response is to
patiently explain genetically
modified wheat is not grown
anywhere, there is no such
thing as a genetically modified
cow, and that salt is a mineral.
Invest the time
In the last couple of years, farmers have gotten better at using
social media, such as Twitter,
Facebook, and Instagram, to
reach out to consumers.
But it’s not enough. Critics of
photo: thinkstock
modern agriculture were early
adopters of social media and
“we’ve got 10 years to make
up,” said Borlaug.
And every farmer needs to
be present in the online world,
she added.
“I’ve heard farmers say, ‘If
I’m on Twitter, then I’m not
making a living.’ My response
is, ‘You can do it at night, you
can even do all your messages
on Sunday and then slowly
put them out over the week.’
But you have to make time for
it because it’s your customer
base… And if you can’t make
time for it, then get a son or
daughter or someone else to
do it for you.”
Hone your message
Think about your core messages and work on them, just
as a salesman would for an
elevator pitch.
“If I’m on an elevator with a
mom for 90 seconds and I can’t
convey a message that’s comprehensible for her, then I’ve
done nothing.”
Be hopeful
Don’t worry that your voice
will be drowned out in a sea of
misinformation, said Borlaug.
Being open, honest, and
willing to engage is a powerful way to challenge the picture painted by the critics of
modern agriculture — namely
that corporate farms are either
dupes of big chemical and seed
companies or willing to sacrifice healthy, wholesome food
for a quick buck.
“We need to take every
opportunity to spread our
message,” she said. “I think we
will slowly win the day.”
[email protected]
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H E AT 2 4 6
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of British Columbia); (ii) Manitoba; or (iii) Saskatchewan; and who: (a) are the owner, operator or
designated representative of a farm; and (b) are 21 years of age or older; and (c) meet all Richard
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Some words commonly used
on farms have hugely negative connotations for urbanites, she said.
“The moment we talk about
how GMOs will lessen the
amount of inputs such as pesticides or herbicides, you have
shut the conversation down.
I know that is inane, but for
most people, the word pesticide or herbicide means cancer
or something that’s going to
kill you. Can’t we use the words
weed killer or insect repellent?”
Watch your language
Client: BASF
Name: HeatLQ_Speed Ad_AFE-Banner_v6
ike it or not, it’s up to you,
Producers must lead the
line in the battle to convince consumers that GM crops, pesticides,
and other ag technologies are good
things, FarmTech attendees were
“We in the ag sector have made a
big mistake in not getting in front
of this,” said Julie Borlaug, associate director of external relations
for the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M
“We thought scientists could do
the talking for us and they would
help push the cause forward, and
unfortunately that’s not what happened.”
Even her famous grandfather
Norman Borlaug — known as the
father of the Green Revolution —
was “awful” at defending the scientific advances that have fuelled
the massive rise in food production in the last half-century, she
“He would get in an argument
with what he called a ‘Greenie’ and
it didn’t go well,” Borlaug said after
her presentation.
“Typically, he would put up his
hand and say, ‘I’m done with you.’
Well, we’re not winning anyone
when we do that.”
tists just can’t do it — their messaging just doesn’t come across.”
When Borlaug talks to people
about the efforts of the Borlaug
Institute to combat hunger in
impoverished countries, she
focuses on how modern varieties
coupled with synthetic fertilizers
and farm chemicals could radically
improve the lives of women, who
do most of the farming.
“I ask, ‘How can you be for
women without being in favour of
bringing innovation and technology to developing countries?’”
She takes the same approach
when talking about agriculture
in North America. For example,
she points to the threat of citrus
greening. The bacterial disease
has infested much of Florida’s
By Glenn Cheater
news » livestock
Beef sector blueprint explained
Livestock care in the spotlight
Cattle organizations behind the new industry blueprint have put out a pair of videos outlining the strategy behind the recently released Canada’s National Beef Strategy. The strategy
has three specific goals to be achieved by 2020: Boost production efficiency by 15 per cent,
increase carcass cut-out value by 15 per cent, and reduce cost disadvantage relative to
global competitors by seven per cent. The plan is backed by all of the leading national
and provincial industry organizations. Both the report and links to the two videos are at — Staff
A low-stress cattle-handling and body condition-scoring workshop; understanding animal
welfare; and a diversified livestock panel will be part of the 2015 Annual Livestock Care
Conference on March 26-27 in Calgary. The conference, hosted by Alberta Farm Animal Care,
is intended to address challenges and trends in animal care. Other topics include social media
in animal agriculture and understanding consumer perceptions in Alberta. Admission is $195
($165 for veterinarians and animal health technologists, and $115 for students). For more
information or to register, go to — Staff
The future continues to look
bright for pork producers
While it’s not entirely smooth sailing, the ‘optimistic sentiment’ in the
industry is well founded, two experts told the Banff Pork Seminar
Meristem Land and Science
he animal welfare issue
won’t derail a positive
outlook for Canada’s pork
industry, says an American agriculture economist.
“There is a very optimistic sentiment today in the entire pork
industry — I think we’re going
to expand pork production
throughout North America,”
Glynn Tonsor of Kansas State
University said at the recent
2015 Banff Pork Seminar.
“I think we’re going to expand
it a little less than if we didn’t
have this uncertainty related to
welfare and other social issues,
but in the big picture animal
welfare is a very small component of the broader economic
At the end of the day it will be
part of the cost of doing business
in an overall positive environment, he said.
“All the major export players
— Canada, U.S. and Europe —
have the same issues to deal with
so it will still be a level playing
“In the big picture
animal welfare is a
very small component
of the broader
economic story.”
Glynn Tonsor
Consumer interest in how
their food is produced is “the
new reality,” and pork producers
need to understand this trend
and be willing to make adjustments, he said.
But when it comes to animal
welfare, “there’s a lot more complexity than first meets the eye,”
he said.
Surveys have found consumers favour banning or limiting
the use of particular production practices over paying a
premium, said Tonsor.
“Also, when they say they’ll
pay a premium, the indications
are that doesn’t mean they will.
You have to cut that number in
half or more to get a more realistic indication.”
Economic reality
And that means higher costs for
producers, he said.
“For example, if we have to
reduce antibiotic use, partly
because of animal welfare concerns and largely because of
human health concerns, there
will be a higher cost at the end
of the day because of the illness
The potential for higher fixed
costs is arguably the biggest factor, he said.
“For instance, as we move
away from traditional building designs toward alternative
space provisions, it’s quite possible we’ll have more expensive
But much of that comes down
to how long producers have for
implementing change.
“It’s a huge difference if you
have to change tomorrow or if
you can wait until closer to a
time when you would normally
renew,” said Tonsor.
Uncertainty is another factor
that producers will have to deal
with, he said.
“This is the part that doesn’t
get talked about as much,
but is also very economically
important. We don’t know six
months from now, five years
from now, 20 years from now,
what will be the rules of the
game. That added uncertainty
and the risk it brings can mute
the appetite for renewal and
Producers also need to
remember there is no typical
consumer, he said.
“We like to talk about the consumer, but that far oversimplifies the story,” said Tonsor.
“There are segments that can
afford certain choices or will
make certain choices based on
welfare. However, the indications are the typical consumer
is not willing to pay a premium
for things like stall free, antibiotic free and so forth.”
If a large number of consumers was willing to pay a premium
for such products, more compa-
fILE photo
nies would be selling them and
“we’re not seeing that yet,” he
Good prospects
Seminar attendees were also
told the Canadian pork sector is
entering “a new era.”
“It’s a much different industry
than it was in the past,” said market analyst Kevin Grier. “We’ve
got some issues, but many are
short term. In the big picture, I
do believe we are globally competitive. Just how competitive we
are can and does fluctuate. But
we have to remind ourselves that
we enjoy many advantages that
are the envy of pork-producing
regions around the world.”
Global population increases
and rising incomes also mean
“demand for meat is far outpacing production.”
“One major concern is that
our packer margins are consistently worse than in the U.S.,”
said Grier.
Kevin Grier
Glynn Tonsor
Producers also need more
time to recover from losses
suffered from 2006 to 2012, he
“One thing we can’t do
though is let our guard down,”
said Grier. “It will take time
to get balance sheets back in
shape from that long tough
stretch we endured. The indus-
try is 25 per cent the size it was
in 2005 and we’ve seen tremendous consolidation.”
Nevertheless, Canada is
the world’s sixth-largest pork
producer and third-largest
exporter, he noted.
“We’re maintaining our markets and as they grow, we can
grow too.”
Don’t expect hog heaven in 2015
Analyst Kevin Grier says markets overreacted to PEDv last year,
but the current drop in prices is likely overdone, too
By Alexis Kienlen
af staff
t’s been a year since porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) was
found in Canada, and the wave
of high prices caused by the disease
seems to be coming to an end.
“Traders seem to think this disease has been licked and is behind
us because the pricing now on
hogs in futures markets are such
that there’s no way people seem to
be worried about shortages,” market analyst Kevin Grier said during
Alberta Pork’s recent telephone
town hall.
Summer futures are around
US$84 and fourth quarter around
US$69, he said during the late-January conference call.
“Prices like that indicate to me
that if there is any fear, there is much
more supply than the hogs and pigs
report would have indicated.”
But traders who think PEDv is no
longer a threat may be jumping the
gun, said Grier, noting there were
nine new cases in Canada in January
(on top of nearly 80 in 2014).
The price drop in the futures is
overdone, too, he said.
“These futures are pretty bearish
and I would like to see about $5 more
on average than what the futures are
offering, because I just cannot justify
from my own perspective and statistical relationship, how low things are
right now.”
“There’s a lot of
uncertainty in the
exports market and
that could probably be
the thing that makes or
breaks us in 2015.”
Kevin Grier
He predicted slaughter, which fell
sharply last year, should increase
by five to eight per cent this year.
But the production impact in 2014
was much lower, about two per
cent, because American producers
increased the size of their market
hogs. Still, that was enough to push
prices up by 15 to 20 per cent and
create “a phenomenal year” for
Canadian producers not affected
by PEDv.
“In many times of the year,
there was an overreaction on price
because of the extreme uncertainty
on supplies in the United States,”
said Grier.
North Americans spent more on
pork last year, and that’s a positive
“From a demand perspective, it’s
too early to say that pork has turned
the corner, but it’s definitely encouraging,” he said.
The rise of the U.S. dollar will
make it harder for Americans to
export, but domestic demand is
good. China’s demand should also
be strong in 2015, he said.
“Given the dollar and global
events, there’s a lot of uncertainty in
the exports market and that could
probably be the thing that makes or
breaks us in 2015. If we have more
pigs than we think we do, that could
be the kicker.”
[email protected]
Fear of shortage sent hog prices sky high in 2014 and led to “a phenomenal year” for Canadian producers unaffected by PEDv,
said market analyst Kevin Grier. Photo: Thinkstock
It PAYS to Study Ag
CABEF offers six $2,500 scholarships to Canadian
students enrolling in agricultural or agri-business
related programs.
Deadline for applications: March 1, 2015
Apply at
CABEF is a registered charity (#828593731RR0001). For more information on all registered charities in Canada under
the Income Tax Act, please visit: Canada Revenue Agency,
Getting new
MAR 14, 2015 workers off to a
Erskine Alberta
good start pays off
ull & FEMAlE
FEMA SAlE for hog operation
Offering over 700 head of
29th AnnuAl
Quality Black & Red Angus Cattle
yearling bulls
• 100 two year old bulls
• 100 yearling heifers
• 300 commercial heifers
• 50 black bred commercial heifers
Lee, Laura & Jackie Brown
Phone: 403-742-4226
Trish & Tim henderson
Fax: 403-742-2962
[email protected]
Box 217 erskine, aB T0c 1G0
catalogue online
MARCH 26, 2015
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
8:00 pm – 8:45 pm
8:45 pm – 10:30 pm
MARCH 27, 2015
9:00 am – 9:10 am
9:10 am – 9:30 am
9:30 am – 10:15 am
10:15 am – 10:45 am
10:45 am – 11:15 am
11:15 am – 12:00 pm
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
2:30 pm – 3:00 pm
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
4:00 pm – 4:15 pm
The cost of a trainer and a five-week employee
orientation is far less than having to continually
replace workers, says HyLife official
Meristem Land and Science
nyone running a hog
operation of any scale
today knows the value of
Richard Taillefer, director of
sow and nursery production for
HyLife, a large hog production
operation headquartered in La
Broquerie, Man., told delegates
at the recent Banff Pork Seminar
in actual dollar terms how much
employee retention means to
their company.
HyLife, which produces 1.4
million hogs annually in Canada and the U.S., says the cost
of employee turnover is 50 per
cent of annual income for less
experienced employees and as
much as 100 per cent or more of
experienced employees.
Faced with higher turnover
than they wanted, company
officials addressed the issue by
hiring a full-time staff trainer.
That kick-started an entirely
new approach to dealing with
employees beginning with how
they are hired to every experience they had from their first day
on the farm.
Starting a new job on a hog
farm can be intimidating, said
Taillefer. Finding the way to
work the first day down country
roads, often in the dark, following sometimes obscure directions is one example. Following
strict biosecurity requirements
such as showering into a facility
with staff arriving for the day is
another example.
Today, HyLife has completely
revamped its approach and that
has reduced employee turnover
by roughly 32 per cent, said
Taillefer. The advantage of a
trainer is that training is more
systematic and a more detailed
experience for employees. It
relieves pressure on staff to do
the training, and it doesn’t interfere with production as much.
And the employee is more comfortable.
For example, the Day 1 experience for new staff that have no
experience sees the trainer meet
the new employee off site and
drive them to the facility. Arrival
is planned so it doesn’t occur
when staff are starting their shift.
Biosecurity is covered and barn
entrance protocols are explained.
New employees are introduced
to staff and management one
person at a time. New workers will watch a video and have
details of where they are working
explained. Then they will have a
five-week training experience for
each aspect of hog production.
Experienced staff would have
the same treatment except that
their training time would be
shortened to one week.
Not everyone is in the position
to hire a full-time trainer, but the
HyLife experience shows the
importance of training generally,
said Taillefer.
He recommended taking time
to train employees, emphasizing details so they know what is
important, clearly set out expectations, answer questions, and
then follow up afterwards.
Handling / Body Condition Scoring Demo, Curt Pate & Kent Fenton
“Meet the Expert” session for post-secondary students
AFAC Annual General Meeting
Talking Posters (presentations from Ag students)
Stampede Rep to talk about the new Agrium Building and/or rodeo welfare concerns
Message From Verlyn Olson
Welcome, AFAC Chair and Executive Director, AFAC updates
Proactive Stance on Animal Welfare, Brent Moen
Social Media in Animal Agriculture #morethanjustacowvet, Cody Creelman
Understanding Animal Welfare, David Fraser
Understanding Consumer Perceptions in Alberta
Bear Pit Interactive Session, moderated by Debra Murphy
Diversified Livestock Panel (Bison, Goat, Bees & Rabbit)
Conference Wrap-up
Located in the BMO Centre at
the Stampede Grounds
Contact us at [email protected] for more details
and/or register online at
Richard Taillefer
Two U of A students given
young scientist awards
Two student scientists were
announced as winners of
the R.O. Ball Young Scientist
award at the recent 2015 Banff
Pork Seminar.
The award, named after
researcher and former seminar director Dr. Ron Ball,
recognizes graduate students
who provide a best overall
combination of good and relevant science, a well-written
abstract, and excellent presentation.
The first prize of $500 was
awarded to Natalie May of the
University of Alberta for her
work on identification of seminal plasma proteins associated
with boar fertility. Second
prize of $250 went to Janelle
Fouhse of the University of
Alberta for her paper on starch
and fibre characteristics of
barley which influence energy
digestion in grower pigs. —
Meristem Land and Science
Vesicular stomatitis:
a travel advisory
The rules have changed for transporting
horses across Canada-U.S. border
By carol shwetz, dvm
he importance of vesicular
stomatitis to horse owners in
Western Canada is relatively
small, that is unless your horse(s) are
travelling to or from southwestern
locations in the United States. If so
vesicular stomatitis will demand significant attention in your travel plans.
