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Biodiesel mandate supported by the Conservatives
In a white paper released on March 14 by the Ontario PC party, support was given for a 2% biodiesel mandate in Ontario to match the federal mandate currently in place – a recommendation being made by Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association.
Biodiesel blended in Ontario will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases by up to 99% compared with petroleum diesel and lead to further investment and development in the biodiesel sector which will provide jobs and other spin off benefits to the communities where these plants are located.
The white paper, entitled ‘Paths to Prosperity – Respect for Rural Ontario’, acknowledges the fact Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta already have provincial biodiesel mandates of two percent or higher, and says, “we want Ontario to receive the benefits, opportunities for farmers and investment in our rural communities.” •
Supporting phytosanitary import requirements
Grain Farmers of Ontario has sent a letter to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Field Crop & Inputs Division supporting, in principle, their proposed phytosanitary import requirements for grain of field crops including pulses, oilseeds, cereals (other than barley, oats, rye, triticale, and wheat), forages, and other special crops from the continental United States.
The CFIA’s actions would prevent the introduction into Canada of certain weeds that do not currently exist here, but which do exist in the US. We know that Ontario grain farmers want neither the increased costs nor the reduced yields that would be associated with the introduction of these new pests. At the moment, other countries do not require phytosanitary certificates from Canada in respect of these weeds. This gives us a competitive advantage in these countries.
Grain Farmers of Ontario does not want the proposed phytosanitary import requirements on US grains to invite any form of retaliatory action from the US. We are encouraged that the CFIA is also consulting with their counterparts in the US and with US industry. •
Low level presence
Grain Farmers of Ontario strongly supports the leadership being displayed by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on the issue of low level presence (LLP) of unapproved GMOs in grain imported into Canada.
The Minister and AAFC are working to remove the threat of a trade disruption that the existence of a zero tolerance policy for LLP represents in some of our major markets. An extensive consultation by AAFC was undertaken over the last year.
However, Grain Farmers of Ontario has raised one concern with policy makers. We believe Canada should not move unilaterally to remove its zero tolerance policy. We should only make this change when it is clear that some of our main trading partners (but especially the United States) are willing to do so as well. Ontario’s (and Canada’s) corn and soybean industries are overwhelmingly dependent on there being an open trading relationship with the United States. Having the US maintain its zero tolerance policy while Canada establishes a tolerance would introduce a risk to that relationship with no obvious offsetting benefit.
We are therefore encouraging the Canadian government to continue to work with our major trading partners to ensure they are on-board with this initiative before such a measure is introduced in this country. •
Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) and the Ministry of Rural Affairs (MRA) have teamed up to support researchers studying the presence of honey bees and other pollinators around corn fields, and the impact of seed lubricants on the production of dust during planting.
A research team led by Art Schaafsma, University of Guelph, and Tracey Baute, OMAF and MRA Field Crop Entomologist, are initiating a project this spring in an effort to strengthen the current best management practices for reducing the risk to bees during corn planting. They hope to determine the role of weather, corn planter design, vegetation in the field at planting time, and the use of seed lubricants in bee health during corn planting.
Ten or more Ontario farms will be used for the research at the time of corn planting, as well as later in the season for simulated planter dust studies. The research will include surveys of flowering vegetation and the presence of bees, as well as new seed lubricants that are not yet available to farmers. The results of the work will also be used to identify areas that require further investigation for a longer term study.
Preliminary outcomes of the study will be reported to our farmer-members towards the end of the season. •
South Korea Free Trade Agreement
Discussions surrounding a free trade agreement with South Korea have re-started in Ottawa. Grain Farmers of Ontario has been communicating with the Trade Negotiations Division of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to ensure access of food grade soybeans from Canada in South Korea.
Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Canadian Soybean Council (CSC) would like Canada to achieve a concession on food grade soybeans that is no less favourable than that achieved by the United States. This entails a duty-free quota of no less than 25,000 tonnes (with a growth factor) and direct access for Canadian exporters to end-use processors in South Korea (without the end-use processors being required to purchase import rights from the South Korean government).
As with the American agreement, a specific type of Canadian soybean may need to be defined in order to be eligible for the quota. However, this concession would be of significant value to Canadian exporters and to Ontario growers. •
Canada and Ontario Announce Growing Forward 2
The bilateral agreement for Growing Forward 2 (GF2) was announced at the beginning of April. It includes $2 billion for federal-provincial-territorial strategic initiatives, which is a 50 percent increase in cost-shared funding.
GF2 is a comprehensive federal-provincial-territorial framework that encourages innovation, competitiveness and market development in Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sector. GF2 programs are designed to help the industry capitalize on opportunities and contribute to the economy. A total of $417 million in federal and provincial funding will be available for this forward-looking programming over the next five years in Ontario.
The existing suite of business risk management programs — AgriStability and Agri-Invest — are still available through Agricorp to help farmers manage risks resulting from adverse weather conditions, market volatility and increased input costs.
More information can be found at: http://news.ontario.ca/omafra/en/2013/04/canada-and-ontario-announce-growing-forward-2.html. •