In this edition - February 17, 2017
Farmers: Cargill investment will help drive industry
By Owen Roberts
Ontario beef farmers say the multi-million-dollar technology investment announced last week by Cargill and the province for the company's Guelph beef processing facility will help drive a healthy livestock market in the province.
Through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs,of the $3.5-million proprietary technology that will enable the company to process raw, low-value byproduct into nutrient-rich animal feed onsite, rather than trucking it elsewhere.
The feed will primarily be fed to dairy cows domestically and abroad.
Beef farmers welcome the announcement. Joe Hill of Fergus, Ont., vice-president of the Beef Farmers of Ontario, says it "sends a signal to farmers that Cargill is a solid player in the marketplace, by spending its own money in its plant."
It's a good sign, too, he says, that the province invested in this project.
"It shows commitment, and helps Cargill maintain competitive bids for Ontario beef cattle," Hill says.
Jim Clark, executive director of the Ontario Cattle Feeders Association, says the new technology helps make the industry stronger. Transportation and emissions savings enable the company to reduce its environmental footprint and keep costs in check.
"Anything done as an efficiency builds on the partnership between Cargill and beef farmers," Clark says.
The sector needs some good news. Over the past 18 months, the market price for fed cattle dropped at what Hill calls an "alarming" rate. In fact, he says, losses in the feeding industry rival those of the BSE years, in the early part of this century.
As well, parts of the province suffered through drought conditions last summer, which greatly reduced pasture and hay and forage production. Hill says some farmers have reduced their herds to match available feed supplies, while others have tried to source alternative feeds such as drought-affected corn.
Focused on the future
At the Cargill announcement, the sector was able to momentarily put aside its troubles and focus on the future.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs' Minister Jeff Leal spoke about exports, and noted farmers must have access to modern, efficient processing capacity to compete internationally.
Productivity, innovation and value-added exports are central to remaining competitive, he said.
"With the North America market evolving, we need to be sure companies here can succeed beyond our borders," Leal says.
By Treena Hein
Canadians are purchasing historic amounts of eggs.
Last year was the tenth year in a row that retail egg sales grew, with 2016 sales increasing 5.6 per cent over 2015 sales - that's the same as 16.8 million dozen eggs.
There are a variety of reasons:
One factor is protein, notes Bonnie Cohen, director of marketing and nutrition at Egg Farmers of Canada.
"Eggs are an excellent source of protein, and consumers want more protein in their diets to help them feel full for longer periods of time," Cohen says. "This can be helpful in maintaining weight or losing weight."
Cost is another factor, with popular breakfast items like cold cereal increasing in price.
Connecting to consumers
EFC says it's also been working to connect more with consumers who are increasingly interested in how food is produced. EFC says consumers can connect with Canadian egg farmers through social media and avenues, such as the events where farmers handed out free egg sandwiches in three Canadian cities in 2016.
EFC's recently focused marketing on helping Canadians eat more eggs in the morning, and television ads began airing last month to promote this.
Another factor contributing to increased consumptions, says EFC, is that eggs are considered to be a natural food.
Cohen expects updated guidelines just released from Health Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society, the Dieticians of Canada and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada will help further boost egg sales. These guidelines now advise parents they can feed eggs to babies as young as six months to reduce the risk of developing an allergy.
Egg sales are also expected to increase in 2017 as fast food restaurants like McDonald's Canada begin offering all-day breakfast menu items.
By Richard Kamchen
Dryness in Alberta this winter improves the chances of a timely spring start for farmers.
Cool, wet conditions were felt across most of Alberta last fall, but snowpack accumulations this winter have been below normal throughout most agricultural areas, according to Ralph Wright, provincial agro-meteorological, applications and modelling section manager.
"For those that had a hard time getting their crop off, the odds are now stacked in their favour for a dry spring," Wright says.
Much of east central Alberta and most areas north of the Yellowhead highway, including much of the Peace Region, experienced well below normal snowpack as of Jan.31, reports a recent Alberta moisture situation update.
Below average snowpack
Most of these areas only see this little snowpack on average less than once in 12 to 25 years, with some localized spots within experiencing such low snowpack less than once in 25 to 50 years.
A combination of below normal moisture and a few melting episodes resulted in the relatively low snowpack, Wright notes.
And although most of Alberta has received moisture between the start of February to the midway point of the month, the province is still drier than normal, he says.
The largest amounts of precipitation fell just east of Calgary. Along the Trans-Canada Highway down to Medicine Hat received 15 to 20 millimetres, while the Lethbridge area and into Red Deer received 10 to 15 millimeters.
"Since Nov. 15, regions north of the Trans-Canada Highway and through the eastern half of the Peace Region were still quite dry - about one in 25- to 50-year lows some areas," says Wright.
"South of Olds, things are generally near normal but trending towards a little drier in the east, not including Medicine Hat. Some areas, particularly north of Red Deer, have had a very dry winter."
But farmers in those driest parts that also had a wet fall probably didn't want much snow in any case, he points out.
Wright, however, cautions the winter is far from over, and that the abrupt transition from wet to dry demonstrates that Alberta's weather patterns can be highly unpredictable.
And a major snow storm or two could quickly change the overall moisture situation.
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