Although Canada is currently free
of vesicular stomatitis and has been
since it was last diagnosed in 1949,
outbreaks of vesicular stomatitis occur
in an unpredictable manner in southwestern United States. Whilst vesicular
stomatitis is rarely life threatening to
animals, its political significance lies
in its clinical resemblance/similarity
to foot-and-mouth disease.
An outbreak of foot-and-mouth
disease would have devastating economic consequences for the agricultural industry. As a result vesicular
stomatitis is a reportable disease.
Vesicular stomatitis is a viral disease afflicting horses, and less commonly ruminants, swine, members
of the camelidae families and wildlife.
Clinical signs are mild fever, depression, and the formation of blister-like
lesions within the mouth, and on the
lips, nostrils, sheath, udder, and hairline of the hooves. When the blisters
break open they leave a raw painful
Affected animals drool and froth
at the mouth, often refusing to eat
or drink. Weight loss can be marked
and lameness is not uncommon with
infection. There is no vaccine available and as with many viral diseases
treatment is symptomatic, with the
disease running its course within two
weeks’ time. Although the mechanisms of spread are not fully known,
mechanical transmission through
insect vectors and animal movement
are likely responsible.
Laboratory testing of blood samples or vesicular fluid from the
infected animal(s) are necessary to
confirm a diagnosis of vesicular stomatitis.
Due to the current outbreak of
vesicular stomatitis in the states of
Colorado and Arizona, the USDA
(United State Department of Agriculture) and the CFIA (Canadian Food
Inspection Agency) have invoked
import and export restrictions for
equines until further notice.
Horse owners are advised to refrain
from travelling to or through the
infected states. However, for those
horse owners who are still willing
to travel with their horses to these
states, it is important to understand
the four necessary requirements for
uninterrupted return to Canada.
It is important to note that the
original Canadian export certificate
is no longer valid for return.
Instead horse owners bringing
their animals back to Canada need to
(1) A CFIA import permit. CFIA import
permits must be applied for well in
advance of travel to the vesicular
stomatitis-affected states as it may
take weeks to process. This permit
must be provided for inspection at
the port of entry.
(2) A USDA health certificate stating
the horse(s) have been inspected
by a veterinarian within 15 days
preceding the date of entry.
(3) A negative test to vesicular stomatitis using a cELISA test during the 15
days prior to the date of entry into
(4) The horse(s) must have not have
been on premise(s) or adjoining
premises where vesicular stomatitis occurred 60 days immediately
preceding entry to Canada.
It is also suggested Canadian horse
owners check individual state requirements before movement as various
U.S. states may prohibit movement
into its state without permit/certification/testing.
Contacting the local veterinarian or
the CFIA office may be necessary to
further guide horse owners on questions specific to travel.
Carol Shwetz is a veterinarian
specializing in equine practice
at Westlock, Alta.
After the culling
comes the marketing
Alberta Agriculture and
Rural Development release
Once you’ve decided on what cows to cull, you need to
decide whether to sell them immediately, leave them
with the herd in anticipation of increased cow prices, or
separate and feed them a higher grain diet before sale.
That decision is based on factors such as expected
price changes, feeding costs versus potential weight
gain, grade improvement potential, and available
facilities and time, says Neil Blue, market specialist
with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development in
But producers should also consider seasonal patterns
in the marketing of slaughter cows, said Blue.
“November and December cull cow marketings are
much higher than the numbers marketed in July and
August,” he said. “Marketings continue to be high in
January as many producers delay sales into a new tax
year. Marketing volumes typically remain stable from
April through August as producers sell open cows or
cows that have lost a calf.”
That rise and fall in marketings affects prices.
“Cull cow prices are usually the lowest in November and December when marketing volumes are the
highest,” he said. “Prices typically begin to improve in
February, and from April through August, the cull cow
price tends to be seasonally high.
“During this period, cull numbers are lower and
demand for hamburger, the primary use of slaughter
cow meat, is higher. This usually is the best time to sell
cows that have failed to calve, have lost their calf, or for
any fall-calving cows that are open.
The long-term annual beef cow culling rate averages
about 11 per cent of the herd. Compared to 2013, cow
slaughter was down about nine per cent in Canada last
year and down about 14 per cent in the U.S. Despite
the drop in cow slaughter from 2013, Canfax estimates
that the 2014 Canadian beef cow culling rate was still
about 13 per cent.
“Because of reduced U.S. cow slaughter, the weak
Canadian dollar and continued strong demand for
ground beef, cull cow prices are likely to remain historically high near term,” said Blue. “However, it is prudent to keep the seasonal supply-and-demand factors
in mind when making the culling decisions.”
fielding life’s needs.
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Checkoff brings tax credit
Alberta canola growers who don’t request a checkoff refund qualify for a tax credit
for the 2014 tax year. The Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax
credit allows growers to claim the tax credit for the portion of the checkoff paid
used to fund qualifying research. The rate for Alberta canola producers in 2014
is 17.89 per cent — so a grower who paid $100 in checkoffs would be eligible for a
$17.89 tax credit. For more information, contact the Canada Revenue Agency or
your accountant. — Alberta Canola Producers Commission release
Farmers are the front line for
slowing herbicide resistance
Weed scientist says producers need to extend rotations, not overuse glyphosate,
and employ the most effective tank mixes
By Alexis Kienlen
af staff / edmonton
erbicide resistance is like a
forest fire — only you can
prevent it.
That was the message from weed
scientist Linda Hall, who said producers need to step up to prevent a
situation like that in the U.S. where
glyphosate-resistant weeds are now
epidemic in corn, soybeans and cotton crops.
“It’s easy to say that Roundup
Ready crops cause Roundup Ready
weeds, but in fact that’s not what
happens,” the University of Alberta
professor told FarmTech attendees.
The problem is overuse of the herbicide as well as not using an appropriate tank-mix partner or full rates
of application.
“You need to do everything to control those weeds, including spraying
when those weeds are young,” she
Studies in the United States have
shown that mixing herbicides in
the tank is better than using them
in sequence.
Weakly resistant weeds often
survive in the perimeters of fields
because they receive lower doses
of spray because end nozzles aren’t
delivering a full rate. Field perimeters don’t get the overlap from the
double nozzle, and receive one-third
of the rate of the rest of the field.
Finding a tank mix is not easy,
especially in crops like canola. Both
components of a tank mix have to be
effective, as wild oats, green foxtail
and cleavers have already developed
resistance to Group 1 and Group 2
“I’m really keeping an eye on
annual sow thistle, which has just
been identified as glyphosate resistant in the U.S.,” said Hall. “If we have
that one blowing around, it’s already
resistant to Group 2s in Alberta.”
Best practices
Back to the future?
“You need to do
everything to control
those weeds, including
spraying when those
weeds are young.”
Hall also told producers to lengthen
their rotations, scout early, and get
on top of weed patches in their fields
before they become well established.
Researchers are currently looking for more herbicides to mix with
glyphosate as glyphosate resistance
continues to rise.
“What we’re really thinking about
is a tank mix or multiple applications and that has to include soilapplied herbicides,” said Hall.
Linda Hall
There are approximately 7.7 million
hectares of resistant weeds across
Western Canada, said Hall. And since
there haven’t been any new herbicides developed since the 1990s,
Annual sow thistle has just been identified as glyphosate
resistant in the U.S. Photo: Alvesgaspar/Creative Commons
researchers are going back into the
vault to see if any older chemical
compounds could be mixed with
glyphosate to slow resistance.
Hall and other Alberta researchers
have started to look at Group 14 and
Group 15 herbicides. These can be
applied in fall or as pre-emergents
in the spring, and fit well into directseeding systems.
Because these herbicides are soil
applied, they are affected by organic
matter, soil moisture, and soil texture. They are also residual herbicides, so producers need to watch
their recropping restrictions. Group
14 and 15s can be used in a variety of
crops, including wheat, peas and
sunflower, to combat cleavers and
wild oats.
“If we get a dry spring, these things
get held up in the soil and they’re not
effective,” said Hall.
In order to make the herbicides
work in a tilled field with deep seeding conditions, an enhanced rate of
application may be necessary.
Researchers are currently investigating non-herbicide-related weed
management strategies, such as
inter-row tillage and weed seed harvesting.
[email protected]
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The recipe has to be just right
when fertilizing your crops
Phosphorus and potassium work well when placed in the seed row —
but nitrogen and sulphur are mobile
By Jennifer Blair
af staff / edmonton
itrogen may be the first
thing producers think of
when they want to bump
up their yield — but don’t neglect
the other nutrients.
“In order to get the maximum
benefit out of all of our fertilizer
nutrients, we need to have a balanced supply,” said University of
Saskatchewan soil scientist Jeff
Schoenau, who drew big crowds
for his FarmTech presentations.
“That’s where phosphorus, sulphur, and potassium come in.”
Every year, Schoenau drives
home the point about balanced
nutrition to his soil fertility stu-
dents by conducting a little experiment. Working with brown and
grey soils, the students look at
how canola responds to nitrogen
alone, nitrogen plus phosphorus,
and nitrogen plus phosphorus and
In the brown soil, the “main
limitation” in crop yield is usually
“Nitrogen alone didn’t give us
much of a yield response, but with
phosphorus present, we got a big
yield gain, and a little bit of sulphur
added on top of that gave us the
highest yield,” said Schoenau.
Phosphorus “wasn’t really an
issue” in the grey soil, but sulphur
“When we added nitrogen, we
got a little bit of a yield gain, and
nitrogen plus phosphorus wasn’t
much higher than just nitrogen,”
he said.
“But where we had the nitrogen,
the phosphorus, and the sulphur
together, that’s where we got the
highest yield. That’s the importance of balanced nutrition for
Placement is tricky
So where’s the best place to put
that fertilizer? That depends, said
“Optimum placement of these
nutrients is very much related to
the mobility of the nutrient,” he said.
Phosphorus and potassium are
immobile nutrients, while nitrogen and sulphur move about.
“Phosphorus and potassium
will only move a few millimetres
or centimetres in the soil from
where they’re placed,” he said.
“Placement, especially of immobile nutrients, means you need to
have it close to where that root is in
order for it to be available.”
Sulphur is a different story.
“Sulphate will move long distances — literally metres — in the
soil to that root,” he said.
“You don’t need all the sulphate
there available for uptake right
Producers also need to consider
“how much nutrient fertilizer can
we safely place in that seed row
before we run into injury issues?”
“Nearly all fertilizers are salt, so
one of the negative impacts of too
much fertilizer in the seed row is
that, because of the salt, it holds
back water from the germinating
seed and seedling,” said Schoenau.
Tolerance varies
Using a controlled environment
with “typical Prairie soil,” Schoenau tested the effects of seed-rowadded phosphorus, potassium, and
sulphur on cereals, oilseeds, and
Cereals were the most tolerant to
the added nutrition in the seed row.
“Cereals, like wheat and barley,
can tolerate upwards of 40 pounds
of P2O5 (phosphorus) per acre,” he
said. “Above that, you start to see
some significant drops in emergence. You throw some potash in
there, there’s somewhat of a negative effect, but it’s not huge.”
Oilseeds such as canola had moderate tolerance to seed-row-placed
“For canola, around 25 pounds
of P2O5 per acre seems to be about
the maximum safe rate,” he said.
“And when you throw some potash in there, you have to reduce the
amount of phosphorus accordingly
in order to avoid burn.”
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“Placement, especially
of immobile nutrients,
means you need to have
it close to where that root
is in order for it to be
Jeff Schoenau
And while some pulses, including
pinto beans and chickpeas, were
quite tolerant to the added nutrition, peas weren’t.
“Of the crops that we evaluated,
pea was one of the most sensitive
to high rates of phosphorus placed
in the seed row,” said Schoenau.
“When you put some potash in
there, it significantly reduced the
germination and the emergence.”
Test for sulphur
High rates of sulphur can also cause
reductions in emergence, he said, so
producers should test their soils for
residual sulphur before adding any
And even then, there’s really no
advantage to placing sulphur in the
seed row, said Schoenau.
“Because sulphate is mobile, I’d
say the best place for ammonium
sulphate is not in the seed row but
somewhere else — a mid-row band
or a side-row band away from the
seed,” he said.
“Putting it away from the seed row
would be my preference to avoid
that potential for injury. If you’re
forced to choose between phosphorus or sulphur in the seed row, I’d go
with the phosphorus.”
[email protected]
Streamlined variety registration
system set to launch in 2016
A streamlined system would allow new varieties to hit the market sooner,
but less performance testing sparks concerns
By Jennifer Blair
af staff / edmonton
new variety registration system
could be in place and fully operational by next year — if the players
in the value chain can agree on doing
away with the current three-part system.
“The system needs to be efficient, it
needs to be transparent, and it needs to
be predictable,” said Erin Armstrong,
director of industry and regulatory
affairs for Canterra Seeds.
And streamlining the system is the key
to that, she said.
“Our system needs to be able to be
sure we can adopt new varieties when
we want to,” said Armstrong, who spoke
at FarmTech in late January.
“At the end of the day, whatever part
of the value chain we’re in, we all want
exactly the same thing. We all want a
successful and profitable crop sector
in Canada, so we need to make sure we
have a system that supports that.”
The current three-part variety registration was introduced in 2009. In that
system, most crops fall under Part 1,
which requires a merit-based evaluation
of a new variety’s performance against
a check variety. Pre-registration testing
is required in Part 2, but the variety’s
performance is not evaluated against a
check. Part 3 requires only a basic registration package, including a fee and
variety details.
World is changing
But “the world is changing and moving very, very quickly on many fronts,”
said Armstrong, adding a review was
launched by federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in February 2013.
“The goal of doing the review this time
around was really so that we can ensure
that we’re able to support innovation,
competitiveness, market development,
and regulatory modernization,” said
Following a “targeted” public opinion
survey of the value chain in 2013, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada launched
a series of four options in the fall of that
The first option was no change to the
“We have a relatively new system that
was established in 2009 and includes
flexibility,” said Armstrong.
Option two involved streamlining the
system — keeping the three-part system that’s in place today, but requiring
only basic registration for all crop types
unless there’s agreement that a crop type
should have more stringent registration
In option three, only basic registration
requirements would be in place for all
crop types.
“There would still be a requirement
for variety registration for the crop types
that we’re talking about, but it would just
be that basic registration requirement,”
said Armstrong. “Any other testing would
Revamp favoured
And everyone in the value chain had a
different idea on how to move forward.
“There was support for all of the
options — everything from ‘don’t touch a
thing’ to ‘do away with everything,’” said
Armstrong. “But most of the comments,
in one way or another, supported keeping the system, but making changes.”
What those changes might look like
are “a key part” of the ongoing discussion, she said. A proposal came forward
in October that outlined a two-part system, one of which would be ‘enhanced’
— essentially Part 1 — and the other
‘basic,’ which includes Part 3’s basic
registration requirements.
Part of the holdup in moving forward
with this proposal is the concern that
doing away with merit-based variety
registration could degrade the quality
of new Canadian seed varieties.
That fear is unfounded, said Armstrong. With or without a variety registration system, “quality evaluation is going
to take place.”
“Nobody wants to put crap out there,
nobody wants to release an inferior variety,” she said. “Even if there was no system, testing is going to take place. Every
company and every breeder wants to be
sure they’re putting out the best new
products that they can.
“The industry will make sure that testing will go on.”
“Even if there was no system,
testing is going to take place.
Every company and every
breeder wants to be sure they’re
putting out the best new products
that they can.”
Erin Armstrong
fall outside of the need of requesting
support for registration.”
The final option was no system at all —
“no government involvement in variety
registration and regulating that process
[email protected]
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New canola variety offers middle-of-the-road
protection against new strain of clubroot
A new canola variety from Canterra Seeds with ‘intermediate resistance’ to a new
strain of clubroot will be available in limited amounts this growing season
By Jennifer Blair
af staff
photo: thinkstock
new canola variety has
shown some promising
resistance to a new strain
of clubroot that was found near
Edmonton in 2013 and has since
spread to nearly 30 fields.
But it won’t offer true resistance, says a plant pathologist
from the University of Alberta.
“This variety had very,
very strong resistance to the
pathotypes that are prevalent,
but only an intermediate reaction
to this new pathotype — called
5X — from 2013,” Stephen Strelkov said about CS2000, Canterra
Seeds’ new canola variety produced in partnership with DL
“I think it’s a step in the right
direction, and one that’s promising, but it’s certainly not a silver
‘Intermediate resistance’ is a new
concept for a lot of growers, he said.
