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Ontario Grain Farmer Magazine is the flagship publication of Grain Farmers of Ontario and a source of information for our province’s grain farmers. 

GFO Newsletter for September 2014


Grain Farmers of Ontario’s 2014 Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 9 at Craigowan Golf Club in Woodstock. The business portion of the meeting will be held in the morning and all attendees  will be given passes to attend Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show in the afternoon.


This meeting is called in accordance with By-Law No. 1 to review the Auditor’s Report and the Financial Statements of Grain Farmers of Ontario. Provision has been made for open discussion of board operations and the industry in general. – Henry Van Ankum, Chair.

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.    Business Meeting (open to everyone)
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.     Lunch
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.     Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show

Craigowan Golf Club
595838 Hwy 59 N, RR #6,
Woodstock, ON  N4S 7W1

Four Points by Sheraton
210 Preston Parkway
Cambridge, ON
(519) 653-2690

A detailed agenda and more information is available at

After the AGM, meet us at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show! Stop by our corporate booth on First Lane N?(Seed Alley) and take a walk through the Growing Connections 53’ trailer exhibit located on North Mall.

Grain Farmers of Ontario celebrated the opening of their new office space with a community celebration on August 12. Thanks to the support of our industry partners along with new neighbours, Sleeman Brewery and Ontario Pork, the event was a great success.

The new office, located at 679 Southgate Drive in Guelph, offers an improved facility for current staff members and allows room for growth within our organization. Go to for a look at the new building and the opening celebration.

Restricting the use of neonicotinoids could reduce revenues from corn and soybean production by more than $630 million per year in Ontario. The province’s gross domestic product would be cut by nearly $440 million and some operators would likely leave the industry or scale back production if neonicotinoids were not available for use. Those are the findings of an analysis conducted by the Conference Board of Canada.

The report, Seeds for Success: The Value of Seed Treatments for Ontario Growers, provides a perspective on the costs of a hypothetical regulatory restriction on existing businesses and operators.

The report is designed to help policy-makers at the federal and provincial levels conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis of a potential restriction on neonicotinoid seed treatments. The analysis assumes that a hypothetical restriction would be enacted only in Ontario. As a result, competitors in the U.S. in particular would gain an operating advantage over Ontario grain farmers.

The Conference Board report was prepared with financial support from Grain Farmers of Ontario and CropLife Canada.

Grain Farmers of Ontario supported a field-level research project undertaken by Syngenta Canada this spring that examined the impact of deflectors on planter performance and planting quality. Deflectors reduce dust that has the potential to expose pollinators to neonicotinoids.

Working with Syngenta, Grain Farmers of Ontario identified 28 growers in southwestern Ontario, the area with the highest number of reported bee mortality incidents in 2012-2013, to participate in the project. Commercially available or custom ‘after-market’ deflectors were provided, as appropriate, by Syngenta to participating growers.

Participants planted equal portions of a field with and without the deflector mounted to their planting equipment and compared performance across a range of variables including pressure, noise, Fluency Agent accumulation, and plant stand. Feedback to date indicates a reduction in fan noise during planting, minimal build-up of Fluency agent, negligible to no impact on pressure, and no obvious impact on plant stand.

A full analysis of the planter performance study is expected to be completed this fall.

GFO News, the mid-month update from Grain Farmers of Ontario, is now being distributed through Country Guide East in both English and French. This newsletter allows us to keep farmer-members up to date on the activities of the organization, new research initiatives, and the work of directors and staff. GFO News is also published in Agricom and is available online at

Grain Farmers of Ontario offers several wheat marketing options for producers. Those interested in the Wheat Pool have until September 30 to participate. You can find more information about your marketing options, including a list of authorized agents, at You can also call the Grain Farmers of Ontario marketing team at 1-800-265-0550.

by Philip Shaw
Going into September the grain markets are anxiously waiting the actual yield survey from USDA for corn and soybeans.  Pre report estimates have pegged U.S. corn yield at 170 bu/ac and soybeans at 45.5 bu acre.  The previous July report from USDA had corn pegged at 165.3bu/ac and soybeans at 45.2 bu/ac.  These are huge numbers and futures prices have declined on these expectations.

In Ontario, wheat harvest continues in central and eastern Ontario.  Basis levels for all grains have gained on recent Canadian dollar weakness.

John Cowan, Vice President, Strategic Development

Grain Farmers of Ontario wishes to announce the retirement of John Cowan, vice president of strategic development, effective mid-September 2014. Cowan joined our organization in 2011 after a lengthy career in the seed industry. Over the past three years, Cowan has played a role in developing policy and building relationships with agri-businesses.

Cowan sat down with communications manager Meghan Burke to discuss his time at Grain Farmers of Ontario and his future plans.

(M.B.) What impression of Grain Farmers of Ontario are you leaving with?
(J.C.) Before I joined Grain Farmers of Ontario, I could tell that the organization was forward thinking. The merger of the three legacy organizations was indicative of that. It was a merger that I felt made a lot of sense.

This has continued to ring true. The board is an example of what a farmer organization should be about. They are big picture thinkers and they are collaborative and inclusive. The board has solid governance procedures which allow them to set goals with strategic direction.

Staff members are very cognisant of these goals and they refer to them regularly as they prioritize activities for Grain Farmers of Ontario. The staff is dedicated, professional, and a joy to work with.

What would you say is important for the future of agriculture and our organization?
Collaboration is important for achieving both our external outreach initiatives and our internal goals of serving our farmer-members.

The private and public sectors, as well as educational institutions and farmers, all need to be working together to educate the average consumer about agriculture. Two generations ago, people knew about farming because they had a family connection to it; but today, the majority of the population has no connection to farming and doesn’t understand modern agricultural practices. It’s important to remember that these are ultimately our customers and we need to both understand them and educate them.

The entire value chain needs to work together to ensure we get our very positive message of quality and sustainability to the general public.  Ontario farmers are aware of our markets and take advantage of our close proximity to processors, but we need to be closer. The more food processors we have, the more customers we have.

Research also needs to be collaborative. The partnerships we have formed with government, educational institutions, private industry, and farmers have been instrumental in advancing our agronomic practices, resulting in increased yields and quality.

Will you stay involved with Grain Farmers of Ontario after retirement? 
I will continue to work on the soy crush facility project. It’s an excellent market opportunity for Ontario soybeans and a reflection of how research has made soybeans more than a commodity — we have soybeans with special qualities for different markets. I will continue to work with our board of directors, government, and industry and hope to see this facility come to fruition soon.

What are you looking forward to in your retirement?
My life has been split between living in Guelph part-time and living at home in Blenheim part-time. I’m really looking forward to being back at home full-time with my wife and family. I now have two young grandchildren and I really look forward to my new role as Grandpa. It will be good to have more time for family and friends. 



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