Varieties that are susceptible
to clubroot show disease severity
that’s between 70 and 100 per cent,
while resistant varieties show disease severity between zero and 30
per cent.
Varieties that have intermediate
resistance — as CS2000 does —
“fall somewhere in between,” said
“It’s significantly less susceptible
than a variety that’s truly susceptible, but it’s not complete resistance.”
That terminology is important,
said David Hansen, president of
Canterra Seeds.
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“Intermediate is a very, very
sensitive word,” said Hansen.
CS2000 will offer some protection against 5X, he said, but not
the complete resistance that it
shows for the other “conventional clubroot pathotypes — 2,
3, 5, 6, and 8.”
A “limited amount” of CS2000
will hit the market this spring,
enough to seed between 50,000
and 100,000 acres across Alberta,
Saskatchewan, and Manitoba,
he said.
“We’ve got a lot of demand for
this, but we want to make sure
we can put as much into as many
hands as possible,” said Hansen.
In addition to its disease package, CS2000 is a “rock-solid variety from a yield and an agronomy perspective,” which is driving up demand, he said.
“It has a package of important attributes that are critically important for growers in
But because it’s not completely resistant, producers
“need to be cautious,” said Strelkov. He suggests the new variety
be used as a preventive measure
rather than a management tool.
Canterra Seeds’ CEO David Hansen
says that the company’s new
variety will offer some protection
against the new strain of clubroot
that’s been found in central
Alberta. Photo: Supplied
“The intermediate reaction
to 5X may have some benefit
in areas where clubroot is not
established or present in very
low levels,” he said. “Having
that alternate source of resistance may reduce the probability of pathotype 5X if it’s not
established, but in fields where
there’s already heavy clubroot,
we wouldn’t recommend it any
more than any other clubrootresistant varieties.”
The best prevention is still a
four-year break between canola
crops, he said.
“In fields where resistance
has been overcome, we recommend that farmers avoid
planting canola altogether in a
short rotation,” said Strelkov.
“A four-year rotation between
canola crops is recommended
on those fields.”
Hansen agrees.
“Growers need to be not looking at these sorts of products as
a silver bullet,” he said. “They
need to also be taking into
account rotations and cropping
programs. You can’t be seeding
canola back to back.”
[email protected]
Expert advice for ergot control
There’s no silver bullet for combating ergot, but mowing grasses
near fields and good agronomics can make a big difference
By Alexis Kienlen
af staff
rgot is a rising threat on the
Prairies, and plant researchers are trying to figure out
the best way to combat the disease.
“Everyone is concerned with
fusarium head blight, but ergot is
right up there in terms of danger,”
said Jamie Larsen, a research scientist with Agriculture and AgriFood Canada in Lethbridge.
Rye and triticale are most susceptible to ergot, but the disease
also infects wheat and barley. In
2011, up to 30 per cent of Alberta
wheat deliveries to the elevator
were rejected or downgraded
because of ergot. The fungal disease infects grasses during the
flowering stage, destroying the
flower and replacing it with an
ergot particle known as a sclerota.
It is most prevalent in Alberta
along the Highway 2 corridor and
around Stettler. But it has been
steadily rising across the Prairies
since 2004, possibly due to cooler
springs, reduced rotations, and
minimum or zero till.
Research scientist Kelly Turkington likens the disease to a “puzzle.”
“There are a number of different
pieces and there’s nothing that is
one huge piece that addresses all
the issues with it,” said Turkington,
who works at AAFC’s Lacombe
Research Centre.
Nor is there a silver bullet for
dealing with it — and that includes
“What they have found in some
trials is that you can get a slight
reduction in ergot, but for the most
part, fungicide trials have not been
effective in reducing ergot levels
in grain and economically, it’s
just not worth it,” said Jim Menzies, a scientist at AAFC’s Morden
Research Centre in Manitoba.
“If you’re planning to go into a
field, and you’re worried about
ergot, you need to be thinking a
year ahead,” added Larsen. “Once
those sclerotia are there, you can’t
control them.”
“The sooner the seed gets fertilized, the sooner it becomes
resistant to infection by ergot,”
said Menzies.
Eight days after fertilization,
the plant can no longer become
infected. It’s also important to
take care with herbicide and
pesticide application to prevent
flowers from becoming sterile,
as they are more susceptible to
Over the last couple of years,
copper has been touted as a cureall, which is not the case.
Livestock producers also need
to be aware of the threat — especially if they are harvesting silage,
swath grazing or standing grazing wheat or triticale — because
cattle can get quite sick from eating ergot.
Plant breeders are trying to create cultivars resistant to ergot,
but they aren’t available yet.
“If you’re planning to go
into a field, and you’re
worried about ergot, you
need to be thinking a
year ahead.”
Jamie Larsen
Ergot is ‘right up there’ with fusarium as a crop threat, says Jamie
Larsen, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in
Lethbridge. Photo: Supplied
[email protected]
Ag Outlook 2015
Understand the trends, see the opportunities
Spotting an infestation
Ergot can be found in the grasses
around fields and in ditches. As the
plant matures, ergot bodies fall to
the ground. Those bodies germinate the following spring, releasing spores that land on florets,
and then hijacking the florets to
produce honeydew about a week
after anthesis.
“Your field will be full of flies,
which will be landing on the honeydew and going from head to
head, and that’s how secondary
infection is spread around,” said
Twenty-five days after heading,
producers will start to see black,
finger-like protrusions growing
outside of the florets.
To reduce the threat of ergot,
producers should mow grasses in
the ditches the year before planting a cereal crop, as well as the year
they grow a cereal crop. Mowing
is most effective just before flowering.
If the crop is infected, the outside
edges of the field — which typically
see the heaviest infestation — can
be harvested separately. A rotation
that is three years or longer also
helps to break down the disease
A strong nutrition program and
doing what you can to encourage
uniform emergence (late tillers are
most at risk of being infected) are
also recommended.
Boost your management knowledge at this half-day event with industry experts and
make more informed decisions for your business.
Economy – Understand economic trends and how they could impact your farm this year.
Weather – Hear how 2015 weather trends could affect your operation.
Commodity markets – Learn how you can make big trends in agriculture work for you.
Farm management – See where Canadian agriculture is headed, and get insights that will help improve your farm management skills.
Thursday, March 12
1:15 – 4:30 p.m.
Vic Juba Community Theatre
Ag Knowledge Exchange offers over 100 events that anyone with an interest in Canadian agriculture
can attend, free.
Presented in partnership with Country Guide.
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34082 E Ag Outlook_8.125x10.indd 1
2015-02-10 3:27 PM
Crop prices tied to
petroleum and that’s
not good for farmers
British economist says the biofuel boom led to a massive
increase in production of grains and oilseeds, which firmly
linked agriculture to energy markets
By Alexis Kienlen
af staff / edmonton
roducers in the FarmTech conference room
looked crestfallen after
David Jackson told them the
global oilseed market is tied
to petroleum — and that oil
prices will remain low for a
long time.
“A lot of it is out of your
control,” said the British
economist and director of
oilseeds at LMC International, a global consulting firm. “All you can do
is move your place within
the cage, and move canola
within it.”
Biofuels have been driving
grain and oilseed prices for
more than a decade, he said.
“We couldn’t grow quick
enough — yields couldn’t
keep pace with that acceleration, so we needed more
land,” said Jackson. “In
corn’s case, 50 million acres
more land, which affected
the price… Basically, we just
added another third to our
demand and changed agriculture.”
That’s now proving to be
a double-edged sword, he
“We’ve expanded our
cropland so much because
of the demand for biofuels.
So now we need those biofuels to take on this surplus.
We’ve expanded our farmland for biofuels, and now
we need it to mop up the
surplus. That’s why the price
has to follow.”
And that means crops
need to be attractively
priced for the biofuel industry, he said.
“If crops get too far above
petroleum, then they don’t
turn into biofuels and they
cap production for a bit.”
But biofuel demand has
slowed in Europe and is flat
in the U.S.
“Prices are coming
down, and that tells me it’s
enough,” he said. “That
tells me that the signal is
to stop expanding and we
have enough land to satisfy
From 2002 to 2013, producers added nearly 200
million acres of farmland
around the world, he said.
But Jackson was more
hopeful on another front —
China has greatly increased
its consumption of meat.
Fifteen years ago, China
used to export 16 million
tonnes of corn a year, but it
now imports eight million
“That’s a 25-million-tonne
corn swing, which is enough
to change the whole world
corn price, which changes
the world soybean and
canola price,” he said.
It’s been a similarly goodnews story for soybeans
— Chinese consumption of
soybeans is also up sharply
and the country now buys 60
per cent of soybean exports.
Kevin Auch new
vice-chair of Alberta
Wheat Commission
Irma producer Kent Erickson continues as
chairman of the organization
armangay producer
Kevin Auch is the new
vice-chairman of Alberta
Wheat Commission.
Auch replaces Henry Vos as
vice-chair. Vos remains on the
board of directors, while Kent
Erickson continues as chairman.
“The AWC board of directors
is made up of passionate people
who have strong industry experience,” said Auch. “The AWC
board has taken a leading role in
the new direction of the wheat
industry and it is an honour for
me to take this next step.”
There are two new members
on the board: Gerry Good from
Region 2 replaces Ron Nerland
while John Wozniak from Region
4 replaces Brian Tischler. Directors are able to serve on the board
for two, three-year terms. — AWC
Kevin Auch
[email protected]
John Wozniak
Gerry Good
What’s on the horizon
in agriculture?
Watch This Country Called
Agriculture and be informed.
This Country Called Agriculture is a new on-demand video
series that delivers relevant news & information on the
agriculture industry. Host Rob Eirich interviews ag pioneers,
professionals and academics that offer insight into today’s
trends and what the future holds for agriculture –
on and off the farm. Video topics include:
 Sustainability
 Ag innovations
 Exporting
 Starting a new farm
 Renewable energy
 Alternative energy
 New technology
 Production
& fuel sources
 Food production
and marketing
Start watching now at
Or scan the code with your phone to watch.
Consumer Benefits from Genomics
Rob Eirich talking with Tom Lynch-Staunton of Livestock
Gentec, and Colin Coros of Delta Genomics, about the
benefits of animal genomics for consumers.
to you by
Federal official says UPOV ’91
will benefit farmers
Commissioner of plant breeders’ rights says enhanced intellectual property
protection will bring more investment, better varieties, and greater choice
By Jennifer Blair
af staff / edmonton
t’s a mistake to think that
enhanced plant breeders’
rights only benefit seed
companies, says the commissioner of plant breeders’ rights
with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
“The net benefit, at the end of
the day, is really going to be for
farmers,” said Anthony Parker
at FarmTech in January.
The federal government is
poised to pass new plant breeders’ rights legislation that will
bring Canada in line with UPOV
’91 (an acronym for the International Union for the Protection
of New Varieties).
“It will bring increased investment, new sources of varieties
coming into the marketplace,
and increased choice for farmers
in sourcing the varieties they need
to be competitive,” said Parker.
With the legislation expected
to come into effect in April, a
“number of interesting things”
will occur because of the
improved intellectual property
protection that will come with
the shift, he said.
“We are not even past the goal
line yet, but we have seen appli-
“The net benefit, at the
end of the day, is really
going to be for farmers.”
Anthony Parker
Advertise in the
Alberta Farmer
Express Classifieds,
it’s a Sure Thing!
And as long as farmers aren’t
selling — or buying — brownbag seed, there are no drawbacks to moving to UPOV ’91,
he said.
“Under the current framework, it’s an infringement
to sell brown-bag seed. With
this new provision, it’s both
an infringement to sell as well
as to purchase,” said Parker,
adding a breeder will also be
able to collect royalties off any
grain harvested from brownbag seed.
“When the infringement happens, the breeder is not just
going to be seeking compensation on lost royalties. They’re
going to be seeking damages,
like court costs and investiga-
tion costs. That can increase
costs quite significantly.”
The take-home message is
“don’t engage in brown-bag
sales,” said Parker.
“It’s a bad idea — not just
because it’s breaking the law,
but because it’s denying the
breeder an ability to collect and
reinvest in breeding programs,”
he said.
“There are no negative
impacts on farmers who obtain
seed legitimately; so long as you
made that initial qualifying purchase of certified seed and paid
into the system, you’re fine. Use
it as long as you like on your
[email protected]
Today’s smart choice for preventing weed resistance.
herbicides with diferent modes of action
When tough broadleaf weeds invade your cereal crops, it’s no time for half-measures. You need action
now. With a new and more concentrated formulation, DuPont™ Barricade® II herbicide leverages the
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weeds far away from your crop. Powered by Solumax® soluble granules, Barricade® II also delivers
one-hour rainfastness and easier, more consistent sprayer cleanout. It’s no wonder growers made it
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Anthony Parker
cations coming in from other
countries that we have not seen
before,” he said. “We have seen
new investments in Canada
already as those companies are
trying to position themselves
under a better intellectual property framework.”
That will bring greater competition into Canada’s breeding
programs — another boon for
producers, he said.
“Breeders have an incentive to
develop better varieties, be it for
yield, for disease resistance, for
stress tolerance, or for end-use
characteristics,” said Parker.
“You get an increased number
and diversity of crops, as well as
varieties. This equates to more
choice for farmers.”
cereal crops
Blackleg a continued
threat in coming years
While many varieties of canola are available to producers,
almost all rely on major gene resistance when it comes to blackleg
By Shannon VanRaes
hile many canola growers are worrying about
new diseases like verticillium wilt or the growing threat
of clubroot, it may be an old threat
that causes them the most problems in the coming seasons —
“We’ve seen a continued trend
of increased prevalence,” said
Angela Brackenreed, speaking at
the recent Ag Days event in Brandon, Man. “We’re getting to over
90 per cent prevalence, meaning
over 90 per cent of the fields we
surveyed (in 2014) had some level
of blackleg.”
On average close to 25 per cent
of plants in infected fields showed
signs of the disease last summer,
although the level of infection on
each plant was at the lower end of
the spectrum, said Brackenreed,
an agronomist with the Canola
Council of Canada.
“Blackleg has seen a big
increase in prevalence
over the past number of
years and a big reason
for that is that the
pathogen is shifting so
that it can infect plants
that currently have
“Plant infection wasn’t extremely
bad, but it was high enough that we
can expect that there was a yield
drag,” she said. “It’s something
that we should be managing or else
it will get to the point where there
is significant yield loss potential.”
Complicating the situation this
year was the appearance of root
rot, which in some cases made
identifying blackleg more difficult.
“Producers wanted to know what
came first, was it blackleg or was it
root rot, and the reality is that by
observation that was difficult to
tell,” said the agronomist.
“But from what I saw, they were
likely occurring in tandem, so it’s
most important for producers to
know that blackleg was there and
it was able to infect. And if you’re
using an R-rated variety, you need
to observe these things and understand that there is infection occurring, regardless of if the root rot
came in first.”
Scouting critical
As always, scouting for the disease is
key, she stressed. Farmers should be
going into the field, snipping plants
at their bases and looking for the
characteristic blackening that gives
the disease its name.
Producers may also want to reevaluate their rotation schedules,
in addition to the canola varieties
they’re growing.
“Blackleg has seen a big increase
in prevalence over the past number
of years and a big reason for that is
that the pathogen is shifting so that
it can infect plants that currently
have resistance,” said Brackenreed.
“The resistance mechanism that we
are relying on is called major gene
resistance… which means that plant
is relying on one gene to confer
resistance; in comparison to minor
gene resistance this is a good type of
resistance because it usually confers
almost immunity.”
The downside of major gene resistance is that it can be broken down
fairly easily. Blackleg has a sexual
and asexual cycle, which allows
the pathogen to reconfigure itself
to overcome resistance and few if
any varieties on the market today
address this.
“Unfortunately… most of our
commercial varieties are relying on
the same sort of major gene resistance,” Brackenreed said.
What producers can do is lengthen
their crop rotations to lessen the
armour of spores or pathogens in
their fields.
“The canola council’s traditional
messaging came mostly from blackleg management, and the reason for
that is that blackleg can overwinter
on the stubble,” said the agronomist. “Over three or four years they
suspected that the stubble had
enough time to decompose and that
spore load would be low enough, or
acceptable enough that we can go
back into canola.”
Waiting longer to go back to
canola and changing varieties may
help keep the disease manageable.
“Because this is something that
we definitely need and want to manage,” she added.
photo: Canola Council of Canada
photo: Canola Council of Canada
photo: Canola Council of Canada
Photo: Anastasia Kubinec, MAFRD
[email protected]
Angela Brackenreed, an agronomist with the Canola Council of Canada,
says producers need to scout for blackleg. Photo: Shannon VanRaes
25 • February 16, 2015
Baby steps can add up to
big gains on the farm
Experts encourage today’s producers to make small improvements
in multiple areas to boost the farm’s overall profitability
by Jennifer Paige
ant to double your
farm’s net returns?
Think five per cent,
says a Saskatchewan farmer
and accountant.
By increasing your yield and
selling price five per cent and cutting production costs by the same
amount, a farmer can boost net
returns by 100 per cent, Kristjan
Hebert said at the recent Ag Days
event in Brandon, Man.
In fact, boosting your farm’s
profitability is more likely to
happen through small improvements in a lot of things, than it
is one big change.
“As farmers, we spend a lot
of time chasing unicorns, and
what I mean by that, is ideas
that will double our profits in
one year or drop our fuel bill in
half in one year,” he said. “But,
through extensive research, the
one thing we have found is that
when you make incremental
improvements in every step of
your operation, it is amazing
how those small improvements
add up and impact profits in the
long run.”
Hebert began his farming
career at age 15 and today operates Hebert Grain Ventures, a
7,800-acre operation near Moosomin. He is also a chartered
accountant and chairman of
Global Ag Risk Solutions.
He follows the teachings of
Danny Klinefelter, professor
and extension economist with
Texas A&M University, who
developed a paper on the 12
best farm management practices that includes the five per
cent rule.
Think small
The five per cent rule says that
instead of attempting to make
large changes to improve operations, it is best to focus on small
improvements in multiple areas.
“The five per cent rule is
really, baby steps to bigger
profits. How we can utilize technology, data and management
skills to capture opportunities
that make sense for our farms,”
said Hebert, who studied under
Klinefelter while obtaining a
degree in farm management at
Texas A&M University.
Through a number of studies,
it was found that most sustained
success comes from doing 20
things five per cent better,
rather than doing one thing 100
per cent better.
“As growers we have numerous opportunities to make five
per cent incremental improvements in our businesses,” continued Hebert. “The cumulative
effect of a five per cent yield
increase along with a five per
cent cost efficiency improve-
ment can have a huge influence
on competitive advantage and
Research has also indicated
that the top quarter of producers, in terms of profitability,
tend to be only about five per
cent better than the average,
whether in terms of costs, production or marketing.
“My favourite scenario is
to be the dumbest guy in
the room because there is
only one way to go.”
Kristjan Hebert
Where to start
In order to determine where you
can begin to make five per cent
improvements in your operation, Hebert recommends networking with nearby producers or creating a peer group to
develop a benchmark.
“We need to convince ourselves to look for people who
are doing it better than us and
learn from them. If you aren’t
learning from your neighbour,
you won’t get better,” he said.
“My favourite scenario is to be
the dumbest guy in the room
because there is only one way
to go.”
Small changes might include
increased use of inputs in terms
of fungicide or seed treatments,
different macro packages of fertilizer, improving relationships
with buyers, better inventory
management, and the use of
futures and options.
“The biggest alteration area
would be in terms of your fixed
costs, as this is where farmers
have the most control. It can
be simple things like sectional
control, running certain implements 24 hours to get bet ter acres out of them, proper
human resource management
so that you have the right people where they need to be when
timing is critical.”
As a base case, Hebert says a
five per cent improvement in
canola yield (from 40 to 42 bushels/acre), selling price (from $10
to $10.50) and cost of production (from $350 to $332.50/acre)
results in more than a 100 per
cent increase in net return (from
$50 to over $108 an acre).
“It is critical to analyze opportunities but also analyze what
you are doing now to see if it is
working and don’t be afraid to
embrace change and find a way
to implement it,” he said.
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Kristjan Hebert presents the five per cent theory to an audience at the
recent Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon, Man. photo: jennifer paige
Soil and seed the major sources of
potato pathogens and diseases
Surveillance, seed knowledge and proper pre-season cleaning
essential in avoiding most prevalent pests, says expert
By Jennifer Paige
roducer surveillance is the
first line of defence against
pests that can have major
impacts on potato yields, says a
plant pathologist.
“Surveillance is the key for all
of these disease concerns. The
process of collecting and recording the presence or absence of
the diseases in your fields is critical in prevention,” said Vikram
Bisht of Manitoba Agriculture,
Food and Rural Development.
“Early detection of disease and
pathogens in your crop systems
is essential.”
Diseases of concern include
potato wart, brown rot, bacterial ring rot, cyst nematodes,
late blight, tuber necrosis viruses
and weeds.
“These are some of the pests
I have considered to be potential threats to Manitoba potato
producers,” he said. “And soil
and seed are the major sources
these pests are getting into your
He recommended cleaning
and disinfecting all equipment
and storages at the beginning of
every growing season through
pressure washing or air pressure, disinfecting with a one
to two per cent commercial
bleach, as well as cleaning field
equipment with scraper and
“It is also important for producers to remember to clean
new equipment before taking it
onto the field. Whether it is used
or coming from the dealership,
ensure that it is cleaned of all soil
and disinfected.”
Always use clean and certified
seeds, regularly disinfect knives
on seed cutters and be sure to
exercise caution when sharing or
making custom cuts, he added.
“If at all possible, it is
best to know the source
of where you are getting
your seed and ensure
that the seed hasn’t been
in contact with potato
issues or non-potato
disease issues as well.”
Vikram Bisht
“If at all possible, it is best to
know the source of where you
are getting your seed and ensure
that the seed hasn’t been in contact with potato issues or nonpotato disease issues as well,”
he said.
“Another great resource to
producers is the national farmlevel biosecurity standard and
producer guide, which comes
with a self-evaluation checklist
to assist you in developing a
biosecurity plan for your operations.”
The national farm-level biosecurity standard and guide
was created through the cooperative effort of Canadian
Food Inspection Agency, Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada,
the Canadian Potato Council,
Canadian Horticulture Council,
and the provincial Department
of Agriculture, to provide a
nationally consistent proactive
approach for good biosecurity
The standard, guide and
self-evaluation checklist is
available online at http://
[email protected]
Plant pathologist, Vikram Bisht discussed potato diseases and crop
biosecurity at a presentation during the recent Manitoba Potato
Production Days in Brandon, Man. photo: jennifer paige
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Canola and barley markets offer
opportunities in a time of low crop prices
Fundamentals favourable for canola and barley but not other grains and oilseeds,
says commodity strategist Moe Agostino
By Alexis Kienlen
af staff / edmonton
n a time of flat or falling prices, canola and barley offer a
little ray of hope, according
to Moe Agostino, chief commodity strategist with
Risk Management.
Tight supply is positive for
canola, but the key is strong
demand fuelled by the plunge
in the Canadian dollar, Agostino
told a packed room at FarmTech.
“That’s why the canola price
is bucking the trend. That’s why
canola is moving higher,” he
Farmers in the European
Union didn’t plant as many
canola acres and Europe’s ban
on neonicotinoid insecticide
is expected to increase disease
pressure in 2015 and further
tighten supplies, said Agostino,
who has a canola price target in
the range of $465 to $490 a tonne.
“That’s where I think prices are
going,” he said.
Supply is the driver on the
barley side, he said. Barley acres
were down 17 per cent last year
while yield fell by 13 per cent
and that’s fuelling predictions
of supply shortages, said Agostino, who forecasts prices to stay
above $200 and to potentially hit
the $240-a-tonne mark by summer.
But his outlook isn’t hopeful
for other crops.
Oat prices will remain weak
and the global supply of wheat
is high and that will continue to
weigh on prices unless there is
extensive winterkill in the U.S.
or a weather wreck in a major
wheat-producing area, he said.
Agostino is also bearish on soybeans.
There will be more acres of
pulses planted and ending stocks
are expected to double, which is
bearish for prices. The carry-out
and stocks-to-use ratio for dry
peas is expected to jump dramatically, he said.
Lower diesel prices are coming,
but unlike producers in Ontario,
Prairie farmers don’t have the
ability to book diesel forward.
So Agostino recommends hedging diesel or using futures, but
since using futures can be risky,
it’s important to use a consultant
or broker for guidance.
“You have to always ask yourself what’s the risk or reward,” he
said, adding a call option should
minimize the risk of margin calls.
He predicted fertilizer prices
to be stable as strong supply
is being matched by strong
And while the low loonie
pumps up the price Canadian
farmers receive for exported
grain, it has the opposite effect
when buying anything imported
from the U.S. Demand for American goods in Canada is “just
going to fall off the cliff,” he said.
Photo: Istock
Moe Agostino photo: alexis kienlen
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Client: BASF
Publication: Alberta Farmer Express
Finn takes time off from his herding duties to play one of his favourite games, catching snowballs. He is an Australian shepherd who
lives on a ranch near Okotoks, Alta. He weighs about 60 pounds, but is an agile contortionist, twisting mid-air. Photo: Wendy Dudley
12:46 AM
Page 1
Organic hemp
supply can’t meet
A better harvest.
Produced by: SeCan
Product/Campaign Name: SeCan AAC Redwater
Date Produced: October2014
Ad Number: SEC-REDW14-T
Publication: Alberta Farmer Express
3Col x 133 (6” x 9.5”) Non Bleed
Industry experts say organic hemp is a ‘big
opportunity’ and commands almost double the
price of its conventionally grown cousin
Organic Alberta release
✔ AC® Harvest and McKenzie parentage for good grade retention
✔ very good sprouting resistance
✔ short, strong straw
✔ early maturity
he opportunities are big
these days for the growers of
organic hemp, says the executive director of Organic Alberta.
“We are seeing very strong
growth in the organic sector with
58 per cent of Canadians buying
organic on a weekly basis,” said
Becky Lipton. “Organic hemp is
right up there as one of the top
commodities in high demand,
and commanding a premium of
close to double.”
In 2013, there were 66,000 acres
in hemp production in Canada,
and that number jumped to
100,000 acres last year — with 40
per cent of production in Alberta.
This year, the hemp food manufacturer Manitoba Harvest Hemp
Foods expects production to
remain stable or decline slightly.
“Over the last few years, hemp
producers have experienced
exceptionally good production,”
said Clarence Shwaluk, director
of farm operations at Manitoba
Harvest. “While we expect overall hemp production could soften
just a little, we expect there will be
increasing production of organic
hemp because of the demand.”
Organic hemp will be one of
the topics examined at Organic
Alberta’s annual conference in
Beaumont on Feb. 27-28.
The conference theme is Sowing Success: Farming for People,
Planet, and Profit. Organic hemp
seed processors, marketers and
researchers will be at the conference to guide both conventional
and organic farmers through specialized organic hemp marketing
and production sessions.
Shwaluk will discuss the latest market demand for organic
hemp, and how farmers can participate.
“Hemp demand is driven by
the demand for healthy food
and healthy lifestyles,” he said.
“There’s a big opportunity for
organic hemp as there simply
isn’t enough supply to meet the
In another hemp-focused
session, Jan Slaski, senior
researcher and program leader
at Alberta Innovates–Technology Futures, will explain what
farmers need to know about
growing organic hemp, including best practices and new
research. To register, go to
www. or call
855-521-2400 toll free.
Genes that fit your farm.
Developed by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Winnipeg.
Plant Breeders’ Rights applied for.
‘AC’ is an official mark used under license from Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada.
Genes that fit your farm® is a registered trademark of SeCan.
File Photo
Ad Number: SEC-REDW14-T
Getting the
lowdown on
your farm’s
Simple Farm Ratio
Analyzer is a quick
way to determine
whether your farm is
on the right financial
track, says farm
finance specialist
Alberta Agriculture and
Rural Development release
An Excel program available from
Alberta Agriculture and Rural
Development can help producers
assess the financial state of their
farm business.
The Agricultural Business Analyzer (ABA) Simple Farm Ratio
Analyzer gives users a quick idea
of the financial health of their farm
or ranch as well as a comparison of
their business’s ratios to industry
benchmarks, said farm finance
specialist Rick Dehod.
“The ABA Simple Farm Ratio
Analyzer is a shortcut Excel program that takes just eight key
financial entries and calculates
financial ratios for the farm/ranch
and colour codes them in comparison to industry benchmarks,” said
“These eight key financial
numbers can be taken from your
accountant-prepared financial
statements for the past year and
entered into the various open cells
in the one-page spreadsheet.”
The eight key numbers are:
farm gross revenue, farm gross
expenses, depreciation, debt servicing payments, current assets,
long-term assets, current debt and
long-term debt.
“With these eight quick entries
you will know how your farm is
doing financially,” said Dehod.
“You can then consult with your
accountant or an agricultural
finance specialist to come up with
plans to mitigate and improve
those areas where your financial
ratios are weak.”
Using your net worth statement
for the beginning of 2015, you can
do your income and expense projection, sources and uses of funds
(cash flow) for the year, and project
your closing net worth statement
for 2015, said Dehod.
“Once you have your projected
2015 closing net worth statement,
you can generate the year-end
financial ratios, and compare
them to the ratios you generated
from your beginning net worth
statement,” he said. “This will give
an indication if your 2015 operating plan will progress the financial
viability and health of your farming operation.
“It all seems like a lot of work, but
it will help you create an awareness
that can help you make better decisions to increase the viability and
success of your farm business.”
To find the analyzer, go to www., click on Decision
Making Tools, and then on Farm
Management. Rick Dehod can be
reached at 780-427-4466.
Stretch your
New legislation for sales
of farm implements
New act establishes minimum requirements for sale agreements,
warranties, and availability of spare parts
Alberta Agriculture and
Rural Development release
he new Farm Implement
and Dealership Act will
come into force this year.
The new act, which combines
the old Farm Implement Dealerships Act and the Farm Implement Act, came into effect in
December when Bill 6, the Statutes Amendment Act, received
royal assent. Bill 6 also includes
numerous changes to sections
of the former Farm Implement
“The revised statute addresses
gaps in the legislation and adds
more clarity,” said Jeana Les of
the Farmers’ Advocate Office
(FAO). “This legislation has been
around since the mid-1960s
and, like any good legislation, it
needs to keep evolving to meet
the realities we’re facing. We’ve
also taken this opportunity to
make our Farm Implement and
Dealership Act more consistent
with equivalent legislation in
Saskatchewan, Ontario, and
The legislation establishes
minimum requirements for
sale agreements, warranties,
and availability of spare parts,
and also provides a mechanism
for resolving disputes regarding
farm implements, said Les.
The FAO administers the
act and provides support to
the Farm Implement Board,
“On this farm,
we’re the
Sean Gorrill – FCC Customer
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choose to do business with FCC
Together, we’ll create the financing plan
that works for you. We get to know you,
your farm and how you want to grow.
If you’re ready to get down to business,
talk to one of our farm business experts.
employs a farm implement
inspector, and manages licensing for dealers and distributors.
The Farm Implement Board is
comprised of three farmers,
three industry representatives,
and one member appointed by
the provincial agriculture minister.
“The FAO strives to resolve
complaints through the farm
implement inspector to help
limit costs and ensure expediency for affected farmers,”
said Les. “In 2013-14, the farm
implement inspector spoke with
approximately 240 different
farmers and agribusiness owners, mediated 155 disputes, and
completed over 20 farm implement inspections. As a result,
the Farm Implement Board did
not need to review any disputes
in 2013-14.”
More information on
these changes is available
on the FAO website at www.
The new legislation will come
into force in 2015, once the
required amendments to the
regulation are completed
to align with the amended
legislation. Updated copies
of the Farm Implement and
Dealership Act will also be
available on the FAO website
once they become available.
For more information, contact the FAO at [email protected] or at 310-FARM
CP boss slams
weekly rail car
report but Ritz
likes them
The Ag Transport Coalition’s second
weekly report on rail service shows the
railways aren’t meeting demand
By Allan Dawson
anada’s railways say
they’re moving more grain
than a year ago, but still
aren’t meeting grain shippers’
demands, according to the latest weekly railway performance
report prepared by QGI Consulting for the Ag Transport Coalition.
And there’s the rub, said Wade
Sobkowich, executive director of
the Western Grain Elevator Association.
“We can’t discuss averages or
talk about annual totals,” Sobkowich said after the report for
grain Week 23 was released. “We
have to talk about performance
on a week-by-week basis and this
report does that.”
CN Rail said in a recent statement it had shipped a record
amount of grain during the first
half of the current crop year — 18
per cent more than at the same
time last year.
However, the Week 23 report
says CN and CP Rail supplied
2,271 cars of the 6,312 cars
ordered for delivery. For Week 24,
they supplied 2,250 of the 7,111
cars ordered for delivery.
CP Rail CEO Hunter Harrison
slammed the weekly rail car
“The use of public funds to
drive a single, self-serving agenda
under the guise of solving large,
complex supply chain issues is
unconscionable,” Harrison said
in a statement. “It is disingenuous for the Ag Transport Coalition to say it wants to improve
the agricultural supply chain if it
doesn’t want to involve transportation stakeholders in the discussion.”
Ritz disagrees
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But federal Agriculture Minister
Gerry Ritz rebuffed those complaints and said the coalition’s
reports will play an important
role in the review of grain transportation.
“While to date grain is moving
ahead of last year’s unacceptable pace in certain corridors,
the government understands that
improvements are needed within
supply chain partners,” said Ritz.
Until now most railway performance data has been aggregated
and either supplied directly by
the railways or through Quorum
Corporation, Ottawa’s grain
transportation monitor. The Ag
Transport Coalition, with funding
through the federal-provincial
Growing Forward 2 program, was
formed to measure weekly railway performance from the grain
shipper’s perspective, Sobkowich
“The idea is to continue to provide this data on a weekly basis
as long as the resources are available to do that,” Sobkowich said.
The number of hopper car
orders not filled by both CN and
CP has continued to increase
each week since the beginning
of the crop year, according to the
Week 24 report.
“Through the first 24 weeks of
the current crop year, railways
have failed to supply 17,701 hopper cars ordered by shippers,” it
states. “This represents a shortfall
equivalent to 10 per cent of shipper demand.”
The latest report also states
more than 8,200 customer orders
have been outstanding for four
weeks or longer.
“The use of public
funds to drive a single,
self-serving agenda
under the guise of
solving large, complex
supply chain issues is
Interruptions blamed
There are factors not mentioned
in the latest report to consider,
CP Rail spokesman Jeremy Berry
said in an email. For example,
due to New Year’s (Week 22)
there was a 1-1/2-day closure
at the ports so cars weren’t processed in a timely manner. The
report also dwells on the number
of cars waiting at port, but fails
to note that the port cannot process many of those cars “disrupting the rhythm of overall railroad
But Sobkowich said the Week
23 figures speak for themselves —
the railways are not keeping up
with grain company car orders.
According to the elevator association, the railways don’t have
to compete to move grain and
therefore don’t have to invest in
surge capacity.
The association, backed by
many farm groups, wants the
federal government to pass legislation requiring the railways
to sign service agreements with
shippers, with penalties for failing to fulfil the agreement.
The railways say it’s too expensive and inefficient to build a system to meet temporary surges.
They say they are shipping more
grain than in the past and the key
to increased throughput is better
pipeline collaboration and less
The weekly reports are available
at www.agtransportcoalition.
[email protected]
} forecasts • February 16, 2015
Water woes forecast
Measuring soil moisture from space
Water scarcity could lead to conflict between communities and nations as the world
is still not fully aware of the water crisis many countries face as a result of climate
change, says the head of the UN panel of climate scientists. In its latest report,
the panel predicts a rise in global temperatures of between 0.3 C and 4.8 C by the
late 21st century. The scientists say this will bring more freak weather, including
crippling droughts in nations such as India, even as water demand rises because of
urbanization, hydroelectric projects, and animal livestock production. — Reuters
A new NASA satellite will measure moisture in the top layer of the Earth’s soil, with
the data being used in weather forecasting and to track global climate change.
Soil moisture is a variable that binds together all of the planet’s environmental
systems, scientists say. “It’s the metabolism of the system,” said Dara Entekhabi,
lead scientist of NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory. SMAP,
launched into space late last month, will spend at least three years measuring the
amount of water in the top two inches of Earth’s soil. — Reuters
The lowdown on atmospheric
rivers and their effect on weather
If conditions are right, atmospheric rivers can inject
huge amounts of water into storm systems
By Daniel Bezte
s we settle into the middle
of winter and start thinking about when spring
will start rolling in, I sometimes
struggle to come up with different weather stories to talk about.
If you have something you
would like to share, or something
you would like to see explained
or discussed, please let me know
at [email protected]
When there are no big weather
stories affecting our part of the
world, I often rely on listening to,
or overhearing, weather conversations for ideas of what people
are thinking about weather-wise
and, more importantly, what
they aren’t hearing or understanding correctly. You’d be
amazed how many people have
very little weather knowledge,
yet are self-proclaimed weather
experts and will spout off incorrect weather information like it
is the gospel truth. Usually, I stay
clear, as I’ve found these weather
conversations are often like pro
sports, religious or political conversations: You can’t change the
other person’s viewpoint. Even
if they know you are right, they
will stick with it to the bitter end.
The latest conversation I overheard had to do with atmospheric
rivers and the current weather
pattern over North America. I
figured I would tackle the first of
these topics in this issue and try
to clear the air, so to speak, of just
what an atmospheric river is. The
second topic — namely, why it
has been so warm out west and
cold and snowy to our east — will
have to wait until the next issue.
An atmospheric river is almost
exactly as it sounds. A river is a
long and narrow water source
which, for the most part, has a
continuous flow of water from
upstream to downstream. In the
atmosphere, most of the moisture comes from evaporation
and the majority of evaporation
occurs in the tropics. In our part
of the world we have very little
evaporation occurring in the
winter and only see high levels
under certain circumstances in
the summer. Over the tropics, a
large amount of evaporation is
taking place all the time. A good
portion of this moisture falls
back to earth in the tropics, but
Here we see a view of an atmospheric river from December 2010, much like the one that recently brought rain to parched California.
some makes its way northward
to fuel storm systems that give us
a large amount of our rain and
even snow.
Some of this tropical moisture
simply works its way northward,
drawn into mid-latitude weather
systems a little bit here and a little
bit there. Sometimes a large flow
of tropical moisture can develop
and last for several days to even
a week or more, bringing huge
amounts of moisture northward,
usually resulting in flooding rains
or heavy snow. These northward
or westward plumes of moisture
can stretch over thousands of
kilometres but are often only 50
to 100 kilometres wide.
Usually, in our part of the
world, the atmosphere holds
between 10 and 20 millimetres
of water — more in the summer than the winter, but this is a
good average. This means if you
were to take all the moisture in
the atmosphere above you, and
condense it back into water, you
would typically expect this much
water. Over the tropics, this
amount is typically in the 50- to
60-millimetre range.
When an atmospheric river
forms, we get a long narrow
transport of these high water
content values — a river of moisture in the air. The atmospheric
rivers that tend to affect us typically form over the Pacific and
will often bring flooding rains
to the West Coast, from British
Columbia southward to California. The image here shows an
atmospheric river that formed
in December 2010 and is very
similar to the one that recently
brought much-needed rain to
These atmospheric rivers,
while bringing large amounts
of rain and snow to the West
Coast, are also often responsible for large rain and snow
events across the Prairies. In the
past, these atmospheric rivers
over the Pacific were called the
Pineapple Express, since they
often originated near Hawaii.
The storm system that brought
snow to a good portion of the
central Prairies Jan. 7-8 was
largely the result of moisture
pouring into North America in
an atmospheric river.
Despite recent wet weather, California is still suffering from
one of the most severe droughts in its history. Photo: Thinkstock
Again, these rivers are not
our only source of moisture. If
they do set up and if the conditions are right, these rivers can
inject huge amounts of water
into storm systems, which in
turn will often bring our largest
rains or snows of the season.
So far this year we haven’t seen
many of these rivers develop or
affect our region, which helps
to explain why the West Coast,
California in particular, is experiencing such extreme drought.
But that leads us to the second
topic of study: why has it been
so warm and dry over western
North America and cold and wet
to the east? More on that next
Daniel Bezte is a teacher by
profession with a BA (Hon.)
in geography, specializing in
climatology, from the U of W. He
operates a computerized weather
station near Birds Hill Park.
Contact him with your questions
and comments at [email protected]
Key reversal alerts livestock
producers to recent downturn
market outlook } Technical analysis has the ability
to cut through the news and see opportunities
By david drozd
ive cattle futures plummeted
$23 per hundredweight after
turning down from a new
historical high in late November
As always, the news was incredibly bullish at the top, so some livestock producers may have been
caught off guard by the sudden
drop in prices. However, producers who study charting and technical analysis may have noticed
the price action forewarning of an
impending downturn.
Technical analysis has the ability to cut through the news. When
the trained eye picks up on reversal patterns, indicating a change
in direction, this presents opportunity.
Market tops can materialize in
a very short period of time and
the subsequent downturn predominantly occurs more quickly
than the move up. This is because
a bull market needs to be fuelled
by a constant flow of bullish news.
However, a bull market dies under
its own weight without being fed
any news.
Initially, the market goes down
on long liquidation. The selling
picks up when the longs decide
to get out of their positions, first
to protect profits and then to cut
losses. Declining open interest
provides evidence of this. The open
interest is illustrated at the bottom
of the accompanying chart. Open
interest is the sum of all the long or
short futures contracts at the end
of each trading session. You will
notice, the open interest has been
declining with the downturn.
One of the unique aspects of
charting and technical analysis
is the ability to gain an insight as
to when a market is about to turn
Reversals are price events that
tend to signify turns of minor or
intermediate importance. However, when a reversal occurs at
new contract highs, arrives after a
rather extensive move up both in
time and price, and is accompanied by a close lower than the previous week’s low price, this special
case becomes a key reversal. Here,
the turn in the market could take
on more significant meaning than
just a minor trend change.
Key reversal
As an indicator of reliability, the
week’s trading range, which is the
difference between the high and
low price, should be wide and the
market should first advance into
new highs prior to reversing direction and closing poorly.
chart live cattle Weekly Nearby
Chart as of January 28, 2015
Market psychology
At a top, a key reversal begins with
prices reaching a new high for the
current move. The market rather
suddenly encounters a large supply of contracts for sale which initially halts the price advance. The
buying fails to absorb this heavy
selling and prices begin to weaken.
During the same session the
selling moves down to the market, creating more pressure.
When prices fall below the previous week’s closing level, additional
selling materializes.
Thus, after advancing to new
highs, the market ends the week
lower, often substantially below
than the previous week’s close.
The initial selling which caps the
advance is predominantly by large
market participants. The selling
which occurs after prices weaken
reflects smaller speculative longs
getting out.
A key reversal is a complete
change in sentiment. As the market starts the week on a strong
note, the longs are comfortable
and confident. The market’s per-
formance provides encouragement and reinforces the expectation of greater profits.
However, as the market turns
down and settles below the previous week’s low, the immediate
outlook for prices is abruptly put in
question. Longs respond to weakening prices by exiting the market.
This explains why a market can
turn down, all the while the news
remains bullish. Therefore, knowledge of charting and technical
analysis is one more tool producers can use in order to take advantage of hedging opportunities.
Fortunately, the decline in the
Canadian dollar has to some
degree been supportive to the
price of slaughter animals.
Send your questions or comments about this article and chart
to [email protected]
David Drozd is president and senior
market analyst for Winnipegbased Ag-Chieve Corporation.
The opinions expressed are those
of the writer and are solely
intended to assist readers with
a better understanding of
technical analysis. Visit Ag-Chieve
online at for
information about our grainmarketing advisory service and to
see our latest grain market analysis.
You can call us toll free at 1-888274-3138 for a free consultation.
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Looking for workers?
Farm Fresh learning sessions
There’s still spots for employers at an agriculture job fair at Northgate Centre (#2050. 9499-137
Ave., Edmonton) on March 5. “Right now, we’re still looking for some more agricultural companies to participate in the fair,” said Al Dooley, agriculture labour recruitment specialist with
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “We’re looking for companies offering both processing and farm jobs.” There is no exhibitor fee for employers, said Dooley. “We only ask that you
are hiring at the time of the event and are based in or around Edmonton.” For more info, contact
Lindsay Rodriguez at [email protected] or 780-427-4187. — AARD release
There will be a number of learning opportunities at Alberta Farm Fresh School at Olds College Feb. 26-27. “Come and learn about soil, both soil biology and soil fertility, vegetable
production using plastic mulch and low tunnels, and integrated weed management from
leading experts,” said Rob Spencer, provincial commercial horticulture specialist.
There will also be sessions on value adding, connecting with restaurants, current diseases and insects in Alberta vegetable crops, biological control options, food safety, and
improving efficiency. For more info, see — AARD release
arrival of Ag Expo signals the
growing season isn’t far away
Although there’s 200,000 square feet of space, about 50 of the
350 exhibitors have to line up their machinery outdoors
By Dianne Finstad
af contributor
sure sign spring is on the
horizon in southern Alberta is when Exhibition Park
at Lethbridge fills up for Ag Expo.
The three-day annual event showcases all things agriculture — from
equipment to technology — for
both crops and livestock. It’s also
home to the North American Seed
“It’s really an economic barometer for agriculture in southern
Alberta,” said Doug Kryzanowski,
the manager of corporate relations, marketing, events and
entertainment for Exhibition Park.
“Everyone watches to see if the
farmers and ranchers come in
with their chequebooks in hand.”
Visiting Ag Expo is a valuable
way for producers to do some
preparation and planning for the
upcoming busy season on the
farm. They can make contacts, do
some comparison shopping, and
gather fresh ideas for their business, all in one place.
But it is a big place, so visitors
need to have comfortable walking
shoes, if they intend to get around
to all of the booths and displays
which cover about 200,000 square
feet of space. While the majority of
the show is inside, about 50 of the
350 exhibitors have to line up their
machinery outdoors for farmers to
“Space is our limiting factor,”
said Kryzanowksi. “We regularly
have 40 to 80 exhibitors on a waiting list, wanting to get into the
show. We need more space.”
While exhibitors and attendees
come for business, breaking the
winter routine and getting out
to socialize with one another is
another important aspect of the
show, he said. There’s also the
chance to seeing what’s new in
an ever rapidly changing agribusiness world.
“We’ve got such a variety here —
we’ve got the exhibitor with farm
tools, all the way up to the big tractors and combines,” he said. “It is
one of Western Canada’s premier
“We’re at the tail end of the show
season, so a lot of the customers
who do come in know their product could be ready for spring.”
Ag Expo draws visitors from
across southern Alberta, but also
from as far away as southeastern
B.C., southwestern Saskatchewan,
and even neighbouring Montana.
Exhibitors come from all over
Western Canada, and last year
there was even one from China.
Lethbridge has a strong tradition of agricultural events, from
back in the early 1900s when it
proudly hosted the International
Dry Farming Congress, with delegates from around the world. In
1957, the Exhibition group teamed
up with the local Chamber of Commerce and Alberta Agriculture to
create Ag Expo, which featured
the largest seed fair in Canada. It
also included an Agricultural Short
These days, a volunteer committee from Lethbridge, along
with district business people and
farmers, work with the Exhibition
Association to present the show.
Although what’s being presented for farm equipment and
technology has changed dramat-
There’s a waiting list of exhibitors eager to get a spot at Ag Expo. PhotoS: Courtesy Exhibition Park
ically over the years, the basic
objective remains true to its roots.
It’s a great occasion to showcase
agriculture to the community,
and give an opportunity for farmers and the companies that serve
them to come together and do
Ag Expo runs from Feb. 25-27
and is open daily from 9 to 5.
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Seed fair offers red ribbons — and
bragging rights — to seed producers
The North American Seed Fair has been a big part of Ag Expo since its founding more than half a century ago
By Dianne Finstad
af contributor
bountiful crop starts with
good seed, and seed providers take great pride in
offering their very best to farmers.
One way they could showcase
their product was by participating in the North American Seed
Fair. Even though much has
changed in the seed business,
the fair is still an integral part of
Ag Expo in Lethbridge.
“It was started to help seed
growers market their seed,” said
George Lubberts, an independent agronomist who is chair of
this year’s seed fair committee.
“It was an opportunity for them
to show potential customers the
varieties they were growing. And
of course a little pride comes in,
trying to get that red ribbon.”
Billed as one of the oldest seed
fairs in Western Canada, the
event became one of the founding features when the Ag Expo
event was created in 1957. It is
still a unique offering because
it covers such a large area, said
Lubberts, but organizers admit
the transformation of the seed
business has impacted the seed
“Things are changing with the
way farmers are buying seed
and the way growers are selling
it,” said Lubberts. “There are less
farmers, buying more seed. The
distribution of information (on
their product) is different, too.
Many seed growers even have
their own open house now in the
growing season.”
Not surprisingly, industry consolidation, as well as the entry of
major corporations into the seed
business, has reduced the number of entries to the Seed Fair.
“Seed fairs are no longer needed
for growers to market their seed,
or for farmers to see the varieties being produced,” he said. “So
instead of being one of only two
or three marketing tools available, it’s now one of 10 or 12.”
Regulations have been modified to keep the show relevant and
in sync with changes in industry
regulations. For instance, entries
now have to come from a threetonne lot, Lubberts noted. And
the sample must be machine
cleaned, not done by hand.
“It’s not about who does the
nicest job of preparing a sample,”
he said. “It’s about what a sample
from a seed grower really looks
like. They can show what they
sell, so it’s not just a showcase of
cleaning or hand-picking seed.”
Even the assessment of seed
has changed over the years,
thanks to technology and different customer needs. So that
lessens the priority of the visual
appeal, which is what fair entries
are currently judged by.
A blue ribbon is nice but the red
version goes to the top entries
at the North American Seed
Fair. Photos: Courtesy Exhibition Park
The ‘Art of Seed’ is an eye-catcher at the North American
Seed Fair. “Things like the falling numbers are not visible to the naked
The North American Seed Fair
features a wide variety of classes
of crops, as well as alfalfa, timothy
and even some grass seeds. Along
with the pedigreed division, there
are open classes for farmers who
grow their own seed, and junior
classes as well.
“The wheat and the barley
classes have been our biggest
entries,” said Lubberts. “The
seed-cleaning plants in the area
have been big supporters of the
A one-kilogram sample in a
cloth bag with the information
attached is required for each
entry. Volunteers from the sur-
rounding agribusiness community serve as judges. They size
up each sample according to the
specs of the particular class, with
qualities such as colour, cleanliness, kernel size, plumpness
and freedom from disease coming into play. Ribbons and cash
prizes are awarded.
Last year, Tim Willms, of Willms
Seeds in Grassy Lake, captured
the pedigreed grand aggregate
award. An entry from Luke Wipf
of Cranford was given the nod as
the grand aggregate winner for
the open classes.
Weather can have a big impact
on the entries as well. If a wet harvest season has affected quality,
growers are less eager to submit
entries, said Lubberts.
While organizers know they
may need to consider revamping the seed fair to keep it viable
for the future, Lubberts said he
believes it’s still a valuable part
of Ag Expo.
“It allows people to see another
part of what’s happening in agriculture,” he said. “They can see
the number of different growers,
and crops that are produced.
“Plus the winners still have that
honour and pride in the coffee
shop if they get the ribbon.”
The committee is hoping for
a strong set of entries this year,
which will be judged on Feb. 19.
Samples will be on display all
during Ag Expo in the seed floor
of the south pavilion of Exhibition Park.
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Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
Exhibition Park looks to the future
with expansion plans
A $90-million redevelopment would see construction of a 250,000-square-foot
convention centre and 75,000-square-foot Agriplex
af contributor
Produced by: SeCan
Product/Campaign Name: SeCan AC Carberry
Date Produced: August 2011
g Expo in Lethbridge
could be even bigger — if
only there was room.
As the Lethbridge and District Exhibition marks its 118th
year, its board finds itself on
the threshold of an exciting,
but challenging, growth opportunity.
“The last construction at Exhibition Park took place in 1999
with the construction of the
Main Pavilion, which connected
all the other facilities together,”
said general manager Rudy Friesen.
But it quickly outgrew that
“Especially for our major
events, and for facility rentals
as well,” said Friesen. “We don’t
have a single day available for
January, February and March.
We’re at capacity and turning
business away.
“It’s frustrating for our organization because we want to
see that economic impact take
place here.”
Exhibition Park has been
planning its expansion phase
for a decade now, working with
civic and tourism officials and
the local chamber of commerce.
“Our city does not have a
convention centre, so this joint
committee came up with a
development plan that would
accomplish both of those
things,” said Friesen. “It would
have increased space for Exhibition Park, plus a facility that was
designed to meet the convention needs of the community,
all in one building.”
It’s a unique approach, but
likely a way of the future, he
“By their very nature, agricultural societies in the province have tended to be pretty
independent as organizations,
and I think that comes from
the entrepreneurial nature of
the producers that built these
societies. But I think it’s a new
era, and it speaks to a more collaborative nature in trying to do
some things for the good of the
community. That’s been a real
positive thing for us here in
Exhibition Park currently has
120,000 square feet of indoor
space and the new plan calls
for 250,000 square feet. It would
be flexible enough to allow for
multiple users at the same time,
and includes some high-end
meeting space.
“Another key piece of the
design for attracting business to
the city is a kitchen facility that
has the capability to feed 2,000
people in one sitting.”
And since it’s expensive to
hold ag events (because of the
need to move dirt in and out of
the building), a second phase of
the development would be the
construction of a new Agriplex,
with a dedicated dirt floor.
The total cost for both facilities is estimated to be $90 million.
The City of Lethbridge has
already come on board, committing $25 million to the development in its 2018 capital plan,
contingent on matching funding from other levels of government. The balance would come
from the Exhibition association,
which struck a fundraising committee earlier this month.
The drop in oil prices, and
provincial revenues, makes getting government funds a tough
mountain to climb, but Friesen
sees it from a different angle.
“When you’re in good economic times, these things cost a
lot more to do,” he said. “When
you’re in bad economic times,
everybody holds their wallet
close to the chest. Yet it’s often
the most economical time to
do it. And it’s a time when the
activity would be good for the
There is a sense of urgency,
with the clock ticking on the
current buildings. Although
once considered “the Cadillac
of regional exhibitions,” most of
its buildings are considered past
their useful life, and renovating
them isn’t considered a viable
Redevelopment would benefit the entire community, said
“Economic Development
Lethbridge has identified
numerous opportunities that
just don’t come to this city
because we don’t have the facilities,” he said. “What we’re proposing would allow us to be in
that game, and be a real regional
economic driver.
“I think the key for us is to
continue to work diligently
with our municipal government
to figure out ways to make this
Friesen points out Ag Expo
has had a waiting list of exhibitors for two decades.
“We’re leaving a lot on the
table. Ag Expo is a great economic driver for our city, but it
could be twice the driver, if we
let it.”
Ad Number: SEC_CAR11_T
Publication: Manitoba Cooperator
Trim - 3col x 133lines 6” x 9.5”
By Dianne Finstad
A new Agriplex (on the left and also in the above photo), with a dedicated
dirt floor, is part of the redevelopment plan for Exhibition Park in
Lethbridge. Graphics: Exhibition Park
4:23 PM
Page 1
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Updated manual for national
food safety standards released
Producers are encouraged to take time to update their
food safety manual before the new version takes effect in April
By Jennifer Paige
Heather Gale, executive director of CanadaGAP, explains changes made
to the recently released manual at the recent Manitoba Potato Producer
Days. Photo: Jennifer Paige
anadaGAP has recently
released an updated version of its food safety
manual, which will take effect
April 1.
Most of the changes to
updated, 6.3 version of the
national food safety standards
for the fresh produce market
are editorial in nature and were
adjusted to clarify or further
explain existing requirements,
said the organization’s executive director.
“However, producers should
still take the time to review any
changes that may impact their
sector,” said Heather Gale.
“This is an overview of what
the changes are and you will be
able to tell what is actually going
to affect your operation.”
One of the major changes is in
Section 19.1 and relates to the
sourcing of product. Operations
must now be sourcing their
product from suppliers who are
also certified to CanadaGAP or
another industry-recognized
third-party food safety audit/
The CanadaGAP manual can
now also be used by fresh produce brokerage firms, operations
involved in production, packing
and storage of greenhouse strawberries and those who are repacking and wholesaling mushrooms.
“This is an overview of
what the changes are
and you will be able
to tell what is actually
going to affect your
to lead
farm group
Dan Mazier is the new president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, Manitoba’s
largest farm group.
Mazier takes over from
Doug Chorney, who had
reached the end of his fouryear term.
“I think we’re in really
good shape and I feel like
I’ve got a good understanding of the organization,”
said Mazier, adding he
intends to focus on member
New technologies and
connectivity mean farmers
don’t have to be in the same
room to have a discussion
anymore, he noted.
“Guys can communicate with us now in a lot of
ways, we don’t have to sit in
meetings ’til all hours of the
night,” he said.
Heather Gale
The revised manual is available at as
well as documents outlining the
main changes, and a document
summarizing commodity-specific changes. Corresponding,
updated audit checklists will be
issued prior to April.
Dan Mazier photo: shannon Vanraes
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ABC 83309 2015/01
Growing demand for better food
One economist predicts demands for grains could shrink in the face
of increased fruit and vegetable consumption
By Alex Binkley
af contributor
rowing world demand for
food doesn’t necessarily
equate with increased
demand for grain, according to
an American ag economist.
“Generally people are eating better than a decade ago,”
University of California Prof.
Tim Beatty said at the annual
Canadian Agriculture Economics Society policy conference.
But while demand is growing,
so are food supplies, he said.
And trends in consumer
demand for health and nutrition
favour fruits and vegetables, but
that grains will see a declining
importance in the food system.
He also suggested that despite
all the controversy they generate, the production of biofuels
“is not that important in terms
of forecasting the global supply
of food calories.” Land used to
produce crops for fuel will be
switched to food production
when “food prices get too high.”
At the same time, the march to
a world population in the ninebillion range by 2050 means
agriculture and science have to
find ways to increase food production, he added. “We cannot
expect another Green Revolution.”
While they’re fraught with
controversy, genetically modified crops offer the prospects
of higher yields without having
to increase the amount of land
being farmed, he said.
As well, Africa, Latin America
and the Caribbean “all have
large areas capable of increasing food production.”
Attendees also heard from
Jim Brandle, CEO of Vineland
Research and Innovation Cen-
tre, which is building a oneacre greenhouse complex in
the Niagara Peninsula to demonstrate the importance of
technology to the future of food
The centre aims to create the
right commercial partnerships
that translate an idea into a
value product or process, he
said. “We’re trying to build up
a technology base for horticulture.
“The value of the greenhouse
complex is in both what it produces and the technology it
generates which can become
an exportable product as well.”
Modern agriculture has
become the Age of Biology and
the centre plans to investigate
the potential of reverse genetics as a way to develop more
productive plant varieties, he
said. Reverse genetics involves
examining individual genes in
a plant to determine what role
they play in a plant’s growth
and how that could improve its
overall productivity.
Brandle said it has the potential to lead to major breakthroughs in plant breeding
without the cost or controversy
of genetic modification, noting
it currently costs about $163
million to bring a new GMO
plant to market.
Michel Post, managing director of Food, Beverages and
Agribusiness at the Dutch bank
Rabobank International, said
that despite the huge disparity
in the size of their agriculture
sectors, Canada and the Netherlands could gain a lot by working in partnerships. Canada
earns about 8.5 per cent of its
GDP from agriculture exports
while Holland receives nine
per cent.
“We’re in an era where agri-
culture has to do more with less,
achieve more value added and
develop more public-private
partnerships,” he noted. “The
Netherlands doesn’t have room
to expand production but it has
agriculture knowledge that it
can export.”
Canada can increase production “as well as bringing knowledge and the ability to attract
investments,” Post said. One
area the two countries could
advance is the adoption of precision agriculture to increase
production in the oilseed and
grains sector while reducing
input and labour costs.
“The era of big data or data
intensity in agriculture could
reach 75 per cent of farmers by
2025,” he said. “By then farm
equipment should be able to
execute variable-rate applications that big data would make
CWB building
sold: reports
CWB will continue to
lease two floors
By Commodity News
Service Canada
WB’s downtown Winnipeg office building has
been sold, according to
media reports. The eight-storey
building near Portage and Main
was bought by Calgary-based
Hopewell Development for an
undisclosed amount.
CWB, formerly known as the
Canadian Wheat Board, will
continue to lease two floors of
the building. The sale was initially reported in December, but
was only finalized at the end of
January. The building, with over
146,000 square feet of office space,
was first listed for sale in 2012, as
the company transitioned from
its former role as the single-desk
seller of western Canadian wheat
to the open market.
The current building consists of
two parts — a building purchased
from Manitoba Pool Elevators in
the early 1960s and a larger addition attached to the south side.
Increase your yields by using Authority and removing weeds early
Kochia and cleavers were put to rest by a group 14 mode of action with
extended residual weed control. Lamb’s quarters, redroot pigweed, wild
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flax, soybeans, chickpeas and sunflowers.
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CWB building file photo
AB Farmer Express, Grainews, MB Co-operator
Junior Page (8.125” x 10”)
While parts of the country are enduring cold and snowy winters, much of southern Alberta is basking in above-zero temperatures, with open grazing on south-facing slopes.
These cattle, near Priddis, Alta., are able to graze on snow-free pastures. Photo: Wendy Dudley
CFIA calls a time
out on regulatory
No bundles.
No rebates.
No waiting.
Industry groups say
they are pleased
it is taking time to
get it right
By Alex Binkley
af contributor
No kidding.
Your money. Your choice.
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allowing farmers to manage their farms instead of managing complicated, time-consuming rebate programs
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The Canadian Food Inspection
Agency has called a time out in
its regulatory modernization
project to further study agriculture and processor proposals for
improving food safety.
After a massive series of consultations through 2014, CFIA
had been expected to present its
package of proposed regulatory
changes in the Canada Gazette
Part One by late January.
The agency now says, “We are
taking a pause.”
“We appreciate all the feedback we received and we may
even undertake further consultations before proceeding,” said
Colleen Barnes, an official in the
agency’s policy and programs
The move is supported by his
organization, said Chris Kyte,
president of Food Processors of
“Hopefully a delay will allow
us to better understand what’s
in the agency’s proposed regulations,” he said.
CFIA has undergone significant management turnover in
the last year, which calls “into
question the quality of consultations and analysis so we support
a review of all regulatory proposals.”
Officials with the Supply Chain
Food Safety Coalition and the
Food and Consumer Products of
Canada also said they support a
slower approach.
No specific dates had been
set on when the agency might
unveil its full package of regulatory changes in the Canada
Gazette, Barnes said. That would
be followed by a 75-day consultation with domestic and
international organizations. The
pause will likely mean the regulations won’t come into effect
until at least 2016.
How to ship to the U.S.
Online publication includes info on weight restrictions, phytosanitary certificates and more
By Allan Dawson
anadian and American
grain companies have
a new resource to assist
them when buying or transhipping grain to or through each
other’s countries.
The goal is to expedite grain
trading between the two nations
and beyond following the elimination of the Canadian Wheat
Board’s single desk.
“We’ve seen all sorts of border challenges in other types of
commodities so we wanted to
make sure we did a very good
job of making sure the information was out there for everyone,”
said Tyler Bjornson, president of
the Canada Grains Council. “We
wanted to dispel any myths and
make sure the appropriate information from authorities from
either side of the border was
available publicly.”
The information posted at was prepared by the
Canada-U.S. Grain and Seed
Trade Task Group. It’s designed
to give commercial grain buyers
a better understanding of crossborder trade regulations.
The task group, which included
Canada Grains Council and the
North American Grain Export
Association, National Grain and
Feed Association and U.S. Wheat
Associates, has already posted
information for Canadian and
American grain farmers and seed
growers and distributors.
“The open-market changes
provide new opportunities for
U.S. and Canadian producers and traders to move wheat,
durum, or barley across the border, but that grain is still subject
to the respective and applicable
customs and import regulations,
such as phytosanitary requirements,” the task group said in
a news release. “Some of that
grain may also be exported to a
third country.”
“I think it’s important for our
Canadian industry to have an
open, transparent discussion
with our U.S. colleagues... to
make sure as the private sector
we’re managing any concerns
together that might be coming up rather than letting them
become sore points.”
In the past the United States
has slapped countervailing
duties on imported Canadian
wheat, although they were ruled
to be unjustified and were overturned. At the time the wheat
board’s monopoly was cited as
an irritant. It’s gone, but there
are still concerns among some
that a sudden flood of Canadian wheat into the U.S. could
prompt trade action. However,
others have predicted in an open
market Canadian and U.S. wheat
prices will arbitrage preventing
a rush of Canadian wheat to the
[email protected]
While you can now sell directly to the U.S. without going through the wheat board, there are still grain customs
and import regulations such as phytosanitary requirements. Photo: Thinkstock
Visit before March 30, 2015 to see the hot performance of DuPont Express SG
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this spring with Express brand herbicides.
The 29-page document is full
of meaty information ranging
from links to sites regarding local
highway road weight restrictions
to links on obtaining phytosanitary certificates. There’s information on shipping grain from
one country into the other and
then on to a third country. Canadian and American grain-grading systems are also discussed.
“It’s meant to be a proactive
information service for anyone
engaging in cross-border trade
to make sure there isn’t any confusion and frustrations don’t
turn into irritants at the end of
the day,” Bjornson said.
*Contest begins February 4/15; ends March 30/15. Open only to farmers in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba. Prizes: 1 ball cap ($25) to first 200 entrants; 3 Grand prize trips
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Tyler Bjornson
“We’ve seen all sorts
of border challenges
in other types of
commodities so we
wanted to make sure
we did a very good
job of making sure the
information was out
there for everyone.”
Stirling’s tombstone mystery is finally solved
But there are calls to have discarded monuments at fish pond removed
By Johnnie Bachusky
af contributor
or the past five years Stirling’s
Cody Kapcsos has been on a
solitary mission to solve the
mystery of who’s buried in the
abandoned pioneer cemetery near
the ghost hamlet of Masinasin.
Kapcsos, who has also spent
countless hours restoring the cemetery, could only identify four of the
known 11 burials at the site, located
about 50 kilometres southeast of his
village in southern Alberta.
And back home there was
another mystery, also involving
pioneer locals who’ve passed on to
the afterlife — four tombstones laying on the northeast bank of the village’s fishing pond, a former water
reservoir decommissioned several
decades earlier. One even bears a
name: Nellie Selk, who died at the
age of 30 in 1938.
“It might throw some for a loop.
It did when I first saw it,” said Kapcsos. “It raises questions about why
they are there, and whether somebody is actually buried there.”
While the fish pond has been
a popular local recreational spot
for many years, the mysterious
tombstones have remained largely
unnoticed or ignored.
“I knew they were there. I haven’t
thought much about them,” said
Jack Hicken, a member of the Stirling Historical Society and a resident since 1962.
Hicken said he knew several
tombstones at the Stirling Memorial Cemetery had been replaced
with the old ones discarded at the
pond, although he does not know
when. He speculated they were
used to control erosion.
“I guess they did it because of the
wash of the water and they were
looking for rocks,” said Hicken.
“The rocks were put there to
impede the water wash.”
Ron Bore, a former secretary with
the historical society, also recalls
some faded and broken tombstones being replaced years ago,
with the old ones placed along the
pond’s bank to reduce erosion.
“I have been here a long time
and I have not heard any untoward comments regarding the placement there,” said Bore.
But Hicken thinks differently, and
wants them removed.
“It could be sacrilegious, I guess,
in a sense,” he said. “I could take a
look and make a recommendation
to council. But it’s just kind of dumb
they be there. Either remove them
or break them up so nobody could
tell what they were.”
Mike Selk, the village’s chief
administrative officer, said the
monuments are actually capstones,
which are placed over gravesites
— even the one with Nellie Selk’s
name, a relative of his.
Selk said he knew about the monuments at the pond and has never
taken “personal offence,” but concedes it might now be necessary to
finally remove them.
“This is something that will probably be taken care of appropriately,” said Selk.
In the meantime, Kapcsos has
finally solved both mysteries. In
January, he received a full list of
all known burials at the Masinasin
Cemetery from the Alberta Genealogical Society. And recently, he
found Nellie Selk’s new tombstone at her gravesite in the local
Still, he’s bewildered why full
tombstones were ever placed at
the pond.
“A boulder would have done the
job or they could have at least pulverized the concrete rather than
just dumping the whole things in.”
The tombstones along the bank of the Stirling Fish Pond were discarded at the site after being
replaced at the Stirling Memorial Cemetery with new monuments. PhotoS: Johnnie Bachusky
The Stirling Fish Pond, stocked
and maintained by the local Lions
International club and the village,
is a popular recreational spot for
Cody Kapcsos at the entrance
gate of the once long-forgotten
Masinasin Cemetery.
The old tombstone of Nellie Selk lays along the
bank of the Stirling Fish Pond.
41 • February 16, 2015
There’s apps for this and that
on the farm that save you time
Spend more time in the field and less time at a desk with the use of mobile technology,
Cloud computing and agriculture-geared apps
by Jennifer Paige
he next time your combine
is making an unfamiliar
tickety tickety noise, don’t
call your machinery repairman –
send them a video message so they
can see and hear the problem.
Today’s mobile technology is a
perfect fit for farmers, said Peter
Gredig of AgNition, which produces mobile technology for agriculture.
“This technology has really
evolved and it doesn’t matter what
you have — iPhone, Android, or
BlackBerry — it’s how you use it,”
Gredig said at the recent Ag Days
event in Brandon, Man.
“All of these devices are amazing
tools and it is up to us to figure out
how we can best use them in our
Along with discussing a number
of the latest apps geared toward
the industry, Gredig spoke on
how to get more from your smartdevice and different functions the
technology can perform that save
farmers time.
“A tablet is so much more useful than all of those monitors in
tractor cabs. Fairly recently, ag
companies have started moving
away from selling in-cab monitors to rather utilize the producers’ tablets and smartphones as
the monitors.”
Even without downloading
additional applications, Gredig
notes these devices come with a
number of gadgets that are handy
to farmers in the field, such as the
flashlight, protractor, compass,
speedometer and level.
“Many of us still think of these
devices as phones that can do
other things, whereas in reality
they are incredible mobile tool
boxes that include a phone,” he
said. “The industry certainly needs
to be aware of and understand the
power of real-time audio and video
communication. If you don’t use
these video communication apps,
you are really missing the boat.”
Gredig recommended Facetime
and Skype apps for video calling.
“If you were to Facetime your
agronomist, they would be able
to see exactly what you are dealing
with at that moment. As an industry, we need to start doing this.”
Many of these modern-day
devices also offer voice recognition
or Bluetooth software. Employing
these features on your device can
be a time saver and increase your
“When we look back at the
advancement of this technology,
it is not going to be these cool little
apps that make life easier for us,
it is going to be how we gather
our data, store and manage it,”
said Gredig.
According to Gredig, the real
valuable feature of mobile technology is in the use of Cloud computing — using a network of remote
servers hosted on the Internet to
store, manage and process data
— rather than a local server or
personal computer.
Gredig relates the Cloud to a virtual filing cabinet that allows you to
store data on the Internet and access
it with the security of a password.
“The liberation and freedom of
the Cloud means that you don’t
worry about the basement flooding, a fire or hard drive crashes,
because as you are generating data
it is wirelessly and immediately
being stored.”
“Many of us still think of
these devices as phones
that can do other things,
whereas in reality they
are incredible mobile
tool boxes that include a
Peter Gredig
[email protected]
Apps for effective
mobile farming
Peter Gredig, mobile technology specialist with AgNition recommends these apps:
Flag This
Enables you to communicate an action that is location specific,
so that users are able to flag a location through GPS that requires
scouting for plant symptoms, draining standing water, fence
repair, etc. Flagged locations can then be saved and stored or
shared via email. Developed by the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association.
A push-to-talk application that basically converts your smartphone into a walkie talkie. You can connect a number of devices
and keep your team on track.
My Shed
A free application that provides you with engineering parts
manuals, assembly diagrams, and parts number lists for your
machines. Create parts lists and share them with your dealer,
access tool box reference guides, and lubricant/fluid selector
Weed Identifier
Designed specifically for Canada,
this app allows you to identify
and map weed pressures.
Farm at Hand
An app built by farmers, for farmers. It is a complete farm management app, free and Cloud based
that allows you to manage your
entire operation from seed to
Crop Nutrient Deficiencies
This app assists growers in
determining fertility issues in
their fields by nutrient type or
by browsing photos of crops to
find the image that most closely
matches the fertility issues they
are seeing.
An application designed
specific to Canada, which
allows users to identify and
map weed pressures.
Connected Farm
Focuses on mapping field
boundaries, locating irrigation
pivots, marking flags, and
entering counting information.
Scouting attributes include an
extensive list of weeds, insects
and diseases. Also, allows you
to log the severity of a problem,
crop conditions and capture
photos to integrate with
scouting attributes.
Top-performing annual broadleaf weed control + superior
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® TM
IHerd is a cattle management app
that can categorize herds, record
herd management data, herd
numbers, manages movement
between properties, offers tally
counting, tracks transfer of cattle, records and manages medical
treatment and dosages.
A mapping and scouting
application that allows users
to log details and map field
Producers warned
to reduce use of
growth promotants
The risk from antimicrobial-resistant organisms
found in meat is statistically low, but of great
potential consequence
By Shannon VanRaes
f producers want to keep
antibiotics in their tool boxes,
they’re going to have to change
the way they use them.
And that means voluntarily
ending the use of antimicrobials as growth promotants, Leigh
Rosengren told those attending
the recent Manitoba Swine Seminar in Winnipeg.
“I promise you, if we see no
change, this will be a big black
strike across the industry,” said
the Saskatchewan-based veterinarian and epidemiologist. “When
we say we’re going to step up, and
that we’re voluntarily going to
clean something up, and then if
we ultimately don’t change, I see
the next step as regulation.”
That’s already happened in the
U.S. Pharmaceutical companies
have voluntarily removed claims
of growth promotion from their
labels, while government regulations have made it illegal to use
extra-label feed antimicrobials.
Pharmaceutical companies
have also begun to remove claims
of growth promotion from Canadian labels.
“They see the writing on the
wall — that we don’t have a social
licence to use these drugs in this
way,” Rosengren said.
But unlike the U.S., Canada has
not made it illegal to use antimicrobials as off-label growth promotants. Here, the responsibility
to ensure proper antimicrobial
use rests with industry and farmers, pork producers were told.
“There is a fundamental difference in how this is going to play
out in the United States versus in
Canada,” she said. “And so, there
is a lot of debate in Canada as to
how much impact this will actually have on antimicrobial use.”
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Canadian regulators often follow
the lead of their American counterparts, she added, noting that
without a voluntary decrease in
antimicrobial use, further government action is likely.
“For the producers in the room,
I would be encouraging you to be
having this conversation with your
feed mill and with your nutritionist and with your veterinarian
about how your feed meds are
going to change.”
Producers also need to be having conversations with the public
about antibiotics and antibiotic
“There is certainly a food safety
risk, it’s real,” she said. “Over 75
per cent of E. coli that comes off
pork chops in Canada are resistant to tetracycline. Do we have
a problem? Undoubtedly, yes.
“Where the rubber hits the
road is when the doctor prescribes something, and it’s
related to whatever was used
on the farm, and the therapy that
the doctor prescribes is ineffective because of that drug use on
the farm. That is a real chain of
events,” Rosengren said.
But she was quick to add that
it’s also a chain of events that
rarely reaches its conclusion. In
some cases the risk of an adverse
event stemming from resistant
bacteria is as low as one in 85
“Open sharing about
antibiotic use will ensure
we are good stewards
and build engagement
with regulators in
managing this societal
Leigh Rosengren
“When you’re talking to consumers, you want to… make
sure they understand that the
probability of this is very, very
low,” said Rosengren. “But does
that mean we shouldn’t be concerned? Well no, I don’t actually
think so. Just because the risk
is low it doesn’t mean it isn’t
Understanding how the antibiotics you use work, why they’re
needed, and what risks they
can pose is all part of responsible stewardship, she stressed.
A failure to take action and
responsibility could mean the
loss of these powerful medicines through both resistance
and regulations.
“Open sharing about antibiotic use will ensure we are good
stewards and build engagement
with regulators in managing this
societal resource,” Rosengren
[email protected]
*First 50 people registered will receive a
complimentary pass to Ag Expo
offers news, events, videos
and much more.
Email: [email protected]
REGISTER ❯❯ Phone:
Leigh Rosengren speaks at the Manitoba Swine Seminar. Photo: Shannon VanRaes
These three donkeys, near
Millarville, Alta., are slow
stepping a feeding line
dance. Photo: Wendy Dudley
CGC begins
on licensing
western feed
®™ Trademarks of AIR MILES International Trading B.V. Used under license by LoyaltyOne, Co. and Arysta LifeScience Canada, Inc.
Always read and follow label directions. INFERNO and the INFERNO DUO logo are trademarks of Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. Arysta LifeScience and the
Arysta LifeScience logo are registered trademarks of Arysta LifeScience Corporation. All other products mentioned herein are trademarks of their respective companies.
©2015 Arysta LifeScience North America, LLC. INF-035
By Allan Dawson
The Canadian Grain Commission has begun consulting the
grain sector about licensing
feed mills in Western Canada,
which if adopted, would provide farmers payment protection for delivered grain.
Interested parties have until
April 9 to submit their views to
the grain commission in writing by mail or electronically.
Feed mills are exempt from
commission licensing and
therefore farmers are not protected if they fail to get paid.
Agriculture Minister Gerry
Ritz supports licensing commercial feed mills.
“We need to look at how
we incorporate them (feed
mills)... to make sure farmers
receive the majority of their
money when they deliver,”
he said in an interview last
However, Ritz added farm
feed mills that don’t buy grain
from other farmers should
remain exempt.
The grain commission says
in a discussion paper available at www.grainscanada. that it hasn’t determined
how much it would cost to
license feed mills. The paper
lists several questions and
asks for answers from industry participants.
The amount of security a
feed mill would have to post
to cover what it owes farmers may be determined by
reviewing a feed mill’s monthly liabilities, which then could
be tendered in the form of a
bond, irrevocable standby letter of credit or guarantee, cash
deposit or payables insurance, the discussion paper
[email protected]
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Community news
and events from
across the province
Alberta’s first bean grower up
honoured with inaugural
industry innovator award
Send agriculture-related
meeting and event
announcements to:
[email protected]
By Jennifer Blair
af staff / edmonton
Alberta’s first bean grower Lud Prudek (right) was awarded the inaugural Alberta Pulse
Industry Innovator Award by outgoing pulse growers’ president Richard Krikke (left) and
Zone 1 chair Will Van Roessel. Photo: Jennifer Blair
9th AnnuAl
Bull SAlE
at Balog Auction
Lethbridge, AB
We’re pleased to participate in the
ChA’s Feed Efficiency trials over the
last 2 years.
28A one of our CtY EASY 705t* sons
topped the RFI EPD list of over 900
head recently released by the ChA!
Plus the vast majority of ours were
above average in the group.
*705t’s sire, XuB 137Y
was bred and raised on our ranch.
AlnK 19A BW 93
AlnK 28A BW 72
GCC PEtE 203Y Et
AlnK 11A BW 83
E ON HWY 520, 4M (6.4 KM) N ON RR 255 & 1/4 MILE E ON TWP 132
cell: (403) 625-1036
[email protected]
hAnS ulRICh
(403) 625-2237
he man who first
introduced dry
beans to Alberta
has been recognized as
an industry innovator
by the very organization
he helped form 25 years
Idaho farmer Lud
Prudek received the
inaugural Alberta Pulse
Industry Innovator
Award at the Alberta
Pulse Growers’ recent
annual general meeting.
“We invited nominations for individuals and
organizations that have
strengthened our growing industry with their
progressive thinking and
tireless efforts,” said outgoing commission president Richard Krikke.
“We know that there
are many early adopters
who have taken a chance
on a crop that was new to
Alberta not that long ago
and helped grow interest
in it to the degree that
there were 1.5 million
acres seeded to it in this
province last year.”
Will Van Roessel, chair
of the zone that nominated Prudek for the
award, said that only
“one person stood out as
meeting all the requirements.”
“He will be remembered as a visionary who
saw the need to introduce and promote valueadded crops to Alberta
and Western Canada as
the key to the future of
sustainable farming,”
said Van Roessel.
After moving to Alberta
“shortly after irrigation
arrived in the Bow Island
area” in the 1950s, Prudek
became one of the first
growers of edible beans
in the province before
forming the Alberta Bean
Growers Ltd., a processing plant for dry edible
beans. In 1979, Prudek
helped form the Alberta
Pulse Growers Association, which became the
Alberta Pulse Growers
Commission in 1989.
Research was “always
one of Lud’s passions,”
said Van Roessel.
“In the ’80s, when most
of us were concerned
about survival, Lud was
interested in some other
‘S’ words — namely,
sustainability and crop
But Prudek, who trav-
elled from his home
in Idaho to receive the
award, is quick to credit
“When you have an
industry begin from
essentially nothing, it
requires leadership, but
it also requires a lot of
co-operation and the
involvement of many,
many people,” he said.
Hugh Horner — Alberta’s minister of agriculture between 1971 and
1975 — “sticks out” in
his mind in that regard,
he said.
“It was perhaps he who
had the vision to see
what an industry like this
could do not only for the
region but for the nation
and the world.”
Prudek recalled a conversation with Horner
about research gaps in
“He listened carefully
to what I said, and he
thought for a while, and
then he said, ‘I don’t
know how I’ll do it, but
it will be done,’” said
The result was the
Farming for the Future
program, which was
launched in 1979, funded
hundreds of research
projects, and was estimated to have generated
nearly $1 billion in economic benefits for the
province over the next
25 years.
It was the provincial
researchers involved in
the program who made
it such a success, said
“It was their spirit that
mattered. They cared not
just about themselves,
but about their community, about the country,
and about humanity.”
And it will be that same
spirit that’s needed as the
demand for food grows
across the globe, he said.
“We’re not talking
about simply making
money. We’re talking
about the human experience. That’s why what
you people do is so
important,” said Prudek.
“There’s nothing
greater to teach leadership and common sense
than what you’re at,
because every day, you
experience new challenges. You are natural
leaders, and leadership
is critical as we go into
the future.”
Feb. 17: Alberta Verified Beef
Production Training Workshop,
Sunnybrook Community Hall,
Leduc County. Contact: Kim
Feb. 17: Forage & Crop
Agronomy for Profit, Forshee
Hall (North of Bentley), Bentley.
Contact: Ginette 403-844-2645
Feb. 17-19: Agri-Visions
Conference and Tradeshow,
Lloydminster. Contact:
Tess Sidoryk 306-825-5571
Feb. 18: Getting Into Farm Direct
Marketing, Agriculture Centre,
Airdrie. Contact: Melisa Zapisocky
Feb. 18: Alberta Beef Industry
Conference — Feed Coalition,
Sheraton Hotel, Red Deer.
Contact: Brian 403-219-7904
Feb. 19: Solar-Wind Workshop,
Breton Community Centre,
Breton. Contact: Tina
Feb. 21: Intermediate
Beekeeping Short Course, Crop
Diversification Centre North
(17507 Fort Road NW), Edmonton
(also Feb. 28 in Olds). Contact:
Ag-Info Centre 1-800-387-6030
Feb. 23-25: Growing Rural
Tourism Conference, 4250
Exhibition Drive, Camrose. Contact:
Jennifer Filip 780-672-3640
Feb. 26: Ranching Opportunities,
Olds College Alumni Centre, Olds.
Contact: Fiona 403-335-3311
(ext. 143)
Feb. 26-27: Alberta Farm
Fresh School 2015, Pomeroy Inn
& Suites, Olds College Campus,
Olds. Contact: Alberta Farm
Fresh Producers Association
Feb. 28: Horses 201, Magrath
Agriplex, Magrath. Contact:
Robyn Moore 403-420-5949
March 3 & 5: Soil Fertility &
Fertilizer Seminar — 2-Day Event;
MNP Office, Lethbridge. Contact:
Brenda Martin 403-380-1657
March 7: Who Gets the Farm and
When?, Fawcett Hall, Fawcett.
Contact: Rhonda 780-954-2244
or Joanne 780-954-3908
Advertise in the
Alberta Farmer
Express Classifieds,
it’s a Sure Thing!
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Machinery Miscellaneous
Farms & Ranches – Acreages/Hobby
Antiques For Sale
ONE GRAIN TREATER; ONE grain fanning mill;
two clothes cupboards; two old trunks; one bee
20-ft & 40-ft. Wind, water & rodent proof.
1-866-517-8335, (403)540-4164, (403)226-1722
[email protected]
Barb Wire &
Electric High Tensile
Wire Spooler &
Water Hose Roller
Crop Consulting
Machinery Miscellaneous
1999 CAT 460 1,400 sep. hrs, rake up, $38,000;
MacDon 962, 36-ft pick-up reel, $12,000; MacDon
871 CAT 460 adapter, $1,000; 2003 NH TM190
FEL grapple joy stick, 3-pt., 3,810-hrs, $58,000.
Call:(403)665-2341, Craigmyle, AB.
Discs, Plows, Blades, Harrows, Etc. (780)892-3092,
Wabamun, AB.
Discs, Plows, Blades, Harrows, Etc. (780)892-3092,
Wabamun, AB.
- Wire Roller can now be converted to
roll up & unroll flat plastic water hose
up to 6” diameter (11” flat)
- Hydraulic Drive (roll or unroll)
- Mounts to tractor draw bar, skidsteer
front end loader, post driver,
3pt. hitch or deck truck
(with receiver hitch & rear hydraulics)
- Spool splits in half to remove full roll
- Shut off/ Flow control valve
determines speed
- Works great for pulling out old wire
(approx. 3--5 minutes to roll
up 80 rod or 1/4 mile)
- Also works great for swath grazing
or rotational grazing
The Level-Winder II Wire Roller rolls
wire evenly across the full width of
the spool automatically as the wire
is pulled in
Ken Lendvay (403) 550-3313
Red Deer, AB
email: [email protected]
Looking for a hand around the farm? Place a help
wanted ad in the classifieds. Call 1-800-665-1362.
(403) 540-7691
[email protected]
555 JD Crawler Loader, 250 hrs. on rebuilt engine,
good condition ................................................... $12,500
8070 AC Tractor, FWA, wheel base extended, duals .. $22,500
275 MF Tractor, diesel, multi power, 3 pth, new 18.4 x 30,
front weights, loader available, looks and runs great ... $12,500
B275 IHC Tractor & Loader ................................ $3,500
(2) NH P1060 TBH Air Tanks, as new .............. $69,500
40’ Salford RTS 570 Vertical Tail, as new ....... $65,000
35’ 4590 EEZE-ON Double Disc, good condition.... $32,500
60’ 850 F.C. Deep Till 4 Bar Har., very little use .... $49,500
62’ F75 Flexicoil Packer BAR P30’s, as new ... $14,500
2003 4300 IHC Service Truck, 466 diesel,
5 speed Allison auto, crane, compressor, welder ..... $50,000
47’ 820 F.C., C.P. & 48’ 75 Packer, like new..... $95,000
51’ Degelman Landroller, only done
3,000 acres, as new.... ....................................... $40,000
Degelman Dozer Frame MF 4000 Series 4WD .. $1,000
41’ Flexicoil 300 B Chisel Plow, 3 bar harrows,
excellent condition .............................................. $12,500
Flexicoil 6 Run Seed Treater .............................. $1,000
134’ Flexicoil S68XL Sprayer, 2007, suspended boom,
auto rate, joystick, rinse tank, triple quick jets, auto boom
height, electric end nozzle & foam marker............. $32,500
100’ 65XL Flexicoil Sprayer, complete withwindguards,elec.
end nozzles single tips, auto rate,excellent condition ... $12,500
10 Wheel MATR (Italy) Trailer Type V-Hayrake,
hyd. fold, as new.................................................. $5,000
7 x 1200 (39.37’) Sakundiak Auger, 18 HP Koehler
engine, c/w hyd. pump for bin sweep ........................$2,500
1390 Brandt XL Swing Auger, elec. power swing,
spout, adj. axle, as new ...................................... $19,500
225 DOW Kello-Bilt Tandem Disc, 28” smooth front & rear
blades, 10.5” spacing, oil, bath bearings, as new... $62,500
50’ Brandt Heavy Harrow, 27.5 x 5/8 tines,
low acres ........................................................... $32,500
47’ 820 Flexicoil Chisel Plow, 4 bar harrows,
line new ............................................................ $67,500
2009 GMC Topkick 20 ft. Grain Truck, automatic,
silage gauge, air brake suspension,approx. 7,000 kms ..$105,000
40’ 5710 Bourgault SS Air Drill, 9.8” spacing, 3” steel
packers w/ 3225 tb tank, c/w 3rd tank, new augers,
drive sprockets, main clutch, excellent condition...... $25,000
New E-Kay 7”, 8”, 9” Bin Sweeps available.........Call
8” Wheat Heart Transfer Auger, hydraulic drive .. $1,500
New Outback RTK BASE stn ...................................... Call
New Outback MAX & STX guidance & mapping ...In Stock
New Outback E-Drive, TC’s .................................In Stock
New Outback E-Drive X, c/w free E turns ............In Stock
New Outback S-Lite guidance ............ **In Stock** $900
New Outback VSI Swather Steering Kit...........In Stock
New Outback E-Drive Hyd. kit, JD 40 series ........ $1,000
Used Outback E-Drive Hyd. kits..............................$500
**NuVision (Spray Air) & Meridian-Sakundiak Augers, Outback GPS
Systems, EK Auger Movers, Belt Tighteners, Bin Sweeps & Crop Dividers,
Kohler, Robin Subaru & Generac Engines, Headsight Harvesting Solutions,
Greentronics Sprayer Auto Boom Height, Kello-Bilt Discs**
Cereal Seeds
germ, 0 fusarium graminaerum. AC Enchant, VB,
new CPS red, AC Conquer, VB, midge tolerant,
high germination, 0 fusarium graminaerum. AC Andrew, soft white wheat, 99% germ, 0 fusarium graminaerum. Phone:(306)843-2934.
Machinery Wanted
WANTED: NH BALE WAGONS & retrievers, any
condition. Farm Equipment Finding Service, P.O.
Box 1363, Polson, MT 59860. (406)883-2118
Baling Equipment
WANTED: JD 7810 c/w FEL & 3-PTH; sp or PTO
bale wagon; JD or IHC end wheel drills. Small
square baler. (403)394-4401
flex, most makes & sizes; also header transports.
Website: Paradise Hill, SK.
Tillage & Seeding
Tillage Equipment
3” & 4”
Round up the cash! Advertise your unwanted equipment in the Alberta Farmer Express classifieds.
The Icynene Insulation
JD 2130 3 pth with loader
JD 4255 FWA, 3 pth hitch, ldr. avail.
JD 4255 2 WD, ldr. available
JD 4440, loader available
JD 7410 c/w ldr. 3 pth hitch
CASE IH 4700 Vibra Shank, 34ft.
Clamp on Duals, 20.8x38-18.4x38
780-696-3527, BRETON, AB
• Sprayed foam insulation
• Ideal for shops, barns or homes
• Healthier, Quieter, More
Energy Efficient®
Big Tractor Parts,
Geared For
The Future
1. 10-25% savings on new replacement
parts for your Steiger drive train.
2. We rebuild axles, transmissions
and dropboxes with ONE YEAR
3. 50% savings on used parts.
Feed Grain
BUYING ALL TYPES OF feed grain. Also have
market for light offgrade or heated, picked up on the
farm. Eisses Grain Marketing 1-888-882-7803, Lacombe.
tough, or offgrade grains. “On Farm Pickup” Westcan Feed & Grain 1-877-250-5252
Lawn & Garden
FOR SALE: ONE 17.5-BU compost tumbler, used
very little. It’s like new yet. Phone (780)597-3747
Cattle – Red Angus
Quiet, Easy Calving, Low to Moderate
Birth Weights, Good Growth, E.P.D’s available
Guaranteed Breeders (Vet Checked & Semen
Tested). Excellent Bulls for Heifers or Cows.
Cleveley Cattle Company (780)689-2754.
Advertise in the
Alberta Farmer
Express Classifieds,
it’s a Sure Thing!
Farming is enough of a gamble, advertise in the Alberta Farmer Express classified section. It’s a sure thing.
Air Drills
Air Drills
[email protected]
AB and Western SK,
call Larry at (403) 510-7894
Van Essen Equipment
• JD7810,7413pt
• Jd7710,7413pt
• JD7600,3pt
• JD7510
• JD7410,3pt
• JD7220741,3pt
• Macdon9300,21’
• Macdon9352,25’
Country Retreat: 163-ac of scenic rolling land near
Erickson, MB. 120-ac arable, large mature yard w/
natural shelter belt & small lake. Cozy bungalow,
garage, machine shed. Grant Tweed,Century 21
Westman. Brandon MB. Phone: (204) 761-6884
[email protected]
4955 JD low hrs, 3 pth, very clean
S670/680/690 JD Combine low hrs
4730 JD Sprayer, 100 ft.
JD 8770, 4WD, 24 speed with PTO
Case IH 9170, 4WD
854 Rogator SP Sprayer, complete with
JD auto steer, swath pro
Stretch your
JD 9400, 9420, 9520, 8970
JD 9860, 9760, 9750, 9650, 9600
JD 9430, 9530, 9630
Case STX 375, 425, 430, 450, 480,
500, 530
CIH 8010-2388, 2188 combine
CIH 435Q, 535Q, 450Q, 550Q, 600Q
pto avail.
JD 4710, 4720, 4730, 4830, 4920,
4930 SP sprayers
JD 9770 & 9870 w/CM & duals
CIH 3185, 3230, 3330, 4430, 4420
• Phone: (403)526-9644 • Cell: (403)504-4929
• Email: [email protected]
We also specialize in: Crop Insurance appeals;
Chemical drift; Residual herbicide; Custom operator
issues; Equipment malfunction; Yield comparisons,
Plus Private Investigations of any nature. With our
assistance the majority of our clients have received
compensation previously denied. Back-Track
Investigations investigates, documents your loss and
assists in settling your claim.
Licensed Agrologist on Staff.
For more information
Please call 1-866-882-4779
• FlexiCoilharrowpackers
• IHC786ldr
• Case75xtskidsteer
• JD8300
• JD4730sprayer
• JD2950,260,3pt
• JD2130,146,2wd,3pt
• JD9400,14blade
• NHCX8080pickup
• Heston465516x18
• JD8770,6000hrs,pto
• RoGator854,Fullload
• CaseDCX131diskbine
• JD48407000hrs
• JD7930746
• JD7820,7463pt
Phone: 403-330-7847 or 403-394-5115
Based on the 40' DH730 air drill and AC400 air cart on a retail lease
contract amortized over 60 months at 4.49% APR. Other product
configurations available. See dealer for details.
©2015 Buhler Versatile Inc. All rights reserved | [email protected]
Feed Grain
Feed Grain
• Mildew
• Damaged
• Wild Oats
• Offgrade
• Light
• Tough
Grain Wanted
GRAIN “On Farm Pickup” Westcan Feed & Grain
Stretch your
“On Farm Pickup” Westcan Feed & Grain
• Competitive Prices
• Prompt Movement
• Spring Thrashed
Barley, Oats,
Peas, etc.
Green or Heated Canola/Flax
Buy and Sell
250-600-2055 or
anything you
need through the
[email protected]
Hit our readers where it counts… in the classifieds.
Place your ad in the Alberta Farmer Express classifed
section. 1-800-665-1362.
Watch your profits grow!
AFE Classifieds
Go public with an ad in the Alberta Farmer Express
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Western Canada ~ June 2015
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TD is committed to helping farmers
build for the future.
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ambitious plan to grow their grandparents’ farm.
Though they were barely over 20, their TD Agriculture
Specialist quickly recognized their potential and backed
their plan. Over the years, Jolene has been there for
every major financial decision affecting the farm, helping
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